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Another year, another new iPhone. What’s different this time around? As it turns out, quite a lot. Although Apple’s iPhone 7 looks a lot like the iPhone 6, the device has been internally redesigned, as evidenced by the notable absence of a headphone jack.

A new, 64-bit quad-core processor packs a punch, and blows previous iPhones out of the water in that respect. The new camera produces higher quality images with the new ISP technology, and optical zoom on the 7 Plus.

Obviously, there are some differences between the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus – the latter has a larger display, more RAM, and dual rear cameras for a start. But both are easily superior to previous incarnations of the iPhone. Let’s get into the details.

No Headphone Jack

This is what everyone’s talking about. The iPhone 7 has no headphone jack. So, how do you listen to music with the iPhone 7? There are two ways:

The traditional Apple EarPods are still packaged with the iPhone 7, and they’re exactly the same as the old ones, except that the 3.5 mm connector has been replaced with a male Lightning connection. If you can get used to this single difference, you’ll have no trouble using them.

There’s one obvious disadvantage: you can’t listen to music, or place calls over the earbuds and charge your iPhone at the same time. Fortunately, the iPhone 7 has better battery life than the iPhone 6, but more on that later.

The second way is to use wireless earbuds, and Apple launched a pair with the iPhone 7: AirPods. The AirPods closely resemble EarPods, except for the absence of wires, and have a five hour battery life. That may seem a little short, but with Apple’s compact charging case, the company claims the battery will be good for 24 hours of listening time.

The AirPods are also motion & gesture sensitive, and can be used to interact with Siri, which is a pretty cool option. Sadly, they aren’t bundled with the iPhone 7, and have to be purchased separately.

Apple’s decision to create a smartphone without an 3.5 mm headphone jack has baffled some, but Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller did have an excuse: “Maintaining an ancient, single-purpose, analogue, big connector doesn’t make sense because that space is at a premium.”

As a matter of fact, the headphone jack is over 50 years old, and keeping it around means wasting space that could be used for better purposes. For instance…

The Taptic Engine

The Taptic engine is a newer piece of hardware included in the iPhone 7, and actually takes up a significant amount of space inside the phone. Up until the iPhone 6, Apple used a simple vibrator motor to create vibrations.

The Taptic Engine uses a linear actuator to relay a much broader and stronger range of haptic feedback to the user. It can mimic the feeling of a home button press (the iPhone 7 has a virtual, or solid state home button), a heartbeat, or the sensation of snapping a rubber band.

The Taptic Engine in the iPhone 7 is much more responsive than a the previous version, and won’t lag; this may seem like a small detail, but users report that it makes a big difference. The ‘high resolution’ of the engine will open up a whole new range of options for game and app developers, and iOS 10 allows users to create custom vibrations for ringtones and other system features.

Waterproof

No need to keep bags of rice around the house anymore – the iPhone 7 will easily survive your bathtub, toilet, or accidental slips into the pool. Technically, the phone is not ‘waterproof’ – it’s only rated for up to 1 meter, or about 3 feet of water.

You shouldn’t go swimming with it (duh). But tests show that the phone will survive submersion under a meter of water for at least 30 minutes, and that’s pretty significant considering how commonly iPhones suffer from water damage, which still is not covered under Apple’s 1 year warranty.

A10 Processor

To put it simply, the A10 is huge. Not only is 40% faster than the A9 processor in the iPhone 6S, but it’s a brand new fusion of two chipsets with four 64 bit cores.

Currently, the A10 is the best smartphone processor on the market, and it’s the best by a lot. The A10 even scores slightly higher than the Intel processor in Apple’s Mac Pro. So yes: the iPhone now has a processor as powerful as a high-end, desktop computer.

The advantages are pretty clear: the iPhone 7 is super fast with very high graphical capabilities. It can handle even more complex applications than its predecessors, do video editing, and run highly graphics-intensive games. Thanks to power management features, the A10 should also increase your battery life (in theory).

A new feature called ISP (image signal processor) is built into the A10 chip, and dramatically improves photo-taking. But more on that later.

A Better Battery

Comparing apples with apples (pun totally intended): the iPhone 6S had a 1,715 mAh battery, which is pretty generous. The iPhone 7 has a new 1,960 mAh battery. Meanwhile, the 6S Plus had a 2,750 mAh battery, compared to the 7 Plus’s 2,900 mAh battery.

This means that a charge will last two hours longer for the iPhone 7 compared to the 6S, and an hour longer for the Plus version. Tests show that the battery charges fairly quickly, going from 0 to 100% in under 90 minutes.

The Camera

As mentioned earlier, the new ISP technology is a big upgrade to the iPhone camera. ISP uses deep learning algorithms to automatically adjust focus, exposure, white balance and other settings.

While automatic adjustment has been included in iPhones for a long time, this is the first time that deep learning has been employed in the process, and the dedicated processor space allows the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus to perform 100 billion operations almost instantaneously, meaning you can take a great shot without pausing.

Optical image stabilization (OIS) has been included in all Plus versions of the iPhone, but now it’s available in the regular version as well. This feature should prevent shaking or vibration from ruining pictures, and keep videos more steady.

If you go with the 7 Plus, you’ll get an additional 12 megapixel camera with a telephoto lens, allowing you to actually zoom into subjects without reducing image quality. Coupled with the ISP, the two cameras also allow for genuine depth of field, the coveted effect of having a sharp foreground and a blurred background. In previous iPhones, this effect could only be simulated with a filter.

iOS 10!

iOS 10 has a ton of new features, most of them subtle, or hidden away in the operating system. One of the most significant changes from iOS 9 that Apple isn’t advertising very much is that you can finally – finally! – delete system apps, a feature that used to require jailbreaking.

A few significant changes have been made to iMessage. First, users can now handwrite messages, with a pretty convincing simulated ink-pen. Secondly, you can now carry on conversations from the lock screen by enabling this option in device settings.

There are literally hundreds of new features in iOS 10. It’s worth checking Apple’s website, or Forbe’s feature list to learn more.

In Conclusion

The iPhone 7 is a significant upgrade from the last generation, and while the missing headphone jack is a slight inconvenience, it’s not hard to live with, especially considering the added battery life.

Having the best smartphone processor on the planet is a tempting prospect, and according to many sources, the new camera is also the best among smartphones.

Starting at $649 for the 7, and $769 for the 7 Plus, the new iPhone may be well worth your money.

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You have probably heard of Bitcoin at this stage, the cryptocurrency that has been shaking up the currency markets for the last couple of years.

Bitcoin gained notoriety in recent years as it became the currency of choice for criminals on the dark web, who use it to pay for anything from drugs to hitmen. But you may not have heard of the underlying technology that makes Bitcoin work; it’s called blockchain.

It is not known exactly who invented blockchain. It first appeared in an online document in 2008 that unveiled Bitcoin. The document was published by Satoshi Nakamoto, however this name is believed to be an alias, so who the originator of this technology is remains a mystery.

To try and explain blockchain simply, it is a data structure that creates a digital ledger of transactions, and shares it among a distributed network of computers. It uses sophisticated cryptography to allow each participant on the network to alter the ledger securely, without the need for a central authority or financial institution.

