Unlock My Phone! Buyers Guide To Used IPhones, Locked & Unlocked

Mobile Phone
Source: Androidauthority.com

Welcome to the ultimate guide for buying used iPhones and understanding the difference between locked and unlocked devices. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your current phone or make a switch to the iPhone world, navigating the options can be overwhelming. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of locked and unlocked iPhones, discussing their pros and cons, and guiding you towards making the best choice for your needs. We’ll explore the benefits of buying used iPhones, how to unlock a locked phone, and provide tips on where to find reliable sellers.

So, if you’re ready to unlock your phone and enter the world of pre-owned iPhones, let’s dive in and ensure that you make an informed decision that serves you best!

Inside This Article

  1. Understanding Locked and Unlocked iPhones
  2. Benefits of Buying a Used iPhone
  3. Factors to Consider Before Buying a Used iPhone
  4. Guide to Buying Locked iPhones
  5. Guide to Buying Unlocked iPhones
  6. Popular Methods to Unlock iPhones
  7. How to Verify if an iPhone is Unlocked
  8. Tips for Buying a Used iPhone Safely
  9. Conclusion
  10. FAQs

Understanding Locked and Unlocked iPhones

When it comes to purchasing a new or used iPhone, it’s important to understand the difference between a locked and unlocked device. These terms refer to the status of the phone’s software and its compatibility with different carriers.

A locked iPhone is tied to a specific carrier, such as AT&T or Verizon, and can only be used with that carrier’s network. This means that if you buy a locked iPhone, you will be limited to using it with the carrier it is locked to. If you try to use a different carrier’s SIM card in a locked iPhone, it will typically not work. The purpose of locking iPhones is to ensure that customers stay with a specific carrier for the duration of their contract or agreement.

On the other hand, an unlocked iPhone is not tied to any specific carrier and can be used with any carrier that supports the iPhone. This gives you the freedom to switch between carriers as you please. With an unlocked iPhone, you can use a SIM card from any compatible carrier and activate the phone on their network. This is especially beneficial if you frequently travel internationally and want to use a local SIM card to avoid high roaming charges.

It’s worth noting that not all iPhones can be unlocked. The ability to unlock an iPhone depends on various factors, including the carrier it’s locked to, the model of the iPhone, and its software version. In some cases, carriers may allow you to unlock your iPhone once your contract is fulfilled, while in other cases, the iPhone may be factory unlocked from the beginning.

Understanding whether an iPhone is locked or unlocked is crucial when buying a used device. If you are looking for flexibility and the ability to use the iPhone with any carrier, it’s recommended to purchase an unlocked iPhone. On the other hand, if you have a carrier preference or are getting a good deal on a locked iPhone, it may still be a viable option.

In the next sections, we will explore the benefits of buying a used iPhone and factors to consider before making a purchase, both for locked and unlocked devices. Understanding the pros and cons of each option will help you make an informed decision that suits your needs and preferences.

Benefits of Buying a Used iPhone

Buying a used iPhone can be a great option for those looking to save some money without compromising on quality and functionality. While many people prefer purchasing brand new devices, there are several enticing benefits to consider when it comes to buying a used iPhone.

1. Affordable Pricing: One of the most significant advantages of buying a used iPhone is the cost. Used iPhones are generally much cheaper than their brand new counterparts, making it an affordable option for budget-conscious individuals. You can find models that are a generation or two older at a fraction of the price, allowing you to get the Apple experience without breaking the bank.

2. Same Features and Performance: Contrary to popular belief, used iPhones offer the same features and performance as new ones. Apple devices are known for their longevity and reliability, so even a used iPhone can deliver a seamless user experience. You can enjoy all the benefits of the latest iOS updates, access to the App Store, and use popular apps and features without any issues.

3. No Contract Obligations: When you buy a used iPhone, you have the freedom to choose your carrier and not be tied down to a specific contract. This flexibility allows you to switch carriers as you please, take advantage of competitive pricing, and find the best plan that meets your needs. It also enables you to avoid lengthy commitments and costly cancellation fees.

4. Environmental Benefits: Opting for a used iPhone is not only a smart financial decision but also an environmentally conscious one. By purchasing a pre-owned device, you contribute to the concept of sustainability by extending the lifecycle of the phone. It reduces electronic waste and promotes a greener approach to technology consumption.

