How To Bypass, Unlock, Or Remove iCloud Activation Lock (On iPhone, iPad & Apple Watch)

I am going to explain how to remove the iCloud activation lock from your Apple device quickly and easily.

In fact, I’m going to teach you the 2 techniques used successfully by members of the iChimp community to bypass or unlock iCloud on dozens of devices – including different iPhone, iPad & Apple Watch models.

Let’s dig right in…

iphone activation screen

If your device has the lock enabled – like the one shown above – this article can help you disable it

The locking system used by Apple is a nightmare

Like me, you probably bought or inherited a used iPad, Apple Watch, or iPhone but when you try to set up your device it keeps on asking for the previous users Apple ID and password.

This feature means the device is activation locked to their iCloud account which prevents you from using it unless you have their password.

I ended up being unable to set up a used iPhone I  bought back in 2013 (mine was from eBay) due to the activation lock.

This set me on a quest to get the iCloud account removed in the quickest, cheapest, and most reliable way possible. And I really wanted the solution to be permanent, if possible.

The good news is there are 2 techniques to fix this issue, one of which is completely free, so keep reading to find out what you need to do…

How I managed to remove it

I tried local stores and looking online for ways to removed the Apple ID but was confused by conflicting information and the huge number of options.

I’m embarrassed to say I spent loads of time and a small fortune trying to get rid of the lock – almost all of which didn’t work. All of the free services I tested were scams (along with many of the paid ones) although there is a ‘bypass technique’ that does work for free which is detailed later in this article.

I tested as many companies as I could to find the fastest, cheapest, and best-supported provider online that could unlock my iOS device. I even enlisted the help of the iChimp community in this process and got lots of encouragement, support, and help from avid readers of my website. For example, blog readers sent me their Apple product details so I could use them to test out as many services as possible.

After a long search, I eventually found suppliers that offered working iCloud activation lock removal.

The table below shows the iCloud unlocking methods that removed the iCloud account with links to a full review showing their pricing, success rate, and my experience using them.

Feel free to find out more about them now, or read on to get more details on how unlocking works, the techniques to avoid, and the only free method that works.

My top rated paid unlocking services for 2020
Supplier ReviewSuccess RateMy RatingIndustry Rating
AppleiPhoneUnlock.uk100%9 / 10
4.8 / 5

Need a Mac or Windows computer to use this method
100%9 / 10
4.6 / 5
Use code iByLK20 for 20% discount
DoctorUnlock85%8 / 10


If you prefer to use your device normally with no restrictions then I’d recommend paying to remove the iCloud activation lock.

If you are on a budget, or are unable to get your device unlocked because it is logged as stolen, then your only option is bypassing the iCloud account.

Table of Contents

How to remove the lock

There are 2 proven unlock techniques at this time:

  1. Pay an unlock service or purchase software to ‘hack’ your device and unlock it. 
  2. Use a ‘DNS bypass’ to get past the security settings.

Free iCloud account removal services

If you do a Google search you will see the results packed with suppliers that claim to unlock your device for free.

Their websites look very convincing and appear to offer good quality services. In reality, they are nothing but scams that don’t work.

I should know, I tried many of them myself (because I didn’t want to pay for iCloud unlocking if I didn’t have to).

Not one of them worked…

…they were all scams.

Here are the specific companies I tried. They all had issues and failed to do what they promised. Please don’t waste your time on these…

Unlockers that are scams
Supplier nameTypeWhy it is a scam
i Cloud Unlock Bypass

Remove i Cloud

How to i Cloud Unlock

Server Apple

Online ToolSame tool on multiple websites. Doesn’t work, just wants you to click ads while bouncing you around various websites
i Cloud Unlock

i Cloud Unlocker Online

i Cloud Bypass

Online ToolSame tool on multiple websites. Doesn’t work, just wants you to click ads and fill out surveys
ITPC ExpertSoftwareSoftware download loaded with adware and viruses. No contact details or background information
Remove i Cloud lockSoftwareUnable to download the software plus no company or contact details on the website
i Cloud Unlock DeluxeSoftwareUnable to download the software plus no company or contact details on the website
Apple Hacker ProHackerComplete scam designed to get your personal details and increase the reputation of their website
Official i Cloud UnlockerSoftwareDoesn’t download, just wants you to click ads and fill out surveys

It is a volatile marketplace and companies seem to appear regularly often with similar names making it difficult to keep up. As companies get found out as scammers they rebrand and pop up with a new name using the same old service. Regardless of their names, I have found free unlocking services simply don’t work.

