In this free guide, I am going to tell you how to go about unlocking your iPhone X, XS, or 11. However, this guide is actually suitable for all models of the iPhone on the market.
No need for complex technical solutions, hacks, or jailbreaking. Just a quick and easy solution to permanently unlock your phone from your cellular network so you can use it on any network you want.
Best of all this solution works no matter which network you currently use, or where you are in the world.
Why Unlock your iPhone?
There are many reasons why you may decide to unlock your iPhone:
Perhaps you have been gifted an old iPhone by friends or family after they upgraded to the latest model. Or maybe you have bought a used iPhone from eBay or Craigslist and want to keep your existing phone number on your current network.
However one of the biggest reasons is because you want to swap to a cheaper ‘SIM only’ tariff with a different carrier which could save you lots of money.
Whatever the reason this article will explain the steps you need to follow to unlock your iPhone using an official method that actually works.
Your iPhone is probably locked to a single network
Most iPhones are locked to a single network when you buy them. This means they need to be unlocked before you can use a SIM card from another cellular network in them. You can buy unlocked devices direct from Apple, but if you buy from elsewhere they are likely to be SIM locked.
The SIM lock status is often overlooked by buyers when they are trying to get a good deal on eBay so you are likely to end up being stuck on a cellular network that may be too expensive or have a poor signal in your location.
If you want to swap to a cheaper tariff or get a SIM-only deal you will need to unlock your iPhone using the instructions in this article.
How to unlock your device
The quickest way to unlock your device is by clicking the following links and filling out the onscreen form. This process is endorsed by Apple and is the official way to do it. It is done online making it really quick and easy:
You simply need to know:
- The model of phone you have
- The country you are in
- The carrier/network it currently uses
- The phones IMEI (dial *#06# on your phone to obtain your IMEI)
iPhone unlock methods
In this article, I only talk about the official ways to unlock an iPhone.
There are loads of unofficial methods to unlock an iPhone or iPad such as “jail-breaking”, “Gevey Sims”, RSIM, SAM, and Ultrasn0w but I can’t recommend them.
Some of them unlock your device using software or codes and involved complex settings.
However, there is no guarantee this method will work. Indeed many of the websites offering this type of service are simply scams. Others only do a temporary job.
If you decide that this is a method you want to pursue do some research to make sure you fully understand what you are committing to and what the implications might be.
The only way to ensure that the device is unlocked, and stays that way is to inform Apple that the phone is unlocked so they update their systems.
The way in which you do this is through your carrier/network operator or by using an official unlocking service. This process normally has a small fee, but it is worth it to get your device permanently unlocked legitimately without invalidating its warranty.
Which networks or carriers can be unlocked?
You can unlock your iPhone from almost any network, in any country.
USA mobile cellphone networks
You can unlock from the following American carriers:
- AT&T iPhone USA
- T-Mobile iPhone USA
- Sprint iPhone USA
- Verizon iPhone USA
- Cellcom USA iPhone
- Cricket USA iPhone
- iPhone GCI Wireless USA
- NTelos iPhone USA
- Tracfone USA
- Metro PCS iPhone
UK mobile phone networks
You can unlock the following British carriers:
- Vodafone UK
- Orange UK
- T-Mobile UK
- EE UK
- Tesco UK
- Three Hutchison UK
Canadian mobile cellphone networks
You can unlock the following Canadian carriers:
- Bell iPhone Canada
- Fido Canada iPhone
- Rogers Canada iPhone
- Telus Canada iPhone
- Sasktel iPhone Canada
- MTS Allstream iPhone Canada
Australian mobile phone networks
You can unlock the following Australian mobile phone networks:
- Optus iPhone Australia
- Vodafone Australia
- Telstra iPhone Australia
Worldwide mobile phone networks
You can also unlock your iPhone from almost any network, worldwide.
Which iPhone models can be unlocked?
All models of iPhone can be unlocked but this article specifically deals with the iPhone X, XS, and 11 range of devices. I describe the official unlocking methods so they will work regardless of your location.
Unlock iPhone 11, 11 Pro, or 11 Pro Max, X, XS, XS Max
Step 1: Contact your Carrier or Third Party Unlock Company
Firstly, contact your carrier and find out what their terms and conditions are for your iPhone to be unlocked from your account.
If you are allowed by your carrier to unlock the device then you can ask to do so.
There is normally a fee for this service. After all, you are probably going to leave them, and they know it, so they need to extort every last penny from you before you go.
Your own carrier isn’t always the best choice because they may not let you leave, or charge a fortune.
That’s right – they can refuse to unlock your device. And even if you can go they can charge huge fees to perform a simple unlock.
Why give them the satisfaction (and the cash) when you can use one of our preferred third-party companies instead?
I have reviewed a vast number of SIM unlock websites, tools, and services so you can use my recommended supplier knowing they do what they say. They provide iPhone SIM unlocks quickly and efficiently regardless of your location.
Step 2: Wait for the unlock
After you ask for the unlock you will be provided with an estimate of how long the process will take.
