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:
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
When looking for an unlock solution for iPhone 7 you’re likely to find 3 alternatives – unlock using software, hardware and an IMEI unlock.
Software unlocks straight out don’t work, hardware unlocks are risky and have a high likelihood of destroying your device (and your warranty). If you’re looking for a safe solution that always works, you’re looking for an IMEI-based unlock solutions.
IMEI unlocks mean having your phone’s hardware number (its IMEI) added to Apple’s global whitelisted phone database, meaning your phone is remotely cleared of the lock your provider put on it the next time it connects with Apple servers.
There are quite a few IMEI unlock providers out there, but we did the heavy lifting for you. We’ve reviewed 15 IMEI unlock providers claiming to be able to unlock iPhone 7 and 7 plus remotely, and using a rigorous methodology found the best ones. It turns out that the “best unlock” depends on the location of the provider who your phone is locked to.
If your phone is locked to a mobile provider within the United Kingdom, USA or Canada, we recommend iPhoneIMEI. They provide a quick reliable service, and have great prices, and quick helpful customer support. However, they don’t offer as many unlocks outside of the above-mentioned countries.
If your phone is locked to a mobile provider outside the United Kingdom, USA or Canada, we recommend OfficialiPhoneUnlock. They provide a wide range of unlocks from a ton of mobile operators worldwide. Their prices are very good (only a bit more than iPhoneIMEI), and they have friendly and responsive customer support, and their unlocks happen within a good timeframe.
The full guide to Unlocking iPhone 7 / 7 plus
The iPhone 7 has just been launched, and even though it’s considered the bleeding edge of technology, some issues are no different to its predecessors.
Mobile phone operators charge too much money and give a crappy level of service in return. Not to mention how much they charge when you try to use your phone to roam overseas.
The reason why they can do that to you and all their other customers? They lock your iPhones!
What does locking an iPhone mean? It’s the practice of pairing your iPhone with a singular mobile provider, and blocking any attempt to use a sim card from another provider. This leaves us the consumers with no other choice but to keep using their overpriced services.
However, unlocking iPhone 7 / 7 plus solves those issues by offering you the ability to use whichever mobile provider your little heart wishes. Thus, you can use cheaper, better service providers, and even buy and use a local sim card with cheap call, text and Internet usage rates when you’re overseas (imagine that!).
If you start researching iPhone unlocking online, you’re likely to come across the following three options. However, only one of them works smoothly and reliably.
Method #1 to Unlock iPhone 7 / 7 plus: Software Unlocks (SCAM ALERT! Run away!)
This method was actually available to early generations of iPhones. You could hack into the operating system of the iPhone and remove the locking using a piece of software.
However, guess what? The last iPhone model this worked for was iPhone 3gs! That’s 7 generations of iPhone ago. If someone tries to tell you that you can download some software to your computer and unlock your iPhone with it, they are straight up LYING.
Method #2 to Unlock iPhone 7 / 7 Plus: Hardware unlocks (Will void your AppleCare, dangerous, can destroy your phone and your data)
Some people claim to be able to unlock more recent generations of iPhones by opening the phone up and playing with its insides. Beyond the discomfort of having to give your phone away for a few days until they finish the process, it only works in 30% of cases.
Since they’re working with a welder to change the hardware in your device, the risk of messing something up – from losing your photos and app data to having your phone completely stop working – is high and just not worth it.
And on top of that, Apple can detect the inside of your iPhone has been fiddled with, and your AppleCare warranty will be completely revoked!
So between low success rates, the potential for hardware failures and having your warranty revoked, this is a no-no for most reasonable iPhone owners that have another option. And that option does exist…
Method #3 to Unlock iPhone 7 / 7 plus: IMEI Unlocks (a safe, reliable and permanent unlock)
The first thing to explain when discussing the IMEI unlocking method is what an IMEI is.
IMEI is a unique number identifying your iPhone. Once you activated your iPhone the first time, your device is registered in Apple servers. If it has been locked to the operator, it is registered as such. If you change your database entry so that it says your phone is unlocked, the phone just automatically unlocks!
The process is permanent. Once an iPhone is unlocked, it is unlocked for life. Your phone’s warranty remains valid and in tact. And there are no associated risks with the process – it’s completely safe.
For these reasons, I only recommend IMEI unlocks for anyone looking to unlock their iPhone 7 or 7 plus.
Why should I listen to you?
While there are no degrees out there in unlocking iPhones, I have the only thing that matters in that area – a ton of experience.
I’ve unlocked my first iPhone in 2008.
It was an iPhone 3G locked to AT&T. Like many other AT&T clients, I quickly realized I was being ripped off and wanted out. I found out about software unlocking – which worked back then – and managed to squirm my way out of my locked contract.
Since then, my friends always hit me up about unlocking their iPhones, and I was happy to oblige. I tried hardware unlocking once, it screwed my phone up so much it became unusable. I found out about IMEI unlocks and have been recommending them ever since.