The only way to permanently purge the previous owner’s Apple ID is to pay someone to get rid of it. Or to try a temporary solution such as an iCloud lock bypass.

Paid methods to remove iCloud account

If your device is locked it can be unlocked using a trustworthy company.

Once completed you will be able to set up your device and no longer be asked for the Apple ID of the previous owner.

Pro and cons of paying for an unlock


  • You can use your device normally
  • You can restore all the functions and features of your device
  • The fix is permanent – you only ever need to do it once
  • Works on all Apple mobile devices that run iOS such as iPhone & iPad
  • It’s easy – no special technical skills are required


  • There are loads of scammers offering this type of service
  • It is not free
  • It takes a few days to do

When I was considering the best choice, the most important thing was being able to use my device normally.

This is why this option was best for me.

Steps to remove the iCloud account

Step 1: Find out your IMEI

This is a unique id for your device and you need to provide it so the right handset gets unlocked.

Don’t panic, it is very simple to do.

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

IMEI. on an iPhone SIM card tray

  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6s
  • IMEI. on a SIM card trayiPhone 6s Plus
  • iPhone 3G
  • iPhone 3GS
  • iPhone 4 (GSM model)
  • iPhone 4s

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

  • iPad Pro (Wi-Fi + Cellular models)
  • iPad (Wi-Fi + Cellular models)
  • iPod Touch (all models)
  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone 6 Plus
  • iPhone SE
  • iPhone 5s
  • iPhone 5c
  • iPhone 5

iPod & iPad IMEI location

Step 2: Find out the model you want unlocked

You need to know the model of iOS device you want to unlock.

You can get help identifying the exact model of handset you have by looking on this page of the Apple website.[4]

Step 3: Pick a supplier

Select one of my recommended unlockers, or pick one yourself.

Pay for the unlock and sit back and relax.

Please note

Please be careful as there are loads of scammers around.

I should know – I was scammed many times myself whilst writing this guide.

Feel free to study my list of scams you should avoid (updated April 2020).

Or use one of my recommended unlockers.

Step 4: Unlock completed

After a day or 2, you will be told the device has been unlocked successfully.

You should be able to set it up without being asked for the previous owners’ Apple ID.

My recommended removal services
Click to read reviewSuccess rateMy ratingIndustry rating
AppleiPhoneUnlock.uk100%9 / 10
4.8 / 5

Need a Mac or Windows computer to use this method
100%9 / 10
4.6 / 5
DoctorUnlock85%8 / 10

Typical scams you should avoid

Types of scam to watch out for

  • Software downloads and hacks
  • Online tools that claim to ‘interface‘ with Apple servers
  • PDF downloads with instructions

Software downloads and hacks

If you plan to use a software download make sure you get it from a reputable source with a proven track record and some form of guarantee.

Most downloads offer very little security.

Indeed, I found almost all the software downloads I tried were useless, although there were some exceptions that worked which are mentioned later in this article.

However, in general, the best you can hope for with most software is that it will not cause any damage to your computer or handset. At worst, it could be full of hidden viruses or ransomware that locks you out of your computer.

Be careful and don’t be fooled by exaggerated claims.

Websites that interface with Apple servers

Online tools that appear to interface with Apple servers are also a scam.

They don’t.

Even though they are very convincing with counters and prompts appearing on the screen saying stuff like ‘Connecting to Apple servers…’. But they are just messages on a screen with nothing behind it.

