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How To Unlock iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s To Use Any Carrier

This guide explains the easiest way to carrier unlock iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s so you can move to another network provider.

The carrier lock removal process described in this article is also known as:

  • SIM unlocking.
  • Factory unlocking.
  • Network unlocking.
  • Simlock removal.
  • Subsidy lock removal.

This guide will explain the following:

  • Free carrier unlocking.
  • How to use swap to a different carrier.
  • Specific requirements for unlocking from each major carrier.
  • How to tell if your phone is locked.
  • The iPhone 5 unlock process.
  • Using third-party providers to unlock your iPhone 5.
  • Unlocking without a SIM.
  • Unlocking when you don’t know your carrier.

This article applies to the following products:

How To Unlock iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s
Above: iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, and iPhone 5c in different colors

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Please note that Apple does not have the ability to unlock iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, or iPhone 5s.

Once your iPhone has been unlocked you can use a SIM card from a different carrier, or swap to a different network provider from anywhere in the world – without any restrictions on your iOS device.

To find out more about iPhone carrier unlocking, see Factory unlock iPhone.

If you would like to unlock your phone but don’t know your passcode you should read our guide on what to do if you forgot your iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s passcode. Or if you would like to know how to get past Activation Lock then see our article on how to bypass the iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s iCloud lock.

What you need to unlock iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s

The highly regarded iPhone 5, released in 2012, and iPhone 5c, released the following year, used the Apple A6 System on a chip. The equally well-reviewed iPhone 5s released in 2013 is powered by the Apple A7 system-on-chip, the first 64-bit processor ever used on a smartphone. This unique architecture means a dedicated unlocking guide is required to unlock it properly.

If you bought the phone new and want to have it unlocked by your carrier then normally you have to meet the following conditions:

  • It must be paid off in full with no outstanding debts, and
  • it must not be reported stolen.

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If you bought the phone second-hand and want to have it unlocked by your carrier then you have to meet the same conditions listed above, and also have the original account holder’s details. This allows the carrier to check there are no outstanding debts against the device in your, or the original owner’s name.

If there are any outstanding payments due against the iPhone 5 the carrier will not unlock it. Instead, you can use a third-party company to carrier unlock your device.

How to unlock iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s from any network

If you can’t ask your carrier to unlock your iPhone, the best solution is to use a third-party unlocking service. They can unlock your device from any network provider in the world.

To unlock iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s from any carrier do the following:

  1. Choose a reputable third-party provider. See who we recommend.
  2. Go to the providers’ website to request an iPhone unlock.
  3. The provider will ask for the current carrier and the IMEI. To find your 15-digit IMEI number, dial *#06# on your phone or go to Settings > About.
  4. Pay the fee.
  5. Wait for the unlock to be processed.
  6. Once unlocked, remove the SIM card.
  7. If you have a new SIM card from a different carrier, insert it. It will activate.
  8. If you don’t have a new SIM card, backup your iPhone.
  9. Once backed up, reset and erase your iPhone.
  10. Restore your iPhone from your backup.

We tested many of the third-party services available online and found DirectUnlocks to be the best overall solution. Using them to carrier unlock your iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s will help you get a large reduction in roaming fees and call costs.

Use Direct Unlocks

You can use DirectUnlocks to remotely unlock your iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s for use on a different carrier.

The cost varies depending on the country, network, and device but starts at around $25 USD (£19.99 GBP).

To unlock an iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s using DirectUnlocks do the following:

  1. Make a note of the phones IMEI. When you place your order you will be asked for your device’s IMEI code. There are 4 ways of getting this code:
    • If you haven’t yet activated and set up your iPhone you will see a little “i” button on the screen. Click it and it will display the IMEI code.
    • On your iPhone’s keypad dial *#06#.
    • Look at the back of your iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s and you should see your IMEI printed in really small text.
    • Click Settings > General > About on your iPhone then scroll down and you will see the IMEI listed.
  2. Go to DirectUnlocks and enter your IMEI or device serial number (see below).
  3. The website will recognize the IMEI and ask you which cellular network your device is locked to. Then click Unlock for any SIM card.
  4. The order confirmation page will appear where you can choose the payment method.
  5. Next, you will be asked to pay via secure checkout.
  6. Your iPhone will be unlocked in 1-3 working days.
  7. Once unlocked, remove the SIM card.
  8. If you have a new SIM card from a different carrier, insert it. Your iPhone will activate.

Use IMEInow

IMEInow website

IMEInow is another third-party provider we recommend to unlock your iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s.

Pricing is identical to DirectUnlocks with the majority of unlocks completed for around $25 USD (£19.99 GBP) for English-speaking countries such as the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and NZ. Non-English speaking countries tend to cost more.

The exact price depends on where you are based and which carrier you use. If you choose your country and carrier on their website it will provide you with an exact cost.

