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How to Get iPhone Factory Unlock Using the IMEI Number

Updated on September 8, 2017
amuno profile image

Alfred is a long-time teacher and computer enthusiast who works with and troubleshoots a wide range of computing devices.

Using the IMEI number, you can get iPhone factory unlock from your carrier network or gray market providers both for free and for a small fee. Once unlocked (read white-listed) using the IMEI, the iPhone will accept SIM cards from all network providers around the world.

The message you get following a successful iPhone restore
The message you get following a successful iPhone restore

Starting with the first iPhone which shipped in 2007, Apple iPhones have always been sold locked to carrier networks all around the world.

This way, the iPhone trades at a cheaper price on the first trading day, allowing end users to complete payment in two years or so. The contract also motivates users to stick to selected carrier networks in the event of an upgrade.

Because of this lock irregularity, the global iPhone market is saturated with both factory unlocked and locked iPhones. While many end users knowingly purchase either of the iPhone types, some purchase 'used' locked iPhones unknowingly and have to tussle it out when told about the lock status.

This is even made cumbersome by network providers who never bother to unlock these iPhones even the contract expires.

A notice that an iPhone is not activated
A notice that an iPhone is not activated

Apple shipped factory unlocked iPhone 4 starting in 2011 through its retail stores, and though it had earlier in 2010 sold unlocked iPhone 3GS, the model was partly tied to AT&T contract.

A factory unlocked iPhone is the ultimate choice for most users, but for reasons mentioned above, many end users are stuck with locked iPhones and having dis-tasted temporary unlocks, are continuously seeking permanent factory unlocks.

In order to avoid iPhone unlock hustles with carrier networks and grey market dealers, it is always smart to buy a genuine factory unlocked iPhone.

Factory unlocked iPhones can be purchased directly from Apple retail stores or its online store.

Purchasing a factory unlocked iPhone directly from Apple is a one off transaction and unless the iPhone develops problems, you may never have to visit the Genius Bar.

Otherwise, a number of options are available in order to have iPhones factory unlocked by use of the IMEI number.

They include iPhone factory unlock;

  • using carrier networks
  • using grey market providers

The IMEI number is the identity of your iPhone and is the only information you should provide to have it unlocked. You should not have your iPhone for unlock purposes. Anyone that asks to have your iPhone first is probably a rogue unlocker.

A notice that your iPhone is activated and factory unlocked
A notice that your iPhone is activated and factory unlocked

1. iPhone Factory Unlock Via Carrier Network Providers

If you bought your iPhone from an Apple carrier partner on contract i.e. AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Orange, T-Mobile etc, you had better call or visit them to inquire about possibilities to unlock your iPhone.

Assuming your iPhone is out of contract or the ETF is paid off, then you will be eligible for an unlock for a small fee or free of charge, depending on the carrier network.

Following the passing of the bill by the House of Representatives which sanctioned phone unlock, you will have to fulfill a few requirements though.

For example, AT&T allows up to five unlocks a year per current user account. Former customers have up to five unlocks for the same account only.

Popular carrier network unlock services include:

However, some carrier networks still do not provide iPhone unlock and, for this reason, you may want to try third party unlock providers.

Do you trust iPhone factory unlock via third party services?

See results

2. Factory iPhone Unlock Via Grey Market Dealers

Grey market unlock services though legal, are not necessarily sanctioned by Apple and carrier networks. They operate independently and are not necessarily subject to supervision.

It therefore goes without saying that you interact with third party unlockers at your own risk.

However, a few providers out there do actually serve legitimate iPhone unlock, and will refund your money upon failure to do so. It is therefore, important to go for a provider that warranties money back guarantee.

All said and done, the grey market unlock services are the last resort, when your carrier network does not provide in-house unlock.

  • Follow this MacRumors link to read through this long forum to find out MacRumors user experience and views on a host of IMEI unlock sites.
  • Follow this link to read what the iPhonewiki deems scam.

Below I have listed a few links to sites that should be good to start with. No guarantees, but they receive recommendations from users globally.

Feel free to add links to sites that have worked for you. NO SPAM.

For a step by step Instructions on how to unlock an iPhone via IMEI number, read this Apple page.

How to Find IMEI number of your iPhone

In iPhones running IOS 7x:

tap Settings

tap General

tap About

scroll down to IMEI

The IMEI number of an iPhone is usually 15 figures.

Finding out the iPhone IMEI number
Finding out the iPhone IMEI number

iPhone Factory Unlock Via AT&T


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    • profile image

      Giovanni 2 years ago

      All this web sites what promoting Iphone factory unlock working over online web sites. There You need to register and leave your personal details which I do not like. First is my privacy.

      I find our one windows application which you can use to factory unlock

      most of the Iphones, and no need to leave your personal details. Look on - maybe will be handy to everyone here!

    • profile image

      Frank Liberti 2 years ago from Greece

      Hey amuno,

      Nice post, and very detailed. I agree with the Software method (Ultrasn0w), it can support up to iPhone 4 with 01.59.00 baseband, and unfortunately I have a very very long time to see an iPhone with that baseband. A few years ago I had a customer, which was involved with Jailbreaking, and he was constantly preserving his baseband to that version, and he still has it unlocked with the software method (Unfortunately he cannot use the latest iOS versions, but who cares right?)!

      About the unlocking companies you listed, I have used only the two of the three, and they worked very very good.

      I am actually using a website, which finds the cheapest unlocking solution for you, depending on your iPhone model and Network you want to unlock, and those two unlocking companies you mentioned appear very often. I am using either their form or their links, and they send me a link where you can order your unlock (They do not offer the unlocks, they just find you the cheapest solution!). This is their link, - maybe it will come handy to everyone here!

    • amuno profile image

      Alfred Amuno 2 years ago from Kampala

      Sorry for that. Here is the link, again.

    • profile image

      Russell 2 years ago

      That article didn't show.

    • amuno profile image

      Alfred Amuno 2 years ago from Kampala

      I have written an article (see link below) regarding iCloud bypass.

      Unfortunately, the doulCi exploit seems to have hit a brick wall, making it hard to bypass the iCloud screen.

      It is impossible to bypass the lock screen, at least for now. Still, new exploits are being tried out. Keep your eyes open and ears to the ground; something should happen any day.


    • profile image

      Russell 2 years ago

      What I want to know is how in them hell do I bypass/unlock my iCloud activation lock and turn off Find My iPhone! Bought my phone on eBay two months ago with the idea I could unlock it myself with DoulCi or DuolCi or what ever they call it. Now my phone is still am brick and there seems to be no help in sight for someone that just wants his new-ish iPhone 5S.