I am going to tell you the best way to unlock an iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.
When unlocked you can then use any SIM, or use any cell network, anywhere in the world, without restriction.
You may have read online that there are actually 4 different ways of unlocking iPhone 7, but 3 of them do not work properly and can actually damage your handset.
Read on to find out my recommended method and the 3 to avoid.
My Recommended iPhone 7 Unlocking method
The best unlocking method is a ‘network unlock’. It works reliably and does not affect the warranty on your device.
It is also a straightforward process with ‘selecting who to use’ being the only decision you need to make.
When it comes to picking a company to perform the unlock you have 2 simple options:
- The cell phone company that you were (or are) contacted to
- A reliable third-party unlocker
However, some cell phone companies 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 can be the best option.
These 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 supplier you are (or were) contracted to.
Do not be tempted by the following methods that you may hear about online or from friends. They do not work and should be avoided:
- Gevey SIM unlocking
- Hardware unlocking
- Software unlocking
Each of these methods are dangerous and can damage your smartphone.
And because they all void your warranty you can’t take it to Apple to have it repaired afterward.
How to do an iPhone 7 network unlock
A network unlock is a simple 4 step process:
- Ask your carrier if you can unlock your device. If so, ask them to do it. If not, ask a reputable service provider
- Wait for it to be processed by your carrier or unlocker
- Once notified, finalize the iPhone unlock on your device, making sure you follow the instructions you are given
- Test it to make sure it worked
You will find more details on these steps 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 some instructions to explain what you need to do to finalize the process.
This can be a simple as rebooting your device, or sometimes it can be slightly more complex.
Depending on your location it can be more complex and require things such as a factory reset, and a restore from backup.
Step 4. Check the device was unlocked properly
Once you have followed the instructions supplied to finalize the unlocking of your handset you should try a SIM card from another network carrier to see if it works.
The SIM 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 iPhoneIMEI.
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.
TrustedReviews gives them a rating of 9.5/10, which is excellent.
1st place: iPhoneIMEI.net
iPhoneIMEI.net is brilliant 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 iPhoneIMEI 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 iPhoneIMEI.net. They are a great supplier that have earned their top spot in my review.
iPhoneIMEI.net customer testimonial
How to request an unlock from iPhoneIMEI.net
Some visitors to this page said they were a bit confused about how to order an iPhone unlock so I have written this step-by-step tutorial to make it easy.
- 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” 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 iPhoneIMEI.net and select iPhone 7 / 7+ on the left and your cell network on the right (see below).
3. On the right, you will see the ‘unlock’ button. Click it and you will then be sent to the pricing page which shows how much you need to pay.
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!”(image below) .
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.
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 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 iPhoneIMEI. 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.
3rd place: Official iPhone Unlock
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 iPhoneIMEI. Sometimes I’d have to wait a day to get a reply to a query.
Their pricing was very similar to iPhoneIMEI – 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 iPhoneIMEI, 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
There are 4 common ways often suggested.
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.
Gevey SIM unlocking
Can work but voids warranty and can damage your device. Best avoided.
Occasionally works but often doesn’t. Voids warranty and likely to damage your phone. Avoid.
No longer works.
Doesn’t void the warranty or damage your device. The best option for your phone or tablet.
I will detail the problems with the first 3 methods, before explaining more about the best method.
The issue with software unlocking is it no longer works.
if you Google “how to unlock iPhone” you will find quite a number of websites writing about iPhone software unlocks.
Be warned – they do not work on the iPhone 7.
Do not pay for any software unlock of any type for your iPhone 7 as it is a scam.
Software unlocks stopped working with the iPhone 4.
Hardware unlocking was the first type of unlocking that didn’t rely on hacking the SIM card.
Technically speaking, the process involves opening up your smartphone and doing a testpoint on the A17 gate. This type of hack is a variation of the Fakeblank exploit.
To be blunt, the process is the type of hack you find performed in small corner shops in dodgy areas of town.
The hacker needs to open up your device and install a piece of hardware that runs a special computer code. The code will prevent the iPhone from being locked to a single network.
The downside is your device is opened and altered by an unauthorized dealer which voids your warranty. So if you have a future issue with your iPhone, such as a broken screen, Apple is likely to refuse to fix it.
It is also a risky procedure with a high failure rate.
It can destroy your iPhone.
It is often quite expensive too – with fees of £100-£200 ($150-$300 USD) charged with no guarantee it will work.
This is more expensive than network unlocking and far riskier.
I definitely don’t recommend going down this route. My advice – don’t do it!
Gevey SIM unlocking
Gevey interposer with the micro SIM on top and the tray underneath
What is Gevey SIM Hack?
The Gevey SIM hack requires you to buy a small computer chip that sits between the SIM tray and the SIM card on your cell phone. This chip is called an interposer.
The interposer needs to be installed and kept in place all the time to make sure your device remains unlocked.
How does Gevey SIM interposer work?
