How to check if your iPhone is Unlocked or Not

Having your iPhone locked to a carrier can be a pain if you need to switch SIMs. Especially while you’re travelling, and you try slipping in another SIM card only to find that you’re blocked from using it. Knowledge is power, and to be forewarned is to be forearmed. Here’s how to find out, in advance, if your iPhone is locked to your carrier or not.

The basic method

The easiest way is to get a spare SIM card, from a different network to your current provider, and try it in your phone. A few minutes after changing the SIM cards – you should reboot your iPhone to be sure – you will see the new network name in the status bar if your phone is unlocked. If your phone is locked, you’ll get a pop-up error asking you to insert a valid SIM card.

You should do this sooner rather than later if you will be travelling. You don’t want to be stuck in a foreign country and not be able to buy phone service!

The online method

If you can’t get hold of a spare SIM card and you need to know whether you’re locked or not, there’s a website that can help. IMEI.info can access a public database of IMEI codes which tracks which phones in the world are carrier locked or not. To use this service, you’ll need to obtain your iPhone’s IMEI code – which is a code that is unique to your device.

iphone-locked (1)

If you have a SIM card installed, and only if, you can see the IMEI code by dialing *#06#. You can also get the IMEI code via the Settings app by navigating to General > About and scrolling down.

Alternatively, you can plug your iPhone into your Mac or PC and start iTunes. On the device Summary screen, you’ll see a line showing your phone number (the line below the phone’s data capacity). Click on the phone number, which will reveal the IMEI code. The IMEI code is also engraved on the back case near the bottom in case of some iOS devices like the iPhone 5 and the original iPhone or engraved on the SIM card tray in case of the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.

iphone-locked (4)

Once you have the IMEI code, return to IMEI.info and input the code. You’ll see a table of basic information about your model of phone. Some details may be incorrect. For example, it reported my 16GB iPhone 5 as having 32GB.

iphone-locked (3)

Notice on the right of the page a set of coloured boxes. The “SIMLock and Warranty” check in green is free, however you need to register an account at this stage. After you’ve registered and logged in to your account, click on the “SIMLock and Warranty” button. It will prompt you to spread the word. Click on Check Apple phone details button to continue.

It will take a few seconds to process your request and display if your phone is locked or unlocked (next to the SIM Lock field) as you can see in the screenshot below.

iphone-locked (2)

What to do if you are locked

You can contact your carrier, as in many countries they unlock the device for free or for a fee. In the U.S., carriers like AT&T have also made it easy to unlock off-contract iPhone. There are also many sources of information on the web about how to get your phone unlocked, and there are many websites which, for a fee, will provide an unlock code. The UK MVNO, GiffGaff, has an extensive information resource on this subject called Unlockapedia.

Hope this helps. Let us know how it goes in the comments.

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  • Bob Saget

    Why are you telling them to go through all that trouble to get the IMEI? Just go into settings > about and scroll down, the IMEI is right there.

    • http://www.iphonehacks.com iPhoneHacks

      Totally forgot about it. Updated the post. Thanks!

      • John

        Is it still illegal to get your phone unlocked

        • J

          Maybe in the USA

          • cnash77

            I live in California. My carrier is Verizon. I called Verizon and they unlocked my phone for me without a fee.

        • lin

          what do u mean? I bought it I fulfilled the contract so it is mine to do with whatever I want.

          • Asian

            to some extent, verizon may unlock your phone for ” Global use “, only with foreign gsm networks. They claim the unlock service they now offer free of charge to customers 6 months or greater into their contract is limited of foreign sims only. I have yet to try it with a us based sim, but from what verizon says it wont work. I checked to see if my phone is considered sim unlocked and it indeed is. I am going to try a straighttalk sim in the u.s. later today, will update with results!

      • Joe

        Also, a better site for checking your IMEI number is available at http://iphoneimei.info . They don’t require you to create an account in order to check unlock status — just input your IMEI number and get immediate results!

        • Back bench boy

          Just needed half a minute to check. Thanks.

        • cnash77

          That was super easy!

        • Farwa Ismail

          the sim lock says unknown. what does it mean?

        • Bhavesh Dorwani

          ya it says unknown what does it mean ?

        • mike D

          This site is trying to make me pay….

        • Gail

          This site worked for me, quick & easy.

        • Hans181

          ops, you forgot to mention that they charge you $2 on paypal !!!!

          • Joe

            I just checked and they still give me all my info for my iPhone for free. Are you trying to use the site for something other than an iPhone, perhaps? Otherwise, I have no idea why they seem to be trying to charge some people and not others…

          • Hans181

            well they did send me to paypal to pay $2 i did not pay, called sprint and they confirmed that my phone is unlocked now

    • chickchef

      um am i the only one with their IMEI number clearly written in small white font on the back of my iphone 5????? surely I can’t be?? Or when I am on unlock the screen during set up mode and it says “slide to set up” click on the little blue i in the circle at the bottom and instantly an imei and iccid pop up.

      just sayin…

  • Anonymous

    This would of helped me with a stolen phone i had. I couldn’t activate it with out any sim from the carrier it was locked to.
    It was new in box

    • Thieves suck

      A thief should not be able to use what they steal.

