So you bought or inherited a used iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch that you want to iCloud unlock.
You know the symptoms…
…when you try to set it up it keeps on asking for the iCloud login details of the previous owner…
…you have no idea what they are and you can’t contact them to find out.
This makes your device unusable, and you frustrated. 
Luckily there are 2 ways to get your device working (one called bypassing and the other called unlocking).
One of them is completely free…
…yes, that’s right the cost is nothing!
If you don’t want to read the complete article on how to remove iCloud lock here is a summary.
If your device is iClock locked it can be unlocked, but not for free (although you can temporarily bypass it for free – keep reading to find out how).
All the free unlockers we tested were scams (along with many of the paid ones). 🙁
We tested as many companies as we could find to find the fastest, cheapest, and best supported provider online.
The top 3 iCloud unlock services in 2018
Supplier Success Rate My Rating Pricing iPhoneIMEI.net 100% 9/10 Cell Unlocker 85% 7/10 IMEI Codes 33% 5/10 (No longer works)
Can you remove icloud lock?
Yes, it is possible.
You have the choice of performing an iCloud unlock to remove the activation lock permanently. Or an iCloud bypass to ‘get round’ the security and use some features.
The option you should select depends on how much functionality you want.
Read on to find out the difference between them, the pros & cons of each, and the method I would recommend you use.
iCloud unlock vs. iCloud Bypass – Which is better?
Although they sound like they are the same thing – unlocking is very different from bypassing.
When you remove the lock you are deleting the link between the original owners iCloud account and your iPhone so you can set it up as your own. The old owners details are removed.
Bypassing simply gets round the lock so you can use the device. It is still linked to the old owner.
iCloud unlocking benefits
- You can use your device normally
- Everything work
- It is permanent – you do it only one time
- Works on iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch
- No technical skills are required
iCloud bypassing benefits
- You can use some features – so the device isn’t a useless paperweight
- There is no cost
- You can do it quickly
As you can see, from the benefits listed above, removing the iCloud activation lock completely has many more advantages than doing a bypass.
Best of all it is permanent and you get complete functionality back.
iCloud unlocking drawbacks
- You have to pay to have it done
- It takes a couple of days to do
iCloud bypassing drawbacks
- You can’t use your device normally
- Only works via Wi-Fi
- You can only use some features
- Apps can’t be downloaded or used
- You can’t call people – even if it is a phone!
- It is a fiddly task
- This ‘workaround’ has to be re-applied each time you reboot your device
When you look at the cons listed above it becomes obvious that there are may more issues with doing an iCloud bypass.
Can you remove the lock by jailbreaking?
When you ‘Jailbreak‘ an iPhone or iPad you remove some restrictions imposed by Apple. For example, you can download different applications or customise the way the interface looks or operates.
There are some websites that claim that you can remove the iCloud lock by jailbreaking your iPhone. This is not true. Jailbreaking will only work after the lock has been removed by another method first.
Which devices are suitable for iCloud Activation Lock Removal?
You can unlock any iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch apart from the 1st generation, 3 and 3GS models using the process in this article.
Why can’t these models be unlocked?
Well, the iPhone lock is a combination of 3 elements – the device, iOS and iCloud working together.
The older models of iPhone and iPad didn’t support iOS 7 – and this software was the glue that stuck the 3 elements together.
So older iPhones and iPads don’t have the capability of being locked so they don’t need any iCloud removal services.
However, the other models in the Apple range do have all 3 elements and will be iCloud locked. Especially since Apple has configured the setup process on iOS to request you add an iCloud username (email address) and password.
This means that all newer models of iPhone and iPad tend to get locked, as does the Apple Watch.
It is worth pointing out that not all types of unlocks are the same. You can also be prevented from accessing your device if you have forgotten your passcode. Obviously this article won’t help you with that, but I have many articles that do such as this one on how to reset a forgotten iPhone passcode.