There can be wild differences in times from country to country.
You need to wait until your carrier informs you that your iPhone has been unlocked.
Step 3: Finalise the unlock on your device if required
You may receive some instructions that explain the process to finalize the unlock.
This normally involves backing up your iPhone, doing a factory reset, and restoring it from the backup. Again, this varies depending on your phone and location.
Step 4: Check the unlock worked
Once it has been confirmed that your unlock has been done and you have carried out any procedure provided you should replace your SIM card with one from another network provider.
It should work if the unlock has been done properly.
How can I check if my iPhone has been unlocked?
Some unlockers may send some instructions about rebooting your device and perhaps performing some other steps to ensure the unlock is finalized on your iPhone. Make sure you do these before swapping out your SIM card.
Once it has been confirmed that your unlock has been completed you should replace your SIM card with one from another network provider. Most cellular networks offer free ‘pay as you go’ SIM cards you can try. There should be no messages on the screen saying ‘invalid SIM’ if it has been unlocked properly.
Is an unlocked iPhone really cheaper?
If you have bought a used device that is out of contract then you can save hundreds per year by swapping to a cheaper network. Make sure you shop around for the best deal in your area. Don’t forget to check the network coverage provided so that you can use your iPhone reliably where you live.
Is it legal to unlock your iPhone?
In some places, such as China, Israel, and Singapore, network locking is actually illegal. In others, carriers do not provide unlocking codes at all. In some countries, customers are forced to pay a fee to have the network lock removed.
However, regardless of local rules, it is almost universally legal to unlock your iPhone.
Normally you are allowed to SIM unlock your iPhone after owning it for a while – in the UK this can be as little as 30 days but it varies from carrier to carrier and country to country.
If you request your device to be unlocked after this waiting period then you can normally ask your network carrier and they will usually unlock it for a fee.
If you want to have it unlocked sooner you need to use an unlocking company.
Why are iPhones locked?
iPhones and iPads are expensive devices so carriers reduce the initial up-front cost by signing customers up to a contract that divides the handset cost down into monthly ‘chunks’ over a period of time with a lower up-front fee.
This means the customer pays for their iPhone or iPad over a period of time rather than in a lump sum. This allows the carrier to recoup the cost of the handset over the lifetime of the contract – usually between 1 and 3 years.
In this scenario, if the iPhone wasn’t locked to the carriers network the customer could sign a contract with one supplier to get a cheap iPhone or iPad, then stop paying and swap to a cheaper or more convenient network. They could even sell the phone on for a profit.
The network lock discourages such practices.
How are iPhones locked?
A SIM lock, simlock, network lock, carrier lock, or (master) subsidy lock is a restriction built into the iPhone and iPad by Apple and enforced by the carrier to restrict use to their network.
This ties your Apple device to a single network so that you are forced to use that carrier no matter what.
SIM locks come as part and parcel of your phone contract when you buy an iPhone or iPad.
Even if you don’t buy a phone directly from a carrier, such as Sprint or EE, and get it from a retailer like Amazon you are likely to find it is SIM locked to a particular network.
This is regardless of whether you buy the device on a 2-year contract or if you buy the device at full price.
The only iPhones or iPads that do not have a SIM lock will specifically say the device is SIM-free, contract-free or unlocked – such as the unlocked version of the iPhone, which is sold at the Apple store.
If you want an unlocked device, you should check in advance whether the iPhone or iPad you are considering purchasing is an unlocked device.
Remember that paying full price alone doesn’t guarantee that a smartphone is unlocked out of the box. This is even more important to check when buying a used phone.
How is an iPhone lock enforced?
The difference between a locked and an unlocked phone is that a locked device has a software code on it that prevents you from taking it and using it on another carrier’s network.
This may within the same state, or country and also restricts the use of your handset abroad.
An unlocked device is an iPhone or iPad which does not impose any carrier restrictions. This means you are free to choose the network carrier with the cheapest prices or best coverage for your area.
So you can remove the SIM card and replace it with one from another carrier and it still works. Many people with unlocked devices take their handset overseas and buy a SIM when they arrive and pop it in to keep their call costs down.
What about shops that offer to unlock iPhone?
When you want to unlock a cellular phone you might take it to a local phone store and ask them to do it for you.
This won’t work with an iPhone or an iPad because the lock is stored on Apple’s computers.
If a local store manages to perform an unlock it will be most likely because they have “jailbroken” your iPhone or iPad.
This is only a temporary solution and as soon as you connect your device to iTunes, or download a new version of iOS it will be locked to the original network again.
It also invalidates the warranty so be careful when choosing this option.
The only official way to unlock an iPhone is by using the methods listed in this article, or by using IMEIdoctor. For your own peace of mind, I recommend paying a small fee to permanently unlock your device.
Can I unlock my iPhone for free?
More and more mobile phone networks are offering iPhone unlocks for free. Each has its own terms & conditions, for example, some will only unlock the iPhone for free if it is the original owner who is applying. You should contact your network provider for more information.
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