How To iCloud Unlock Locked iPhone (The Ultimate Guide)

icloud unlock

It seemed like a good idea to upgrade my iPhone and buy a second-hand model from eBay.

I thought I was getting a good deal as it was a great price.

When my used iPhone arrived I tried to set it up but it kept on asking me for the previous owners Apple ID and password, which I didn’t know. I emailed the seller but he didn’t reply.

So I was stuck with an unusable iPhone.

I decided to do some research to see if there was anything I could do. This is when I found out that this was a well-known scam used by sellers on eBay to sell activation locked devices to unsuspecting buyers.

More research showed me that the issue was caused by Apple’s iCloud lock but I eventually found a solution to unlock it safely, quickly and easily.

Removing the iCloud account meant I could set up and use the iPhone properly.


If you want to unlock the iCloud lock on your iPhone the solution is to use a trusted unlocker. I recommend AppleiPhoneUnlock because they are quick and reliable and offer a money back guarantee if they can’t unlock your device. It worked for me.


Here are the most important conclusions I found when researching how to iCloud unlock an iPhone:

  • Selling iCloud locked iPhone’s is a well-known scam – buyers beware
  • The lock can be removed by getting the original owner to type in his Apple ID and password to the phone and removing their iCloud account
  • iCloud unlocking can be done remotely via Apple’s website icloud.com if the seller is miles away from you
  • Apple will not help you remove the iCloud lock without proof you are the owner, such as the original receipt
  • You can claim a refund via eBay if the device is locked, but this may not be an option if you bought elsewhere
  • If you want to keep the iPhone and simply have it unlocked you could try a third-party service
  • All the free third-party unlockers are scams
  • Most of the paid unlockers are scams too
  • Picking the wrong service can cost lots of money, as I found out to my cost
  • The best way to safely iCloud unlock an iPhone is to use one of the services that worked for me


Do iCloud unlockers actually work?

As I said, I ended up being unable to setup my second hand iPhone (mine was from eBay) due to it asking for the previous owners Apple ID and password on the lock screen.

I was desperate to get my iCloud unlocked quickly and cheaply. I checked out the options online and locally in my city but I had no idea who to trust.

This set me on a quest to get the iCloud account unlocked in the quickest and cheapest way possible.

I am ashamed to tell you that I spent a fortune with different suppliers trying to get the lock removed. Without fail none of them worked.

I had given up hope and came to the conclusion that I’d never be able to use my iPhone. I had a choice. Give up tor carry on trying to find a solution.

I decide to carry on.

Eventually, after trying dozens of methods I found a couple of suppliers that actually delivered and managed to remove the lock.

I decided that I needed to write an article so that other wouldn’t have to go through the same frustrating journey as me.

So yes, it is possible to unlock iCloud

…but be very careful who you use as most companies are scammers.

How much does it cost to do an iPhone iCloud unlock (or is it free)?

There are a bunch of websites that claim to do this for free with an activation lock removal tool, PDF, or service.

Sounds almost too good to be true…

…unfortunately, it is.

The free options I tried were confusing. They were inaccurate. All were scams of one type or another. Some were actually dangerous and ended up infecting my computer with a virus.

Don’t make the same mistakes as me – avoid the free iCloud removal tools and services.

Unbelievably, many of the paid options were scams too.

Companies advertised fees of up to $250 USD (£200 GBP) with no service actually provided.

Oddly, the price had no relation to the quality service offered with the best companies charging around $65 USD (£50 GBP).

Some of the paid companies I suggest you avoid include:

  • i-Cloud unlock buddy
  • Unlock instantly
  • iPhone approved unlock
  • iPhone unlock
  • IMEI24
  • AppUnlock
  • iRemove Tools
  • i-Cloud remover

How long will it take to unlock iCloud activation lock?

Some companies will never manage to do it. They will take your money then stop all communication leaving you out of pocket and angry.

This happened to me with several iCloud unlock providers.

However, if you use a good quality service the process to unlock your iPhone works like this:

Step 1: See what model iPhone you have

You need to know the model of the iPhone you want to iCloud unlock. To find out the precise model you can check the Apple website [1].

