How to unlock an iPhone
What you should know
- Contact the telephone company > ask for unlocking > wait a few days > remove SIM card > insert a new SIM card from the telephone company.
- To check if your iPhone is unlocked: Settings > General > About > Carrying lock > No SIM restrictions.
- Unlocking your iPhone means you can switch phone companies without having to buy a new phone.
This article explains what it means when an iPhone is “locked” to a phone company, how to unlock your iPhone, why you might want to consider it, and how to tell if your iPhone is unlocked.
How to unlock your iPhone from a carrier
Your iPhone may be “locked” to your current phone company. This means that your iPhone is configured to only work with one company’s network, and you can’t switch carriers without switching phones – or unlocking your phone. (In this case, “unlocking” refers to connecting to a phone company, not using a passcode to access the iPhone.)
Phones are locked to phone companies when you’re under contract or paying a monthly plan to buy the phone (you can buy unlocked phones from Apple, among others). If you want to start using your phone with another phone company, you may qualify to unlock your iPhone if:
- You have met the conditions for discounts or promotions that were applied when you received the phone.
- Your installments to buy the phone are fully paid.
- Your phone number has been active for at least 40 days (for some operators it is 60 days).
- Your account is in good standing.
- The phone has not been reported stolen.
- You don’t ask for unlocks too often.
- The phone is used with a prepaid subscription, there may be additional conditions.
If you meet these conditions, follow these steps to unlock your iPhone from a carrier:
Contact your current phone company to request an unlock. Here’s information on unlocking for each major carrier in the US:
Telephone companies in other countries should have similar pages on their websites.
Third-party apps claim to be able to unlock your iPhone, but only your carrier can actually unlock a phone from the network.
It may take a few days to complete the unlocking process. Check with your phone company for updates or wait to hear from them.
After the unlock is complete, you can continue using your iPhone with your current carrier (in which case you’re done!) or switch to another carrier whenever you want.
If you want to change phone companies, remove the phone’s SIM card by sliding the end of a paper clip (or Apple’s SIM Removal Tool) into the SIM card tray’s access hole. All newer iPhones have the SIM tray on the right or left edge of the phone.
When the SIM tray pops out, remove it completely and take out the SIM card. Insert a new SIM card from the phone company you want to move to.
The phone must be activated on the new company’s network (provided you have already registered for a new service). You will see a message on the screen. Try calling to confirm the phone is activated.
Reasons to unlock iPhone
The only reason to unlock your iPhone is so you can keep your current phone and move to a new phone company. You may be happy with your phone (or at least not interested in spending hundreds to get a new one) and want to take advantage of better coverage or better prices offered by another company.
Unlocking an iPhone doesn’t offer any other benefits—it’s not the same as jailbreaking, for example—but keeping the phone while you choose a new phone company is reason enough.
Using an iPhone with more than one phone company
If you have an iPhone XS or newer and your iPhone is unlocked, you can use two phone numbers from two different phone companies on your iPhone at the same time!
That’s because these models add an additional, all-digital eSIM in addition to the physical SIM card (as of the iPhone 14, there’s no physical SIM card at all). This means that one iPhone can have one number for personal use and another for business calls. You can also add a temporary local number while traveling in other countries.
This only works on unlocked iPhones. On locked phones, both phone numbers must be from the same phone company. Learn all about using two phone numbers and eSIMs from Apple.
How do I unlock an iPhone without a password?
To unlock an iPhone without a passcode, you’ll need to erase your iPhone and set it up from scratch. Connect your iPhone to the computer and put it in iPhone recovery mode. Follow the instructions on your computer and select Restore. Follow the instructions to restore a backup and set up a new password.
How do I unlock my iPhone with an Apple Watch?
To unlock iPhone with a paired Apple Watch, open Settings app on iPhone and select Face ID and password. Scroll down and activate Unlock with Apple Watch. Apple Watch must be unlocked, near iPhone, and have a passcode enabled to unlock iPhone.
How do I unlock screen rotation on an iPhone?
If the screen rotation is locked and the iPhone screen does not rotate as you want, you need to unlock the feature. Launch the Control Center and tap Portrait Orientation lock button to turn it off. Press it again (it turns red) to turn it on.
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