Cost to Unlock a Carrier-locked iPhone: Essential Facts and Figures

Unlocking an iPhone can grant users the freedom to choose their preferred carrier and save on potential costs, especially during international travel. With diverse options for iPhone unlocking services available, understanding the costs associated with each method can help iPhone users make the best decision according to their needs.

Several factors determine the cost of unlocking an iPhone, including the carrier with which the phone is initially locked, or third-party unlocking services. While some carriers may perform the task for free, others may charge fees depending on their company policy and the customer’s existing contract. Additionally, third-party unlocking services come with varying costs, and users need to weigh the risks and benefits associated with each option.

Key Takeaways:

  • Unlocking an iPhone offers flexibility to switch carriers and can save costs.
  • Unlocking costs vary depending on carrier policies, phone model, and unlocking method.
  • Third-party unlocking services, while convenient, may pose risks like scams and voided warranties.

How to Determine if Your iPhone is Locked

To check if your iPhone is unlocked, go to Settings > General > About. If your iPhone is unlocked, you will see “No SIM restrictions” next to Carrier Lock.

If your phone isn’t unlocked, follow the steps below.

Factors Affecting Unlocking Cost

Carrier Policies

Each carrier has different policies regarding unlocking fees. Some carriers may not charge existing or previous customers for unlocking their iPhones or may have specific requirements for the device to be eligible for lock removal. However, users who do not meet these criteria might have to pay a certain fee, which can vary depending on the carrier.

Phone Model

The cost of unlocking an iPhone may also vary depending on the model of the device. Older models might be less expensive to unlock compared to newer ones. Keep in mind that some phone models might be harder to unlock due to the technologies used in them, which can also impact the cost.

Unlocking Method

There are several methods to unlock an iPhone, such as carrier-assisted unlocks, and third-party unlocking services. The cost varies for each method:

  • Carrier-assisted unlocks: This method is usually free for eligible customers, but some carriers may charge fees for the unlocking services. Check your carrier’s policies to understand their charges.
  • Third-party unlocking services: You might find online services or stores that provide phone unlocking services at varying costs. These services generally charge around £10 for unlocking iPhones.

Remember that it’s crucial to follow the appropriate legal and ethical guidelines when unlocking an iPhone to ensure the safety and integrity of the device.

Official Carrier Unlocking

Eligibility Requirements

Before starting the process of unlocking an iPhone, the first thing to consider is whether your device is eligible for an official carrier unlocking. Most carriers have specific eligibility requirements, which may include:

  • The iPhone must be fully paid off and not under any contract or lease agreement.
  • The account associated with the iPhone should be in good standing.
  • The device should not be reported as lost or stolen.
  • A certain period of active service with the carrier may be required.

It’s crucial to check with your carrier for their specific requirements.

Request Process

Once you have confirmed your iPhone meets the eligibility criteria, you can request an official carrier unlocking by following these steps:


  1. Locate your iPhone’s IMEI number by navigating to Settings > General > About, and it should be listed under the “Primary” heading.
  2. Go to AT&T’s unlock portal and input your IMEI number.
  3. Follow the prompts provided on the screen to unlock your phone.
  4. If you face any issues, dial *#06# on your iPhone to reach AT&T customer support.


  1. Log into your MyT-Mobile account using a web browser.
  2. Click ‘Account’ on the top left of the screen.
  3. Select the service line your phone is associated with.
  4. Select ‘Check device unlock status’ under ‘Device’.
  5. If the status reads ‘device unlocked’, your iPhone is already unlocked. If not, dial *6 from your iPhone to reach T-Mobile customer support.


For iPhones on the Sprint network, you’ll need to call their customer support line and provide your IMEI number. Bear in mind that unlocking a phone through Sprint may take a few days and service may cease once it’s fully unlocked. So, it’s advisable to have a SIM from your new carrier ready.


Unlike other carriers, Verizon automatically unlocks your iPhone after a certain period. As per their policy, phones bought from Verizon or its authorized retailers are locked for 60 days after purchase or activation. Post this period, the lock is automatically removed unless the device is marked as stolen or fraudulently purchased. After the 60-day period, Verizon does not lock their phones at any time.

Costs and Time Frames

The cost and time frame for unlocking an iPhone through an official carrier depends on the carrier itself, and it can vary:

  • Some carriers may offer unlocking services for free, while others might charge a fee.
  • The processing time can range from 24 hours up to several business days.

It’s essential to reach out to your carrier to obtain specific information about the costs and time frames associated with unlocking your iPhone.

Third-Party Unlocking Services

Types of Services

There are various third-party unlocking services available in the market that cater to different iPhone models and carriers. These services typically require your iPhone’s IMEI number to unlock it for other carriers. Some popular third-party unlocking services include DirectUnlocks, Doctor SIM, and UnlockBase.

Price Comparisons

Unlocking an iPhone via third-party services can range from $20 to $60, depending on the model and carrier. Some high-end models and carriers can cost up to $80, while premium and high-guarantee unlocks can go as high as $120-$220. Keep in mind that prices can vary depending on the service provider and the device’s eligibility.

iPhone ModelPrice Range
Apple iPhone$20-$60
Premium unlocks$120-$220

Potential Risks

While third-party unlocking services can be a convenient solution, it is important to be aware of the potential risks involved. These include:

  1. Scams: Be cautious and choose a reputable unlocking service to avoid scams and loss of money.
  2. Voided warranty: Using a third-party unlocking service could void your iPhone’s warranty, depending on the terms and conditions of Apple and your carrier.
  3. Incompatibility: Ensure the unlocked iPhone is compatible with the desired carrier to avoid any network or usability issues after the unlocking process.

Potential Cost Savings

Unlocking your iPhone can lead to significant cost savings, especially if you’re planning to switch carriers or use it internationally. When your iPhone is locked to a specific carrier, you may be limited in the plans and options available. By unlocking it, you gain access to a wider range of carriers, each offering different pricing and plans. This increased flexibility allows you to find a plan that fits your budget and usage needs.

It’s worth noting that the actual cost to unlock an iPhone depends on the service you use, with prices typically ranging from $0 to $150. For instance, some carriers offer free unlocking services after your contract ends and all fees have been paid, while third-party services might charge a fee between $30 and $150.

When traveling abroad, using a local SIM card can often save you from hefty roaming fees charged by your home carrier. By unlocking your iPhone, you can replace the carrier-specific SIM card with a local one, enabling you to access more affordable data, call, and text packages from local providers.

Additionally, if you decide to sell your iPhone in the future, an unlocked device is often more attractive to potential buyers, as it allows them to choose their preferred carrier. This can result in a higher resale value relative to a locked iPhone, which may translate to further savings when upgrading to a new device.

Rachel Cohen

As Decortweaks' leading tech expert, Rachel Cohen provides high-level insights on the newest consumer electronics and gadgets. With her background in Computer Engineering and an unrivaled passion for technology, Rachel assists users with thorough product reviews and detailed troubleshooting guides. Whether examining the latest MacBook Pro, assessing a cutting-edge gaming PC, or reviewing the newest smartphone, her expertise demystifies tech jargon and empowers readers to make informed decisions.

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