Step 2: Get the IMEI number from your iPhone

The IMEI serial number [2] identifies your unique iPhone. You need to provide the IMEI code so that they unlock your iPhone.

On these devices, you’ll find the IMEI on the SIM tray.

  • IMEI. on an iPhone SIM card trayiPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s Plus

IMEI. on a SIM card tray

  • iPhone 3G
  • iPhone 3GS
  • iPhone 4 (GSM model)
  • iPhone 4s

On these devices, you’ll find the IMEI on the back.

  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone 6 Plus
  • iPhone SE
  • iPhone 5s
  • iPhone 5c
  • iPhone 5

IMEI on back of iPhone

Step 3: Pick an iCloud unlocker

You need to careful choose a supplier that will do what they promise. I suggest you pick one I have reviewed.

Step 4: Ask them to unlock iCloud on your iPhone

All of the suppliers I recommend have an easy to use website.

You simply let them know your iPhone IMEI and model, then pay for the service. You will get an order confirmation letting you know the order has been placed.

If you have any questions you can get in touch with them via each companies responsive help desk.

Step 5: iCloud lock is unlocked

Normally less than 3 or 4 days later they will complete the iPhone unlock. Some unlocking services are quicker than others but normally it is done within a week.

The actual speed depends on the supplier you choose.

Once completed you will be able to setup your iPhone properly without being asked for the previous owners Apple ID or password.

Which companies provide a trustworthy iCloud unlock service?

After an extensive search, I had a huge list of companies that claimed to offer unlocking services.

I went through them all one-by-one carefully examining their websites. Most looked impressive and made bold claims. Many had customer testimonials and some had very persuasive videos showing how their methods worked.

It was tough to decide who was a scammer.

I decided to checkout if they had contact details or an ‘about’ page that provided more details on who the owners were. After all if they did a good job they would have nothing to hide.

Many didn’t have this basic information so I decided not to trust them. After all how was I meant to contact them if I had an issue?

If there was a way to contact them I wrote them an email to ask them about there service. If I got no response I removed them from my shortlist. If a company doesn’t respond to pre-sales questions how would they answer any post-sales ones after I had paid? I decide I didn’t want to find out.

If the service included downloadable software or online tool I tried it out to see if it worked. If it didn’t then it was cut from my list.
I then checked each of the remaining candidates in some of the online review sites such as TrustReview to evaluate real customer feedback.

If they were poorly regarded then they were removed from my list.

I then tried out the remaining suppliers by paying them money to unlock locked iPhone.

This resulted in the following shortlist…

Best iCloud unlock provider: DoctorUnlock

doctorunlock home page

Summary box

  • Price: deposit of $20 USD (£19 GBP)
  • Speed: around 2 days
  • Customer Services: Quick and helpful

DoctorUnlock have just started unlocking iCloud accounts and their enthusiasm really shows with the quality of their service and their high success rate.

They have a good helpdesk team that answered my questions in a friendly manor within an hour or two.

I tried unlocking a variety of iPhone models from an older iPhone 4 through to a newer iPhone X. All of them had the iCloud activation lock removed quickly without a hitch.

The only negative is their charging structure. It isn’t very clear on their website but the payment you make initially is simply a deposit for the service. The remainder of the fee is payable before the unlock is completed.

I found this a bit inconvenient as the website makes it look like the lower price is for the complete service. It isn’t.

Having said this, every single iCloud unlocking service I tried did the exact same thing. So they were not doing something unusual for this market segment but I’d prefer more upfront pricing.

Overall, I found that I actually ended up paying nearer $50 USD (£39.99 GBP) for the unlock. I believe this is still value for money considering the alternative is to buy a replacement iPhone for several hundred dollars.

They accept a wide range of payment methods including Mastercard, Amex, Visa, Maestro and Nochex giving lots of flexibility on how to pay. Of course their website is highly secure.

They also offer a 100% money back guarantee if they can’t deliver the service – although I didn’t have to try this out as all my devices were unlocked.