While you don’t need to understand the underlying technology and cryptography of blockchain, you should understand that it is very likely that it will become more and more prominent in our everyday lives in the near future. Here are four uses of blockchain to look out for:

Cryptocurrency

While the blockchain cryptocurrency Bitcoin has gained popularity in recent years, it has yet to go mainstream. Bitcoin has become popular because it allows users to complete transactions with complete anonymity, hence its popularity on the dark web. It became the currency of choice on a digital black market called The Silk Road.

The Silk Road is a marketplace where you can find all manner of illegal goods and services, from prescription drugs to guns. The Silk Road has had a rocky few years, with the arrest of its creator Ross Ulbricht (known online as Dread Pirate Roberts) in 2013 and its subsequent closure by the FBI.

Its second incarnation Silk Road 2.0 was shut down by Interpol the following year, however it is believed Silk Road 3.0 is still operating. The anonymity of Bitcoin allowed this marketplace to thrive, and its users could trade in illegal goods relatively safely.

Until recently, the only way to use your Bitcoin was to store it in your digital wallet, and transfer it online via the blockchain. But it is slowly emerging offline, with Bitcoin ATM machines now growing in popularity, and I have even seen bars and restaurants that accept Bitcoin payments.

Watch this space, because cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin will start becoming more and more prominent in the coming years.

Contracts

Another area where we could see the rise in blockchain is the notion of ‘Smart Contracts’, with a startup called Ethereum heading up this movement.

The world of contracts is still awash with paper. Invoices, agreements, manufacturing contracts etc. are all still printed on paper and a massively inefficient. That could all be about to change. Smart contracts use the blockchain to keep everyone accountable without the need for the traditional signing of a contract.

Take this example: You are a company who sells PCs. For you to sell a PC you have to rely on a number of third parties. Let’s say you have manufacturers in three different Asian countries. You want to ensure that the quality of the components is up to scratch, and you also want to make sure that it is shipped to you on time.

You have your own distribution company, who must deliver to your customers on time. And you want to make sure that everyone gets paid on time. In the past this would have required multiple contracts with everyone involved in the process.

Smart contracts aim to use the blockchain to eliminate this. Specific actions can be verified by third parties, and then trigger other events. All this gets recorded on the secure blockchain, and can never be altered after the fact.  This allows for accountability for every step of the process.

Cloud Storage

Blockchain may also be about to have a big impact on the world of cloud computing. Contrary to popular belief, storing data in “the cloud” doesn’t mean it is floating around in those fluffy white things in the sky.

It is actually stored in massive data centres that are patrolled by armed guards and attack dogs. But blockchain technology could be about to change that. Blockchain technology would allow for an encrypted distributed storage network.

It is similar to the P2P music sites that were popular in the early 2000s such as Napster and Limewire, where users could download files that were stored on the computers of other users. Blockchain would allow people to store their data in a distributed cloud network based on highly secure blockchain technology.

The very nature of blockchain means that no one else in the chain would be able to view or tamper with your data while it is distributed out to millions of PCs around the world. This would contribute to a massive drop in storage costs, and while it would probably not be the end of the datacentre, it would certainly put a dent in the amount of datacentres popping up.

While it is likely that high end enterprise would still retain datacentres, for average Joe’s like you and me it could mean slashing our storage costs, and trading in our Dropbox account for something like a Storj account, a startup who is at the forefront of blockchain based cloud storage.

Voting

There has been a lot of talk recently that blockchain based voting could be utilized in elections. The so called ‘e-voting’ would have great benefits over the current system, as it would completely eliminate any possibility of tampering with votes, and would also eliminate the need for votes to be counted manually.

Followmyvote.com is a startup that is involved in this area, and they aim to bring e-voting to the masses in the coming years. Indeed it is an interesting proposal. Instead of taking yourself to your local polling station, you simply download the voting app to your preferred device. You verify your identity through the app, and then place you vote in a blockchain based ballot box.

The voter can go into the ballot box and verify that their vote was cast as intended, and they can also audit the other ballots in the box, to ensure the results are accurate. Sounds too good to be true, but it could be coming to an election near you sooner than you think!

Summary

While blockchain has been around for a few years now, it has stayed relatively underground. However, it is likely that we are going to see a sharp rise in prominence of this emerging technology in the coming years.

With people becoming more and more apprehensive about their data online, blockchain seems to be a secure solution with an array of uses. So don’t be surprised if sometime soon you are prompted to ‘sign’ a contract via the blockchain, or download an app to vote in your next election.

If you want to know more about the future impact of blockchains, this Ted talk is a great start:

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Self-driving cars are no longer the distant, futuristic dream that they once were, but an immediate reality that is going to blow up in the next three years. Google has been testing its experimental autonomous vehicles in California since 2013 with tremendously positive results, and since then, car companies and Silicon Valley giants have been pouring billions into the developing industry.

Yesterday, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk announced that all cars currently being manufactured by Tesla are equipped with full, self-driving hardware.

That’s right: you can buy self-driving cars right now. They won’t work just yet – Tesla has decided to do some calibration before launching a software update to their vehicles which will activate the functionality, but according to Musk, this will happen as early as 2017.

With the dawn of self-driving cars less than two years away, it’s worth considering some of the major ways that they can change our lives in the next half century.

Car ownership will be obsolete

Car ownership is a rarity in big cities, but for a long time, cars have been a necessity in rural and suburban areas where taxi companies and public transportation are less accessible.

But online services like Uber are already reducing the rate of car ownership in these areas substantially, and analysts think that self-driving cars may completely eradicate the need to own a car at all, no matter where you live.

In January of this year, General Motors poured $500 million into transportation service Lyft, and bought self-driving car startup Cruise Automation for over a billion dollars. Pam Fletcher, executive chief engineer at GM explained the company’s intentions: “We are working on an on-demand ride-sharing network…it’s not something we are thinking about, it’s something we are very much readying for consumer use.”

Never worry about parking again

Parking is a nightmare you’ll never have to face again when self-driving cars dominate the roads. Even if you own your car, you’ll be able to call it right back to you as soon as it’s needed, so there’s no need for it to hang around after it drops you off.

In Nashville Tennessee, a developer is already creating a gigantic underground parking garage in anticipation of self-driving vehicles. Spaces like these will become much more common as time goes by, and according to research by car company Audi, a parking garage reserved entirely for self-driving vehicles can reduce parking real-estate by 62%.

In fifty years or so, sprawling parking lots in front of Malls and shopping centers may be simply non-existent, leaving much more room for business development and pedestrian areas. Uber have already started developing self driving taxi services, check the below video for the demo

No more pizza delivery boys

In fifty years, you won’t have to worry about counting out tip money after ordering a pizza. If drones aren’t already being used to deliver pizza by then, automatic cars will be. In fact, automatic cars will be able to deliver anything to your doorstep, making errands a thing of the past.

Not only that, but without the need for a human passenger, specialized vehicles can be equipped to keep perishables cool, or food – like Pizza – hot and ready at the time of delivery. Because operating a driverless vehicle is efficient and inexpensive, businesses that had no delivery service before will be able to reach out to a much larger customer base.

Tech startup Marathon Robotics has already teamed up with Domino’s to create an automatic pizza delivery system in Australia, though it’s currently used only in Brisbane.

