How To Unlock iPhone 7 / 7 Plus (To Use a Different Carrier)

In this article, I will explain the best way to unlock an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus smartphone so you can use a different network carrier.[1]

It is a simple process that needs no technical skills or specialized knowledge.

Follow the easy-to-understand steps in the article below and join the thousands of people who I’ve helped to unlock their device, cut call costs, and improve their call coverage by switching carrier.

Let’s begin…

An unlocked iPhone 7 Plus

iPhone 7 Plus PhotoMIX-Company / Pixabay

Please note

Apple can’t unlock your iPhone so you can use a different carrier. This service can only be done by your current carrier or some approved third-party providers.

If you don’t want to switch carriers and your device is locked because you forgot the passcode, then you don’t need to use the steps in this article. Learn how to reset your passcode.

Also if your device is iCloud locked because you don’t know the Apple ID or password of the previous owner of the device, then you need a different article. Find out how to do iCloud activation lock removal.

Best Unlocking method

The only method I recommend is network unlocking.

This method does not void your warranty and it works 100% of the time with no fear of damaging your device. It is also a straightforward process with the only difficult choice being which supplier to use to perform the unlock.

Who can perform the unlock?

When it comes to picking a company to perform the unlock you have 2 simple options:

  1. The carrier that you were (or are) contacted to
  2. A reliable third-party unlocker

However, some carriers will not help you unlock your iPhone if you are still under contract, or you owe them money. This is why using a reliable third-party company is the best option.

These third-party unlockers will unlock your device regardless of any outstanding debt, or even if it is still under contract. So if you are in this situation and you want to unlock your device then use one of my recommended suppliers.

If not, feel free to use the original carrier you are (or were) contracted to.

How to do an iPhone 7 carrier unlock

A ‘network’ carrier unlock is a simple 4 step process:

  1. Ask your carrier if you can unlock your device. If so, ask them to do it. If not, ask a reputable service provider
  2. Wait for it to be processed
  3. Once notified, finalize the iPhone carrier unlock on your device, making sure you follow the instructions you are given
  4. Test it – so you know it works

More details on each of the steps are provided below.

If you have a different model you can try the following guides on how to unlock iPhone X, XS, 12iPhone 6, or iPhone 8 phones.

Step 1: Ask your carrier

Contact your carrier and ask them for an unlock.

The original contract for most suppliers was normally 24-36 months.

The iPhone 7 has been out since September 2015. So it is likely that you will be able to unlock iPhone without a hitch as it will be out of contract.

Even though your iPhone is out of contract, unfortunately, there will still be a fee for this service.

Tip: Your own carrier may not be the cheapest or fastest unlock option. Shop around.

I reviewed a huge number of tools, software, and websites to find the best options so feel free to use one of my recommendations.

All of them do iPhone SIM unlocks quickly and efficiently regardless of what your carrier you use.

Step 2: Wait for the unlocker to process it

The codes used for unlocking your handset are actually stored on Apple’s servers.

When you ask to be unlocked your chosen supplier needs to talk to Apple to get it done. The time this takes varies from country to country but you should get an estimate when you place your order.

Unfortunately, you can’t go directly to Apple yourself, you have to go through your carrier or an approved agent (such as the ones I recommended in step 1).

You need to wait until your agent tells you that Apple has unlocked your iPhone.

Step 3. Finalize it

In some cases, you will get instructions to explain what you need to do to finalize the process.

Usually, this is a fairly simple process that will involve swapping your SIM card then rebooting your iPhone 7.

Depending on your location it can be more complex and require things such as backing up your phone, erasing the contents, and then restoring it from the backup.

Step 4. Check the device was unlocked properly

Once you have followed the instructions supplied to finalize the unlocking of your handset I advise you check if you can make a call, and browse the internet using your new SIM.

All the phone features should work if it has been done properly.

Why unlock an iPhone?

Unlocking your device means that you can use it with different carriers.[1]

This allows you to pick a phone network that has the best coverage, pricing, or ethical policies for you.

It also means you can switch at any time that suits you when a better deal comes along. You simply slip the new SIM into your device, register it, and can begin using it immediately.