They are designed to make you believe unlocking will work if you click a bunch of ads to finalize it.

It won’t.

Scam with ads

Scam that asks you to click ads – another type to avoid

PDF downloads

Websites with PDF books full of instructions don’t contain the ‘secret’ either…

…but you don’t find this out until after you paid.

Companies to avoid

If you eliminate the iCloud lock from your iPhone you can set it up as if it were a brand new device and use all of its features.

There are a bunch of websites that claim to do this.

Sounds almost too good to be true.

It is.

The ones I tried were confusing. They were inaccurate. Many are scams. Some are dangerous and can infect your computer.

Worse than that, fees of up to €160 ($200 USD) being charged without them even attempting to do the unlock.

How do I know?

I tried them out…

…and after wasting my time and being ripped off, I decided to write this article to try and help others.

Paid iCloud unlockers to avoid
Supplier nameMethodPriceWhy it is a scam
i Cloud Unlock BuddySoftware$25Scam – software doesn’t work
Unlock InstantlyService£10.95No Company details on their website, no response to pre-sales emails
iPhone Approved UnlockService£14.99 deposit + £30.00 = $44.99Doesn’t work – plus no company details on their website
IMEI24Service$160Doesn’t work – plus no company details on their website
AppUnlockService€30.99No company details on their website, no response to pre-sales emails
iRemove ToolsSoftware£29.99Software doesn’t work
i Cloud RemoverService$29.99No proper company details on their website, no response to pre-sales emails


Service$49.99Previously recommended but after reports of poor service have been blacklisted. Been told they have recently been taking payment then claim the device can’t be unlocked as it’s marked as stolen. Refunds often refused. Pity, as they originally offered a good service.

Recommended iCloud lock removers

I tested as many companies as I could to find the fastest, cheapest, and best-supported provider online. Click to read my review methodology.

I found 2 suppliers that had equally good services AppleiPhoneUnlock and iBypasser. Each has some strengths and weaknesses so you should select the one that suits your budget and level of computer experience.

If you don’t own a computer or want a completely hands-off service then AppleiPhoneUnlock would be best. You simply send them your details and wait to be told the work is completed. You don’t have to fiddle with cables, computers, or learn any technical skills.

If you want to try before you buy, own a computer, and are reasonably proficient with software then iBypasser is also a great option. You have nothing to lose as you can try out a free version before committing to purchase. If you do buy a copy you have a money-back guarantee offering you peace of mind. As if this wasn’t enough, I have found a 20% discount coupon to reduce the fee further. However, this solution won’t work for everyone as it doesn’t work with some devices. Also, it doesn’t perform a full unlock so some features can’t be restored using this method.

1st place:

1st place

Summary box:

  • Did it work: Yes, all handsets were unlocked successfully
  • Price: From $40 USD | £35.99 GBP 
  • Speed: 5-7 days (Or 24 hours with additional FastTrack fee)
  • Customer Services: Quick and helpful
  • Rating: 9 / 10 is very new but is already the best of the bunch. They managed to remove iCloud on every iPhone I sent them.

I simply provided my phone, watch or tablet model, IMEI or serial number, and paid using my card as described in the simple step by step instructions (below).

They were the only ones in my shortlist that managed to do so.

They also unlocked them faster than anyone else with each one taking 24 hours to do. However, this was because I decided to pay a $10 FastTrack fee to get the work done faster otherwise it takes 5-7 days to complete.

Their customer support was great with replies coming back from my queries in under an hour.

They were also good value for money with prices from approx $40 USD (£35.99 GBP) in the UK and USA but it does seem to vary from country to country. Outside the UK and USA the fee appears to be broken down into a deposit of $28.00 USD and a completion fee of $42.00 USD. This is mentioned on the checkout page, although you might not spot it so I’m highlighting it in this review. This confusing payment structure is why I knocked a point off their score. accepts a wider variety of payment methods including Mastercard, Visa, Maestro, and Nochex. They are a worldwide company so the prices should be in your local currency. This means they have the ability to unlock devices from anywhere in the world.

