How to unlock your iPhone to change operator


Since last year with iOS 14, Apple has made it possible to check if your iPhone is locked or unlocked without needing to call your carrier.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Are you looking for a change? Perhaps you have moved to a new area where your current carrier does not have good coverage. Or maybe you want to lower your monthly bill and find a better deal. Whatever your reason, it’s perfectly legal to unlock your iPhone – if it isn’t already – and switch to a new carrier. And now there is an easy way to check if your iPhone is locked to your current carrier’s network.

However, your iPhone must be fully refunded before leaving the ship. If you’re in the middle of an installment plan, you’ll need to make all payments before your carrier will allow you to leave.

Wait, maybe my iPhone is already unlocked?

If you’ve paid the full price up front for your iPhone, it’s probably unlocked. If you bought it through AT&T, Verizon, or another carrier, it’s likely locked down to that carrier’s network.

How do I know if it’s locked or unlocked?

Apple last year added a way to check if your iPhone is locked or unlocked, which doesn’t involve calling your carrier and navigating to a human who can answer that simple question. As long as you are using iOS 14 or iOS 15, you can access Settings> General> About and scroll to Locking the transporter. If you see No SIM restriction on that line, then – good news! – your iPhone is unlocked. If you see SIM blocked, however, you probably still have some payments to make before your iPhone is fully paid.

What if it’s locked?

If your iPhone is paid and still not unlocked, then you will need to contact your carrier to request an unlock. Before you call, however, you may be able to initiate the unlocking process from your carrier’s site. Visit the device unlock pages from AT&T, T Mobile and Verizon – you may have to wait a day or two for your application to be completed. Once confirmed, you are good to go.

Once your new service is operational, don’t forget to terminate your old contract.

OK, so how do you remove the SIM card?

Back up your iPhone, turn it off, grab the SIM eject tool that may have been included with your iPhone or a safety pin, and insert it into the small hole next to your SIM tray to eject it.

The SIM is out. Now what?

All you have to do is put your new operator’s SIM card in the tray and reinsert it into your phone.

Nothing else?

Yes, one more thing: take your phone number with you. You should be able to transfer your number smoothly from one carrier to another, but it’s a good idea to check for yourself. In the United States, you can check with major carriers – AT&T, T Mobile and Verizon – to see if your number is eligible for porting.

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