If your device is locked and you need to get it unlocked, you should use DoctorUnlock.

Buy unlock from DoctorUnlock

Runner up iCloud unlock provider: AppleiPhoneUnlock.uk

AppleiPhoneUnlock screenshot

Summary box

  • Price: deposit of $20 USD (£19 GBP)
  • Speed: between 2 to 5 days
  • Customer Services: 24 hour response time

AppleiPhoneUnlock only started unlocking iCloud account in 2018 also making them newcomers. Having said that they have rocketed up to 2nd place in my list because they prove a great service.

They respond quickly to queries and appear to offer a great service but they are ‘too new’ to be my top pick. They need a longer track record to gain my endorsement as the best.

They also failed to unlock an iPhone 5 when I was carrying out the testing. However they refunded me in vouchers quickly and without a fuss.

Unlock speed was a little slower than my top pick but still a very acceptable 2-5 days to complete. I know speed may be important for some of you so this is another reason why it was the runner up. DoctorUnlock tell me this is something they are working hard to improve so I’ll keep an eye on this.

They use the same charging structure as DoctorUnlock meaning the ask for an initial deposit followed by a second payment to complete the unlock. They say this is because the final price depends on a number of factors such as the model, it’s location and age of your iPhone. These other factors are taken into account once the unlock has been purchased to give a final fee.

This means they have the ability to unlock devices from anywhere in the world.

AppleiPhoneUnlock accepts a wider variety of payment methods including American Express.

Overall AppleiPhoneUnlock is a good supplier but not yet quite up to the standard of the best. They are gaining on top spot rapidly and DoctorUnlock need to stay on their toes or they may well be replaced as the premium iCloud removal service.

Buy AppleiPhoneUnlock.uk unlock


People also ask

Will having an iCloud backup help?

An iCloud backup will not help you unlock iCloud locked devices. The iCloud backup would help you to restore your device if you had forgotten your passcode and had to erase, reset and recover it. However, the passcode recovery procedure does not help you with iCloud locked iPhones.

How can I fix iCloud so my iPhone works?

You can’t fix iCloud because it hasn’t actually broken. What has happened is that the iOS system has secured your iPhone so it can’t be used by someone else if stolen. This is actually how it is meant to work so there isn’t a way to fix iCloud, just a method to follow in order to remove it.

How did I end up with an iCloud locked iPhone?

Having an iCloud locked iPhone is due to the previous owner forgetting to sign out of iCloud before selling their phone to you. Your iCloud locked iPhone won’t be able to be used as it is linked to the iCloud account of the original owner unless you know their username and iCloud password. If you don’t know their login details then they need to sign out of iCloud using the Find my iPhone App to unlock iCloud activation lock.

Can I unlock iCloud activation lock?

Yes, you can unlock iCloud activation lock and remove the iCloud account for free or by paying a reliable service provider such as the ones mentioned in this article.

Can I remove iCloud account on iPhone?

Yes, you can remove iCloud account on iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and the Apple Watch even when the iCloud lock has been triggered. This can be done by asking the previous owner to remove it remotely for you or by using one of the recommended paid services found in this article. So if your iPhone has been locked by iCloud activation lock you can remove the iCloud lock for free, or by using a good quality paid service.

Will using an iOS system recovery tool help me?

Using an iOS system recovery tool will not help you because the lock is not an iOS issue. The iOS system is installed on your device and controls how it works whereas the iCloud lock is controlled remotely by Apple from their servers. Performing an iOS system recovery is pointless and a waste of your time.

Wrapping up

The iCloud lock is designed to prevent someone stealing your iPhone and selling it on. It is a good idea as it reduces theft and protects your data. However, it can lead to innocent buyers purchasing locked phones through no fault of their own. The way Apple has implemented this security system means you are stuck at the lock screen and can’t enable your device which seems harsh.

The same Apple ID security system is in place with all iOS based devices such as the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. I have further articles that explain how to bypass, unlock, or remove iCloud activation lock if you would like to know more, or try some other solutions.


[2] Apple support article: Find the serial number or IMEI on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch

[1] Apple support article: Identify your model

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