5. High Resale Value: iPhones have a reputation for retaining their value even after several years of use. When the time comes to upgrade or switch to a different device, you can sell your used iPhone at a reasonable price. Apple products often have a strong resale market, allowing you to recoup a significant portion of your initial investment.

Ultimately, buying a used iPhone comes with numerous benefits. From cost savings and performance reliability to flexibility and environmental consciousness, it’s an option worth considering for those in the market for a new smartphone. Just ensure you purchase from a reputable seller and thoroughly test the device before finalizing the purchase to guarantee a smooth experience.

Factors to Consider Before Buying a Used iPhone

Thinking about buying a used iPhone? It can be a great way to save money while still getting your hands on a high-quality device. However, before you make a purchase, there are some important factors to consider. By taking these into account, you can ensure that you make a smart and informed decision. Here are some key things to think about before buying a used iPhone:

1. Condition: The condition of the iPhone is crucial when buying used. Check for any visible damages like scratches, dents, or cracks. It’s also essential to inquire about the internal components and make sure they are in good working condition. Ask the seller about the battery life, screen responsiveness, and any previous repairs or replacements.

2. Storage Capacity: Determine how much storage space you require for your needs. Different iPhone models come with varying storage capacities. Consider the number of apps, photos, videos, and files you plan to keep on your device so that you don’t end up with insufficient space.

3. Compatibility: Verify that the iPhone you are considering is compatible with your carrier. Some iPhones are specific to certain carriers, so double-check to ensure that it will work with your SIM card and network provider.

4. Warranty and Return Policy: When purchasing a used iPhone, it’s important to check if it comes with any warranty or return policy. This can provide you with some peace of mind in case any issues arise after the purchase. Reputable sellers often offer a limited warranty period or a return policy to ensure customer satisfaction.

5. Price Comparison: Research and compare prices across different platforms and sellers to ensure you are getting a fair deal. While it may be tempting to jump at the lowest price, remember that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Compare prices while considering the phone’s condition, storage capacity, and any additional accessories included in the deal.

6. Activation Lock: Activation Lock is an important feature that prevents unauthorized access to an iPhone. Ensure that the used iPhone you are buying is not locked to someone else’s Apple ID. Ask the seller to remove the device from their iCloud account and disable Activation Lock before completing the purchase.

7. Research Seller Reputation: Before buying a used iPhone from an individual or a lesser-known seller, do some research to gauge their reputation. Look for reviews or feedback from previous customers. This can give you an idea of their reliability and what to expect from the buying experience.

8. Check for Stolen Devices: It’s crucial to verify that the iPhone you are considering buying is not stolen. Check the device’s unique IMEI or serial number using online tools to ensure it’s not blacklisted or reported as stolen.

By considering these factors before purchasing a used iPhone, you can minimize the risks and ensure that you are making a wise investment. Remember, a bit of careful research and due diligence can go a long way in finding a reliable, high-quality used phone.

Guide to Buying Locked iPhones

When it comes to purchasing a locked iPhone, there are a few important factors to consider. A locked iPhone means that it is tied to a specific carrier, limiting your options for switching providers or using international SIM cards. However, buying a locked iPhone can come with its own advantages, such as lower upfront costs and the potential to unlock it later. Here are some key points to keep in mind when shopping for a locked iPhone:

1. Carrier Compatibility: Before making a purchase, ensure that the locked iPhone is compatible with your current or intended carrier. Different carriers operate on different technologies, such as GSM or CDMA, so it’s crucial to verify compatibility to avoid any disappointments or frustration later on.

2. Price Comparison: Locked iPhones are often priced lower than their unlocked counterparts. Take the time to compare prices across different sellers and platforms to ensure you’re getting the best deal. Additionally, consider the condition of the iPhone and any included accessories when evaluating the overall value.

3. Contract Obligations: Be aware that locked iPhones may come with contract obligations. If the iPhone was originally purchased with a carrier contract, there may be financial consequences for breaking the contract early. Ensure that you understand the terms and conditions associated with the locked iPhone before making a decision.

4. Unlocking Eligibility: Research if the locked iPhone can be unlocked in the future. Some carriers have specific unlocking policies, allowing you to unlock the iPhone after a certain period or upon request. This can provide flexibility in the long run if you decide to switch carriers or use the iPhone internationally.