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more confusing Apple makes it more complex. Yes, there is yet another way your iPhone can be locked. This time they are actually referring to being unable to swap the SIM card that is used within your device ie network locking. So if you wanted to use a SIM card from a different mobile cell network operator in your iPhone, but couldn’t then I have articles to help with that too. The help you need is specific to the model of phone you have so you can either do an iPhone 5 unlock or an iPhone 6 unlock. If you have a different model, or even a different type of device ie iPad I can help you SIM unlock those too.
Why remove the lock?
How to remove iCloud lock permanently
iCloud removal scams to watch out for
If you iCloud unlock your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch you can set it up as if it were a brand new device and use all of it’s features.
There are a bunch of websites that claim to do this for free.
Sounds almost too good to be true.
The free options I tried were confusing. They were inaccurate. Many are scams. Some are dangerous and can infect your computer.
Worse than that, many of the paid options were scams too, with fees of up to €160 ($200 USD) being charged.
- Software downloads and hacks
- Online tools that claim to ‘interface‘ with the Apple iCloud servers
- PDF downloads with instructions
Software downloads and hacks
Some article suggests jailbreaking your iPhone or iPad. But it does not work as it will only remove iCloud after the lock has been removed by another method.
Software downloads don’t work either as the lock is kept on Apple servers, not on your computer.
Having software on your computer and iPhone won’t help. It will make things worse. Especially if it includes hidden viruses within it that infect your computer.
Websites that interface with Apple iCloud servers
Online tools that appear to interface with Apple servers are also a scam.
Even though they are very convincing with counters and prompts appearing on the screen saying stuff like ‘Connecting to Apple iCloud servers…’ and ‘Interfacing with iCloud lock…’. But they are just messages on a screen with nothing behind it.
They are designed to make you believe unlocking will work if you click a bunch of ads to finalise it.
Websites with PDF books full of instructions don’t contain the ‘secret’ either…
…but you don’t find this out until after you paid.
The only solution that works…
In my experience, if you want to have your iCloud permanently unlocked properly you will have to pay someone to do it.
Unfortunately, there is no free lock removal tools or services that works. 🙁
However, be careful as there are some scammers that charge as much as $200 USD (£150) and don’t bother unlocking your device.
How do I know?
I tried them out…
…and after wasting my time and being ripped off, I decided to write this article to try and help others.
Review of iCloud lock removal services
I began by trying out all of the lock removal software, online tools, and services I could find listed in Google.
I emailed the suppliers offering an unlock service to find out more. If I heard nothing back then I regarded them as scams.
I tried out all of the online tools & software to see if they worked. If not, they were put in the list to avoid – found below.
Suppliers that responded and offered a service that appeared to work were tested thoroughly to come up with a list of recommended suppliers – also found below.
iCloud unlockers to avoid
The solutions offered by the companies listed below simply don’t work. Do not waste your time or money on them.
|iCloud Unlock Buddy||Software||$25||Scam – software doesn’t work|
|iCloud Unlock Bypass / Remove iCloud / How to iCloud Unlock / Server Apple||Online Tool||Free||Same tool on multiple websites. Doesn’t work, just wants you to click ads while bouncing you around various websites|
|Unlock Instantly||Service||£10.95||No Company details on website, no response to pre-sales emails|
|iCloud Unlock / iCloud Unlocker Online / iCloud Bypass||Online Tool||Free||Same tool on multiple websites. Doesn’t work, just wants you to click ads and fill out surveys|
|iPhone Approved Unlock||Service||£14.99 deposit + £30.00||Doesn’t work – plus no company details on website|
|ITPC Expert||Software||Free||Software download loaded with adware and viruses. No contact details or background information|
|IMEI24||Service||$160||Doesn’t work – plus no company details on website|
|Remove iCloud lock||Software||Not specified||Unable to download the software plus no company or contact details on website|
|iCloud Unlock Deluxe||Software||Free||Unable to download the software plus no company or contact details on website|
|Apple Hacker Pro||Hacker||Subscribe, like, follow social media channels||Complete scam designed to get your personal details and increase reputation of their website|
|Official iCloud Unlocker||Software||Free||Doesn’t download, just wants you to click ads and fill out surveys|
|AppUnlock||Service||€30.99||No company details on website, no response to pre-sales emails|
|iRemove Tools||Software||£29.99||Software doesn’t work|
|iCloud Remover||Service||$29.99||No proper company details on website, no response to pre-sales emails|
Who is the best iCloud unlocker? In my experience the suppliers listed in the table below.
|Supplier||Success rate||My Rating||Pricing|
|IMEI Codes||33%||5/10 (No longer works)|
How the review was conducted
In a hurry?If you don’t want to read the complete review the best iCloud unlocker is iPhone IMEI.