Truckers will go the way of the dinosaur

Hiring someone to drive a truck is expensive, dangerous and inefficient. Not only does a truck driver make an average yearly salary of $60,000, but he can only drive for a certain number of hours before needing to sleep, eat, use the restroom, etc. Because of pressure to meet certain benchmarks, truckers are often sleep deprived and sometimes fall asleep at the wheel, causing numerous accidents every year.

Tech startup Otto, which was recently bought by Uber for $670 million, is working to reduce the need for hiring a truck driver by developing self-driving semi-trucks. At first, automated trucks will still require someone present to operate the vehicle, at least in cities. But they’ll at least be able to sleep during the long, hundreds of miles across flat and monotonous interstates.

No more traffic lights

Traffic lights are for human beings, with limited senses, and carbon-based brains. Computers don’t need traffic lights. According to researchers from MIT, self-driving cars can be synchronized, allowing them to automatically adjust speed, and safely pass through intersections without risk of a collision.

Getting rid of traffic lights will be beneficial in a number of ways, reducing the time that cars idle and therefore lessening fuel consumption, getting people to their destinations in a timelier fashion, and reducing traffic congestion.

No more phantom traffic jams

The all-too-familiar rush hour that creates wall to wall traffic in cities across the world can be nearly eliminated by self-driving cars. Contrary to popular belief, many traffic jams are not caused by accidents, but by careless drivers who slow down too quickly, causing a complex wave of slowing cars that can go on for hours before dissipating.

The same synchronization that prevents self-driving cars from needing traffic lights will also enable them to communicate during traffic, and avoid practices that lead to this phenomenon, reducing commute time, and making the road a safer place.

Many lives will be saved

In 2014, former General Motors vice chairman Bob Lutz predicted that self-driving vehicles would crash at about 10% the rate of human drivers. “The autonomous car doesn’t drink, doesn’t do drugs, doesn’t text while driving, doesn’t get road rage,” he pointed out.

Since then, a study published by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute confirmed that Lutz was right: after analyzing over a million miles of data from self-driving vehicles, they are clearly much safer than cars operated by human beings.

3,287 people die from car crashes every day. Self-driving cars will bring that number down significantly. What more is there to say?

Summary

It’s important to stress that self-driving cars are already here, and they will become very common in the next two decades. Not only will they make life better for human beings in many positive ways by reducing the cost of transportation, increasing efficiency of transit and eliminating many of the ordinary inconveniences associated with driving, but they will also have a big impact on the planet: optimistic calculations say that self-driving cars can reduce vehicle related carbon emissions by 90%.

According to Elon Musk, the next big challenge is not technological, but bureaucratic: legislators have to be convinced to pass laws that will allow automated vehicles on public roads.

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Like many tech ideas, Virtual Reality was a concept born before its time. Back when computers still filled rooms, thinkers like Stanley G. Weinbaum speculated about the possibility for fiction to take on a life of its own, and through the decades, futurists dreamed of creating virtual worlds of sights and sound using the wonders of technology.

The 1990s came, and behold – computers no longer filled rooms, and what was once an impossible dream was suddenly a reality. Companies like Sega seized the opportunity to develop Virtual Reality with audio/video headsets, allowing gamers to play video games in a virtual space that felt real. Except…it didn’t feel very real. Unwieldy head-pieces coupled with blocky graphics and poor motion tracking rendered early versions of Virtual Reality a commercial flop.

Two decades later, and Virtual Reality is back in style. As graphics processing technology has advanced, big projects like the Oculus Rift and the PlayStation VR have finally delivered on the promises of the dream, allowing users to have impossible experiences like flight, and exploring fantasy worlds in high resolution with realistic motion tracking. Two years ago, Oculus was acquired by Facebook for over $2 billion dollars, demonstrating once and for all that VR is finally a viable commercial opportunity.

Here are 7 ways that Virtual Reality is changing the world as we know it:

(Virtual) Space Missions

Everybody wants to go to space. Unfortunately, it may be a pretty long time before you get the chance to do that, and even then, it’s not going to be cheap. But never fear! Thanks to 3D imaging technology on recent NASA probes, it’s possible to construct a photorealistic, virtual version of planets like Mars that can safely be explored using Microsoft’s Hololens, and soon on other platforms including the Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear, and HTC Vive.

NASA has also been using Virtual Reality to train astronauts for work on the International Space Station. In the past, training for work in space has been tricky – Astronauts have used huge swimming pools to simulate the difficulties of operating in a zero gravity environment. But thanks to VR, complicated situations can be accurately recreated so Astronauts know what to expect once they get off a Shuttle.

In the future, NASA may also use VR to give Astronauts a break from a long journey to Mars, letting them experience a virtual Earth while stuck in small Space Capsules.Testing Cars before Manufacture

Building a car is expensive. Sticking a dummy inside a car and crashing it into a wall to see if it’s safe is also expensive. Manufacturing cars and failing to notice a design flaw that leads to death and massive recalls is extremely expensive.

The Ford Motor Company noticed this, and thought – “hey, how about crashing virtual cars into virtual walls first? That would probably be safer, and cheaper.” And they were right – since December of 2013, Ford has been using Virtual Reality to test cars as soon as they are designed to determine their safety, how smoothly they drive, and whether they will actually be an enjoyable experience for consumers.

The same technology also gives people a chance to virtually drive cars before buying them. Ford, Hyundai and Volvo have all started using virtual showrooms to help customers feel better about laying down a $20,000 check for a brand new car.

Learn About History (by actually being there)

History doesn’t have to be boring. There’s a reason that movies about ancient Rome tend to be box office hits. But Virtual Reality may take historical education a step further – Timelooper is using VR to recreate important historical events in countries around the world. Launched in London, right now Timelooper’s catalogue mainly contains important events that took place in the city, including the Great Fire of London in 1666, and the Blitz of WWII. A few months ago, the app also expanded to New York City, and will soon recreate historical events in China, Germany, Spain and Washington D.C.

VR history isn’t limited to recreation, however. Google has been capturing 3D images of important historical sites like Pompeii, for instance, which can be virtually explored using Google Cardboard. Virtual Heritage not only gives people living in the present a chance to explore the past, but will give future generations an opportunity to experience the present by preserving our world in Virtual Reality.

Architects can explore the buildings they design

In the past, building design was not a very hands on experience. You used your drawing paper and pencils to create detailed floor plans, and at best, you’d get a small scale model before spending millions of dollars to create a high-rise skyscraper.

Virtual Reality will change this forever. In 2015, visualization artist Olivier Demangel announced that VR would let designers “change the world like a god”. True to his predictions, since then, tools like VRTisan have been released which not only allow architects to design buildings, but to explore and modify them in real time using PlayStation VR.

vr-building

Immersion Journalism

Modern photojournalism is flawed. Photographs offer a limited perspective of world events, don’t tell the whole story, and are often manipulated as propaganda. During the Great Depression, The Farm Security Administration hired photographers to show the effects of the Dust Bowl, and since then, many have suggested that they deliberately made things seem much worse than they actually were.

Virtual Reality may help to revolutionize journalism, and give people a much better understanding of major events happening in the world. In 2014, Project Syria was debuted at the World Economic Forum, giving viewers a chance to explore the scene of a bombing in Syria, and virtually experience a refugee camp.

Doctors can train on virtual patients

Everybody needs doctors, but nobody wants to be a lab rat. Thanks to VR, instead of experimenting with cadavers and expensive silicon dummies, medical students now have the opportunity of practicing their medicine on virtual students.