5. Warranty and Support: Check if the locked iPhone comes with a warranty and if the carrier provides support for locked devices. It’s essential to have reliable customer support, especially if you encounter any issues with the iPhone or need assistance with unlocking it in the future.

6. Reputation of the Seller: When purchasing a locked iPhone, it’s crucial to buy from a reputable seller. Look for trusted sellers with positive ratings and reviews to minimize the risk of purchasing a stolen or counterfeit device. Buying from authorized resellers or reputable online marketplaces can provide an added layer of security.

7. Future Compatibility: Consider if the locked iPhone you’re eyeing will be compatible with future software updates. Apple regularly releases updates, and some older iPhone models may not receive the latest iOS versions. Ensure that the locked iPhone you choose can support future updates to enjoy new features and security enhancements.

By carefully considering these factors, you can make an informed decision when buying a locked iPhone. While it may have limitations, a locked iPhone can still be a budget-friendly option, especially if unlocking it is a possibility down the line.

Guide to Buying Unlocked iPhones

When it comes to purchasing an iPhone, opting for an unlocked device can provide a multitude of benefits. Unlocked iPhones offer greater flexibility and freedom, allowing you to use the device with any carrier of your choice. However, before you embark on your quest for the perfect unlocked iPhone, there are a few important factors to consider. In this guide, we will navigate through the intricacies of buying unlocked iPhones and provide you with valuable tips to make an informed decision.

1. Know Your Budget: Before venturing into the market, it’s crucial to determine your budget for purchasing an unlocked iPhone. Prices can vary depending on the model and storage capacity, so having a clear idea of how much you’re willing to spend will help you narrow down your options.

2. Check for Compatibility: Not all unlocked iPhones are compatible with all carriers. Different models support different bands and frequencies, so it’s essential to check if the iPhone you intend to purchase is compatible with the network bands used by your preferred carrier.

3. Condition of the Device: Whether you’re buying a brand-new unlocked iPhone or a used one, it’s crucial to assess the condition of the device. Look for any signs of wear and tear, screen cracks, or water damage. If you’re purchasing a used iPhone, consider buying from a reputable seller or certified reseller to ensure the device’s quality and authenticity.

4. Warranty and Return Policy: When buying an unlocked iPhone, it’s advisable to check the warranty and return policy offered by the seller. A warranty will provide you with peace of mind in case any technical issues arise, and a favorable return policy will allow you to return or exchange the device if it doesn’t meet your expectations.

5. Research the Market Price: Before making a purchase, it’s crucial to research the current market price for the specific unlocked iPhone model you’re interested in. This will help you determine if the seller’s price is reasonable and avoid overpaying for the device.

6. Purchase from a Reputable Source: To ensure a safe and secure transaction, it’s best to purchase your unlocked iPhone from a reputable source. This could be an authorized retailer, Apple’s official website, or a trusted online marketplace with buyer protection policies in place.

7. Verify the IMEI Number: Every iPhone has a unique International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number. Before finalizing your purchase, verify the IMEI number of the device to ensure it hasn’t been reported lost, stolen, or is still under a carrier contract.

8. Consider Factory Unlocked or SIM-Free iPhones: Factory unlocked or SIM-free iPhones are devices that are not tied to any specific carrier. These iPhones provide the ultimate freedom, allowing you to switch carriers at any time without any restrictions. Consider opting for a factory unlocked or SIM-free iPhone if you prefer flexibility in choosing your mobile network.

By following this guide, you can confidently navigate the process of purchasing an unlocked iPhone. Whether you’re a frequent traveler, desire carrier flexibility, or simply prefer the freedom that an unlocked device provides, buying an unlocked iPhone is a smart choice. With a plethora of options available in the market, make sure to do your research and choose the perfect unlocked iPhone that meets your needs and budget.

Popular Methods to Unlock iPhones

Unlocking an iPhone allows you to use it with different carriers instead of being limited to a specific network. There are several popular methods to unlock iPhones that enable you to enjoy more flexibility and freedom with your device. Let’s take a look at some of these methods:

1. Contacting the Carrier: One of the simplest ways to unlock your iPhone is by contacting your carrier directly. You can reach out to their customer support and request an unlock. If you meet their eligibility criteria, they will provide you with instructions to unlock your device.