They unlocked all the iPhones I supplied within 2 days.
Some suppliers charge £250 (approx $300 USD) so their £49.99 fee (approx $65 USD) was very reasonable.
Read more about why I thought they were the best option here . I also include testimonials, and step-by-step instructions.
Firstly, I needed to find out who to try. So I did a Google search to find as many iCloud removal companies as possible.
I reviewed each of their websites carefully and if they had a download or online tool I tried it out.
If it didn’t work then it was cut from my short list.
If they offered an unlocking service I tried to get in touch with them and verify there was someone actually in control.
If the website had no contact details, or I didn’t get a reply then I didn’t trust it. After all, if nobody is there how could I ensure the service worked?
If they did reply, they made it to the next stage.
After figuring out the scammers I then concentrated on the ones that were left.
I reviewed their websites thoroughly and noted that they made the following claims:
- They were fast
- Offered a dedicated customer support team
- Responsive support – with email’s answered quickly.
- Competitive pricing
- No fix, no fee with a full refund policy
- Verified by Apple iCloud servers
This all sounded good.
I checked each of the remaining candidates in RipoffReport, TrustPilot, and TrustmarkReviews to evaluate their feedback.
I removed the lowest scoring services to give me a list of 3 that I wanted to thoroughly check by using them myself.
Real world test: Can they really do what they say?
I reached out to my community here at iChimp to track down people who wanted to unlock iCloud on their iPhone or iPad.
I picked a wide sample of iPad and iPhone models located worldwide to test each service and get ‘real’ feedback from real people.
I ended up with 18 community members with the following types of device:
- iPhone 4
- iPhone 4s
- iPhone 5
- iPhone 5c
- iPhone 5s
- iPhone 6 / 6Plus /6S / 6S Plus
- iPhone SE
- iPhone 7
- iPhone 8 Plus
- iPad Air
- iPad Mini 2
Each individual emailed me their iPad or iPhone model and IMEI code so I could place orders with each of the top 3 suppliers.
After evaluating the claims listed above I decided to judge each supplier based on the following:
- Did it work?
- Customer Service
Did it work
Did they actually manage to unlock iCloud, yes or no. Simple. If they can’t do the task they claimed to do then they failed.
Some of the scammers charged as much as $300 USD (£220) however the remaining 3 services I reviewed all charged around $50 USD (£39.99).
I wanted each of the iPhones unlocked as quickly as possible. Waiting 14 days isn’t good enough, I wanted it done in 2 or 3 days.
I wanted to feel comfortable that when the payment was made that I would know what was going on at each stage of the process.
I was also keen that each service would have customer support so that I could contact them if I wished.
I wanted to feel confident and comfortable with what was going on.
Before reading the review on the companies I know and trust below, an important disclosure:
Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.
1st place: iPhone IMEI.net
iPhoneIMEI.net are the best of the bunch They managed to do every iPhone I sent them.
I simply provided my iPhone model, IMEI code, and paid using my card as described in the simple step by step instructions below.
They were the only ones in my shortlist that managed to do so.
They also unlocked them faster than anyone else with each one taking 1 or 2 days to do.
There customer support was great with replies coming back from my queries in under an hour.
They are also good value for money charging approx $65 USD (£49.99) broken down into a deposit of $25 (£19.99) and a completion fee of $40 (£30). This is mentioned on the payment page, although you might not spot it so it is worth it being highlighted in this review.
The price is in GBP (£’s) as it is an English based company. They offer iCloud removal no matter where you are located – so anywhere in the world. If you are not in England this is not a problem.
They also offer a 100% money back guarantee if they can’t deliver the service – although I didn’t have to try this out as all my devices were unlocked.