      • lin

        I bought a phone off of ebay that was verified clear for activation and then apparently the owner reported it stolen so I was never able to use the phone :(

        • yo mama

          Serves you right. your response should have been to try to return the phone to its owner and get the money situation resolved through ebay. Instead you tried to use a stolen phone.

        • Nova

          Wanna sell it?

  • genXhippie

    Yes.

  • Sam Chise

    There is other site http://imei.org which let you check the network and the lock status of your iphone

  • alex

    Hi there
    what does mean “unknown”?

    • chickchef

      my guess is that it DOESN’T KNOW

  • grace5

    It wasn’t displaying after several minutes and then it said the info would be displayed after Paypal had confirmed the payment? What? I thought it was free? I quickly deleted my account in case they somehow got money out of me via paypal as I used the same email. What is this about?

    • alex

      Pls how can I unlock my iphone5 t-mobeli UK without paying?

  • Nelson

    My iphone 5 just come as no service after using it for two weeks

    • Jimmy ROx

      i,ve Iphone 4g,
      Sim Lock: Unlocked

      But my phone was locked… it it really unlocked? may i update it to IOS 7?

      PLZ HELP

      • Danish

        if it is updated in IOS 7 its mean ur phone is factory unlocked.

  • geo

    how can i know about myi phone 5 carrier nd country

  • salman

    my iphone is locked then i jailbreaked it and installed SAM to use tha other sim,now phone sim status is unlocked so my question is that can i update my phone ??

  • RBM

    I bought a LG KU 9500 from Korea. It was supposed to be unlocked. It will not show IMEI code when you punch in *#06# and on the below the battery where the number is supposed to be there is a korean number…I took it to a carrier and had it scanned and it came up as a 13 digit code. Is this possible? If it is unlocked, why can’t I find a IMEI code to see who carries it? It is not that old and works fine…nothing in the specs on it either. Any suggestions?

  • Leslie Roach

    I followed the instructions with my iphone 5 and under Sim Lock, it said unknown.

  • http://grampoo.com/ Grampoo

    thank you very helpful

  • cnash

    Super helpful! I was planning to travel abroad and take my iPhone but I didn’t want to get excessive charges from my carrier (Verizon) so I called and asked if they could unlock my phone. I ended up not purchasing a SIM card from Europe so I wasn’t sure if they actually did unlock my phone. When I checked on IMEI.Info my phone shows it was unlocked. They did not charge me a fee. Call your carrier and ask first. I really appreciate the info, great feed.

    • cnash

      BTW i live in California if that is helpful

  • Sid

    Thanks a million…

  • tingho

    what’s unknown means?

  • lin

    BTW ATT does NOT make it easy to get an unlock code; I use to call up and had my phone unlocked in less than 5 minutes but NOW they require you to submit a request online then decline it (repeatedly) stating that the account information does not match. :(

  • blaa

    now, i wanna know is my phone unlocked or not. Because it shows ” no service “. If it is unlocked , should I restore it. thx

  • N Delger

    i have same problem. my phone is unlocked but no service

  • belal

    i want to unlock my iphone 4 in free
    plz help me

  • DigitalDeath

    Tried several times, but getting errors:

    Error: Unexpected error, please try again later.

  • Alexandr Oreshkin

    unlock you iphone all carriers

  • eric

    checking on imei.info for simlock and the site returns “unexpected error”

  • Keith

    easier than hooking to computer. go to Settings, General, About IMEI listed toward bottom

  • ursulavasey

    When I enter my iPad details, the IMEI number is not found on the site, as though it does not exist. Consequently, I cannot check the unlock status. Apple have verified the iPad as a genuine one, as it was bought from 3 UK. My partner’s iPad was bought from the same company and shows up on the IMEI check site. The only error on his is that it says it takes a mini sim, when it actually takes a micro sim. However, he cannot check the unlock status, as that part of the site is down.

  • rudy11209

    My iphone does not have an IMEI but has an MEID instead. What can I do to check if it is unlocked? I don’t have another sim card.

  • Dal

    This service is temporarily not available, check again ina few days or try paid version which works well. How to find lock status in my iPhone check result?

    If phone is locked. Click here to unlock it.

  • Tariqsarwar wattoo

    “Click on Check Apple phone details button to continue”.after clicking on that it says every time
    This service is temporarily not available, check again in a few days or try paid version which works well.

  • NickM

    Of course it says “unknown” This website is a ploy by the owners of the IMEI . info to get your personal information. Don’t fall for it.

  • Phil

    Maybe this worked a year ago, but this site is all about selling something. I tried two phones, one Nokia, one iPhone that are unlocked. The “request” to Nokia is still pending after 24 hours, for iPhone the message is the free service is temporarily unavailable but for $2.99 I can buy the results. Moral of the story, very few “free” sites for services.