What is a Factory Unlocked iPhone? Meaning, Benefits Explained

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When purchasing an iPhone, choosing between different configurations might become necessary. You might become curious about the differences between buying a locked iPhone, a factory unlocked iPhone, or a user-unlocked iPhone in this situation, and you’ll need all the information you can get.

In this guide, we’ll discuss what a factory unlocked iPhone is, and what sets it apart from locked iPhones. You’ll also learn some helpful tips that might influence your purchasing decision and help you get a deal that works best for you.

What is a Factory Unlocked Phone?
What is a Factory Unlocked iPhone?

What is a Factory Unlocked Phone?

A factory unlocked phone indicates that the device was purchased directly from the manufacturer without any restrictions in place from a carrier or network operator. These businesses manufacture their phones and supply them to merchants and network service providers, who then market them to customers.

If you purchased a phone that was labelled as “factory-unlocked,” it indicates that it is not tied to any particular wireless service and may be used with any network you please. Factory unlocked phones are typically more dependable than locked phones because they are not bound by contracts and do not have additional costs.

Differences Between Locked and Unlocked iPhones

Prior to Apple beginning to offer factory unlocked iPhones, all iPhones sold in the US were “locked to” their original carrier, regardless of whether the customer purchased the phone on a contract or outright. The master subsidy lock, also known as the service programming code, is the passcode used to lock the phones. The user is unable to utilize the iPhone on another carrier’s network or access the iPhone’s programming menu due to the code.

In Europe and elsewhere, factory unlocked iPhones have always been accessible, but in the US, they were first made accessible in 2011. To discourage and stop customers from switching networks without unlocking the iPhone, the phones were locked. It can take a long phone call to customer care or a trip to the store to unlock the phone because it is not always simple.

Why are iPhones Sold Locked?

Apple and AT&T had a deal to have the iPhone exclusively on their network when it initially became available in the US. It was still feasible to activate the iPhone on a different GSM network, but doing so required jailbreaking the device. 

When you purchase a locked iPhone, the carrier offers you a steep discount in exchange for agreeing to a lengthy contract. The business recovers its loss by selling the iPhone at a reduced price for the duration of the contract. An expensive cancellation charge may be assessed to the user for breaching the contract early.

Advantages of a Factory Unlocked iPhone

The ability to switch carriers without jailbreaking the phone is the main benefit of purchasing a factory unlocked iPhone. The difficult procedure of jailbreaking the iPhone voids the manufacturer’s warranty. 

Simply by exchanging the SIM card, a factory unlocked GSM iPhone can be used with any carrier. This enables you to use your phone while travelling on international carriers. A CDMA iPhone requires a little more work to activate it, because you need to use specific software to modify the phone’s network settings, but you may use any carrier that supports this to activate a CDMA iPhone.

Disadvantages of a Factory Unlocked iPhone

The cost of a factory unlocked phone is its primary drawback. Locked iPhones are less expensive to purchase outright because the carrier covers their cost. Note that you have no reason to purchase a factory unlocked phone if you intend to use the original carrier for the duration of the phone’s ownership and typically do not travel abroad. 

Should I Buy a Locked or Factory Unlocked iPhone?

This decision should be made based on your personal preferences and what works best for you. As stated earlier, if your plan is to use the original carrier for your phone, then you should not bother spending extra on a factory-unlocked iPhone. If you would appreciate flexibility in the carrier you plan to use and can afford the extra cost, then you could consider purchasing a factory unlocked iPhone. You’ll also be able to maintain your warranty with a factory-unlocked iPhone.

If you do decide to buy a factory unlocked iPhone, there are ways to unlock it for use. One of them is to use a chip. Read all about chip-unlocked iPhones.

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