They accept a wide range of payment methods too including Mastercard, Amex, Visa, Maestro and Nochex so it should be easy enough to purchase for most people.
If your device is icloud locked and you need to get it unlocked, you should use iPhoneIMEI.net.
Case study: iPad Pro lock removal
Here is a video showing step-by-step how Michael Blake got his device unlocked using iPhone IMEI. It clearly demonstrates how easy it is and that it actually works.
Here are a couple of reviews I found online about the iPhoneIMEI service:
I had a couple of people contact me saying they were a bit confused about what to do to so here is a quick tutorial.
1. Before you begin you need to know your IMEI code. This is the unique id for the Apple device and you need to provide it so you can get it unlocked.
Don’t panic, it is very simple to do.
- Option 1: Dial *#06#
- Option 2: If you have an iPhone 5 or newer, your IMEI is printed on the back of the device
- Option 3: If your iPhone is not activated, there will be a little “i” button on the screen, tap it and you’ll see the IMEI
2. You need to know the model of the device you want to unlock. If it is an iPhone you need to know if it is a 3GS, 4, 4S, 5, 5C, SE, 6 / 6+, 6S / 6S+, 7 / 7+ / 8 / 8 Plus / X.
3. Go to iPhoneIMEI.net and pick the iPhone model and provide the IMEI number (see image below)
4. Click the Unlock now! button.
5. You will be sent to the secure checkout where you pay the fee using either Visa or Mastercard. Enter your email address so that you can be kept up-to-date with the unlocking process.
6. Click the large blue ‘Buy now!’ button and provide your payment details and you’re done!
7. You should hear back in 1-3 working days.
2nd place: Cell Unlocker
Cell Unlocker managed to do 5 out of 6 Phones, so they couldn’t quite manage them all. The older iPhone 4 couldn’t be unlocked.
I filled in the online with my iPhone model, IMEI code, and paid using my card as shown in the simple step by step instructions below.
They refunded me for the unsuccessful one quickly and without a fuss.
They unlocked each phone fairly quickly – between 2-5 days which is pretty good – but not as fast as iPhoneIMEI.
Their customer support was fairly responsive but could take up to a day to respond. They were direct and weren’t quite as warm and friendly as they could be.
They were the same price at approx $50 USD (£39.99) per unlock but the payments are structured differently.
It isn’t clear on the website but you pay approx $25 deposit (£19.99) with the balance due before the work is completed.
This has led to some reports of clients feeling ‘blackmailed’ with a second payment. They could make the payment structure clearer on their website to prevent this as only the headline price of £19.99 is prominently advertised.
This is another reason why they are 2nd place.
Cell Unlocker accept a wider variety of payment methods including American Express. They are a UK based company so the prices are in GBP (£) but they have the ability to work with phones from anywhere in the world.
Overall this is a good supplier but not quite up to the standard of the best. The fact that they couldn’t unlock everything and were a little less friendly puts them in 2nd place.
Not quite as good as iPhoneIMEI but I’d still say Cell Unlocker is a safe bet, but watch out for those hidden costs.
3rd place: IMEI Codes
IMEICodes were my 3rd choice, but no longer do unlocks.
They onlyo unlocked 2 out of the 6 iCloud accounts. This might sound poor but because most of the other solutions I tried had a 100% failure rate it wasn’t as bad as it may seem.
It took a couple of weeks to get a refund for the unsuccessful attempts. Not that this matters anymore since they are no longer offering this service.
As you can see the cons heavily outnumber the pros.
But this iCloud hack allows your iPhone, or iPad to have some functionality.
If you bypass the lock then you can use your device to do a variety of things but not use the standard apps you find on an iPhone or iPad.
Instead, you are bypassing the device’s software and using a different interface to allow you to do a variety of things such as watch video, send SMS, login to social media.
Unfortunately, you can’t use the device as a standard phone. 🙁
Bypassing is a last resort if you can’t remove the iCloud lock on your device. Personally, I’d recommend unlocking which allows you to use your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch normally.
What can you do on your device when it is iCloud bypassed?
