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Understanding the Options for Unlocking Any Kind of iPhone

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Posted April 22, 2015

Unlocking an iPhone is one of the most searched about topics on the web, as most technically inclined iPhone users eventually want to enjoy the benefits of having an unlocked device that can be used with any carrier’s service.

It is important to note, however, that unlocking an iPhone is not the same thing as jail breaking, but the two terms are commonly confused for one another. While the process of unlocking an iPhone can require a bit of research, it’s usually not as difficult as jail breaking (although the processes are similar) and you’re in luck because we’ve included everything you need to get started within this guide.

Below we’ll go over some of the options for unlocking your iPhone, but first let’s gain a better understanding of iPhone unlocking.

What is Unlocking and Why Should You Do It?

Whether you have the newest iPhone 6 or an older version, if you bought it through a carrier (i.e. O2 or EE), then by default your iPhone is locked to that specific carrier, which means the phone can only get cell service from that particular carrier.

Carriers typically lock their devices using a passcode that is commonly referred to as a “service programming code” or “master subsidy lock“. These codes restrict access to the iPhone’s internal programming menu while also preventing the device from accessing other carrier networks.

Unlocking the iPhone provides the obvious advantage of letting the user enjoy service with any carrier or rate plan. This of course can be especially beneficial if you owe your current carrier more than you can afford or are locked into an overpriced rate plan.

There are two main routes you can take to get around the locked iPhone issue:

  1. Buy a Factory-Unlocked iPhone

Apple has made it possible to purchase factory-unlocked iPhones. In retrospect, one could say buying a factory-unlocked phone would’ve been the easiest option, but it certainly isn’t the most affordable, and this route won’t be of much help if you’ve already bought a locked phone and are now looking for ways to unlock it.

Since locked phones are subsidised by the carrier they’re usually a lot cheaper than their factory-direct counterparts, so even if you haven’t yet purchased your iPhone, the most economical way to get an unlocked iPhone would be to opt for a locked (cheaper) version from a carrier and then use the method listed below to unlock it.

  1. Unlock Your Locked iPhone

There are really only three ways to go about unlocking a carrier-locked iPhone – a hardware unlock, (which is a risky method that involves taking the phone apart), contacting the carrier (who may require you to stay with them for a set period of time) or by using a convenient universal iPhone unlock utility like the one at unlockingsmart.co.uk. These tools are iTunes based and work by entering the device’s IMEI code into a database that marks the phone as unlocked.

Once you’ve successfully run an unlock tool like the one linked to above, you should have no problem switching your iPhone’s service to any carrier you’d like.

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