What Does It Mean When An iPhone Is Locked? Complete Guide

Have you ever wondered why some iPhones has lock while others are not? Understanding the difference between locked and unlocked iPhones is crucial for any user. 

A locked iPhone is tied to a specific carrier, restricting its use to that carrier’s network. This limitation is often due to a contract or payment plan. For more details on selling such devices, you might find this guide on how to sell a locked iPhone helpful.

In this article, we’ll dive into what it means for an iPhone to be lock, how to check your phone’s status, and their pros and cons. Get ready to unlock the secrets behind your iPhone!

See Also: Who Unlock iPhone Near Me? Finding Trusted Services

What Is A Locked iPhone?

A lock iPhone is bound to a specific carrier, often due to a contract or payment plan. This carrier lock restricts the phone to the carrier’s network, limiting the user’s ability to switch to a different carrier. This lock aims to ensure that the airline recovers the cost of the phone or plan. As a result, users need more flexibility in choosing or changing carriers, impacting their overall mobile experience.

What Is An Unlocked iPhone?

On the other hand, an unlocked iPhone is free from any carrier restrictions. This means users can switch carriers as they please, providing greater flexibility, especially for international travel. Unlocked iPhones are often more expensive upfront but offer long-term cost benefits and freedom from network locks. They are ideal for users who prioritize the ability to choose their carrier or frequently travel abroad. If you’re curious about the lifespan of these devices, consider reading about how long should an iPhone last.

How Do You Check If Your iPhone Is Locked?

To check if your iPhone is lock, follow these steps:

  1. Settings: Go to Settings > General > About.
  2. Carrier Lock: Look for an entry labeled “Carrier Lock.” If it says “No SIM restrictions,” your iPhone is unlock. If it mentions any restrictions, your iPhone has lock.

For a more detailed check, use your IMEI number:

  1. Find IMEI: Dial *#06# to get your IMEI number, or find it in Settings > General > About.
  2. Online Check: Use an online IMEI checker to determine your lock status.

See Also: Timeframe For Unlocking An iPhone: What To Expect

How To Unlock A Locked iPhone?

To unlock a locked iPhone, consider these methods:

  • Carrier Unlocking: Contact your carrier to request an unlock. You may need to meet certain criteria, such as completing your contract or paying off your device. This process is present further in our guide on how much does Apple charge to unlock a disabled iPhone, which might provide additional insights even though the context is slightly different.
  • Third-Party Services: There are third-party services that offer to unlock iPhones. However, be cautious, as some might not be legal or could pose risks to your device.

Before proceeding, understand the legal considerations and potential risks of unlocking your iPhone. Always ensure you follow the guidelines your carrier set and the law.

What Are The Advantages Of Unlocked iPhones?

Unlocked iPhones offer several benefits:

  • Freedom To Switch Carriers: You can choose any carrier that suits your needs without using a specific network. This is particularly beneficial for international travel, as unlocked iPhones can use SIM cards from local carriers abroad, potentially saving on roaming charges.
  • International Travel: Unlocked iPhones can use SIM cards from local carriers abroad, potentially saving on roaming charges.
  • Long-Term Cost Benefits: Despite a higher initial cost, unlock iPhones may be more economical in the long run due to the flexibility of switching carriers and avoiding carrier-imposable fees.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Locked iPhones?

Locked iPhones come with certain drawbacks:

  • Carrier Restrictions: You have limit to the carrier your iPhone is lock to, which can be inconvenient if you find a better deal elsewhere.
  • International Travel Limitations: Using your locked iPhone abroad may incur high roaming charges, as you can’t easily switch to a local carrier.
  • Resale Value And Compatibility: Locked iPhones may have a lower resale value and could be less compatible with other networks if you switch carriers.

See Also: Where To Unlock iPhone Near Me: Finding Reliable Service Providers


Can a factory-unlocked iPhone receive software updates?

Yes, a factory-unlocked iPhone can receive software updates if the officially unlocking is by Apple or a phone service carrier. However, a jailbroken iPhone may not be safely updated .

What's the difference between unlocking and jailbreaking an iPhone?

Unlocking an iPhone allows it to use it with any cellular carrier, while jailbreaking removes Apple's software restrictions to download apps outside the App Store. Jailbreaking voids the warranty and makes the iPhone ineligible for iOS updates .

Are factory-unlocked iPhones fake or unsafe?

Factory-unlocked iPhones from Apple are safe. However, buying an iPhone from an unauthorized vendor claiming it's factory unlocked carries the risk of being unsafe or not legitimately unlocked .

Is it better to get an unlocked iPhone?

For most people, getting an unlocked iPhone is better because it can work on almost any carrier. Though it may cost more upfront, the freedom to change carriers and use the phone internationally can make it worth it .

What are the disadvantages of unlocked iPhones?

The main disadvantage of buying an unlocked iPhone is the cost, especially for a new device. However, buying a used, refurbished, and unlocked phone can save you money .


Understanding the differences between locked and unlocked iPhones is crucial for making an informed decision. While unlocked iPhones offer flexibility and long-term savings, locked iPhones might be more restrictive but have advantages, such as carrier subsidies. Consider your needs and preferences before choosing the right option for you.

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