The iCloud Bypass should allow you to:
- Watch video
- Browse websites
- Play games
- Listen to music or radio
- Chat to friends
- Get expert help
How it works
This is a very clever hack that allows you to get around the security on your device if it is iCloud locked. It works by setting up your device to use different software on it using a thing called “DNS bypass”.
You don’t need a SIM card inserted to get this to work as it uses Wi-Fi to connect.
It is a little fiddly but this hack isn’t that difficult to do if you follow the video or written instructions below.
- USA: 126.96.36.199
- Europe: 188.8.131.52
- Asia: 184.108.40.206
- Reboot your iPhone ready to set it up as a new device.
- Start the setup process and select your country and language
- On the “Choose a Wi-Fi Network” screen press the “i” next to Wi-Fi symbol for the Wi-Fi network you want to connect to.
- Scroll down to where it says ‘DNS’ and type in one of the following
- USA: 220.127.116.11
- Europe: 18.104.22.168
- Asia: 22.214.171.124
- Tap “Back >” at the top left of the screen.
- Click your Wi-Fi network
- Type in the Wi-Fi password and click “Join” at the top right
- The iPhone will try to activate by going to a new screen. Don’t let it, hit the Back button at the top right to return to the WiFi page where you will be logged in.
- Once logged in you will see a screen which will say something like “iCloudDNSBypass.net” at the top.
Will iCloud Bypassing always work?
The short answer to this is nobody knows. There are a few things that could happen to prevent this working in future, such as:
- Apple may change iOS to block the iCloud bypass
- The companies that run the servers may shut them down
- 10 million users worldwide
- 99.9% uptime
- 50 million DNS requests per hour
- 5 million HTTPS requests per day
What is iCloud Anyway?
iCloud is a storage system created by Apple to keep your photos, videos, documents, music, apps, and more. It works on all modern Apple devices – including the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.
It allows you to share photos, calendars, locations, and more across devices, and with other people.
What is the iCloud Activation Lock?
When you buy an Apple portable device such as an iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch you are asked to secure it to your iCloud account when you first set it up. This is often known as the iPhone activation lock.
If you ever lose your device or have it stolen then you can sign in to your iCloud account online to find it, remotely delete it, or prevent it being used by anyone else.
It helps you keep your device secure, even if it’s in the wrong hands, and can improve your chances of recovering it. Even if you erase your device remotely, it can continue to deter anyone from reactivating your device without your permission. All you need to do is keep Find My iPhone turned on, and remember your Apple ID and password.
And with watchOS 2 and later, you can use Activation Lock to protect your Apple Watch too.
What is the purpose of the lock?
This is actually a good idea in some ways – it puts people off stealing your device as it will be unusable by anyone else.
However, almost 50% of second-hand iPhones bought and sold legitimately have the iCloud locked – normally left on by accident.
This means buyers can’t use them.
What is the easiest way to remove it?
The easiest way to have your iCloud unlocked is by contacting the seller, or original owner of the device and asking them to remove it from ‘Find My iPhone’ iCloud removal is a simple process and can be done from any computer or smartphone that can connect to the internet via iCloud.com.
- Sign in to iCloud.com or the Find My iPhone app on another Apple device
- Select the device
- Click Erase
- After the device has been erased, click Remove from Account
Read the full article describing the steps an owner should follow before selling their device here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201351.
This will remove the lock on your device.
The next thing you need to do is check the status of the device you just bought to see if it has been stolen. This used to be possible using Apple’s online tool but is no longer possible as they disabled it.
You have 2 options now that Apple has removed the tool:
- Inside the US: You can use the CTIA website to check the device has not been stolen.
- Outside the US: Contact your local Apple store and ask them to check. https://www.apple.com/retail/
Apple removed the tool from their website on January 29th 2017 without any warning. 
Rumour has it that Chinese hackers had been using the tool to find unlocked devices serial numbers and used them to reset iPhone serial numbers remove locks on an industrial scale. This means you can’t check the status of your Apple device online for now. It is unknown if the tool will ever return.
