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How To Unlock iPhone To Use Any Carrier [or SIM Card]

This guide explains everything you need to know to carrier unlock your iPhone.

So if you need to know how to SIM unlock your Apple device from any carrier worldwide step-by-step you are in the right place.

This easy to read guide will explain:

  • How to carrier unlock your iPhone using various methods.
  • How long carrier unlocking takes.
  • What a carrier / SIM / Factory / network lock is.
  • How the lock works.
  • How to check if your phone is carrier locked.

It’s a short read that will explain how you can use a SIM card from any carrier you want in your iPhone.

How To Unlock iPhone


What is a carrier lock?

Carrier / Network / SIM Unlock

A carrier lock prevents you from using a SIM card from a different company in your iPhone. If you swap SIM cards you will no longer be able to make calls or send messages

An error message appears if you try to use a SIM card from another company in your Apple device.

It is also called:

  • network lock
  • SIM lock
  • Subsidy lock

How to network unlock any iPhone from any carrier worldwide

iphone unlock carrier

How to check if your iPhone is locked

The easiest way to check if your iPhone is locked is by trying a SIM card from another carrier in your device. Most carriers will send you a free SIM so you can request one and try it in your phone and see if it works:

  1. Make sure your phone works properly by making a call.
  2. Turn off your Apple iPhone.
  3. Remove the SIM from your phone by using a paperclip or the tool supplied by Apple.
  4. Insert the new SIM card.
  5. Turn on the phone and make a call.
  6. If the call works your device is not locked. If the call fails it is locked.

What you need to unlock your iPhone

In order to unlock devices you will need to know the:

  • current carrier,
  • the model number of iPhone, and
  • IMEI code (Dial *#06# on your device to find your IMEI ).

How to unlock your iPhone

Using a third-party locking service

how to unlock iPhone carrier

There are a huge number of third-party tools that can get your iPhone unlocked. Your own carrier may not be the cheapest or fastest option. In fact, your current network provider may not be willing to help if you are still under contract.

But which service is the best if your own carrier does not want to help?

After in-depth research and based on personal experience I recommend IMEIdoctor.

Simply provide them with:

  • your location,
  • carrier, and
  • IMEI number


and they will have your iPhone automatically unlocked in a few days.

Get in touch with your carrier

  1. Ask your carrier to unlock your iPhone. If they won’t, ask a reputable service provider.
  2. Wait for it to be processed
  3. Once notified, complete the unlock. Make sure you follow the instructions you are given
  4. Test it – so you know it works

AT&T iPhone unlock

AT&T makes it really easy to get your phone unlocked via their online portal.

AT&T logo

It is a simple 3 step process:

  • Provide your IMEI (Dial *#06# on your device to find your IMEI number)
  • Give them the cellphone number and your details
  • Confirm the request and submit it

If they are unable to get your device unlocked they will let you know.

Sprint iPhone unlock services

Sprint unlocks phones purchased from them after February 2015 after they become eligible. You don’t have to request this to be done, it is done automatically.

Sprint Logo

If you want to request an unlock from Sprint then:

  1. Call the Sprint Customer Service line on 888-211-5727. Ask for the software unlock code. The rep will provide the unlock code if you qualify.
  2. Call your new carrier and give them your software unlock code.
  3. The new carrier will unlock your device and it can be used on their network.

This isn’t a full unlock as it will only unlock the phone for domestic use within the US. It does not allow international use.

Unlock T-Mobile iPhone SIM


  1. Firstly, you need to make sure your device is eligible to be unlocked. If it is, you will be sent a message when your iPhone becomes eligible.
  2. Next, contact T-Mobile and request the unlock. They will ask you for your account and handset details including your IMEI. Dial *#06# on your device to find your IMEI.
  3. Once you have been told the unlock has been done insert the SIM from the new carrier into the iPhone.
  4. Complete the first-time use process.

Sprint and T-Mobile have recently merged.

Unlock iPhone UK

Most networks in the UK unlock your iPhone for free as long as you’ve completed your contract.

The process is the same, regardless of the carrier you use:

  1. Call your current carrier and ask for your handset to be unlocked
  2. Supply all the phones details and the unlock process will begin
  3. Wait up to 30 days for the lock to be removed

If you are still under contract or have outstanding payments on your handset the carrier are unlikely to unlock it. Instead, it is better to use a third-party service.

From December 2021 it will become illegal to sell locked phones in the UK.

iPhone models you can unlock

You can unlock all models of iPhone, iPad, and cellular Apple Watch so you can use them with any carrier.

I have specific guides for unlocking the more popular models:

If you want to get rid of the Activation Lock instead of the carrier lock, then see How to unlock iCloud. If the passcode lock is the issue, see Unlocking the iPhone passcode.


How do you tell if an iPhone unlock worked?

The easiest way to check if the unlock worked is to replace your SIM with one from another company and try making a call. If the call connects and you see no error messages saying ‘invalid SIM’ if it has been unlocked properly.

How long does it take to unlock iPhone?

Typically it takes a few days to process a request to unlock an iPhone although it can take as long as 30 days.

Is it legal to unlock your iPhone?

It is legal to unlock your iPhone in most countries as long as you have finished paying for it. If you don’t fully own the device you are best to check with your carrier. In some places such as Canada, Chile, China, Israel, and Singapore, it is illegal for providers to sell SIM-locked devices.

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