There are many reasons why someone would want to unlock their iPhone. Many people pay to have this service done. So, how much is it to unlock an iPhone? If you would like to switch cellular service providers, or you are planning on traveling abroad for a while and you would like to be able to use a local SIM card, then you should be aware that your phone will need to be unlocked to make this happen. There are several ways, depending on the service provider, that you can have your iPhone unlocked. If you meet all of the service provider’s criteria, then the carrier is legally bound to unlock your phone for free. However, if you do not meet all of the requirements, you may still be able to use a third-party service to unlock the phone for you at a cost. So, how much does this cost?
Table of Contents
- How Much Does It Cost To Unlock An iPhone?
- What is an unlocked phone?
- Why do cellular service providers lock phones?
- How do you know if your phone is locked?
- How do you unlock a phone?
How Much Does It Cost To Unlock An iPhone?
If you are looking to have your iPhone unlocked by a third-party service provider, then you may expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $150 for the service. It is estimated that it can cost up to $90 to unlock an AT&T phone, $30 for Verizon, and $139 or more for a T-mobile phone.
When you are looking to travel abroad and use a foreign SIM card from a local cellular company or when you are tired of your US service provider and you are looking to change, you may not even realize that your current service provider has a lock on your phone until it’s too late.
If you are traveling abroad, this can be disheartening as it can be very difficult to unlock your phone while overseas. If you are simply trying to switch carriers, you may have a few more options to unlock your phone at home, however, the main point is that you should work to unlock any phone you own as soon as you can.
Let us look at why cellular service providers lock phones and some of the ways to have your phone unlocked to switch carriers or to use your iPhone while traveling abroad.
What is an unlocked phone?
An unlocked phone is a cell phone that is not bound to any carrier. The easiest way to make sure you have an unlocked iPhone is to purchase your phone directly from an Apple Store. When you buy your new iPhone directly from Apple, you are essentially purchasing a factory unlocked phone.
A factory unlocked cell phone can be used with any carrier that you would like by simply placing the carrier’s SIM card into your iPhone.
The best part is you can easily find contractless cell service this way that lets you prepay each month without needing to make a 6, 12, or 24-month commitment to a particular carrier.
If you purchase your iPhone from a specific carrier like AT&T or Verizon, most often they may give you a discount with the signing of a contract, or they will put you on a payment plan where you can pay for the total cost of your phone through monthly installments.
If this is the case, then you will need to fulfill all of the obligations of the contract before they can unlock your phone. Once you have the phone unlocked for free from the carrier, you are free to switch cellular service providers.
Why do cellular service providers lock phones?
Many people may be wondering, why do US cellular service providers lock phones in the first place? The main reason they do this is to prevent cell phone users from switching to a different provider before their contract is complete.
Additionally, many cellular service providers offer steep discounts or even give away new cell phones to customers who agree to sign a contract for an extended period of time. If a user could simply get the new cell phone for free or at a steep discount and then switch providers after a month or two, then the service provider would be out a great deal of money.
By signing a customer to a one or two-year contract in exchange for a discount or free phone, most often the company will be compensated for the phone over the life of the contract. New cell phones like iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones can be quite expensive. This is why cellular service providers will lock a phone that is under contract.
Also, since new cell phones can be quite expensive, even though the best route is to go directly to the Apple Store or the Samsung Shop and by the phone direct, not everyone has that amount of spending money available and they still need a phone.
This is where cellular service providers can offer customers payment plans to purchase the latest phones and simply pay off the phone with monthly installments
If you have a cell phone that is still being paid for through monthly payments, then you can understand why a cellular service provider would lock your phone to not allow you to switch carriers before paying off the phone.
For example, let’s say you would like to switch to Metro PCS but you got a new iPhone when you signed up for service with T-Mobile. Before you can unlock your iPhone, you will need to finalize your contract with T-Mobile or pay a reliable third-party company to unlock the phone for you.
How do you know if your phone is locked?
There are two main ways to tell if your cell phone is currently locked. First, you can call your service provider and give them the make, model, and serial number of your phone.
Your serial number is also known as an IMEI number. The quickest way to find your IMEI number is to dial *#06# on your call keypad and press send. You should have a screen popup that will display your IMEI number. Otherwise, you should be able to find this information in your Settings under the About section.
If you are wondering specifically if your iPhone is locked, then you can quickly find out in the settings menu. Go to Settings and then find the Cellular option. If you see an option in that menu that says Cellular Data, then your iPhone should be unlocked. If not, then your phone may be locked.
If you are looking to buy a used iPhone from a private owner, you should do this quick check before making the purchase. The last thing you will want to do is purchase a used iPhone that will not work with your cellular service provider.
How do you unlock a phone?
The process of unlocking your cell phone through the provider varies by company. For example, unlocking an iPhone through Verizon is a completely different process than T-Mobile. Here is a breakdown of some of the requirements that some of the top cellular service providers have to unlock a phone purchased through them.
When you purchase a device through Verizon, it does not matter if it’s prepaid or postpaid, the cellular service provider will automatically remove the lock after 60 days. If you are deployed military personnel, Verizon will unlock your phone at any time.
If you purchase an iPhone through AT&T, you may find it is much more complicated to unlock your phone than Verizon. First, your contract and/or installment plan must be fully paid off. Second, the phone cannot be reported lost or stolen. Last, for postpaid, the account must be active for a minimum of 60 days whereas prepaid devices need to be in service for more than six months.
If you are trying to unlock an iPhone through T-Mobile, then you must have used the phone with more than $100 of service purchases for prepaid devices. For postpaid, the phone must not be on contract, must be fully paid for, and must be active for a minimum of 40 days.
What if your phone is still under contract or payment plan?
As long as your phone is not blacklisted, you can still pay a third-party service provider to unlock your phone for you. A blacklisted phone is a phone that has been reported lost, stolen, or as being involved in fraud.
If you signed an extended contract with a cellular service provider but you would like to break the contract and switch carriers, you can do it through these third-party companies. If your phone is under an installment plan, then you can still unlock it through these companies, however, you will still owe the original service provider money for the phone but you can switch carriers as soon as it is unlocked.