Can You Unlock an iPhone? A Guide for the Big 4 US Carriers

Can you unlock an iPhone? You definitely can. If you have purchased a locked iPhone, you can unlock it. A locked iPhone is one whose usage is restricted to one single network; it will not work on another carrier unless it is first unlocked.

Unlocking an iPhone means that you can use it with any compatible SIM card from any network. Some reasons why you might want to unlock your iPhone are:

  • You want to switch to a different carrier without buying a new phone.
  • You want to travel abroad and use a local SIM card to avoid roaming charges.
  • You want to sell your phone or give it to someone else who uses a different carrier.

Representative image of an unlocked iPhone. - how to unlock an iPhone

What you need to unlock an iPhone

To unlock your iPhone, you will need to know your IMEI number, which is a unique identifier for your device. You can find your IMEI number in the Settings app, on the SIM tray, or by dialing *#06# on your phone. You will also need to contact your current carrier and request an unlock code, if they provide one. Some carriers have online tools or apps that let you check if your phone is eligible for unlocking and submit an unlock request.

There are different ways to unlock an iPhone, depending on the model and the carrier.

How to unlock an iPhone locked to AT&T

Here are the steps to unlock your AT&T iPhone:

Check if your phone is already unlocked. You can do this by opening your phone Settings, tapping General and then About, and scrolling to Carrier Lock. If it says “No SIM restrictions”, it’s unlocked. If it says “SIM locked”, you’ll have to complete an unlock request.

Check if your phone meets the unlock requirements. You need to have bought your phone from AT&T, paid it in full, used it for at least 40 days (postpaid) or one year (prepaid), and have a clean IMEI. You can find your IMEI by dialing *#06# on your phone.

Contact AT&T to request an unlock code. You can do this by dialing *611 from your AT&T phone, or by using the online form on the AT&T website. You will need to provide your IMEI, phone number, and account information.

Follow the instructions to unlock your phone. Once your request is approved, you will receive an email with an unlock code (if required) or instructions on how to unlock your phone. You may need to insert a non-AT&T SIM card and enter the unlock code to complete the process.

How to unlock an iPhone locked to the Verizon network

Here are the steps to unlock your Verizon-locked iPhone.

Make sure it’s been 60 days since you purchased your Verizon phone. As long as you bought your phone after July 2019, it will automatically unlock 60 days after the date of purchase. This is true for both pre- and post-paid plans.

Insert your non-Verizon SIM card into your phone. You will need to get a SIM card from your new mobile provider to start using their network. Once you have your new non-Verizon SIM, shut your phone down, remove your Verizon SIM, and insert the new one. Once you switch the phone back on, it should automatically connect to your new provider’s network.

Contact Verizon if your phone is not unlocked. If, after inserting the new SIM, you see a message that says something like, “SIM Not Supported,” your Verizon phone is not unlocked. It could be because it’s been fewer than 60 days since purchase, or that your phone was flagged as lost or stolen. To unlock your phone, you’ll need to contact Verizon customer support at 888-294-6804, or by dialing *611 from your Verizon phone.

How to unlock an iPhone locked to T-Mobile

Here are the steps to unlock an iPhone that is locked to the T-Mobile network.

Check if your phone is already unlocked. You can do this by logging in to your T-Mobile account, selecting your phone, and clicking “Check device unlock status” under “Device details”. If you see “Device unlocked”, you can use your phone with any compatible carrier.

Check if your phone meets the unlock requirements. You need to have bought your phone from T-Mobile, paid it in full, used it for at least 40 days (postpaid) or one year (prepaid), and have a clean IMEI.

Contact T-Mobile to request an unlock code. You can do this by dialing *611 from your T-Mobile phone, or by using the online form on the T-Mobile website. You will need to provide your IMEI, phone number, and account information.

Follow the instructions to unlock your phone. Once your request is approved, you will receive an email with an unlock code (if required) or instructions on how to unlock your phone. You may need to insert a non-T-Mobile SIM card and enter the unlock code to complete the process.

How to unlock an iPhone on the Dish Wireless network

To unlock an iPhone that has been locked to the Dish Wireless carrier, below are the steps you must take.

Check if your phone is already unlocked. You can do this by opening your phone Settings, tapping General and then About, and scrolling to Carrier Lock. If it says “No SIM restrictions”, it’s unlocked. If it says “SIM locked”, you’ll have to complete an unlock request.

Check if your phone meets the unlock requirements. You need to have bought your phone from Dish Wireless, paid it in full, used it for at least 40 days, and have a clean IMEI. You can find your IMEI by dialing *#06# on your phone.

Contact Dish Wireless to request an unlock code. You can do this by calling 1-800-333-3474, or by using the online form on the Dish Wireless website. You will need to provide your IMEI, phone number, and account information.

Follow the instructions to unlock your phone. Once your request is approved, you will receive an email with an unlock code or instructions on how to unlock your phone. You may need to insert a non-Dish Wireless SIM card and enter the unlock code to complete the process.

What does it cost to unlock an iPhone on the big 4 US cell carriers?

Unlocking an iPhone on AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, or Dish Wireless, is usually free, as long as the phone meets the eligibility requirements and the unlock request is approved.

Other resources

If you are interested in alternative ways to unlock an iPhone, see our article on chip-unlocked iPhones. You will also be interested in our article on factory unlocked iPhones, and another on worldwide unlocked iPhones.

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