IMEI Unlock comparison process
I decided to use real world data to compare unlock providers. First off, I compiled a list of everyone claiming to do an IMEI unlock for iPhone 7. There were 12.
Following that, I read reviews on various sites dedicated to covering such things, including Trust Pilot and Ripoff Report. This left me with 3 remaining providers to report on in this review.
What I was then left with were 3 services. Next step was the most challenging one – location people who owned a locked iPhone 7 or 7 plus and wanted it unlocked. However, through a few posts on Facebook and using my contacts with a few tech bloggers I ended up with the IMEI number for 12 locked iPhones (7*iPhone 7, 5*iPhone 7 plus). I then just went ahead and tested the various IMEI unlock services with those phones.
The phones came locked to a variety of networks – Three (UK), Vodafone (UK), Rogers (Canada), AT&T (US), Sprint (US), Verizon (US), SFR (France), and Vodafone (Germany).
IMEI Unlock Testing Process
The actual test was pretty straightforward. As I had 12 phones, I paid to buy 4 unlocks from each of the top three providers I figured were legit.
I pretty much just waited from that moment forward for the unlock process to finish. The only other thing I did was to contact the unlock provider’s customer support to see how well it works.
I used 6 different metrics when comparing the various unlock providers.
Metric #1: Unlock success ratio (30% of total score)
Obviously, this is the most important metric. The providers were measured upon completing the unlock process.
I should emphasize that even after getting the confirmation message that the phones were unlocked, each and every unlocked phone was tested with a different SIM card to confirm unlock success.
Metric #2: Number of mobile operators available to unlock (15% of total score)
Since I’m writing this for Internet users worldwide, I have to consider the amount of mobile operators available to unlock an important metric. If someone only has a few small mobile operators in a few small countries, then I’d cross them off my list of recommended services.
Metric #3: Price (20% of total score)
The third metric is how much the actual unlock charges. Unlock providers realize that some people are desperate to unlock their phones they would pay crazy prices. So if someone charged outrageous fees for the unlock, I consider that a no-no.
So, I measured the services which managed to provide a good service on how cheap they provided it for.
Metric #4: Range of payment methods (10% of total score)
Some providers only offered a narrow range of uncomfortable payment options like Western Union transfer or obscure payment methods using crypto currencies like Bitcoin that most of us don’t have available.
If a service accepted Visa, Mastercard and PayPal – the most popular ways to pay on the internet these days – I considered that a plus.
Metric #5: Customer support (10% of total score)
I understand how it can feel to pay a service provider you don’t know, hoping they would complete a service you need without ever having met them.
Good customer service that responds on time, in a polite and helpful manner, and always lets you know where your current project is at, will alleviate that problem.
So, I tested each provider with a few messages to their customer support to see what their standards are in terms of response time and how helpful their support agents were.
Metric #6: Speed (15% of total score)
Usually people unlock their iPhones when they are ready to buy a SIM card on another network or about to go on a trip overseas. In other words, they want to use their phone was a new SIM pretty soon.
For the purposes of this review, I compared the amount of time it took IMEI unlock providers to finish the unlock process. That is – the time between me completing payment until I received word from them the iPhone unlocking process was successfully completed.
Best IMEI Unlock for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
So without further ado, here are the best 3 iPhone 7/ 7+ IMEI unlock companies ranked from best to worst.
#1 – iPhoneIMEI (96% – use in case your phone is locked to a provider within the United Kingdom, USA or Canada)
Without a doubt, I’d recommend iPhoneIMEI as the number 1 choice for unlocking iPhone 7 / iPhone 7 plus.
They have great prices, responsive customer support, tens of thousands of satisfied customers. We purchased an unlock service for 4 iPhones and they’ve managed to unlock all of them. They mostly support unlocking out of mobile providers in the United Kingdom, USA and Canada and they don’t have many options for people in other countries. However, seeing that the majority of the traffic to my site comes from these (English speaking) countries, I decided to place them in first position.
The most important metric was success – whether or not all the phones were successfully unlocked. These guys managed to do that for all the phones we sent their way.
But, there’s more. They also had prices that were on average 15% cheaper across 10 mobile operators from the USA, Canada and the UK.
They also provided top-notch customer service. I get in touch on 3 different occasions and have always received prompt, useful and informative support.
In terms of unlock times, they completed the unlock process within 2 days on average (measured from moment of payment). This is an impressive time, and the same as our #2 rated unlock provider.
iPhoneIMEI only lost points in the “range of providers” metric. While you can get a phone locked to any USA, UK or Canadian provider unlocked, you might find they don’t have your service provider if you’re from another country.
Cheap, great customer service and full 4 out of 4 iPhones unlocked makes iPhoneIMEI my top recommended IMEI unlocking service for iPhone 7 and 7 plus – if you’re in the USA, Canada or the United Kingdom.
If you’re in the United States, Canada or the United Kingdom and want to unlock iPhone 7 or iPhone 7+ from a local provider, go to iPhoneIMEI.net.