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 you have a locked device and you need to get it unlocked, you should use

Buy unlock from AppleiPhoneUnlock customer video reviews



How to use

1. You need to find out your IMEI. [2] This is a unique id that identifies your device and you need to provide it so you can get it unlocked.

  • Option 1: If you have an iPhone 5 or 6, or a cellular iPad, your IMEI is printed on the back of the device
  • Option 2: If you have an iPhone 7 or newer, the IMEI is written on the SIM tray
  • Option 3: If your iPhone is not activated, there will be a little “i” button on the screen, tap it and you’ll see the IMEI

2. You need to identify the model of the device you want to unlock. If you don’t know it you can get help identifying the exact model of handset you have by looking on this page of the Apple website.

3. Go to and pick the device and enter the IMEI number in the box on the screen.

AppleiPhoneUnlock screenshot

4. Click the Unlock now! button.

5. You will be sent to the secure checkout. Enter your email address so that you can be kept up-to-date with the unlocking process.

appleiphoneunlock checkout page

6. Click the ‘Continue’ button and provide your payment details and you’re done!

appleiphoneunlock payment page

7. If they believe they can unlock your device you will get confirmation of your order and a request for payment of the completion fee.

8. Sit back and wait for the lock removal to be processed.

9. Once complete, set up your device with your own Apple ID and use it normally.

2nd place: iBypasser

2nd place

Summary box: iBypasser

  • Did it work: Yes, but you must have a computer (Mac or Windows)
  • Price: $39.99 USD | £30 GBP
  • Speed: instant
  • Customer Services: Quick and helpful
  • Rating: 9 / 10

iBypasser is the latest software hack written by the well-known software company iMyFone. It joins the huge suite of packages they have produced over the last few years for iPhone and iPad.

As well as a prestigious track record in software development iMyPhone also offers a ‘try before you buy’ trial version of iBypasser so you can see if it will work before you commit to purchasing it.

They also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee – so if you do purchase a copy of their software and are unhappy with it you can get a 100% refund. No other company offers such an extensive money-back policy making it very easy for me to recommend them.

They are actually cheaper than the other joint winner making this solution brilliant value for money. As if that wasn’t enough, I have also managed to track down a 20% discount code making it even cheaper. Simply use the coupon code iByLK20 to claim your discount.

There are some downsides with this method tho.

Unfortunately, this unlock method is not suitable for everyone because you need a computer to download, install, and run the software. Please be aware that without one you can’t use this software. This limitation is what prevents iBypasser from being the overall winner in its own right.

The software should work on devices ranging from the iPhone 5S to iPhone X running iOS 12.3 and later. They say iOS 12.4.5 and 12.4.6 can not be hacked using their software.

The software ‘bypasses’ the lock by jailbreaking the device which will invalidate the Apple warranty. If you are trying to unlock an old or used device then this is not an issue as it is likely to be out of warranty anyway – but it is still worth mentioning here.

iBypasser uses a simple 3 step process to perform the bypass:

  1. Connect your device to your Mac
  2. Jailbreak the device
  3. Remove the lock

The software is not difficult to use due to the guided step-by-step process but it might too complex for computer novices. If you use computers on a regular basis it shouldn’t be too hard to do.

If you get into difficulty I found the support first class. Even tho they are based in the Far East I got replies back in a couple of hours during UK working hours.

Once unlocked you will be able to use most, but not all, of the functionality. Apps should work but you won’t be able to login to your Apple iCloud account via the device. In addition, cellular functionality will be disabled so you won’t be able to make old school phone calls.

This isn’t ideal – but if the choice is between a disabled device and one that has limited functionality then I’d pick a semi-working device every time.

Overall, this is a risk-free option. You can download and install the free trial version to check if your Apple ID can be removed.