At Idaho State University, VR headsets are being used in conjunction with haptic feedback (gloves that simulate physical sensation) to simulate procedures like catheter insertion and environment sterilization. The technology is also being used by surgeons and dentists to safely practice complicated and dangerous operations without cutting open a human being.

Go to work without leaving your home

As the rate of telecommuting climbs in the U.S, people are spending more time away from the office, and more time at home. As nice as it may be to make money in your pajamas, working at home takes away the chance for face to face interaction with co-workers, and water cooler banter.

Virtual Reality may give telecommuters the chance to occupy a virtual office and attend meetings with coworkers without the gas (or plane ticket) it takes to get to work. That’s the mission of AltspaceVR, which uses robotic avatars in a real workplace to stream the environment to a telecommuter wearing a VR headset.

This technology may eventually be used in colleges, schools, and even social venues, creating a new dimension of ‘long distance friendship’.

Summary

It’s pretty clear that Virtual Reality isn’t just for games. Many industries are taking advantage of the possibilities created by VR, and developers have been pushing high-level concepts that could revolutionize the way we live, work, learn and communicate with one another; and we’ve only touched on immediate possibilities presented by VR. As time goes on and technologies continues to advance, VR may wind up changing the world much like computers, smartphones and Internet did in the past.

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Jailbreaking and unlocking an iPhone used to go hand in hand, and they are still sometimes confused with one another. In the early days of the iPhone, unlocks could only be performed if the device was also jailbroken, but nowadays, it is possible to unlock a device without jailbreaking it, and it has always been possible to jailbreak without unlocking.

Jailbreak VS Unlock

Here are the short and simple differences between an unlock and a jailbreak:

  • Jailbreaking an iPhone is a kind of hack that enables you to run apps that aren’t from the App store
  • Unlocking an iPhone is getting your carrier to remove the carrier lock that comes on iPhones under a service contract, and lets you use the iPhone with a different carrier

What is iPhone Jailbreaking?

Let’s be a little more detailed now. A jailbreak does for your iPhone what rooting does for an Android phone: it removes limitations built into the iOS software, and gives you access to the ‘root’ or main file system of the device. Apple is notoriously controlling, and doesn’t like users mucking about with the operating system on an iPhone. Because of this, code won’t run on an iPhone unless it has been signed with a special signature that only apps approved by Apple can use. A jailbreak allows your iPhone to run unsigned code, letting you execute, access and change whatever you want, without Apple’s approval.

Jailbreaking your iPhone usually involves the installation of a third party ‘package manager’ (like Cydia, Pangu and Taig). These package managers are basically unofficial application stores that let you download apps from ‘repositories’, or servers that host unofficial iOS applications. Apps submitted to repositories are made by developers who chose to publish for jailbroken devices.

Sometimes these apps were rejected from the App Store; other times, they were not written to be submitted through the App Store because they violated specific guidelines. Sometimes, it’s just a lot cheaper to publish jailbroken apps than it is to publish them officially.

Jailbreaking your iPhone lets you do a lot of cool stuff. Popular choices include custom device themes, file managers, applications that help your battery to last longer, among many other things. Lifehacker has a great article on stuff you can do with a jailbroken iPhone.

Obviously, Apple hates the jailbreaking community, and doesn’t want you to do this. They’ve taken a lot of steps to make jailbreaking unnecessary. Some major features Apple added to iOS existed for years on jailbroken iPhones, including:

  • App folders
  • Running multiple apps in the background
  • Spotlight search
  • Notification center widgets
  • Accessibility options, like the virtual home button

If this isn’t enough to keep you from jailbreaking your iPhone, realize that Apple still has one more trick up its sleeve: jailbreaking will void your warranty, preventing you from getting free repairs or replacements from the Apple store.

Now this is a theoretical measure. Sometimes Apple can detect whether a device was jailbroken, sometimes it can’t. But the possibility of voiding your warranty is still the major downside of jailbreaking.

What is iPhone Unlocking?

Onto unlocking! Here’s an interesting story: the first person to unlock an iPhone was famed iPhone hacker George Hotz, back in 2007. He sold the phone for three locked iPhones, and a Nissan 350Z.

Why this desperation?

When the iPhone was first released, it was only available on a single carrier: AT&T. Back then, a lot of people wanted to use iPhones on other networks, and did risky things to remove the ‘lock’ that kept iPhones from working with carriers like Verizon, U.S Cellular or Sprint. Now, the iPhone is available on all of these networks, so unlocking isn’t quite as important as it used to be, but it also isn’t nearly as risky.

In the last several years, legislation has been passed that requires U.S carriers to unlock devices at the customer’s request, after their service contract has expired or been paid off. This means that unlocking is much easier now than it used to be, but if you really want an unlocked iPhone, you don’t even need to take this step anymore: Apple now sells iPhones unlocked out of the box.

Nevertheless, some iPhones are still locked to a carrier, and there are good reasons to unlock them. Some people like to switch between different networks, and keep more than one SIM card on hand. On a contract, swapping networks is not easy, and it’s also very expensive. But an unlocked iPhone can accept new SIM cards seamlessly, and quickly switch between one network and another.

This is especially useful for people who spend a lot of time overseas. Using a foreign SIM card cuts out expensive roaming fees or international travelling plans, and usually offers better service as well. Even domestically, there are still pre-paid networks called MVNOs that are a lot less expensive than main networks, but they are only compatible with unlocked iPhones.

Unlocking is a great way to save on expensive contracts, or hidden fees. And the great thing is, most unlocking methods are legal, and won’t void your warranty. You can check our guide to find the best way to unlock your iPhone 7.

Conclusion

Both jailbreaking and unlocking expand the capabilities of your iPhone, and generally make it more awesome. But jailbreaking is a kind of hack that will always void your Apple warranty, whereas unlocking is not a hack, and all carriers will unlock your iPhone provided your contract is ended or paid off. If you want to jailbreak your iPhone, take the warranty into consideration, and decide which you value more: freedom to do what you want with your phone, or financial protection if your iPhone is ever damaged.

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When the Apple iPhone was released in 2007, it was locked to a single network: AT&T. AT&T has never been the fastest network on the block, nor does it have great coverage. So iPhone users quickly sought out ways to use the iPhone on other networks, and succeeded to some degree with software and hardware bypasses called ‘unlocks’.

In 2011, Apple’s contract with AT&T officially ended, and iPhones became available on Verizon’s network. Since then, the iPhone is available with most major carriers, including Sprint, T-Mobile, and pre-paid networks like Boost Mobile and Straight Talk.

Because of this, iPhone unlocking isn’t nearly as important as it used to be. Nevertheless, there are still significant benefits to buying a factory unlocked iPhone, or unlocking one you already own. Depending on your needs, this can be a great choice.

Here are the top 4 reasons to unlock your iPhone:

Access to cheaper plans

As mentioned earlier, iPhones are now available on a number of pre-paid networks. However, most of the cheapest networks available still don’t have plans with Apple.

Mobile virtual network operators (or MVNOs) are cellular carriers that pay a fee to operate on a major carrier’s network, without actually owning any of the towers. Because MVNOs have much less overhead than the main carriers, they are usually able to offer cheaper and more creative data plans.

