How to Unlock an iPhone and Use it with New Carriers

Unlock your iPhone to switch carriers!
30 minutes

When we talk about unlocking our iPhones, we aren't talking about the passcode. We are talking about unlocking a user's iPhone to be used by a different carrier. If you are trying to switch carriers to have better service or rates, keep in mind that not all carriers support unlocking your iPhone.

There has long been controversy on how to unlock an iPhone and who to contact to assist iPhone users with unlocking their iPhones. More often than not, iPhone users get bounced around from carrier to manufacturer, while trying to figure out how to switch carriers without losing their sanity.

If that's you, don't worry. Unlocking your iPhone to be used by other carriers is really an easy process once you know what to do, who to contact, and what steps are on you versus the carrier or manufacturer.

In this guide, I walk you through the unlocking process step-by-step so that you know how to unlock your iPhone. Knowing the steps is crucial so that you don't get pushed from carrier to manufacturer during the process.

Let's get started!

Note: If you are unsure if your carrier does or doesn't support unlocking, check out Apple's carrier support and feature list. Check this list out before moving forward to make sure your carrier supports unlocking.

iPhoneiPhone ×1

Howchoo is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission at no cost to you.

How to Unlock an iPhone and Use it with New Carriers
Pinterest (Edited)

First and foremost, call your carrier. Your current carrier is the only company that can unlock your iPhone. The carrier you are wanting to switch to, as well as the manufacturer, are unable to unlock your iPhone. This is because a locked iPhone is locked to the carrier you currently have service with. Once it is unlocked, of course, that will no longer be the case.

When you contact your current carrier, let them know you want to unlock your iPhone so that you can switch carriers. If they refer you to the manufacturer or tell you that they do not have the capability to do that, try to specify that you want to unlock it for use with different carriers. If they are still unable to help, get a different representative. Though carriers are the only ones that can unlock an iPhone, it's not uncommon that they confuse unlocking your iPhone with a passcode lock issue or something else.

Once you have a representative who understands your needs, they will put through a request to complete the unlocking of your iPhone in their system. This takes time. Generally, expect about a 24 to 48-hour turnaround.

How to Unlock an iPhone and Use it with New Carriers
Pinterest (Edited)

After your carrier confirms the iPhone has been unlocked for use by other carriers, you'll want to replace your current SIM card with a new SIM card that is specified for the new carrier you are hoping to use.

Of course, this means calling them and setting up an account and new service with that carrier. I recommend calling in advance, and possibly going in for the SIM card, since ordering one can take a couple days even with express shipping.

If you have never taken out your SIM card, check out my guide on how to remove your SIM card, so that you can replace it easily.

How to Unlock an iPhone and Use it with New Carriers
Pinterest (Edited)

Usually, you only have to do the above two steps. However, if you do not have a new SIM, or the iPhone has been unlocked and you've confirmed it but you've had no luck with the completion of the unlocking in the system, you may have to restore your iPhone. Don't worry, you can just restore a backup, so you don't lose any important data.

While this takes extra time and energy, the process isn't super difficult. Once you have done these steps, your iPhone should be unlocked for use with another carrier. If you need extra help with restoring, contact Apple to help you restore your iPhone. Below is the five-step process for backing up.

Flawless restoration process:

  1. Back up your iPhone or make sure you have a recent backup.
  2. Make sure you have a computer with iTunes that is up to date.
  3. Plug your device into the computer and open iTunes.
  4. Click "restore" and let your iPhone restore.
  5. Set up and restore your iPhone from the backup.

For more thorough steps, visit our guide on how to restore your iPhone to factory settings or call Apple for assistance.

Customize your favorite contact's ringtones!
1 minute

Sometimes, when you are busy or out and about and your iPhone starts ringing, you don't want to pick it up, but you know it might be so-and-so with that important call you've been waiting on.