3rd place: DoctorUnlock

3rd place

Summary box: DoctorUnlock

  • Did it work: 5 out of 6 devices were unlocked
  • Price: $65 USD | £49.99 GBP (broken down into a pre-payment and final fee)
  • Speed: 2 to 5 days
  • Customer Services: 24 hour response time
  • Rating: 7 / 10

DoctorUnlock managed to do 5 out of 6 Phones, so they couldn’t quite manage them all. The older iPhone 4 couldn’t be unlocked.

They refunded me with vouchers for the unsuccessful one quickly and without a fuss.

They unlocked each device fairly quickly – between 2-5 days which is pretty good – but not as fast as

Their customer support was fairly responsive but could take up to a day to respond. They were direct and weren’t quite as warm and friendly as they could be.

They were the same price as the winner. So the services was a bit slower and not as successful – yet they charged the same fee.

It isn’t clear on the website but you pay approx $27 USD deposit with the balance due before the work is completed.

This has led to some reports of clients feeling ‘blackmailed’ with a second payment. They could make the payment structure clearer on their website to prevent this as only the headline price of $25 USD (£19.99 GBP) is prominently advertised.

This is another reason why they are 2nd place.

They are an English based company but are able to unlock the iCloud activation for you no matter where you are located – so anywhere in the world. If you are not in England this is not a problem.

They accept a wide range of payment methods too including Mastercard, Visa, Maestro, and Nochex so it should be easy enough to purchase for most people.

Overall this is a good supplier but not quite up to the standard of the best. The fact that they couldn’t unlock everything and were a little less friendly puts them in 2nd place.

Not quite as good as but I’d still say DoctorUnlock is a safe bet.

Buy unlock from DoctorUnlock

How to use DoctorUnlock

I had a couple of people contact me saying they were a bit confused about what to do to so here is a quick tutorial.

1. Before you begin you need to know your IMEI code. This is the unique id for the Apple device and you need to provide it so you can get it unlocked. [2]

Don’t panic, it is very simple to do.

  • Option 1: If you have an iPhone 5 or 6, or a cellular iPad, your IMEI is printed on the back of the device
  • Option 2: If you have an iPhone 7 or newer, the IMEI is written on the SIM tray
  • Option 3: If your iPhone is not activated, there will be a little “i” button on the screen, tap it and you’ll see the IMEI

2. You need to identify the device you want to unlock. You are most likely to already know this. If you don’t, you can get help identifying the exact model of handset you have by looking on this page of the Apple website.

3. Go to DoctorUnlock and pick your model and provide the IMEI number (see image below)

doctorunlock home page

4. Click the green Unlock now! button.

5. You will be sent to the secure checkout where you pay the fee using Visa, MasterCard or Bitcoin. Enter your email address so that you can be kept up-to-date with the unlocking process.

doctorunlock payment page

6. Click the large blue ‘Buy now!’ button and provide your payment details and you’re done!

7. You should hear back in 1-3 working days.


How to do an iCloud bypass

Bypass iCloud activation lock

An iCloud bypass is a very clever hack that allows you to get around the security on your device if it is locked. It works by setting up your device to use different software on it using a thing called an “iCloud DNS bypass”.[3]

You don’t need a SIM card inserted to get an iCloud bypass to work as it uses Wi-Fi to connect. It is a little fiddly but this hack isn’t that difficult to do if you follow the video or written instructions below.

Note: The DNS server IP addresses may change from time to time. Use these ones (they are also found in the instructions under the video):

  • USA:
  • Europe:
  • Asia:

This ensures that you are using the latest 2020 addresses.

>> Find out more about performing an iCloud bypass <<

Video instructions for bypassing iCloud

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Reboot your iPhone ready to set it up as a new device.
  2. Start the setup process and select your country and language
  3. On the “Choose a Wi-Fi Network” screen press the “i” next to the Wi-Fi symbol for the Wi-Fi network you want to connect to.
  4. Scroll down to where it says ‘DNS’ and type in one of the following
    • USA:
    • Europe:
  5. Tap “Back >” at the top left of the screen.
  6. Click your Wi-Fi network
  7. Type in the Wi-Fi password and click “Join” at the top right
  8. The iPhone will try to activate by going to a new screen. Don’t let it, hit the Back button at the top right to return to the WiFi page where you will be logged in.
  9. Once logged in you will see a screen that will say something like “” at the top.
  10. All done – you have managed to set up the bypass!