2. Third-Party Unlocking Services: There are many third-party unlocking services available online that can unlock your iPhone. These services typically require you to provide your device’s IMEI number and make a payment. They will then process your request and provide you with an unlock code or unlock your device remotely.

3. Software Unlocking: Software unlocking involves using specialized software tools to bypass the carrier lock on your iPhone. However, this method is less common nowadays and is mainly applicable to older iPhone models. It can be complicated and may void your warranty, so it’s important to proceed with caution if you choose this option.

4. Hardware Unlocking: Hardware unlocking involves physically modifying your iPhone’s hardware to remove the carrier lock. This method requires technical knowledge and expertise and is not recommended for the average user. It can also result in damage to your device if not done correctly, so it’s best to avoid this method unless you’re confident in your abilities.

5. Official Factory Unlock: An official factory unlock is the most reliable and permanent method to unlock an iPhone. This method involves contacting Apple or an authorized service provider to unlock your device. Once unlocked, you can use it with any carrier, and the unlock will persist even after updating your device’s software.

6. Gevey SIM: A Gevey SIM is a hardware-based unlocking solution that uses a SIM card interposer to bypass the carrier lock on iPhones. This method is particularly useful for devices running older iOS versions or on specific basebands. However, it is important to note that using a Gevey SIM may violate your carrier’s terms of service.

7. Jailbreaking: Jailbreaking is not technically an unlocking method, but it allows you to install third-party apps and customize your iPhone’s settings. In some cases, jailbreaking can provide limited unlocking capabilities for specific iPhone models and software versions. However, jailbreaking can also void your warranty and expose your device to security risks, so it should be done with caution.

Before proceeding with any unlocking method, it’s important to research and understand the potential risks and implications. Always ensure that the method you choose is legal, safe, and compatible with your iPhone model and software version.

How to Verify if an iPhone is Unlocked

So, you’ve found a used iPhone that you’re interested in purchasing, but you want to make sure it’s unlocked before making the final decision. Luckily, there are a few simple ways to verify if an iPhone is unlocked or not. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Check the SIM Card Slot: One of the easiest ways to check if an iPhone is unlocked is by examining the SIM card slot. Simply eject the SIM card tray using a paperclip or SIM card removal tool and insert your own SIM card from a different carrier. If the iPhone accepts the new SIM card and shows the carrier’s name, it’s likely unlocked. However, if it displays an error message or asks for a SIM network unlock PIN, then the iPhone is still locked to a specific carrier.

2. Use an Online IMEI Checker: Another method to verify the unlocking status of an iPhone is by using an online IMEI checker. Every iPhone has a unique IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number, which can be found in the settings or by dialing *#06#. Enter the IMEI number into an online IMEI checker, and it will provide you with information about the device, including whether it is unlocked or locked to a specific carrier.

3. Call the Carrier: If you’re uncertain about the unlocking status of an iPhone, you can always contact the carrier directly. Provide them with the IMEI number, and they will be able to confirm if the iPhone is unlocked or not. Keep in mind that some carriers may require you to be an existing customer or meet certain criteria before they provide such information.

4. Use a Third-Party Unlocking Service: If you’ve purchased a used iPhone that is still locked, you can consider using a third-party unlocking service. These services can unlock the iPhone by contacting the carrier and requesting an unlock code. However, it’s important to note that using third-party unlocking services may void your warranty or violate the terms of service with the carrier, so proceed with caution.

5. Check for Carrier Settings Update: Sometimes, an unlocked iPhone may require a carrier settings update to fully activate the unlocked status. Go to “Settings,” tap on “General,” and select “About.” If a carrier settings update is available, you will see a pop-up message. Install the update to ensure that the iPhone is fully unlocked.

By following these steps, you can easily verify if an iPhone is unlocked or still locked to a specific carrier. Remember to double-check before making a purchase to ensure that the iPhone meets your requirements.