#2 OfficialiPhoneUnlock (91% – use in case your phone is locked to a provider outside of the United Kingdom, USA or Canada)
The top 2 providers were really close. They both received similar scores for customer support, and both unlocked all 4 iPhones quite quickly. Official iPhone Unlock has a wider selection of unlocks outside the US, Canada and UK but ultimately it was about 10% more expensive for the providers they both had in common.
I have many good things to say here.
They succeeded to unlock all 4 iPhone 7 / 7 Plus whose IMEI numbers we gave them – and they did it in 48 hours on average. Their customer support was on point – it was speedy, helpful and gave the right information when needed.
They offer the largest selection of unlocks currently available by any IMEI unlock provider. This is not just a small difference, but a huge one – they have dozens of countries more than iPhoneIMEI. If I had to guess, I’d say that if there is a provider out there in some country, you could lock an iPhone 7 from him with these guys.
The factor that eventually led to Official iPhone Unlock to get a lower score was that their prices were slightly higher. I compared the providers they both had an IMEI unlock for – American, UK and Canadian ones – and it consistently came up around 10%-15% more expensive.
BOTTOM LINE: Official iPhone Unlock are pretty great. They have good customer support for their clients, provide quick results and they have the biggest list of mobile operators to unlock anywhere on the web.
Despite the great experience I had with them, they are slightly more expensive than #1 for unlocks they both provide. Since the two offer similar quality of service, I see no reason to pay more.
However, if you’re outside the USA, Canada or the United Kingdom– use their services and get your iPhone 7 unlocked with a clear head.
If you’re outside of the United Kingdom, USA or Canada and want to unlock iPhone 7 or iPhone 7+ from a local provider, we recommend Official iPhone Unlock.
#3 Keys2iPhone (40% – not recommended)
Keys2iPhone only made it to this list because they actually did unlock 2 out of 4 iPhones we tested them with. However, we had a bad experience. They asked us for extra money in order to complete the unlock in 3 out of 4 cases (including one case they didn’t actually manage to unlock!).
The one thing is that, for the 2 phones they actually did manage to unlock – the unlock is complete, safe and permanent. Like in all our tests, we’ve tested it with a different SIM card then the phone was locked to, and it worked. But that’s just what an IMEI unlock always is.
I’ve had such bad experiences with these guys.
First off – they only unlocked half of the phones we paid for (!!!)
Even then, it took over a week to do (8 days, 10 days). They asked for more money claiming their costs just went up – I feel this is just a scam, because in one of those occasions they didn’t even unlock the phone! We did pay in all 3 cases, so I guess shame on me.
Finally, you can imagine throughout all of this, I was upset and wrote customer support quite a lot. There was no response on their end. Eventually we asked our credit card company to refund us for the 2 phones that they didn’t unlock. Disgraceful.
Keys2iPhone managed to unlock 2 phones out of 4 we purchased. They didn’t refund us of their own volition and didn’t communicate with us at all throughout the process. Everything from their timeframe to completion to customer support was just bad. Avoid.
I’ll reiterate the main points of this article here.
There are 3 ways you’ll find online to unlock your iPhone – software, hardware and IMEI. Software unlocks haven’t worked for the last 7 generations of iPhones (the last one they worked for was iPhone 3gs). Hardware unlocks is risky and will nullify your iPhone’s warranty.
IMEI unlocks are the only reliable and secure method for unlocking iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 plus.
After a broad research of 15 different IMEI unlock companies, I tested the top 3 services by buying 4 unlock services from each (12 iPhones in total).
I recommend a different unlock solution depending on which country the mobile operator you want to unlock your phone from is located (for example, AT&T is located in the US).
In case your iPhone is locked to a mobile provider within USA, Canada or the United Kingdom, I recommend using iPhoneIMEI. They are the experts in unlocking phones from those parts of the world, have the best price, great customer service. The unlocks are completed in a speedy manner. If your phone is locked to a provider from another country, go for our second option below, otherwise use them without hesitation – we’ve had nothing but good unlocking experiences with them.
In case your iPhone is locked to a mobile provider outside of the USA, Canada or the United Kingdom, I recommend using Official iPhone Unlock. This company also have great customer service, good prices and a real wide range of providers from all over the world. If you’re living outside of the US, Canada and the UK, they are much more likely to be able to unlock your iPhone from your mobile provider.
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.
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:
Running multiple apps in the background
Notification center widgets
Accessibility options, like the virtual home button
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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:
So that customers are not scared away by high prices
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Software unlocks haven’t worked since the third iPhone came out
Hardware unlocks are scams that can void your warranty, and ruin your iPhone in the process.
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!)
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:
Contract ended, bill paid off
On contract, bill paid off
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Three methods exist for unlocking an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus.
Software unlocks, which are a scam when it comes to the iPhone 6
Hardware unlocks for the iPhone 6 can sometimes work, but they are expensive, dangerous, and ruin your warranty in every case
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 Unlock. It’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.