What can I do on my device after I bypass the lock?

After you have followed the DNS bypass process above you should be able to:

  • Watch video
  • Browse websites
  • Play games
  • Listen to music or radio
  • Chat with friends
  • Get expert help

It’s not perfect – but you do get some good features to play with and use on your device.

All for free.

And considering the alternative – a blocked iPhone or iPad – then it is better than nothing.

However, I would prefer to use my device normally and if I couldn’t do that for free, I’d pay for it.

Will iCloud bypassing always work?

Nobody knows if bypassing will always work, or id Apple is working to block this loophole. There are a few things that could happen to prevent this from working in the future, such as:

Apple may change iOS to block it (although it still works on iOS 12 released in 2018)
  • The companies that run the servers may shut them down

On the bright side, this tool has been working for a while and there are no rumors from Apple that they plan to block it. However, from their point of view, Apple wants to stop theft. Having this exploit allows stolen iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches to be used – so they may be looking at ways to prevent this.

The people that run this service are also using a lot of resources to keep it running.

  • 10 million users worldwide
  • 99.9% uptime
  • 50 million DNS requests per hour
  • 5 million HTTPS requests per day

How can the iCloud DNS bypass service run for free?

I would imagine that the providers may consider charging or having intrusive advertising in order to pay for the DNS bypass service. After all the service requires a lot of resources that need to be paid for somehow.

Would you be happy with bypassing iCloud in this way if there were popups and other adverts running?

Intrusive advertising is irritating so I wouldn’t be happy using the iCloud bypass if they decided to show them on their platform. This is why paid unlocking is a better choice than the DNS bypass.

People Also Ask

Is this a paid post?

Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

Can you really unlock the activation lock?

It is possible to expel the activation lock, but be careful. Please read the whole article above thoroughly and you should be able to have your phone or tablet unlocked. [1]

Can iPad iCloud be unlocked?

Yes, you can oust the activation lock on iPad using the techniques described in this article. This is despite Apple releasing iPadOS [7] in 2019.

iPadOS is a variant of iOS with a different set of features. It replaced iOS on tablets but it still shares the same security system. This means the same unlocking methods work on both iOS and iPadOS operating systems.

How to unlock iCloud for free?

The following steps will allow you to do an unlock for free:

  1. Ask the original owner to purge their Apple ID from your device
  2. Ask Apple to dispose of the lock
  3. Try an iCloud bypass to regain some functionality

Can you bypass iCloud activation without an Apple ID?

If you don’t know the Apple ID of the iCloud account then it is difficult to unlock it. This is because you need the Apple ID and password to login and disable the activation lock. You could ask Apple to unlock it as long as you have proof of ownership such as the original purchase receipt. If you don’t have ownership proof then your only option is to try a company like

Do iCloud removal services work?

Some iCloud removal services do work, but many are scams so you need to be careful and use a trustworthy company. If you pick a random supplier then you are likely to be scammed. If you use one of my recommended services it is possible to unlock iCloud.

Will apple iCloud unlock?

Yes, Apple will unlock your iCloud locked device if you can prove you are the owner. Acceptable proof would be the original purchase receipt.

Can you unlock iCloud with iTunes?

No, you can’t unlock iCloud using iTunes. You can unlock the passcode of an iPhone, iPad or iPod using iTunes.

Does iCloud unlocking software that costs nothing actually work?

Free unlocking software does not work. In my experience, a software app of this type usually contains viruses that infect your computer. This is an application you don’t want to install.

Is there an iCloud account unlocking tool for iOS 13?

No specific tool that unlocks iCloud on iOS 13 exists. Instead, you should unlock using a company I recommend as I tested most of them out.

Do you know of an iCloud bypass and reset tool?