Tips for Buying a Used iPhone Safely

Buying a used iPhone can be a great way to save money while still getting a high-quality device. However, it’s important to take certain precautions to ensure that you’re making a safe and reliable purchase. Here are some valuable tips to consider when buying a used iPhone:

  1. Buy from a reputable seller: When purchasing a used iPhone, it’s crucial to buy from a trusted and reliable source. Consider buying from established retailers, reputable online marketplaces, or certified pre-owned programs.
  2. Verify the seller: Before proceeding with a purchase, research the seller’s reputation. Check their reviews, ratings, and feedback from previous buyers. This will help you determine if they are trustworthy and have a history of providing authentic devices.
  3. Inspect the physical condition: Carefully examine the physical condition of the iPhone. Look for any visible signs of damage, such as scratches, dents, or cracked screens. Be cautious if the device appears excessively worn or if the seller refuses to provide detailed pictures.
  4. Check the IMEI/Serial Number: Obtain the iPhone’s IMEI or serial number and run it through Apple’s activation lock status tool. This will confirm whether the device has been reported lost or stolen, and if it is still linked to the previous owner’s iCloud account.
  5. Meet in person for local transactions: If possible, opt for local transactions where you can meet the seller in person. This allows you to thoroughly inspect the device before finalizing the purchase. Choose a safe public place with surveillance if you’re concerned about your safety.
  6. Ask for original purchase documents: Request any original purchase documents, such as the receipt or warranty card, that can validate the authenticity of the iPhone and confirm its ownership history.
  7. Test the functionality: During the meeting, test the iPhone’s functionality to ensure it’s in good working condition. Check the touchscreen responsiveness, buttons, camera, and audio quality. Ensure that the battery holds a charge and that the device is not locked to a specific carrier.
  8. Consider the return policy: Before finalizing the purchase, inquire about the return policy. A reputable seller should offer a return period or warranty to protect you against any hidden issues or undisclosed problems with the iPhone.
  9. Use secure payment methods: When making the payment, choose secure methods such as PayPal or credit cards. Avoid cash transactions or wire transfers, as they offer limited buyer protection in case of fraudulent activities.
  10. Activate the iPhone after purchase: Once you have purchased the used iPhone, immediately activate it with your own iCloud account and perform a factory reset to ensure that all previous owner’s data has been erased.

By following these tips, you can significantly increase your chances of buying a used iPhone safely and with confidence. Remember to trust your instincts and be cautious throughout the buying process. With proper research and attention to detail, you can find a reliable and affordable used iPhone that meets your needs.

After exploring the ins and outs of used iPhones, locked and unlocked, it’s clear that unlocking your phone can provide a world of benefits. Whether you’re looking for the freedom to switch carriers, take advantage of better deals, or simply enjoy the convenience of a fully unlocked device, unlocking your iPhone opens up a whole new world of options.

With an unlocked iPhone, you can easily sell your phone when you’re ready for an upgrade or even use it while traveling internationally with local SIM cards. The process of unlocking your iPhone may seem daunting at first, but with the right knowledge and resources, it can be done safely and efficiently.

Remember, always check the compatibility of the iPhone model and the network you want to use before making a purchase. Research trusted sellers and consider the warranty and return policies when buying a used iPhone. It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the unlock carrier guidelines and requirements.

Unlocking your iPhone gives you the freedom and flexibility to use your device the way you want. So whether you’re craving a new carrier, looking to save some money, or simply want more control over your phone, unlocking can be the key to a truly enhanced mobile experience.


1. What is the difference between a locked and unlocked phone?
Answer: A locked phone is tied to a specific carrier or network, which means you can only use it with that particular carrier. An unlocked phone, on the other hand, is not tied to any specific carrier and can be used with any compatible carrier or network.

2. Can I use a locked phone with a different carrier?
Answer: In most cases, locked phones cannot be used with a different carrier unless they are unlocked first. However, some carriers offer unlocking services or you can use third-party services to unlock your phone.

3. What are the benefits of buying a used phone?
Answer: Buying a used phone can be a cost-effective option compared to buying new. It allows you to get a phone at a lower price while still enjoying the same features and functionality. Additionally, buying used phones can also be more environmentally friendly as it reduces electronic waste.

4. How can I unlock a locked phone?
Answer: There are several ways to unlock a locked phone. You can contact your current carrier and request them to unlock the phone for you. Alternatively, you can use third-party unlocking services or purchase an unlocked phone directly.

5. Are there any risks in buying a used phone?
Answer: While buying a used phone can save you money, there are some risks involved. It is important to thoroughly research the seller and confirm the phone’s condition before making a purchase. Additionally, be cautious of stolen phones or devices with outstanding financial obligations. To mitigate the risks, it’s recommended to buy from reputable sellers or consider certified refurbished options.