To unlock an iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s using IMEInow do the following:

  1. On your iPhone’s keypad dial *#06# or click Settings > General > About on your iPhone to get the IMEI.
  2. Go to IMEInow and enter your IMEI.
  3. The website will recognize the IMEI and ask you which carrier your device is locked to. Then click Unlock Now.
  4. The checkout page will appear where you choose your payment method.
  5. Next, you will be asked to pay via secure checkout.
  6. Your iPhone will be unlocked in 24 – 72 hours.
  7. Once unlocked, remove the SIM card.
  8. If you have a new SIM card from a different carrier, insert it. Your iPhone will then activate.

How to carrier unlock iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s for free

You will only be able to unlock your iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s for free from your current carrier. Some carriers in some territories charge a fee, but most will unlock your iPhone for free.

Each network has slightly different policies for allowing you to unlock your iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s. These are summarized below.

AT&T

AT&T Logo

AT&T will unlock your iPhone for free, as long as you meet the following conditions:

  • Your device is active on the AT&T network for a minimum of 60 days.
  • The phone isn’t active on another AT&T account.
  • The iPhone doesn’t have a past-due account balance.
  • The device hasn’t been reported as lost, stolen, or involved with fraud.

You can check the status of your phone and request your iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s be unlocked on the AT&T website.

When you submit a request to unlock your phone, you get an email explaining what to do next. Follow the instructions to unlock your device.

To request an iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s unlock from AT&T do the following:

  1. Go to the AT&T device unlocking page.
  2. Click Unlock your device.
  3. On the website, fill out the device unlock form.
  4. Wait for approval.

Sprint

Sprint

Due to the way Sprint implemented device locking, the iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s can’t be unlocked. Newer phones, such as the iPhone 7, can be unlocked from Sprint.

Up to 2015 phones were not required by law to be able to be carrier unlocked. As a result, Sprint did not provide this option to their customers. If you need a Sprint iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s devices unlocked you need to use a third-party unlocker.

You can ask to have it unlocked for international travel by talking to Customer Support. Before being unlocked for international use, your iPhone 5 must meet the following conditions:

  • The phone must be currently active on Sprint.
  • You must be the Sprint account holder.
  • The device must be capable of international SIM unlocking.
  • The account must have been active for at least 90 days.
  • The account should be in good standing.
  • The device must not have been reported as lost or stolen and linked with any associated with fraudulent activity.

T-Mobile

T-Mobile

Before you can unlock your T-Mobile iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s you need to meet the following conditions:

  • The iPhone must have been sold by T-Mobile.
  • The phone must not be reported as lost, stolen, or blocked.
  • The account associated with the device must be in good standing.
  • The phone must have been active on the T-Mobile network for at least 40 days.
  • All payments must be satisfied and the device must be paid in full.
  • If the device is associated with a canceled account, then the account balance must be zero.
  • On pre-paid plans, at least 365 days must have passed since the iPhone was activated on the T Mobile network.

To request an iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s unlock from T-Mobile do the following:

  1. Sign in to your online account.
  2. Click View Account > Lines and Devices.
  3. Select your iPhone.
  4. Submit a request to unlock the phone.
  5. Wait for approval.

Verizon

Verizon

Verizon automatically unlocks iPhones 60 days after purchase unless the device is reported stolen or purchased fraudulently. This means that if your phone is on Verizon it is most likely already unlocked.

If for any reason your Verizon handset has not been unlocked, contact Customer Support to have it done.

How to unlock iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s without carrier

If for any reason the carrier refuses to unlock your device, you can still unlock your iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s using a third-party service as described above.

This type of service is not free, but it is a good option if you can’t persuade your network provider to unlock your phone.

How to unlock iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s without a SIM card

The process to unlock your iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s without a SIM card is as follows:

  1. Choose a reputable third-party provider. See who we recommend.
  2. Go to the provider’s website to request an iPhone unlock.
  3. The provider will ask for the current carrier and the IMEI. To find your 15-digit IMEI number, dial *#06# on your phone or go to Settings > About.
  4. Pay the fee.
  5. Wait for the unlock to be processed.
  6. Once unlocked, remove the SIM card.If you don’t have a new SIM card, backup your iPhone.
  7. Once backed up, reset and wipe your iPhone.
  8. Restore your iPhone from your backup.

It is very easy to get a free SIM card from carriers. Most offer pre-paid cards that you can request.

The question is, which network should you get a pre-paid SIM from?

Since you want to have your phone unlocked, you should get a SIM from the network that it is already locked to. That way you can get in touch with them using your online account and request an unlock.

Once your SIM arrives, install it and follow the instructions given to unlock your device for free.

If you don’t have any luck with the current network, try a third-party service. This isn’t free but it will allow you to get your phone unlocked without the help of your carrier.

Unlocking other iPhone models

If you want to unlock a different iPhone model see:

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