A tool you can download to bypass and reset an iCloud account that works does not exist. Most tools fall into 3 basic types which are:

  • software downloads
  • PDF’s with instructions, or
  • online tools.

None of them I tested worked. The only method that worked for me was using an unlocking service.

Is iCloud removal by IMEI possible?

Yes, you can remove iCloud lock feature using your devices IMEI with a trustworthy supplier such as

Is there an iCloud hack or hack tool that works?

No, none of the tools available can hack the iCloud lock successfully these days. It was claimed that in the iCloud celebrity hack “cybercriminal [used] tools that include MagicApp, Applekit, and Find My iPhone (FMI.php) framework to automate iCloud unlocks but this was never proved.

Can the iCloud lock be overridden?

Yes, you can override the iCloud activation lock so you can use your device normally. You can override it in several ways including:

  • resetting your Apple ID
  • removing the device from your iCloud account on the iCloud website
  • getting Apple to remove it from your device

When was the iCloud lock introduced?

The iCloud activation lock was introduced in 2013 with iOS 7.

How does activation lock work?

The iCloud activation lock links your device to your Apple ID on Apple’s servers. If your device is stolen the thief needs your Apple ID and password to unlock the iCloud activation lock. Without your Apple ID your device is unusable giving it protection from theft and resale.

Why use the iCloud lock?

The iCloud lock discourages theft by linking devices to Apple accounts. Unless you know the sign-in details for the Apple account you can’t expel the lock from the device.

How do you check the iCloud lock is active?

To check if the iCloud activation lock is active you need to login to the device and check the settings. If your Apple ID appears at the top of the settings screen it is enabled. If you have a used device you will get the activation lock message on the screen requesting the Apple ID of the previous owner if the lock is active.

Is there an iCloud activation status tool?

The iCloud activation status tool was discontinued by Apple in 2017. You can check the status of the activation lock by doing the following instead:

  1. Go to Apple’s Support website.
  2. Select the device you want to check from the list
  3. From the categories select ‘Repairs & Physical Damage’
  4. Pick ‘Send in for repair’
  5. Provide the device’s Serial number or IMEI number
  6. If the device has the iCloud activation lock enabled you will see “Sorry but we can’t create a repair while Find my iPhone is active”. This means the device is unusable. Do not buy a locked device.

What is the difference between ‘activation lock’ and ‘iCloud lock’?

There is no difference between ‘activation lock’ and ‘iCloud lock’. Both terms refer to the same iCloud security system found on Apple iOS devices, such as the iPhone and iPad, and are often used interchangeably.

Is there an iCloud lock workaround?

Yes, you can do an iCloud DNS bypass which is a workaround that allows you to use some features on an iCloud activation locked device. It does not wipe the activation lock but bypasses it to allow you to use the device in a limited way.

Which devices are suitable for iCloud unlocking?

You can unlock any locked Apple device except the 1st generation, 3 and 3GS iPhones, early iPad models, older iPod Touch models, and the original iPad’s. This is because these early models do not have the capability of being activation locked and therefore don’t need to be unlocked.

Specifically, you can unlock the following devices:

  • iPhone 4 , 4S , 5S, 5C SE, 6, 6S, 6 Plus, 6S Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, X, XS, XS Max, XR, 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max
  • 12.9 inch iPad Pro (2017), 12.9 inch iPad Pro (2018), 11 inch iPad Pro (2018), 10.5 inch iPad Pro (2017), 9.7 inch iPad Pro (2018), 9.7 inch iPad Pro (1st generation), 9.7 inch iPad, The iPad,iPad Air 2 (6th generation), iPad Air (5th generation), iPad (4th generation), iPad (3rd generation)
  • iPad mini 2019, 4, 3, 2 and the original iPad Mini
  • iPod touch (6th generation)

Can you remove iCloud lock by jailbreaking?

No, jailbreaking will only work after the iCloud lock has been removed by another method first.

When you ‘Jailbreak‘ [6] an iPhone or iPad you remove some restrictions imposed by Apple. For example, you can download different applications or customize the way the interface looks or operates.