Let’s take Total Wireless, for instance. Total Wireless offers 5 GB of data on Verizon’s LTE network with unlimited talk and text for $35.00 a month. But 4GB of data and unlimited talk/text will cost you $50.00 a month on Verizon’s official network, plus $27.00 a month to pay off the phone, plus a monthly $20.00 ‘access charge’.

All in all, that’s $97.00 a month to use an iPhone on Verizon’s official network, versus $35.00 a month on an MVNO that offers more data on the exact same towers.

Here’s the catch: Total Wireless doesn’t offer any iPhones besides the 5S. If you have an iPhone 6 or 7, you cannot use Total Wireless. Unless, of course, your iPhone is unlocked.

Easily switch carriers without termination fees

iPhones are known for many things, but inexpensive isn’t one of them. Considering the cost of purchasing a brand new iPhone, it surprises many to learn that carriers actually sell iPhones at a loss. That iPhone 6 that you bought for $199 at the Apple store is actually worth a cool $649.

Carriers undercharge for two reasons:

  1.      So that customers are not scared away by high prices
  2.      So they can overcharge you in the long run by including the price of the phone – plus interest – in your monthly bill

This is why cancelling a contract with your carrier incurs expensive termination fees: the carrier needs to pay off the price of your phone.

For people who like to switch between two different carriers, these fees are unwieldy. Having an unlocked phone means you can easily swap out SIM cards whenever you want without the myriad of fees that would normally follow this practice. Cancelling a plan is unnecessary: an unlocked iPhone is essentially hot-swappable.

Much cheaper international calls

Using a cell phone outside your country of origin is extremely expensive. Carriers charge roaming fees to access foreign networks, or offer expensive ‘travel plans’ that bulk up the monthly cost to use your phone.

For instance, Verizon may charge up to $10 a day just to use phones outside of the United States. It’s easy to see how going abroad for even two weeks could more than double the cost of your phone bill. For people who travel frequently, this is not an economically viable option.

There’s a much cheaper solution: buying a foreign SIM card. Once arriving in a foreign country, it’s easy to cheaply purchase a SIM card with a local carrier that charges standard fees. Often, SIM cards can even be purchased in airports immediately after arrival.

If your iPhone is unlocked, you can easily swap out your SIM card for a foreign SIM card, and use the phone at a reasonable price. Locked iPhones will be forced to make calls under the ridiculously expensive plans described earlier.call-girl

Better resell value

For all the reasons listed above, an unlocked iPhone is automatically worth more than an iPhone locked to any particular carrier. Since anyone can use an unlocked iPhone on any network, the unlocked versions sell for more money.

An unlocked iPhone 6 with 16GB of memory is currently on eBay for $429. That’s $200 more than the value of the exact same iPhone locked to a carrier.

In Conclusion

The benefits of unlocking an iPhone all boil down to one thing: money. Carriers have reason to oppose unlocking, and have tried to prevent its legality for some time now. Owning an unlocked iPhone makes you much less vulnerable to the hidden fees and extra costs that carriers try to inflict on those who don’t know any better.

We have tested various Unlock providers in our big iPhone 7 unlock guide – read it to find the best solution for you.

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There’s a lot of contradictory information available regarding the legality of unlocking iPhones and cell phones in general. Asking the wrong people will get you wrong answers because everyone has an agenda. However, the answer – for the moment – is “yes”. Unlocking an iPhone is currently legal in the United States, and in most other countries. However, let’s be a little more specific.

Comment: In case you’re interested, I’ve written an in-depth guide covering the best iPhone 7 unlock solutions in the market.

United States

Cell phone unlocking was a legal gray area in the United States for a long time, and until recently, the legality has not been exactly specified. Until 2010, service providers tended to argue that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (or DMCA) – which prohibits the breaking of copy protection on electronic devices – made it illegal to unlock an iPhone, and this was explicitly recognized by U.S law in 2012.

However, this is no longer the case: in 2014, the White House, Senate and House of Representatives passed a bill that issued certain exemptions to the DMCA. Unlocking cellular devices was included in the exemptions (as well as jailbreaking!) making it legal to unlock iPhones. Unfortunately, this bill is up for reconsideration in 2017, and we have yet to find out if it will be renewed.

According to the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, cell phone carriers in the U.S must unlock cell phones after their service contract has expired, or inform customers that their phones are eligible for unlocking. Besides that, iPhones in the U.S are increasingly being sold directly from the manufacturer without a SIM lock, so if you don’t already have an iPhone, you can simply skip the unlocking process, and buy one unlocked out of the box.

As such, iPhone unlocking is currently as legal as breathing in the United States, and there’s really no need to endure a SIM lock unless (for some reason) you want to.

Outside the U.S

Outside of the United States, the practice of SIM locking is less common, and laws governing Digital Rights Management are more relaxed. This means that outside of the U.S, it’s generally safe to assume that unlocking your iPhone is perfectly legal. However, let’s take a closer look at some of the larger countries by cell phone use.

China

Unlocking is a little complicated in China. Technically, Chinese law actually prohibits telecommunication companies from locking phones in the first place if they are using the same network technology as other carriers.

It’s not surprising, then, that none of the three carriers in China use the same network technologies. China Mobile’s iPhone 6 is not compatible with any other Chinese networks, or networks outside of the country. So there’s really no point in buying a China Mobile iPhone to begin with, or unlocking it once it’s purchased; it’s only compatible with one carrier in the entire world.

However, as long as you are using a retail Apple iPhone, you won’t run into any issues getting it unlocked.

U.K

Unlike the United States, telecommunications companies in the U.K are not required to unlock cell phones after their contracts have expired. However, in actual practice, most major carriers in the U.K are happy to do this for you, though sometimes with a fee.

For more detailed information about carriers that will lock or unlock phones in the U.K, check out this helpful page from Ofcom.

Japan

In 2015, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in China passed a requirement similar to the one passed in the U.S: all Japanese network providers are required to unlock phones at the request of customers.

Brazil

SIM locks are not illegal in Brazil, however, Brazil’s telecom regulator Anatel has provided domestic carriers to unlock phones at the request of customers. As a result, most cell phones purchased in Brazil are unlocked at the time of purchase.

Germany

Germany does not have a definite law regulating cell phone locking, but in practice, even phones sold under contract are usually unlocked to begin with. The only phones sold with a lock are usually prepaid devices.

Canada

Canadian carriers are required by law to unlock cell phones at the request of customers within 90 days, or as soon as they have paid for their device in full.

However, like the United States, Canada has provisions in its copyright law that prohibit the circumvention of digital locks. This makes unlocking a phone outside the permission or intervention of the carrier a legal gray area.

Australia

As in Canada, Australia’s copyright laws make the circumvention of electronic locks a legal gray area, so unlocking phones outside the permission of your carrier may or may not be subject to anti-circumvention laws.

However, there is no Australian law that specifically regulates cell phone locking, but as in Germany, phones are rarely sold locked unless on a prepaid service plan.

Sources

With the exception of the sources provided above, information regarding the legal status and practices of cell phone locking in these countries has been obtained from Wikipedia, and information regarding digital copyright protection abroad has been gathered from this page.

UPDATE: December, 2016 – These methods remain valid for every version of iPhone 5

Summary:  There’s more than one method for unlocking a version of the iPhone 5, but the best is the IMEI method. Software unlocking was a viable option for early versions of the iPhone, but hasn’t worked for years, and hardware methods are usually offered by scammers who will void your warranty and destroy your device.

