If you are planning to buy a new iPhone, then you might be wondering what locked and unlocked mean. Before they sold Factory Unlocked phones, Apple only sold locked phones. However, nowadays you can get most iPhone models unlocked, giving you more freedom when it comes to the carrier that you use.
What is an Unlocked iPhone?
Simply put, an unlocked iPhone is an iPhone that can be used with any phone carrier or network. Unlike locked phones, which can only work with a certain carrier and will not work correctly if you insert a SIM card from a different carrier, an unlocked phone will work just as well even if you switch carriers every week. The main advantage of this is that you are not tied in to only using one carrier for your mobile phone, allowing you to switch to take advantage of better prices and deals whenever you like.
What Does it Mean When an iPhone is Unlocked?
An unlocked iPhone is a handset that can be used with any carrier that you choose. If your iPhone is unlocked, you have complete control over which carrier you use compared to being dictated by which carrier the handset is locked to. Where you buy the handset from will determine whether or not it comes locked or unlocked. Any handsets that are purchased directly from the Apple store will be unlocked from the beginning to use with any carrier that you like. On the other hand, if you purchase the phone from another carrier company, there is a high chance that the phone might be locked to that carrier, although many are now starting to offer unlocked handsets to be more competitive. If you buy a phone from a carrier and it is locked, it may be locked until your contract with them is ended, or you may need to pay a fee if you want to have the phone unlocked to use with any carrier.
You can check if your iPhone is unlocked by inserting a SIM card that is from a different carrier. When you do this, a locked iPhone will usually display a message to let you know that the SIM card inserted into the phone is not supported or not compatible. On the other hand, if your iPhone is unlocked, then you will be able to use it as normal. You can also go to the Settings menu in the iPhone and select the ‘Cellular’ option to check the unlock status. The phone is unlocked if you can see the ‘Cellular Network settings’ tab in this menu.
Another way to check if an iPhone is unlocked is via a website that allows you to find out if your phone is unlocked or not. You will usually be required to pay a nominal fee for this service. You will need the IMEI number of your phone, which you can get from the Settings menu of your iPhone by going to General > About > IMEI. Once you have this, head to the website and enter the required details about your handset. Pay for the service, and you should then get the information you need from the Apple database.
Is it Better to Get an Unlocked iPhone?
One of the downsides to buying an unlocked phone is that they are often more expensive to purchase upfront compared to buying a phone that is locked and can’t be used with any carrier. This is because carriers often charge more in order to recoup any funds that they might lose should you choose to move to a different carrier because this is easy to do when your phone is unlocked. However, when you consider that most carriers charge an unlocking fee, and the savings that you can make when you have the ability to shop around for cheaper deals with your iPhone, you might find that paying extra upfront for your iPhone to be unlocked can be worth it. Some of the main reasons why it is often better to get an unlocked phone include:
With an unlocked iPhone, you can easily change carriers whenever you like. This means that if you have purchased your phone outright, you can avoid expensive and lengthy plans and instead go for SIM only plans that are much cheaper per month. You can easily end many of these plans without a contract, and switch to another if you see a chance to save money. Since mobile carriers are always updating their prices and bringing out better deals to offer, having an unlocked iPhone makes sense if you want to be able to take advantage of them all and spend less on your phone compared to being tied into a long contract for years.
Easier for Travel
If you travel abroad a lot, then having an iPhone that is unlocked can be a huge benefit. This is because rather than being forced to use the data on your current plan and pay the often expensive roaming charges, you can use a local SIM card in your phone instead while you are in the destination. Many carriers abroad will allow you to buy a SIM card for temporary use that you can either pre-pay for by loading credit onto the card or purchase a plan for one month. Compared to paying a premium for using your mobile data from your usual plan to make calls send texts, and browse the internet when you are traveling abroad, this can lead to some huge savings.
Better Resale Value
Many people upgrade their iPhones every few years and put their old handset up for sale, as iPhones are known for retaining their resale value better than other handsets. If you want to do this, then having an unlocked iPhone can help you get more for it when you upgrade and sell it on in the future. This is because when you sell your iPhone privately, you cannot always guarantee that the person looking to buy it will want to use it with any specific carrier. When it is unlocked, you are likely to get more interest in your phone for sale and make a faster sale since the buyer is then free to use it with any carrier that they like.