Which iCloud unlockers should I avoid?

I have an extensive list of unlockers you should avoid. This list was created by trying out all of the online tools & software to see if they worked.

I began by trying out all of the software, online tools, and services I could find listed in Google. I emailed the suppliers offering this type of service to find out more. If I heard nothing back then I regarded them as scams. If they can’t answer a pre-sales question they are unlikely to be responsive to any questions.

What is your review methodology for iCloud unlockers?

I needed to find out who to try so I did a Google search to find as many companies as possible.

I looked at each of their websites thoroughly evaluating the type of service they offer and trying to get a feel for their honesty. To be fair most websites looked good and so they seemed trustworthy. Indeed some of them were very persuasive with video, details of the latest handsets unlocked, and information from happy customers. They made the process sound easy, and in some cases, were even free to use.

I realized further checks were needed to see if they could do what they said.

I checked if they had a contact form so I could get in touch with them. If they didn’t, I removed them from my shortlist. After all, how would I be able to ask pre-sales questions or complain if something went wrong if I couldn’t contact them? I always find it dubious if owners refuse to allow potential customers to contact them, or offer a method to allow you to get in touch. What are they trying to hide?

Next, if they had downloadable software or online tool I tried it out to see if it worked. Many websites offered a tool that looked impressive but just didn’t deliver. Most seemed to be designed to force me to click paid ads or pay a ‘hidden’ fee to finalize the process. Once I paid the tool failed to remove the lock.

I also noticed the free downloadable tools I tried were riddled with viruses that were designed to hijack my computer or steal my personal details. You need to be very careful when downloading and installing such software.

Unfortunately none of the tools I tied – either downloadable or online – worked so they were all added to my do not use list.

I then concentrated on the websites that offered other methods of unlocking.

I reviewed their websites thoroughly and noted that they made the following claims:

  • They were fast
  • Offered a dedicated customer support team
  • Responsive support – with email’s answered quickly.
  • Competitive pricing
  • No fix, no fee with a full refund policy
  • Verified by Apple

This all sounded good, but could they deliver?

I 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. This reduced the list significantly.

Real-world test: Can they really do what they say?

I reached out to my community here at iChimp to track down people who wanted to unlock their iPhone or iPad.

I picked a wide range of models located worldwide to test each service and get ‘real’ feedback from real people.

I ended up with 18 community members with a variety of iOS-based devices consisting of almost every model of iPhone and iPad.

Each individual community member emailed me their iPad or iPhone model and IMEI so I could place orders with the remaining suppliers.

After evaluating the claims listed above I decided to judge each supplier based on the following:

Did it work

Did they actually manage to disable the lock, yes or no. Simple. If they can’t do the task they claimed to do then they failed.


Some of the scammers charged as much as $300 USD (£220) however the remaining 4 services I reviewed all charged around $50 USD (£39.99).


I wanted each of the iPhones unlocked as quickly as possible. Waiting 14 days isn’t good enough, I wanted it done in 2 to 5 days.

Customer Service

I wanted to feel comfortable that when the payment was made that I would know what was going on at each stage of the process.

I was also keen that each service would have customer support so that I could contact them if I wished.

I wanted to feel confident and comfortable with what was going on.

The outcome of all these different tests was my shortlist of recommended companies.

Did you find this helpful?

If you found this fix helpful please take a moment to tweet, like, or share this article by using the buttons at the top of this page. I’d really appreciate it. 🙂

Also, if you are feeling extra generous after having your issue solved please leave some encouraging feedback in the comments section at the bottom of the page. I love getting feedback from visitors.


[1] Apple support article: How can I remove iCloud lock
[2] Apple support article: Find the serial number or IMEI on your iPhone or iPad
[3] Introducing the captive portal: Captive Portal
[4] Apple support article: Identify your iPhone model
[5] Apple support article: Find My iPhone Activation Lock
[6] Wikipedia: iOS jailbreaking
[7] Apple iPadOS: iPadOS


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