Apple has service agreements with a variety of providers, guaranteeing them exclusive rights to distribute the iPhone. Some networks also get priority releases, making the next iPhone available only on their network for a limited time. Of course, any service provider’s goal is to maintain customer retention even after a phone and the associated contract is paid off. To make that happen, many providers sell SIM-locked phones. These phones will only work with a network specific SIM card, making it impossible to switch network carriers without first unlocking the device.
Why is Unlocking an iPhone Important?
Knowing how to unlock an iPhone is important for a couple of reasons. For those iPhone users looking to upgrade to the next model, owning an unlocked phone improves its resale value. Before selling an iPhone on eBay, unlocking it is a crucial step. Sellers that are limited to a single network might have more trouble finding a buyer, and the buyer might not pay premium pricing.For users satisfied with their current model, a locked phone can be an inconvenience as more providers move to the bring-your-own-device pricing model. In BYOD pricing schemes, customers receive discounted services but no discount on devices. If another service provider offers a significantly better price, consumers who want to switch will need to unlock their iPhones or pay out-of-pocket for a new device.
The Best Ways to Unlock your iPhone
There are several ways to approach unlocking an iPhone. Depending on the service provider, the device may already be unlocked, particularly if it was purchased at an Apple store. If it is locked, the only Apple-approved way to unlock the device is through the service provider. The service provider will issue an unlock code to the customer in cases where unlocking is requested. There are a few alternatives to carrier unlocking, but it pays to be cautious with these methods as they stand to void the iPhone warranty.
Some iPhone service carriers offer an unlocking service at no charge, while others charge users for the administrative fees associated with generating an unlock code. The only times an iPhone might run into trouble unlocking a device through the service provider is when the device’s ownership is in question or while the phone is still under contract. Most iPhone contracts are about two years long, especially when a device discount is offered. The contract must have ended or be terminated early for the phone to be unlocked and switched to a different carrier’s plan. A warning: early termination of a contract usually has a hefty fee.
When the carrier won’t allow unlocking, there are third-party services available that claim to offer unlocking.They list the device on the Apple database as unlocked, using the IMEI number associated with the individual phone. The upside is that these services work in essentially the same way as carrier unlocking, so there is no worry about voided warranties. The downside is that it might take time, and not all companies actually finish the service. There is a fee associated with these services that can get fairly high, depending on the device.
Unlocking Methods to Avoid
Many third-party vendors advertise different unlocking methods, but many of them are not only quasi legal, but likely to leave iPhones as a worthless heap of metal and plastic. The two most common methods to avoid include hardware and software unlocking.
There are ways to hack the hardware of an iPhone and unlock it. This method is not recommended, as it will instantly void any warranty, and might result in a broken iPhone. If the user needs to replace the device with a new model, buying a new case, screen protector, carry case and other model-specific accessories can add up to a pretty penny when the hardware hack goes wrong.
This method might not destroy an iPhone, but it probably will destroy most of the stored data, as users reset the phone to factory condition to get it working again. The problem with software unlocking is simply that most of the offerings in this category are not legitimate. Even if the iPhone works immediately after the unlock, it is likely to stop working after the next update, leaving device owners to pay for the same service time and time again.