iPhone owners might want to keep hold of their handsets but unlock them so they can move to different carriers. If this is something that’s on your to-do list, read on:
Is your phone actually locked, though? You can tell this by thinking about whether you paid the full price for the handset or not. If you did, then it’s probably unlocked. If you bought it with a plan and got some subsidies, it’s probably locked.
So far so simple, but it can get more complicated. If you have the iPhone 5 on Verizon, it will only work on the CDMA network, so you can’t take it to Sprint. If it’s unlocked, however, you can take it wherever you like. This doesn’t apply to the iPhone 4S or 4, though.
If you’re still unsure, there is a little widget that can tell you if you’re locked or not. If you are tied, you can pay to have your device freed up.
Unlocking isn’t the same as jailbreaking – jailbreaking means you get access to the operating system so you can run apps that aren’t from the Apple Store.
The unlocking actually takes place in the Apple database, not the operating system.
So, there’s no need to install new software onto your device or PC to do an unlock – you just need to know which carrier your phone’s on and its IMEI number. You’ll find this number in Settings > General > About.
If you give this info to companies like Keys2iPhone, they’ll do the unlocking for you. This can take anything from a few hours to a few days, and once it’s done, you can log into iTunes, make a back up of your handset and restore all your data.