Unlike the latter two methods, IMEI unlocking is completely safe, and very simple if you have the right connections. You just need a service that will enter your iPhone’s IMEI number in a database of Apple phones that can be used across major networks. This will enable you to use any carrier you like.

Your best choice for an unlock service varies by locations. Here’s a quick reference:

iPhoneIMEI is the best service for users in the U.S, or Canada. This service is quick and inexpensive, but not broadly supported anywhere else in the world.

If you live anywhere else, Official iPhone Unlock is the best choice. Not only does this service work for iPhone 5s anywhere in the world, but they have a very responsive support team. Although it’s comparatively expensive in North America, it’s absolutely the best option abroad.

———————

Being stuck with a poor iPhone carrier can feel like house arrest.

“Yep, your reception is bad. Oh, no 4G data in your area? Sucks to be you. Going out of country? No prob – just cough up the pricey roaming fees! What are you gonna do? You’re stuck with us for two years, and we’re your only option.”

This isn’t acceptable in most industries. Computer companies don’t get to pick what software you run. Shoe companies don’t get to tell you what socks to wear. But for some reason, phone companies have a different standard; they call the shots, and you have no choice to obey.

Well, that’s how they want things to be anyways. Thankfully, you finally have a choice what carrier to use your iPhone 5 with, and the choice is unlocking. Let’s go over the three methods in more detail.

Methods for unlocking your iPhone 5, 5C or 5S:

Method #1: Unlock with software (Scam)

If you’re looking for an unlock, you’re bound to stumble upon nicely designed webpages offering programs that will magically unlock your iPhone 5 (for a price). Please don’t be like me: I’ve been scammed by this more than once.

iPhones could once be unlocked with computer programs, or jailbroken applications, but this method has been universally patched since the third iPhone was released years ago.

Anyone offering a program to free up your iPhone is trying to take advantage of you.

Steer absolutely clear of iPhone unlocking software.

Method #2: Hardware unlock (Will probably destroy your phone)

The hardware unlock is yet another snake oil scam.

Getting it done usually involves sneaking down a dark street on the other side of the tracks to meet a greasy creep in some darkened room, who will demand $100 out of hand before prying your precious iPhone apart and modifying the inner circuit boards with clips and a sloppy soldering iron.

Now you may find that idea romantic, and that’s fine (who am I to judge?). But hopefully you are okay with a 70% chance of failure and a bricked iPhone, or a voided warranty on the off chance of a successful operation.

If you’re the more rational kind who doesn’t like needlessly destroying expensive electronics, this method is not worth taking a chance on.

Don’t even bother with hardware unlocking.

Method #3: IMEI unlock (The ONLY method guaranteed to work)

The only method that won’t void your warranty or risk ruining your device is an unlock. IMEI is a unique number that identifies your iPhone 5 from every other iPhone in the world.

A global list of these numbers is maintained by Apple, and your number determines what network you are locked to (or whether you are locked to any network at all).

To get an unlock is therefore as simple as having the status of your IMEI number changed by someone with access to the database so that you can use any network.

No complex downloads, no prying your iPhone open and tampering with its delicate circuits. This method is so simple, you don’t even have to leave your home to get it done.

IMEI unlocking is simply the ONLY method I consider reliable, and the ONLY one I recommend

“So,” you’ll naturally be inclined to ask, “Who in the world has access to the IMEI database, and who can update my number for me?” I wish I knew someone in the industry personally, but I don’t.

Thankfully, there are a number of companies who do know someone, and they can get the job done for you. In the following list, I’ll go over a few of these companies, and which ones I recommend for your iPhone 5, 5s or 5c.

The Top 3 iPhone 5 / 5s / 5c IMEI Unlock Services

Since you know which unlocking methods work, and which are scams, let’s review the best companies for getting the job done legitimately.

  1. iPhoneIMEI (96/100) – Best service for an IMEI unlock in North America

iPhoneIMEI is my choice company for unlocking an iPhone 5, 5c, or 5s.

Benefits: In the first place, this is a very cheap company. An unlock from iPhoneIMEI is about 30% less expensive than industry standards.

You wouldn’t be blamed for assuming that cheaper price implies lower quality service, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. iPhoneIMEI was not lower quality than any of the services I tried. The lower prices may have something to do with the sheer volume of unlocks that the company processes per day (over 200, according to a representative).

My biggest worry is customer service, and I expected that with such a large number of devices to process, my queries would fall behind getting answered. At one point, I emailed the company to ask when my unlock would be done (I missed the notification in my inbox), and a representative got back to me in 7 minutes. Incredible.

The final reason that iPhoneIMEI gets first place is just how fast they process orders. An iPhone unlock tends to be slow and uncertain. I’ve ordered from unlocking services in the past that have taken over a month to finally deliver, but iPhoneIMEI unlocked my iPhone 5 in three hours. Talk about service!

Downsides: The major disadvantage of this company is that it doesn’t service many areas outside the U.S and Canada. Where it is available, it tends to be on the pricey side. If you live somewhere else, you should definitely check to see if your country is listed, but otherwise you’ll have to find another company to do business with.

Conclusion: iPhoneIMEI is inexpensive, quick, and boasts excellent customer service. Although it isn’t available everywhere, if you do live somewhere in North America, I highly recommend getting your unlock here.

If you don’t have money to burn, live somewhere in North America, and don’t feel like waiting forever for an unlock, get you iPhone 5 unlocked now with iPhoneIMEI.

  1. Official iPhone Unlock (89/100) – Best iPhone 5 unlocking service outside U.S and Canada

Second on the list is Official iPhone Unlock.

Benefits: To begin with, this company has a reputation that precedes itself. It began operating when the first iPhone was released, and has extensive experience with iPhone 5, 5s and 5c. I’ve had consistently good experiences with it over the years.

Second, they are INSANELY fast.  The first time I used this service, I ordered an unlock on the weekend, and figured it wouldn’t be done until late the next week. I was extremely surprised to wake up the next day, and find the unlock was done. This sets Official iPhone Unlock ahead of its competitors by a long shot.

Third, this service will unlock phones from carriers around the world. Whether you’re in India, Japan, the U.K or South America, there’s bound to be a service for you here.

Finally, the customer support is absolutely awesome. A close relative who isn’t very good with technology tried to unlock his iPhone 5, but submitted some incorrect information. Worried that his order didn’t go through, I gave them a call (they have a support line!) and got everything fixed in three minutes.

Downsides: As mentioned before, this service is more expensive than iPhoneIMEI, especially if you’re on AT&T. If you live outside North America, it’s still the best option for you, but otherwise, you might want to go for something cheaper.

Conclusion: Official iPhone Unlock is the best service for you if you live outside the U.S or Canada. Not only do they serve almost every country and carrier that exists, but they are quick, inexpensive, and rock a brilliant support team.

If you want to unlock your iPhone 5 today, visit Official iPhone Unlock!

  1. IMEI Codes (44/100 – Very mediocre)

I retain IMEI codes as a very distant backup in case the others aren’t an option for some reason. Under most circumstances, I wouldn’t recommend it, but as a last resort, it may be acceptable.

IMEI Codes will unlock a iPhone 5, 5s or 5c, but don’t be expecting quick delivery or exceptional customer service. This is the definition of industry standard as far as iPhone unlocking services go, with regular prices, and long waiting periods.