In short, it gives you control over which carrier you use.

Is it legal to unlock an iPhone?

Yes, it’s legal to unlock your iPhone. In some territories, there are restrictions such as having no outstanding payments for the device but this depends on the location and carrier.

USA unlocking rules

In the US there are a set of requirements that you are ‘officially’ meant to check first before getting your device unlocked:

  • Your phone must be bought from your carrier
  • Your phone must not have been reported stolen or lost
  • Your phone must not be blocked by your carrier
  • Your account with your carrier must be in good standing with no past due or unpaid balances

Each specific carrier often has additional requirements [2] you need to meet. These are normally related to how long you have owned your phone.

Europe unlocking rules

In Europe EU legislation was used to overturn a law in Belgium law that made it hard to get an unlock done. This means EU law guarantees the right to unlock your phone but like in America, you should check with your network carrier first.

Worldwide unlocking rules

Elsewhere in the world locking devices is unusual so unlocking is not really something that is required.

In territories where locking may be more common, it tends to fall into a grey area where there are no specific laws to prevent you from getting your iPhone unlocked. [3]

Reviews Of Reliable unlockers

The best third-party websites for iPhone 7 unlocking

Since networking unlocking is the best option and there are loads of suppliers I decided to try as many out as possible to see who was best. Click to read my review methodology or read on to find out who I thought was best, and why.

There are many scammers out there and I wanted to make sure that I was providing good advice.

In a hurry:

If you don’t have time to read the detailed review below the best unlocker was IMEIdoctor.

They unlocked all the devices in 2 days.

Their prices start at just £25 ($30) which is good value for this service – although depending on your location and carrier prices can be higher.

1st place: IMEIdoctor

IMEIdoctor logo

IMEIdoctor is good as they managed to network unlock every smartphone.

They are competitively priced with prices from around $28.00 USD | £19.99 GBP, although it can be more expensive in non-English speaking countries. When you select your smartphone model and network provider on the website the exact price is shown.

They were very efficient and managed to perform the iPhone unlock quicker than anyone else. On average it took a couple of days, which is very quick.

It was slower for some territories but this is clearer highlighted on the website when you buy so you are aware of this before you make your purchase.

Customer support was very responsive with most replies coming back within an hour.

IMEIdoctor is a UK based business but has no problem unlocking devices from anywhere in the world so if you are not in the UK this is not a problem.

I felt very comfortable spending money with them.

If you want to unlock iPhone 7, I suggest you go with IMEIdoctor. They are a great supplier that have earned their top spot in my review.

How to request an unlock from IMEIdoctor

Some visitors to this page said they were a bit confused about how to order an unlock so I have written this step-by-step tutorial to make it easy.

1. When you place your order you will be asked for your phones IMEI code. There are 4 ways of getting this code:

  • If you haven’t yet activated and setup your device you will see a little “i” button on the screen. Click it and it will display the IMEI code
  • On your iPhones keypad dial *#06#
  • Look at the back of your device and you should see your IMEI printed in really small text
  • Click Settings > General > About on your phone then scroll down and you will see the IMEI listed
2. Go to IMEIdoctor and select your country and network (see below). You may need to scroll through the list to find it using the arrows.
IMEIdoctor iPhone 7 page
3. A new field will pop open asking for the IMEI number. Fill it in and press enter.
4. You will be asked to confirm The Brand, model, and provide your email address for updates. Once completed click the large blue button.
IMEIdoctor iPhone 7 order
5. The order confirmation screen will open. Check you are happy with the details, and price. If so, check the T&C’s box and click the big blue button that says ‘Credit/Debit Card Payment’.
IMEIdoctor iPhone 7 order
6. Next, you will be asked to pay via the secure checkout.
IMEIdoctor iPhone 7 payment

7. Your smartphone will be unlocked in 1-3 working days.

 

2nd place: Direct unlocks

direct unlocks logo

Direct unlocks are the new boys on the block but they have already built a great reputation for a quick and reliable service. They managed to unlock all of the iPhones and iPads without a hitch.

They are a truly international organization and have a US, and UK based sites with pricing given in the appropriate currency used – USD or GBP.

