Unlock iPhone 6 without knowing carrier?
May 24, 2019 5:33 PM   Subscribe

A friend was given an iPhone 6 by a relative. The iPhone started its life in the US, but is now in NZ. Putting in a local SIM leads to a long-winded error message implying that it's locked. Most online advice seems to start with 'ask your carrier', but how do you proceed if you don't have that information?

OK, so, there are online services that claim to be able to help with this, but their pricing structures are opaque to say the least, and results seem not to be guaranteed. Free IMEI search web sites haven't provided useful information about whether the phone is locked, and to what carrier if so. Friend has inquired at a local phone repair place, who suggested contacting the carrier. Uh, thanks.

If you have recently and successfully dealt with this problem, what did you do?
posted by inexorably_forward to Technology (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It seems like AT&T lets you request an unlock for free onine, so you could try that and see if it happens to work. And supposedly Verizon doesn't lock their phones. So that would eliminate 2 of the 4 major US carriers (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint), at least.
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:52 PM on May 24, 2019

I believe that New Zealand doesn't have any Apple stores, but maybe your friend could mail the phone back to the US and have his or her relative take it to a Genius Bar. Or maybe that's too much trouble.
posted by alex1965 at 7:02 PM on May 24, 2019

T-Mobile doesn’t lock iPhones either.
posted by devinemissk at 7:50 PM on May 24, 2019

Thanks to our ridiculously Balkanized cellular market, you can generally tell the carrier for an American iPhone by the model number.
posted by neckro23 at 8:36 PM on May 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

Wow, the model number says it's AT&T and I've requested an unlock from them. Hope it works!
posted by inexorably_forward at 9:58 PM on May 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

I recently had an Android phone which stopped working and displayed strange, varying messages about SIM locking, even after I got the carrier involved and they were unable to get the phone working. Eventually I twisted their arm into just giving me a new phone.

In the course of trying to figure out on my own what the hell was going on, I discovered that there appear to be a bunch of different types of SIM locks. Here for example is a snippet of code for categorizing them which I came across:
    private static enum StatusMode {
        Normal, // Normal case (sim card present, it's not locked)
        PersoLocked, // SIM card is 'perso locked'.
        SimMissing, // SIM card is missing.
        SimMissingLocked, // SIM card is missing, and device isn't provisioned; don't allow access
        SimPukLocked, // SIM card is PUK locked because SIM entered wrong too many times
        SimLocked, // SIM card is currently locked
        SimPermDisabled, // SIM card is permanently disabled due to PUK unlock failure
        SimNotReady, // SIM is not ready yet. May never be on devices w/o a SIM.
        SimIOError; //The sim card is faulty
On Android I was able to install a terminal emulator and issue some commands that gave me more granular details on how my phone was locked, but I don't know whether there would be an equivalent on iOS.
posted by XMLicious at 9:58 PM on May 24, 2019

Update: Friend just rang me from their now-unlocked-and-locally-SIMmed iPhone. The hive mind rocks.
posted by inexorably_forward at 3:58 PM on May 25, 2019 [5 favorites]

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