Official iPhone Unlock and iPhoneIMEI will be better options in most situations, but if they don’t work out for any reason, check out IMEI Codes.

In Conclusion

  1. Software unlocks haven’t worked since the third iPhone came out
  2. Hardware unlocks are scams that can void your warranty, and ruin your iPhone in the process.
  3. The only safe and efficient way to unlock an iPhone 5, 5c or 5s is with an IMEI unlock

A number of good iPhone unlocking services exist, and choosing one depends on where you live.

If you use a carrier in North America, go with iPhoneIMEI. The service is quick, reliable, has great customer service, and is compatible with all major carriers in the U.S and Canada.

If you use a carrier anywhere else in the world, go with Official iPhone Unlock. While more expensive than the North American counterpart, they are compatible with almost all major carriers from around the world, have a 24 hour turn around, and great customer service.

The Complete iPhone 6/Plus and 6s/Plus Unlock Guide

Update: This method is still valid and working as of December 21st, 2016

Summary: A few methods exist for unlocking an iPhone 6, 6 Plus, or 6S Plus: hardware unlocks, software unlocks, and IMEI unlocks. Hardware unlocking has a low success rate, often destroys your device, and always voids your warranty. Software unlocking has not worked since the third generation iPhone.

IMEI unlocking is the only reliable and safe method for unlocking your iPhone 6, and involves adding your IMEI number to a global database maintained by Apple that will enable you to break away from the carrier you are locked to.

There are a lot of IMEI unlocking services available, and we have tested ten of them. Using our criteria for service ratings (outlines in the article below), we’ve selected the best three recommendations, and which one you select largely depends on where you live.

If you are using an iPhone 6 within the UK, USA or Canda, use iPhoneIMEI. This service is inexpensive, quick, and has great service. However, the areas it serves are limited.

If you are using your iPhone 6 anywhere else in the world, go with Official iPhone Unlock. This service is insanely fast, has amazing customer service, and works with almost any carrier in any country. However, it is not quite as affordable as iPhoneIMEI.

——————

Unlocking iPhones became popular after the second generation iPhone was released. Since iPhones used to work exclusively on AT&T, customers quickly realized the disadvantage of being stuck on a network that didn’t suit their needs.

But software unlocks haven’t worked for a long time, and the Internet is full of contradictory information about how to get an iPhone unlocked. What method works the best? What service should you use?

I’ve been using iPhones since 2008, and I’ve had a lot of experience with unlocking services over the years. In this article, I’ll try to answer the important questions as thoroughly as I can so you can make a well-informed and intelligent choice (without making the mistakes I did!)

Unlocking Method #1: Software Unlocks (Avoid these)

This method involves downloading a program that will unlock your iPhone over USB, by modifying internal software. Sometimes it involves jailbreaking; some services claim they can do it on an iPhone with vanilla iOS.

This used to work great, but Apple changed the way that iPhones are bound to network many years ago with the release of iPhone 4. So if you’re using an iPhone 6/Plus, 6S/Plus, software unlocks are useless to you, and anyone trying to sell you one is either a mad genius who will probably conquer the world someday, or a scammer (giving him money is a bad idea either way).

Unlocking Method #2: Hardware Unlocks (Rarely works; not safe)

Hardware unlocks are even more hardcore than the last method. In theory, it involves cracking open your iPhone (or more often than not, paying someone to crack it open for you) and tampering with the insides to change the way it communicates with networks.

While this can work in principle, it’s a very delicate procedure that should be done by professionals with robotic equipment in a clean room. In practice, it usually means going to a bad part of town and paying a suspicious tinkerer without any proper tools. This bargain will leave you $300 short, with a barely functional iPhone, if you’re very lucky.

More often than not, your iPhone won’t turn on again, and if it does, you can kiss your Apple warranty goodbye.

So unless you’re a daredevil who likes burning money and ruining perfectly good electronics, don’t go near hardware unlocks.

Unlocking Method #3: IMEI Unlocks (Only reliable way to unlock iPhone 6/Plus or 6S/ 6S Plus)

The last method – and the only one that’s any good – is IMEI unlocking. This method is much safer and definitely easier than messing with sketchy programs, or sketchier ‘technicians’. Apple maintains a database that stores all the information regarding your iPhone 6, including physical specifications, and a special code (the IMEI code) that determines whether the device is locked to a network.

Getting an IMEI unlock is as simple as having someone with access to that database change the status of your device, and bam! You’re unlocked. No downloads, no taking apart your phone; you don’t even have to leave your room.

This is obviously the best unlocking method to use. Not only will the unlock last for the life of your iPhone 6, but it’s by far the easiest, cheapest and safest method to use.

Choosing the best IMEI unlock service

There is always variation in the quality of service you will get from different companies, and the same is certainly true of the IMEI industry. Some services are inexpensive, but take forever. Others have great selection, but bad customer support. Some services are outright scams, and will take your money without giving you an unlock.

We’ve reviewed a number of IMEI unlocking services to spare you the trouble. But before we get into it…

My experience with unlocking

There aren’t any formal degrees for unlocking iPhones, or anything related to it, but even without credentials, there’s still a good reason to take my word on the best unlocking services: I’ve been repairing and unlocking iPhones since 2008.

Back in the day, I purchased an iPhone 3GS for the first time. Back then, all iPhones were locked to AT&T, and that sucked because I use Verizon. Furthermore, back then, AT&T had poor reception in my area, and really bad data connection. So I went online and found out about software unlocking, and going forward, I became the neighborhood iPhone-unlocker.

Years went by, and in 2011, I ruined an iPhone 4S by attempting a software unlock. Ever since then, I’ve used IMEI unlocks exclusively. With all the experience I’ve had, I can tell you just what to look for, and just what to avoid.

How this test was done

To begin a formal review of IMEI unlock services, I turned to Google, went through forums, and uncovered as many companies offering unlocks as I could. In the end, I had a little more than twenty services to choose from.

To whittle the list down further, I went to review platforms like Ripoff Report, Trustmark Reviews, and Trust Pilot for a quick survey of the most worthwhile services to review, and this brought my list down to 3.

Since my personal iPhone 6 is already unlocked, I got in touch with my readers and friends to find anyone with a locked iPhone 6/Plus, 6S/Plus. I ended up with about 54 replies. I then picked 9 devices at random; one of every device for each use scenario:

  1. Contract ended, bill paid off
  2. On contract, bill paid off
  3. On contract with outstanding fees

Then I went on to rigorously test each unlocking service, as I’ll explain below.

IMEI service rating criteria

The companies we tested were judged based on these six criteria:

#1: Availability

There are just too many carriers for every unlocking service to work on. Some services work primarily with North American carriers (Sprint, AT&T, Telus) but none in Australia (Telstra, Vodaphone, Optus). Others have great range in the U.K (Orange, T-Mobile, O2), but won’t work in Japan (Softbank, KDDI). We gave a provider better points for a bigger range of carriers and countries.

#2: Cost

Prices vary wildly among unlock providers. There are inexpensive services, while others cost a fortune. Obviously, price is a factor that has to be balanced by other important factors, like speed, success rates and customer service.