All of my devices were unlocked in a couple of days so it was a speedy service.

Customer services were good, although not as warm and friendly as our winners (above).

Pricing is competitive although not quite as good as IMEIdoctor. With Direct unlocks you pay a non-refundable pre-order fee The rest of the fee is due before they finish doing the unlocking. This gives the impression that their prices are lower than they really are when you take into account the second payment. 

Direct Unlocks are rather good and almost got my top spot. They failed to make it due to their lack of track record but they are one to watch.

iPhone 7 unlocking methods explained

There are 4 common ways often suggested to carrier unlock iPhone.

3 of them are to be avoided for a number of reasons – ranging from them simply not working to them is downright dangerous.

Of these, some work, some are very dangerous and are likely to damage your device, and others are scams. You need to know which to avoid and which to pick so that you don’t end up damaging your beloved Apple device.

Here is the list of methods together with an overview of what I think of them. 

iPhone 7 and 7 Plus unlocking methods
Method Result

Hardware unlocking

Occasionally works but often doesn’t. Voids warranty and likely to damage your phone. Avoid.

Software unlocking

No longer works.

Network unlocking

It doesn’t void the warranty or damage your device. The best option for your phone or tablet.

Gevey SIM unlocking

It can work but voids warranty and can damage your device. Best avoided.

Software unlocks

Software unlocking does not work on an iPhone 7.

It is that simple.

There are loads of websites online that will claim otherwise but the truth is this method stopped working with the iPhone 4.

The reason it stopped working is that Apple improved the security of the iPhone 7 operating system – called iOS. This prevented the old software methods from working on newer handsets.

Many websites will ask you to pay an upfront fee for this type of service claiming they have found a unique method of getting your device SIM unlocked.

They don’t work.

These are common scams designed to steal your money.

I wouldn’t trust the free methods either as they are often linked to viruses or Trojan horse computer infections.

the writers of such software (and websites) are trying to prey on a lack of knowledge to generate money. They are not to be trusted.

Hardware unlocks

In theory, this could work, but in practice the risk involved is huge.

This is because hardware unlocking iPhone 7 involves opening up the device and soldering a new chip to the motherboard.

This type of work is delicate and could easily result in a broken smartphone with a slip of the hand.

Normally this type of procedure is done in small shops in the dodgy area of town. They are not an Apple reseller or an authorized dealer so this type of work voids your Apple warranty.

If it goes wrong, you are on your own.

Can you really trust this type of shop to:

  • Open the device up
  • Solder a small chip to the interior of the phone
  • Test it works
  • Close it up ensuring the touch screen and other features work properly

I know I wouldn’t.

If you can live with these risks you also have to remember that hardware unlocking is often more expensive than my recommended method of network unlocking. Fees of £150-$300 USD are to be expected (£100-£200 GBP).

So not only is it very risky it is also more expensive.

I definitely don’t recommend going down this route – I just doesn’t make sense.

Gevey SIM unlock

This method is actually quite clever.

You buy a small computer chip called an interposer which you place under your SIM card. You then squeeze the SIM holder with the chip and the SIM into your iPhone.

To understand how it works you need to know a little about how an iPhone 7 knows if it is locked.

Basically the iPhone checks by using the WiFi or cell network to send a message to check.

The interposer then intercepts any messages sent to check if it is a locked device and instead sends a code telling it the device is unlocked.

It is a great idea but it does have some drawbacks:

  1. Using an interposer voids your Apple warranty
  2. iMessage & Facetime (plus some other features) no longer work
  3. It only works on some networks, for example, it doesn’t work on T-mobile
  4. It can cause overheating and damage your iPhone
  5. You have to ‘set it up’ each time you reboot your device
  6. If your chosen network validates incoming IMSI codes it doesn’t work

I believe that if this method was more reliable it would be a great solution. However, it has too many issues to be recommended.

The biggest is the fact it can damage your iPhone and void your warranty. These risks are just too great when there are alternatives that work without these risks.

So these are 3 methods I don’t endorse.  But what about the one I recommend? Find out more about it below…

Network unlocking

This is my recommended option as it is the only one that works without voiding your warranty or potentially destroying your phone.