If it is locked due to theft you may still be able to bypass the iCloud activation as described later in this article and get some functionality
Don’t know how to find your IMEI for your iPhone?
Before you begin you need to know the IMEI for your device.
- Option 1: Dial *#06#
- Option 2: If you have an iPhone 5 or newer, your IMEI is printed on the back of the device
- Option 3:If your iPhone is not activated, there will be a little “i” button on the screen, tap it and you’ll see the IMEI
In future, it is best to request this number from the seller before you buy it to make sure the item has not been stolen or locked by the previous owner.
You simply ask Apple to check the device on your behalf and can then buy it safe in the knowledge it hasn’t been stolen and locked permanently.
How does it work?
If the original owner of your iPhone turned on a feature called ‘Find My iPhone‘ then it will automatically link their iCloud account to the iPhone.
The idea is to help them find their device if it is lost or stolen. If the worst comes to the worst and they can’t get their iPhone back then they can use ‘Find My iPhone‘ to erase the contents of the phone and lock it permanently.
Obviously, the idea behind this is to deter theft which is great. However, if you buy a used iPhone, iPad or even Apple Watch and the previous owner forgot to remove it from their ‘Find My iPhone’ account then it is locked to the old owner’s iCloud account.
This means you can’t use it. So the security on iCloud may disable the iPhone you bought in good faith and make it unusable.
How do hackers break into iCloud?
After the large scale hack of celebrity iCloud accounts there has been an increased awareness of this issue.
For those of you that haven’t heard about this…
…back in 2014, 500 private photographs of celebrities were published.
These pictures were mainly of woman, and many contained nudity.
It was thought there was a breach of the iCloud security which allowed hackers unlimited attempts at guessing passwords.
Analysts questioned the security of iCloud. There was particular concern about the safety of private information in the iCloud environment.
Subsequent analysis showed that it was more likely that the hack was done using a phishing attack.
However, the incident proved that iCloud had it weak spots when it comes to tracking and remote locking.
Criminals are now using the same ‘phishing’ techniques against you and I.
Analysis carried out by Trend Micro shows that iCloud ‘phishing’ is being done on an industrial scale to allow the resale of stolen iPhones.
The process works like this:
- The criminals steal your iPhone and examine it to get your iCloud email.
- They send an email pretending to be from Apple saying that your device has been recovered.
- Within the email they ask you to click a link to login to your iCloud account to verify it is your device.
- The link you clicked actually takes you to a spoofed website that looks like iCloud, but isn’t.
- Your login details are stored on the website and used by the gang for unlocking your iCloud account from your iPhone.
- The criminals then have the ability to look at all your private data, including pictures and your Apple Wallet.
- They can also sell your iPhone as it no longer has an iCloud lock on it.
If you are considering buying a used iPhone you should check if it has been blacklisted. In the US you can use the CTIA website to check the iPhone’s IMEI to ensure it has not been stolen. Elsewhere in the world contact your local Apple store.
“These Apple iCloud phishers run their business using a set of cybercriminal tools that include MagicApp, Applekit, and Find My iPhone (FMI.php) framework to automate iCloud unlocks in order to resell the device in underground and gray markets,” the researchers say.
The FM1.php script allows phishing, Applekit creates a network of hijacked devices, and MagicApp automates iPhone unlocking.
These tools can be used to block Apple’s services, remove the iCloud lock and it’s link to the original owner, and setup the device for sale elsewhere.
The criminals gangs behind these services seem to be based in Kosovo, India, North Africa and the Philippines.
So there are no bugs or vulnerabilities in the iCloud security itself but by the use of phishing and some clever coding the criminals can hijack stolen phones and unlocked them.
Apple is aware of these issues and will being using this information to improve iCloud security to make it harder to exploit.
Did you find this helpful?
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I have another in-depth article with reviews – perfect if you want to do an iPhone unlock so you can use your device on any phone network.
I have loved techie stuff since I played my first computer games in the early 1980’s. Since then I graduated on to computers, then smartphones, and tablets. I am a self-confessed Apple fanboy with a huge collection of iPods, iPads, MacBooks & iPhones. I enjoy helping people get the most from their Apple products.