What does unlocking mean?
When you sign up for a smartphone contract the phone they provide is normally locked to a single carrier or network. If you try to use a new SIM card from another carrier in your phone it won’t work.
Sim cards are small chips found inside all cellular phones. They are provided by the carrier and they allow your phone to make a call, send a text message, and more.
After unlocking your smartphone you can use any compatible SIM card from any carrier. In short, unlocking your phone gives you control over which cellular network you use.
Why should I get my device unlocked?
When you unlock your iPhone 7 it allows you to switch to a carrier that has the best network coverage, pricing, service, or plans for you. You are no longer tied to the original company that supplied the phone.
With an unlocked phone, you can also switch between carriers whenever you want. For example, you may want to move to a cheaper deal or get a higher data allowance. And once the deal ends you can switch back, or to a different provider. Skipping between other networks is easy.
You may also want to use your phone overseas but roaming fees make it very expensive. With an unrestricted device, you can pick up a local SIM card when you arrive. This means you pay local rates for calls and texts. You can swap between SIM cards whenever you want after you unlock your iPhone 7.
This means you don’t have expensive roaming fees to worry about.
How do I check if my device is locked?
The easiest way to tell if you have a SIM-restricted or locked phone is by tapping Settings > General > About. An unlocked iPhone will say No SIM Restrictions opposite the Carrier Lock / Network Provider Lock option.
Another way is to pop a SIM card from another company into the phone. If you see a message that says SIM not supported then your phone is SIM restricted.
4 unlocking methods
I have found 4 different SIM unlock methods that claim to let you use your smartphone on different carriers:
|#1||Network unlocking||It doesn’t void the warranty or damage your device. The best option for your phone or tablet.|
|#2||Gevey SIM unlocking||It can work but voids the warranty and can damage your device. Best avoided.|
|#3||Hardware unlocking||Occasionally works but often doesn’t. Voids the warranty and likely to damage your phone. Avoid.|
|#4||Software unlocking||No longer works.|
This is my recommended option as it is the only one that works without voiding your smartphone’s warranty.
It is easy, reliable, and once successfully completed never needs to be done again. It is a low-cost option that can be done in a few simple steps. The only difficult choice is deciding which supplier to use to perform the unlock.
Network unlock your iPhone 7 using this simple 4 step process:
- Ask your carrier to unlock your device. If they won’t, ask a reputable service provider
- Wait for it to be processed
- Once notified, finalize the unlock, making sure you follow the instructions you are given
- Test it – so you know it works
Step 1: Ask your carrier
Contact your carrier and ask them to unlock your handset.
The iPhone 7 has been out since September 2015. So it is likely that you will be able to unlock it as it will be out of contract. Unfortunately, there is normally a fee for this service.
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 an approved agency such as the ones I recommended.
Step 3. Finalize it
Usually, this is a fairly simple process that will involve swapping your SIM card then rebooting your smartphone.
Step 4. Check the device was unlocked properly
Once unlocked, check if you can make a call, and browse the internet with your new SIM card inserted.
The phone should work normally if it has been done properly.
The Gevey SIM card method requires you to buy a small computer chip called an interposer which you place in the SIM tray. You then squeeze the existing SIM holder with the chip and the SIM card into your iPhone.
It is a great idea but it does have some drawbacks:
- Using an interposer voids your warranty
- iMessage & Facetime (plus some other features) no longer work
- It only works on some networks, for example, it doesn’t work on T-mobile
- It can cause overheating and damage your iPhone
- You have to ‘set it up’ each time you reboot your device
- 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 drawbacks to be recommended.
In theory, this could work, but in practice the risk of destroying your phone is huge. This method involves opening up the phone 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 a dodgy area of town. They are not an Apple reseller or an authorized dealer so this type of work voids your warranty.
If it goes wrong, you are on your own. It is expensive too, with fees of £150-$300 USD (£100-£200 GBP). So not only is it very risky it is also expensive.
Software unlocking does not work on an iPhone 7. In fact, this method stopped working with the iPhone 4.
The reason it stopped working is that Apple improved the security of the operating system – called iOS. This prevented the old software methods from working on newer handsets.
You have 2 ways to unlock your iPhone 7 or 7 plus phone:
- Ask the carrier that you were (or are) contacted to
- Use 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 IMEI unlockers will unlock your device regardless of any outstanding debt, or even if it is still under contract.
iPhoneIMEI is the best third-party unlocker of iPhone 7 models at the moment.
They are competitively priced with prices from around $28.00 USD | £19.99 GBP, although it is 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.
iPhoneIMEI 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.
Is it legal to unlock my phone?
Yes, it’s legal to unlock any iPhone model. In some territories, there are restrictions such as having no outstanding payments for the handset but this depends on the location and carrier.
In the US there are a set of requirements that you are ‘officially’ meant to check first before getting your phone 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 you need to meet. These are normally related to how long you have owned your phone.
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.
Elsewhere in the world locking phones and other devices is unusual so this service 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.
The Apple Store 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.
How can I unlock my phone 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.
Can a stolen device be unlocked?
It is possible to unlock a stolen phone but if you don’t know the original owner’s 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 an Apple smartphone using iTunes?
You can’t factory unlock or iCloud unlock a locked iPhone 7 using iTunes.
Can you unlock a device when it is in lost mode?
You unlock the phone 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 the 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 phone 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 a phone that’s not been paid off?
You can unlock an iPhone 7 that’s not paid off using a 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 a cellphone 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 option is to use an external keyboard.
What is the quickest way to unlock a phone?
Unlocking iPhone 7 can be a slow process that can take anything from 7-28 days. The fastest unlock service tends to be from a third-party company such as iPhoneIMEI.
Can you unlock an Apple phone without my 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 unlock the iPhone by removing the passcode and Touch ID security and allow you to add new ones.
How do you unlock a device 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 it by connecting it to iTunes and turning on VoiceOver. This will display text on the phone’s screen that says “press home to open”. Double-tap the text on the screen and the number pad should appear so you can type in the passcode and unlock the phone.
As you see, there are a number of suppliers that can SIM unlock iPhone 7. Once completed, you will be able to select the best value deal for your handset – regardless of where in the world you go.
If you click a link to go through to a provider, we may get paid. This only happens if you buy a service. This is what funds us, and keeps us free to use. For a more detailed explanation see our affiliate disclosure.