When buying a new (or second-hand) iPhone you should always check that it is unlocked. An unlocked iPhone can be used on any phone network, and is worth more money than a locked iPhone. This feature looks at how to check if an iPhone is locked or not.
It’s important to know how to check an iPhone’s network status. Apple iPhones come in two flavours: locked and unlocked. An unlocked phone can be used on any phone network, while a locked phone can only be used on the network the phone is locked to.
An iPhone that can be used on any network is described as “unlocked”. The iPhones you pay full-price for (typically from the Apple Store) are unlocked by default. But an iPhone bought from a network, usually as part of an on-going network plan, is locked. This is normally for a set period, 18 or 24 months, and the cost of your contract covers part of the cost of the iPhone device.
It’s not possible to tell, just by looking at the handset, whether an iPhone is locked or unlocked. Apple does not allow other phone companies to brand iPhone devices. You don’t get Orange- or EE-branded iPhones, for example.
To confuse matters even further, some phones are locked when sold, but are unlocked at a later date when the original owner has paid for the initial contract.
The simplest method of checking if an iPhone is locked or unlocked, and the one we’ll use first, involves a quick look in the Settings app.
You’ll need to be able to power up the iPhone and access the cellular settings (you may need to enter the four-digit passcode). Follow these steps to check in iOS if an iPhone is unlocked:
If you see an option for Mobile Data Network then your iPhone is most likely unlocked. This option should not appear on locked iPhones.
This method is reportedly not 100 per cent effective, however. If you need to know for sure – if you’re buying a second-hand iPhone, for example, and want to know if you’re paying a fair price – you should use a SIM card to check that it is unlocked. We’ll walk through that method next.
It’s best to have two SIM cards, from different networks. One is usually the SIM card you own, and then other will be the one in the iPhone. Follow these steps to check that the iPhone is unlocked:
If the phone call does not connect with the new SIM card, then the iPhone is locked.
You can sometimes get a carrier to unlock an iPhone by calling them.