The Cost of Unlocking an iPhone [Can You Do It for Free?]

Alvaro Trigo Avatar

Follow on Twitter

Locked and unlocked iPhones are common nowadays. Some people prefer the latter, while some prefer the former. Apple usually sells unlocked iPhones, while specific carriers, like AT&T, sell locked ones.

Wireless carriers lock iPhones because they expect you to stay with them for a certain contract period, usually around two years.

So, if you own a locked device, you’ve probably wondered how much it costs to unlock your iPhone or if you can do it for free. This guide will help you understand unlocking iPhones.

How Much Does It Cost to Unlock an iPhone

What Does It Mean When an iPhone Is Locked?

These are what it means when an iPhone is locked: 

  • Carrier-Locked.
    A carrier-locked iPhone means it’s connected to one mobile network provider. These iPhones are set up to work only with that specific network, using software locks to block SIM cards from other carriers. 
  • iCloud-Locked.
    This is a security measure to safeguard iPhone users and their device data. It prevents theft by making it extremely difficult for unauthorized individuals to unlock a phone without the correct iCloud account details. 
  • Screen-Locked.
    This is when your iPhone is locked with a passcode. While others can turn on your screen, they can’t access anything further without entering the passcode. In extreme cases, Apple may disable your iPhone, meaning you’ve already tried too many times to unlock it. 

For the first one, if you want to switch to a different carrier, you’ll have to unlock your Apple iPhone first. 

How Much Does It Cost to Unlock an iPhone?

It costs around $20 to $220 to unlock an iPhone via a tech shop or online unlocking service, depending on the carrier. The latter can be risky since many online scams ask you for your iPhone’s IMEI to unlock it. Be extra wary of online services and do your research first.

How Much Does It Cost to Unlock an iPhone

If you buy a locked iPhone, the carrier’s store might ask you for proof of ownership, which you might not have. In this case, you’ll have no choice but to seek help from third-party services like a tech shop. 

So, how much does it cost to unlock an iPhone at the Apple Store? It costs nothing, really. Why? Because Apple doesn’t unlock an iPhone for a certain carrier. Only carriers can do this. 

Can You Unlock an iPhone for Free?

Yes, you can unlock an iPhone for free by contacting your carrier and asking them to unlock it. They may need you to clear any balances or complete your contract term. Your courier will ask you for the device’s IMEI to unlock the iPhone.

Your iPhone should be legal, and you shouldn’t have any unpaid debts from your bank.

It won’t be easy to unlock your iPhone for free if it’s not yours originally or if you don’t know who used to own it. 

You Can Unlock an iPhone for Free

Can You Unlock Your iPhone Yourself?

Yes, you can unlock your iPhone yourself. The first method is to go to “Settings > Cellular > Sim PIN“. The other method is to call any number on your iPhone, and when the “SIM Locked” pop-up appears, enter your SIM PIN code. Enter any fake number and press the green button.

Is a contact constantly calling you but you don’t want to block them? Here are 5 ways to stop calling on your iPhone without blocking the caller!

Third-party apps available online allow you to unlock your iPhone yourself. Apps like Dr.Fone and AnyUnlock—iPhone Password Unlocker can help. 

You should be aware that you’ll be breaking the terms laid out by your carrier, and your iPhone will no longer be covered under warranty. 

Unlocking your iPhone costs you money if you hire third-party services, so it makes sense that you’ll want to do it yourself. 

How to Unlock iPhone From Carrier

Each carrier has a different unlocking process. In this example, we’ll use AT&T to show you how the process works. Unlocking your iPhone from a carrier is usually free. 

These are the steps to unlock an iPhone from the carrier:

Step 1: Check if the iPhone Is Carrier-Locked or Unlocked

Go to “Settings > General > About > Carrier Lock” and see if it says “SIM locked” or “No SIM restrictions”. If it’s the former, then your iPhone is locked. 

Does It Cost Check If the iPhone Is Locked or Unlocked

Step 2: Copy the IMEI of Your iPhone

The IMEI is also in the “About” page of your “Settings”. 

Step 3: Open Your Browser and Search for “AT&T Unlock

If you can’t access this, you’re probably outside the US. Install a credible VPN to change this.

Step 4: Make an iPhone Unlock Request

These are the steps to do an iPhone unlock request:

  • Step 1. On the AT&T Website, click “Start an unlock request”.
  • Step 2. Select “No” to the “Do you have a mobile number from AT&T?”.
  • Step 3. Paste your IMEI on the allotted field. 
  • Step 4. Click “I’ve read the legal info” and “Next”.
  • Step 5. Provide your details, but you can skip the mobile number.
  • Step 6. Confirm the request AT&T sent to your email.

    Note: You need to use a US email for this to work.
  • Step 7. Check the status of your request and see if it’s approved.

    Confirm and Check the Status of the Request for iPhone Unlock
  • Step 8. Wait for the “Carrier Lock” status of your iPhone to change. 

If nothing happens, you should insert a SIM to your locked iPhone. 

Apple Support also guides users on how unlocking your iPhone works. 

Pretty easy, right? Now you have an unlocked iPhone! If you contact a carrier, you will no longer have to worry about the cost of unlocking your iPhone. 

What Are the Disadvantages of Unlocked iPhone?

These are the disadvantages of an unlocked iPhone:

  • It’s More Expensive.
    Although you won’t have to experience the hassle of finding ways to unlock the iPhone, you’ll need to spend more to buy an unlocked one. 
  • It Might Not Update Anymore.
    An unlocked phone might not support software updates from Apple, and in the worst-case scenario, it might stop working altogether. You won’t even know this until you’ve tried to unlock the iPhone yourself or through other means.
  • It Will No Longer Be Insured.
    Tweaking your locked iPhone means your insurance will no longer cover it when damaged, and you’ll be the one to pay for repairs. Locked iPhones are safer, as the insurance will cover the repairs if they are under the terms and conditions. 

    Cost to Unlock an iPhone No Longer Insured
  • Its Value Will Decrease.
    Unlocked iPhones might not hold their value as strongly as carrier-locked ones. Some buyers prefer devices linked to specific carriers for special deals or discounted plans.
  • It Increases the Risk of Unauthorized Access.
    Unlocking your iPhone through unofficial methods or third-party services can void your warranty and potentially lead to security risks or software malfunctions.

Can You Sell Your iPhone if It’s Locked?

Yes, you can sell your iPhone if it’s locked. Buyers feel safer with carrier-locked iPhones since it’s easier to contact the carrier if the device has problems. But if your iPhone is iCloud-locked, you must tell potential buyers you’ve forgotten the Apple ID and password.

Buying a locked iPhone with a carrier contract might include benefits like device insurance or discounted plans, making it even more worthwhile.

Unlock Your iPhone Through Safe Means

Now that you know how much it costs to unlock an iPhone, you should only do so safely. By choosing the safe route, you’re ensuring your warranty stays intact. That means worry-free support if anything goes wonky.

When it’s time to upgrade, a safely unlocked iPhone holds its value better. It’s like a little investment in your tech future.

Although online unlocking services are convenient, they may not be completely safe. As a responsible internet user, it is important to research and read reviews before using an online unlocking service.

Was this page helpful?