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

An unlocked iPhone 7 Plus

iPhone 7 Plus PhotoMIX-Company / Pixabay

In this article I will explain my recommended method of unlocking an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus smartphone so you can use a different carrier.[1]

After you successful unlock your device you can use your phone on any network, use any SIM, anywhere worldwide. There will be no restriction of having to stick with a single, overpriced carrier.

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.

My Recommended iPhone 7 Unlocking method

The only method I can 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.

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 unlocker 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.

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 need 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 fairly simple process which 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 advice you see if you can make a call, and browse the internet using your new SIM.

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

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 DoctorUnlock.

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: DoctorUnlock

DoctorUnlock logo

DoctorUnlock is good having network unlocked every smartphone.

They are competitively priced with prices going from approx $30 USD (£25) up to approx $130 USD (£105). The exact price depends on where you are based and which network provider you are using. This is all made very clear on their website.

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.

All their prices are listed in GBP (£’s) as DoctorUnlock is a UK based business. However, they have 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 DoctorUnlock. They are a great supplier that have earned their top spot in my review.

How to request an unlock from DoctorUnlock

Some visitors to this page said they were a bit confused about how to order an iPhone 7 unlock so this tutorial explains what you need to do step-by-step.

  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 set up your device you will see a little “i” on screen. Click it and it will display the IMEI code
  • On your iPhones keypad dial *#06#
  • Look at the rear of your device and you should see your IMEI printed in really small text
  • Click Settings > General > About. Then scroll down and you will find the IMEI listed

2. Go to DoctorUnlock and select Unlock iPhone 7 / 7+ (see below).

 DoctorUnlock iPhone Unlock Webpage

3. Select your country and phone network by clicking the buttons and the price will appear on the right hand side.

DoctorUnlock iPhone 7 Unlock

4. Check you are happy with the price which appears over on the right. If so, type in your IMEI number and click “Unlock Now!”. 

5. Next, you will be asked to pay via the secure checkout. Don’t forget to put in your email address so you can be kept up to date with the unlock process. 

doctorunlock payment page 

6. Click the ‘Buy now!’ button and pay using your preferred payment method. 

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 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 DoctorUnlock. 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 with it’s American and British based websites 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.

3rd place: Official iPhone Unlock

Official iPhone Unlock logo

Official iPhone Unlock was pretty good as they unlocked every device. However, like Direct unlocks (above) their payment structure is a little odd – but more on that later.

They were efficient as well – with each unlock taking around 2-3 days, which is pretty impressive.

Their customer support was fairly good, but not up to the standard of DoctorUnlock. Sometimes I’d have to wait a day to get a reply to a query.

Their pricing was very similar to DoctorUnlock – with unlocks priced between £25 (approx $30 USD) and £105 (approx $130 USD) depending on country, model, and network. However, the payments are structured differently making them appear ‘cheaper’ than they really are.

It isn’t very clear on the website but you pay a £19.99 pre-order fee (approx $16). The remainder of the fee is paid to release the code to you. Therefore, you don’t get to see the total price you pay for the unlock when you place your order. You are only shown the initial deposit figure.

The pre-order payment is deducted from the total cost so you are not ripped off but it isn’t very transparent. Some buyers claim the feel ‘blackmailed’ into paying more which isn’t the best customer experience.

This could be resolved easily by showing the total price during the order process. This is the main reason Official iPhone Unlock has been pushed into 3rd place.

They do accept a wider range of payment methods than DoctorUnlock, but no more than Direct Unlocks. Like iPhone IMEI prices are in GBP (£) but they can unlock iPhone 7’s from anywhere in the world.

They are kept in the top 3 by virtue of being able to do the unlocks successfully and for a reasonable fee. But because they have a dubious pricing methodology and their support isn’t quite as fast as it could be they find themselves in 3rd spot for unlocking.

Official iPhone Unlock customer feedback

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 being 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

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

Gevey SIM unlocking

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 website online that will claim otherwise but the truth is this method stopped working with the iPhone 4.

The reason it stopped working is because 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 are 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 your 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 whist 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.

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 cancelling 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 which 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

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