What is a network lock?

A network lock is a restriction put in place by your carrier that ensures you can only use a SIM from them in your phone.

This restriction is normally found on phones bought from the carriers, rather than Apple themselves.

So if you bought an iPhone 7 on a contract from a carrier such as Sprint, Vodaphone, or EE then it will be most likely network locked.

If you attempt to use a SIM card from a different network then you will see a warning message saying ‘SIM not valid’.

You won’t be able to make calls whilst this invalid SIM is in your phone.

Buying a full-price iPhone often has no bearing on if it is locked or not. You need to read the terms and conditions of the sale to be sure if it is unlocked or not.

This type of lock can be removed using a ‘network unlock‘. It is easy, reliable, and once done never needs to be done again. Ever.

It is often a low-cost option that can be done in a few simple steps.

Affiliate disclosure

Some links in this article 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 recommend these tools 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.

People also ask…

How can you unlock iPhone 7 for free?

You can use iTunes to unlock the iPhone 7 passcode for free. Or you can factory unlock your out-of-contract iPhone 7 for free by contacting your carrier and asking them to unlock it. There are also some free options you can try when attempting to iCloud unlock iPhone 7.

Can a stolen iPhone 7 be unlocked?

It is possible to unlock a stolen iPhone 7 but if you don’t know the original owners’ Apple ID and password you won’t be able to keep the data. If you don’t know the Apple ID and password you need to reset the device and remove the iCloud lock so you can set up the device as your own.

Can you unlock iPhone 7 using iTunes?

You can unlock the passcode of an iPhone 7 using iTunes. You can’t factory unlock or iCloud unlock an iPhone 7 using iTunes.

Can you unlock iPhone 7 when it is in lost mode?

You unlock iPhone 7 when it is in lost mode by entering the passcode on the device or by canceling lost mode using iCloud.com.

What should I do if I can’t unlock iPhone 7 screen?

If you can’t unlock the iPhone 7 screen but continue to enter the wrong passcode you will get a message that says ‘iPhone is disabled’. Your iPhone 7 will be completely locked and you will need to do a reset and restore so you can remove the passcode from the phone.

Is it possible to unlock iPhone 7 that’s not been paid off?

You can unlock an iPhone 7 that’s not paid off using an third-party factory unlocker. You can’t use your own carrier because they will refuse to unlock it until any outstanding payments have been made.

Can you unlock iPhone 7 when the screen is not working?

If your iPhone 7 screen is broken you can use the VoiceOver feature to unlock it. To activate VoiceOver press and hold the home button to activate Siri and then say ‘Turn on VoiceOver’. You can use the guidance from the VoiceOver to allow you to input the passcode. Another method of unlocking iPhone 7 with a broken screen is to use an external keyboard.

Is it possible to unlock iPhone 7 from iCloud?

Unlocking iPhone 7 from iCloud is possible with free methods and paid methods available to help you unlock it.

What is the quickest way to unlock iPhone 7?

Unlocking iPhone 7 can be a slow process that can take anything from 7-28 days. The fastest iPhone 7 unlock service tends to be from third-party company such as Direct Unlocks.

Can you unlock iPhone 7 without fingerprint or passcode?

If you can’t unlock iPhone 7 because you don’t remember the passcode or the fingerprint scanner doesn’t recognize your fingerprint you need to reset and restore the phone. This will remove the passcode and fingerprint and allow you to add new ones.

How do you unlock iPhone 7 if the home button is broken?

If the home button is broken on iPhone 7 then you can’t tap it to activate the passcode. You can still unlock iPhone 7 by connecting it to iTunes and turning on VoiceOver. This will display text on the iPhone 7 screen that says “press home to open”. Double-tap the text on the iPhone 7 screen and the number pad should appear so you can type in the passcode and unlock the phone.

Sources

[1] Apple support: How to unlock your iPhone for use with a different carrier
[2] WhistleOut: Can You Unlock Your Phone? Carrier Unlocking Policies Explained
[3] PicoZip: Is iPhone Unlocking Legal? US, China, UK, Japan, Germany

Comments

  1. Chibuzor

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