Having a locked iPhone means one big thing: you can only have it registered to one carrier network.
You have no freedom over which networks you can connect to which limits you to the data plans that your current carrier offers.
In the short-term this might not seem bad and, in fact, it can sometimes get you a better price for your data plan.
However, for the majority of people, you’ll want to unlock your phone to reap the benefits but before you do that, you need to know how to check if iPhone is unlocked or not.
Part 1. How to Check if iPhone is Unlocked without a SIM Card?
There are a handful of ways with which you can check if your iPhone is unlocked without SIM card and below we’ve detailed some of them.
1Check On iOS 14 or iPadOS 14 or later
If you’re running the latest iOS versions then you’re in luck and with this quick method, you can discover whether or not your iPhone is unlocked.
This will work for both iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 or later versions.
Step 1 – Launch the Settings app and tap on General then About.
Step 2 – Swipe down and locate the entry Carrier Lock.
Step 3 – If this entry says No SIM Restrictions, your iPhone is unlocked. Otherwise, it will be locked.
This is one of the easier ways of finding out if your iPhone is unlocked without a SIM card.
All you need to do is call your carrier (you can usually find their customer support number on their website), provide a few details such as your name and phone number, possibly prove that you’re the owner of the iPhone, and they’ll check if the iPhone is unlocked.
Doing this will get you an accurate answer since carriers keep track of whether their customers’ phones are locked to their network or not.
3Check with IMEI Number
One particularly detailed approach to learning how to check if iPhone is unlocked with IMEI is to use an online IMEI checker.
These tools do a complete breakdown of your phone’s profile and in this instance, we’d recommend WipeLock IMEI checker .
With this checker, you’ll not only find out if your iPhone is locked to any networks, but you’ll find out details such as if your iPhone is on a blacklist, if it’s covered by AppleCare+, and if it has an iCloud lock on it.
Why choose WipeLock IMEI checker?
Because unlike other checkers which generate reports from outdated databases, these reports are manually created using information from several up-to-date and accurate databases.
4Check from Settings
Although this method is similar to the first one we showed you, it works on any iPhone model and while it doesn’t give you a definitive answer, it’ll give you an idea as to whether your iPhone is locked.
Step 1 – Open the Settings application and tap on Cellular.
If your iPhone’s language uses non-U.S. English, you’ll tap Cellular Data or Mobile Data here instead.
Step 2 – You may now see the Cellular Data Network entry and if you do, this means your iPhone is locked to that carrier.
On the other hand, if you don’t see Cellular Data Network listed on this page, your iPhone probably isn’t locked.
It’s best to confirm your findings with another method after doing this.
5Check the Place You Bought the iPhone
Depending on where you bought your iPhone from, you should be able to find out if it’s locked fairly easily.
If you purchased it directly from a carrier or it is under a contract, the chances are that it is locked for a set length of time.
Similarly, if you bought it from a retailer like Amazon, there’s a good chance that there is a lock.
On the other hand, if you buy a second-hand iPhone, it’s not always possible to find out if the iPhone is locked without the proper documentation.
Typically, when a new iPhone is bought, the buyer receives paperwork which explains how long the carrier lock is active. If possible, request this paperwork from the seller to find out.
Part 2. How to Tell if iPhone is Unlocked with a SIM Card
You can also understand how to check if iPhone is unlocked by inserting another SIM card.
For this method, you’ll need to have a SIM card from a different network than your current SIM card is connected to.
Steps to Check iPhone iPhone is Unlocked with SIM Card
Step 1 – Turn off your iPhone and remove your SIM card from the device.
Step 2 – Insert the 2nd SIM card which is from a different network, then turn on your iPhone.
Step 3 – If your iPhone connects to the 2nd SIM card’s network then the iPhone isn’t locked.
If you want to get a firmer answer to this then you can also try making a phone call and if you can do so without any issues, this will confirm that your iPhone isn’t locked.
Part 3. FAQs About Locked & Unlocked iPhone
1Unlocked and locked, what’s the difference?
Obviously, there are benefits to having an unlocked iPhone and even a couple to having a locked iPhone, but what exactly is the difference between unlocked and locked?
Locked means that your iPhone can only connect to a single carrier network.
This means that if you wanted to switch to a different carrier and buy one of their plans, you can’t use the same iPhone unless you unlock it first.
Unlocked means that your iPhone can connect to any network, as long as it is the same network type as your iPhone was originally connected to.
Usually if you buy an iPhone directly from Apple it will be unlocked, whereas if you buy it from a carrier it will usually be locked.
In addition, if your carrier locks your iPhone, they likely have a time limit on how long the lock lasts. This time limit is usually the same length as your contract and after it expires, the lock will be gone.
2Is it better to buy an iPhone locked or unlocked?
As mentioned above, a carrier lock will prevent your phone from working on another network. And a locked iPhone is much cheaper than an unlocked one.
However, you can switch to another network without limits if your iPhone is unlocked.
So it all depends on your needs when making a choice.
3How do you find out what carrier a phone is locked to iPhone?
Method 1. from Settings app
This way only works when there is a SIM card and it works normally in your iPhone.
Step 1. Open Settings app on your iPhone.
Step 2. Navigate to General > About > Network. Here you’ll find the current carrier of your iPhone.
If you’re sure your iPhone is locked by checking with the above methods, then the current carrier it shows will be the one your iPhone is locked to.
Method 2. using an IMEI checker
If don’t have a SIM card, then an IMEI checker will help you with this.
Just find the IMEI of your lockediPhone and submit. You’ll get a detailed report about your iPhone, including the carrier your iPhone is locked to.
4What to Do if my iPhone is locked?
So, you figured out how to check if iPhone is unlocked and discovered that it’s actually locked, what can you do?
How you proceed will depend on your carrier:
- Verizon: simply wait until 60 days after you bought the iPhone and it will be unlocked automatically.
- Sprint: contact their support and they will guide you through how to unlock your Sprint iPhone.
- AT&T: you must request that they unlock your iPhone by filling out this form and waiting for them to get back to you.
- T-Mobile: contact their customer support team and ask for a T-Mobile iPhone unlock request.
There are a few other options to unlock your iPhone.
If your carrier isn’t listed above or you don’t want to wait for your carrier to process the unlock, carrier unlocking services tend to be much quicker.
5Can you put any SIM card in an unlocked iPhone?
The short answer – no. As we all know, there are two main networks: GSM & CDMA.
If your iPhone only supports GSM, then you’ll only insert a SIM card from a GSM carrier, such as AT&T, T-Mobile etc.
If it supports CDMA network only, then insert a SIM from CDMA network, such as Sprint, Verizon.
To make sure whether your iPhone is compatible with your SIM card, just make a phone call to the carrier and offer the IMEI number, they will help you check it.
Now that you know how to tell if iPhone is unlocked, you can decide on your next steps.
If you discover that your iPhone is actually locked, you can then make an effort to remove the lock by contacting your carrier and requesting an unlock.
Alternatively, you could use an unlocking service if that better suits your needs.
Either way, we hope that you can use this article to reveal the carrier lock status of your iPhone.