#3: Methods of payment

Even the best and least expensive unlock provider won’t do you much good if it only accepts Bitcoin or money wires. Unlocking services need to be accessible, so we gave higher points to the services that accept common payment methods like credit card.

#4: Customer support

Whether or not your unlock goes off without a hitch, the ability to communicate with a company is important. Sometimes you may need to inquire about the status of an unlock, change important information, or submit a special request. Doing this is very hard with a slow, unreceptive or even downright rude support team, so we gave higher points to companies with the best customer service.

#5: Success rate

This might seem like a given – there’s absolutely no point dealing with a company that won’t be able to give you the very thing you ordered. But even good companies may occasionally miss a beat, and out of the 9 iPhones we tested, three weren’t unlocked right away (two remained unlocked after further inquiry). We gave higher points to companies that got it right the first time.

#6: Speed

Waiting three weeks for an unlock is not fun (believe me, I’ve done it). You want what you paid for reasonably soon after you paid for it. As such, faster services get higher points.

Top Three IMEI Unlocking Services for the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S or 6S Plus

We tested the services on our list, gathered data, and tried again for a week before making notes, and drawing conclusions.

Here are the results:

1. iPhoneIMEI – 94/100 (Best within the U.K, USA or Canda)

iPhoneIMEI is my top recommendation for iPhone 6 unlocking service. If I was asked to say in a word ‘why’, the reason is simple: they got the job done! That may seem like a very low bar, but truthfully, very few services are as reliable as this one, and iPhoneIMEI pulled through in all our repeat tests.

Besides delivering on its promises, this service got several things right that boosted it to the top of our list.

Benefits: I have to reiterate just how reliable this service is. Not once did iPhoneIMEI delay in unlocking our phones. The delivery time and rate of success reminded us of ordering something through Amazon Prime. This is actually a fairly amazing quality when you’ve been unlocking iPhones for many years.

Second, this service has very reasonable prices. Notice that I said ‘reasonable’, and not ‘cheap’. This service is the cheapest we reviewed, but starting at $29.90 may not strike you as very affordable. Nevertheless, in this industry, anything cheaper is generally highly suspect, and even if you can get an unlock at that price, you will never get one at this quality and speed.

Finally, support is excellent. We made sure to email this company a few times. Before the sale, support got back to us after 2 hours and 21 minutes. After the sale, before the unlock was processed, we got a question answered in 3 hours and 7 minutes. After the sale and after the unlock, an answer came after after 3 hours and 15 minutes. Not only is this an exceptional response time, but the representatives we communicated with used good English, and were very polite.

Downsides: Alas, iPhoneIMEI does not have global availability. If you don’t live in the U.K, USA or Canada, you’re out of luck, and you’ll have to go somewhere else. If you’re living in those regions, however, you just won’t get a better deal on unlocking your iPhone 6.

Conclusion: iPhoneIMEI tops my list because they’ll give you what you asked for fast, at a great price, and communicate in a friendly and timely manner. This company is the archetype of what you want in an unlocking service, and most can’t compare.

If you plan on unlocking your iPhone 6/Plus or 6S/6S Plus, and live inside the U.K, USA or Canada, visit iPhoneIMEI to get the job done

2. Official iPhone Unlock 89/100 (Best outside the U.K, USA or Canada)

Our second choice is Official iPhone Unlock. Like the first choice on our list, this service got all our iPhones unlocked, and there were no failures or second takes (very good!). Nevertheless, it is behind iPhoneIMEI in a few areas.

Benefits: 

Let’s start with something that sets this service apart: Official iPhone Unlock has an unparalleled range of networks. We made sure to test this service against a phone in Panama, and in Japan, and both were unlocked without a hitch. This confirms to us that claims about broad access are well-founded.

Second, this company actually has phone support in addition to email. Before the sale, we decided to try calling, and we were on the line with an agent after six minutes, which is quite reasonable. Our questions after the sale (both before and after the unlock was processed) were similarly answered quickly, both under three hours of waiting.

Finally, this company processes orders fast. All the iPhones we tested were unlocked within 72 hours, and two were processed same day! That’s just crazy. We have to give credit where credit’s due.

Downsides: First of all, this service is expensive enough to bring down its rank. It won’t run you out of house and home, but an unlock from this company will cost about 20% more than an unlock from iPhoneIMEI.

Second, and weirdly enough, this company processes everything in British Pounds! Now that makes sense for a British company, but it is a little odd that the most international company on our list also happens to be difficult for anyone living outside the U.K to use.

Now don’t get us wrong. You’ll be able to pay with other currencies, but unless you do happen to live in the U.K, you won’t have a perfectly clear idea what you’re paying unless you manually do the conversions, or use a payment processor to do the conversion for you. Either way, it was enough of a hassle to bring down the score.

Conclusion: In the end, you certainly won’t regret going with Official iPhone Unlock. You’re still getting an unlock very quickly and reliably, no matter where you live in the world, and that’s quite comforting.

If you live outside the U.K, USA or Canada, visit Official iPhone Unlock today.

#3. IMEI Codes (44/100 – A bit…problematic)

IMEI codes falls way behind the curb left by the services higher on our list; so much so in fact, that I can’t help wondering if the favorable reviews we encountered were fabricated. We had problems with all three unlocks from this company, and in the end, they only unlocked one iPhone successfully. Thankfully we got our money back on the rest.

Benefits: I won’t mince words, there isn’t much to be said here. The benefit is that IMEI Codes successfully unlocked a single iPhone, and that could easily be construed as a backhanded compliment.

Luckily, we did get a refund on the two other phones, and I suppose that sounds like a backhanded compliment as well. But believe me, there are plenty of services that wouldn’t go that far, so I am thanking my lucky stars.

Downsides: To begin with, IMEI Codes is overpriced. Compared with the prices we paid for iPhoneIMEI, this service was 70% more expensive, and that’s pretty rich considering the fact that they were only 33% successful!

Second, the customer support team is lazy and unreliable. I am actually disappointed to report this, because before the sale, we heard back from IMEI Codes promptly. Afterwards, correspondence sometimes took longer than a day, and emails were written in very poor English. Clearly the priority here is making a sale, not in customer satisfaction.

Conclusion: If there’s a very good reason you can’t use iPhoneIMEI or Official iPhone Unlock, this might be a last resort, but steer clear for the most part. Remember what I said about hardware unlocking? According to the numbers, that would be almost as effective, and at least you might have some fun dealing with shady characters that way.

Check out IMEI Codes, if you really want to.

In summary…

Three methods exist for unlocking an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus.

  1. Software unlocks, which are a scam when it comes to the iPhone 6
  2. Hardware unlocks for the iPhone 6 can sometimes work, but they are expensive, dangerous, and ruin your warranty in every case
  3. IMEI unlocking is the one reliable way to permanently unlock an iPhone 6 without ruining your warranty

Out of 12 IMEI unlocking services that come highly recommended, we reviewed 3 in detail, and concluded that:

If you live within the U.K, USA or Canada, you should use iPhoneIMEI. Again, this service has a limited selection of carriers, but it’s quick, inexpensive, and very reliable. Using them is a no-brainer if you live in the right place.

If you live absolutely anywhere else, you should use Official iPhone UnlockIt’s a bit pricier, but the range of international support is frankly astonishing, and it’s both fast and reliable. Definitely go with them if you can’t use iPhoneIMEI.

Enjoy your newfound freedom!