What is Meant By an Unlocked Imported iPhone?
An unlocked, imported iPhone is simply an unlocked iPhone that has been imported from another country such as the US. Since iPhones are designed in California and assembled in Taiwan, they are technically all imported unless they are being sold in those countries. Many imported iPhones, however, refer to handsets that are sold online and stock is sourced from overseas. It usually comes from various locations around the world and is designed to work with an international carrier. There are some advantages to buying iPhones from overseas including access to models that might not yet be available to buy in your country, along with the option to buy outright so that you have no commitments to a contract. If you are interested in buying an unlocked, imported iPhone, there are several factors to keep in mind. These include:
As exciting as buying a new iPhone can be, it’s crucial that you understand your rights in the event of something going wrong. While it might be possible to save a lot of money buying an unlocked and imported iPhone through sites like eBay, it might turn out to be a waste of money if the phone isn’t working or isn’t a real iPhone. If you are buying an iPhone unlocked from an online store, one of the main things to make sure of before you part with your hard-earned cash is that the phones always come with a manufacturer’s warranty.
Another factor to keep in mind when you are buying an imported unlocked iPhone is the trustworthiness of the seller. This is no different to online shopping for pretty much anything. There are a few things to look out for, so carefully research the stores that you are interested in buying from before you make a final decision. Read user reviews on unbiased sites and forums so that you can get a better idea of the type of experience and service that you can expect if you decide to buy an iPhone from a particular site. Always check the site for security symbols and trust symbols such as an SSL certificate, which is characterized by the padlock in the browser bar. It’s not worth buying from a site that does not have this – it’s so easy to get today that any site that doesn’t have it is probably a scam, or just really not informed about security at all.
Will Your Phone Work?
Finally, before you buy an unlocked imported iPhone online, it’s important to make sure that it is going to work in your country. You can usually find this out easily by checking the information given on the website or getting in touch with their customer support team. The good thing with iPhones is that they do work all around the world and have a market in every country, so you should not have much of a problem finding an iPhone that works in your location. As long as the handset is unlocked, you should be able to easily set it up and start using it on a local network.
Why Do People Want Unlocked iPhones?
There are many reasons why lots of people today prefer to buy an iPhone unlocked. More and more smartphone users – not just iPhone users – prefer to have the freedom of being able to choose from a wide range of carriers. Along with this, there is a greater number of customers who are deciding to buy their iPhone or another smartphone outright and get a SIM only contract, rather than signing up to a traditional phone plan. The additional flexibility that comes with having an unlocked phone is often the main driver behind why people are increasingly going for phones that are unlocked to any carrier. When purchased outright, this gives the user the freedom to shop around and find the best deals for a SIM plan. Along with this, SIM plans are becoming more and more popular, with lots of options available that do not require a commitment and can be changed at any time. This provides users with more freedom to choose without having to wait until the end of the contract to switch to a different carrier and save money.
As mentioned earlier, people also prefer unlocked phones as they are easier to use abroad with a local SIM card to save money on data roaming charges, and they will usually sell faster and for more due to a larger target market for unlocked phones. If you want to sell your phone and it is unlocked, you do not have to wait for a buyer who is interested and uses the carrier that your phone is locked to.
How Much Does it Cost to Have an iPhone Unlocked?
If you currently have an iPhone but it is unlocked to a certain carrier, then you might want to get it unlocked for various reasons. If you are no longer tied into a contract with that carrier and do not want to upgrade your handset, then unlocking it might make sense to you. Since you are no longer tied in, having the iPhone unlocked means that you can easily change to a different carrier without making any big commitments or changing your iPhone with an upgrade. The cost of having your iPhone unlocked will usually depend on the carrier that it is currently locked to. Some carriers will unlock your iPhone free of charge after your contract has ended or after a certain point in the contract when you have made payments to cover the value of the handset and now own it outright. On the other hand, some charge an unlocking fee regardless of when you request to have your iPhone unlocked. Since it can vary quite a lot between carriers, the best thing to do is get in touch with your carrier directly for more information on unlocking.
What are the Best Unlocked iPhones?