This is where it gets a little technical.
You SIM has a unique IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) number that matches your account with your carrier and your handset. When you turn your iPhone on it checks with the carrier to see if the handset is network unlocked.
If fitted with an interposer, when you switch your iPhone on the Gevey interposer toggles your phone into flight mode preventing a connection to the phone network. It is forced to use the emergency 112 number to connect.
While establishing a connection the Gevey interposer cycles through IMSI codes to find a suitable combination.
Next, the flight mode is switched off and the fake ‘unlocked’ IMSI code is used instead of the real one.
Problems with Gevey SIM hack
- It voids your Apple warranty.
- It only works if your iPhone handles 112 calls properly from your location.
- If your phone validates the IMSI code on all incoming calls it doesn’t work.
- This hack only works on some cell phone networks. For example, T-Mobile does not have 3G service using the Gevey hack.
- Due to network issues, some features won’t work properly such as Facetime & iMessenger.
- Your mobile cell phone will have a poorer signal causing call dropouts.
- Your phone is likely to get too hot and suffer from a reduction in battery life.
- If your iPhone loses power or reception you have to perform the whole process again.
These reasons are why I can’t recommend this method to you.
Now that I have explained the problems with these 3 methods, let’s look at the best way to do an iPhone unlock.
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?
Put simply, a network lock is a built-in restriction in your iPhone that forces you to only be able to use a SIM from one carrier.
This is normally the carrier you bought your iPhone from ie Sprint, EE, Vodaphone or whoever.
And you can’t change it.
This type of lock is sometimes called a SIM lock, carrier lock, or (master) subsidy lock.
SIM not valid message
So if you get a SIM from another carrier and put it into your iPhone it won’t work.
Instead, you will receive a message which says ‘SIM Not Valid’ explaining the issue with a very unhelpful ‘Try Again’ button.
The only time your iPhone won’t have a SIM lock is if it was bought from a seller that offers “unlocked” iPhones – such as the Apple store.
Buying an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus at full price would have been no guarantee that it was SIM free. It would have to be specified as an unlocked device.
The only unlocking option that doesn’t void your Apple warranty is a network unlock.
It is also the most reliable and once completed it lasts for the lifetime of your phone.
It is also very simple to do – just follow the method above.
How do carriers stop you using another SIM?
Your SIM has a unique IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) code which ties your phone account and handset together.
If you put a different SIM in your phone it checks with your carrier if the IMSI matches the one in its database.
If it doesn’t you get a ‘SIM not valid’ message on your iPhone screen and you won’t be able to use it to make calls.
How does it work?
When you request to have your iPhone unlocked it is no longer listed in the database as having to use a SIM with a specific IMSI. Instead, you can use any SIM with any IMSI.
This means you are free to decide which network you want to use.
What is your review methodology?
Initially, I needed to find who to use.
I did a quick Google search to find as many companies as possible that offered a service to unlock iPhone 7 models.
I looked at each of their websites and reviewed them carefully. I also dropped them an email to check that there was someone in charge.
This reduced my list drastically to 10 different companies offering an unlock service.
I then decided to find out what customers thought of them by reviewing feedback left on TrustPilot, RipooffReport, and TrustmarkReviews. This reduced my list down to 4 finalists who I wanted to test thoroughly.
I decided to enlist the help of my vibrant community here at iChimp. I asked for readers that wanted to unlock their device to get in touch. I tried to select people located all around the world. I believed this reflected my readers and also thoroughly tested the quality of the services provided.
I ended up with 16 volunteers with the following scenarios:
- Out of contract (with no money due)
- In contract (with no money due)
- In contract (with money still due)
Each individual emailed me their IMEI code so I could place orders with each of the top 4 suppliers.
What were the judging criteria?
Each supplier was judged based on 4 things:
- Did it work?
- Was it a reasonable price?
- How long did it take?
- Were they responsive to customer queries?
Did the iPhone unlock work?
Did they actually manage to do an iPhone unlock on the handsets? Obviously, if they didn’t they were no good.
Was it a reasonable price?
The price depended on country and phone network – even for the same model of iPhone. Prices typically ranged between $20 to $40 USD (£12 -£30).
How long did it take?
I didn’t want it to take too long. Waiting 21 days for the work to be finished wasn’t good enough.
Were they responsive to customer queries?
Once I had paid my fee I wanted to ensure I was comfortable with what was happening. I wanted to be updated regularly on the status of the process.
I also wanted a responsive customer services team so I could get answers to my question quickly.
Kevin Craighead is iChimp’s chief technology editor and has been covering Apple’s mobile electronics, security, privacy and the wider technology sector since 2011. He is also a highly regarded Web Designer & Developer.
With a career spanning 30 years which began doing PC support (before the internet existed), Kevin’s technical expertise and experience is highly regarded in a wide variety of fields. His well-researched work resulted in highly regarded and often cited articles such as the infamous ‘Unable to move message to trash’ error on iOS devices.