If you are looking for the best unlocked iPhone, then you should probably consider one of the latest handsets. Right now, the latest iPhone releases are available unlocked either when you purchase them directly from Apple or from a range of retailers.
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max: With the longest battery life and best camera on any iPhone yet, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is an amazing device. It is the perfect choice for mobile content creation, and the larger screen makes it an ideal option for gaming, streaming, and more.
Apple iPhone 13 Pro: With all the great features for content creation as the iPhone 13 Pro Max, the iPhone 13 Pro is an ideal choice if you want a smaller screen size and are OK with a battery life that doesn’t last quite as long.
Apple iPhone 13 mini: Ideal for smaller hands or those who don’t want a bulky handset in their pocket, the iPhone 13 mini is the most affordable flagship phone right now. However, its battery life isn’t as good as the iPhone 13 or the iPhone 13 Pro series.
Apple iPhone SE: This is a smaller, solid phone that is ideal for users who just want a basic iPhone. It offers everything that the average user will need and is a great choice if you are looking for something affordable, reliable, and durable.
Apple iPhone 12: With excellent connectivity, amazing design, and improved night mode for the camera, it’s no surprise that this model is one of the most popular iPhones. If you want a little more, the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max are also ideal options to choose from with better battery life and even more camera features.
Apple iPhone 12 mini: Another smaller option if you are looking for a more pocket-friendly unlocked handset, the iPhone 12 mini offers amazing features packed into a smaller frame.
Apple iPhone 11: While the Apple iPhone 11 might not be as exciting as it was with the iPhone 12 and 13 series now available, it’s a good option for those who are looking to replace an older smartphone and want a handset that offers a good set of basics, decent camera, and decent battery life at a reasonable price.
The Best Unlocked iPhones Right Now
Right now, the iPhone 13 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro Max are undoubtedly the best unlocked iPhones currently available on the market. Apple’s latest flagship models are packed with more features than ever before offering new and improved camera features, longer battery life, fast charging, wireless charging, and much more. If you are a content creator or want to use your smartphone to start creating more content online, then these handsets might be well worth investing in. Ultimately, however, the best unlocked iPhone for you will be based on your personal preferences and what you want to use the phone for. This could mean that an older handset is more suitable for your needs, especially if you want to avoid spending money on a handset that has great features, but ones that you are unlikely to use.
How We Test the Best Unlocked iPhones
Whether or not a phone is unlocked should have no bearing on its performance, so unlocked phones are tested in much the same way as a handset that is locked to a specific carrier. Testing involves a range of specifics that are looked at such as processing speed, battery life, sound and display, usability, waterproofing, and much more. If you are looking to buy an unlocked iPhone and want to get more information about test results for the handset, there are lots of online reviews and test results that you can go through while researching to find out more and help you make the best decision.
What to Consider Before You Buy an Unlocked iPhone
There are a few things to consider before you buy an unlocked iPhone.
First of all, is it worth the extra cost of buying your iPhone unlocked? If you’re going to get a lengthy smartphone plan that you intend to stick with for the entire duration, then unlocking your iPhone or paying more for an unlocked handset might not be worth it.
It’s worth thinking about whether the option of buying a locked handset and then having it unlocked might be a cheaper option for you. You can unlock a smartphone yourself by contacting your carrier and paying a fee if applicable, or you can have a third party unlock it for you.
Some newer models of iPhone support eSIMS, which are embedded in the phone and eliminate the need for a separate SIM card. If you want to use this kind of SIM in your iPhone with a specific carrier and are unlocking your phone for this purpose, then it’s important to make sure that the carrier you want to use supports eSIM operation.
If you are going to get a locked iPhone unlocked, then it’s important to be careful how you do it. Third-party unlocking services can be handy, but it’s important to bear in mind that if your iPhone is still under warranty, then doing this might leave the warranty void. Along with this, updating your smartphone’s software might relock the phone and require you to unlock it again. To avoid this, it is best to either buy a smartphone that is unlocked from the start or contact your carrier to unlock the phone rather than going to a third-party.
Today, more and more smartphones including iPhones are unlocked. While this makes no difference to the performance of the handset itself, it does make it easier to use with a wider range of carriers as it is no longer locked to a specific one.