A factory unlocked iPhone can be purchased in many countries around directly from the Apple store, or from Apple on-line. The great thing about an IMEI unlocked iPhone is that it can be used on any network in any country. Unfortunately the price of these IMEI unlocked iPhones is prohibited to a large number of people, so they choose the alternative, and much cheaper, carrier locked version instead. If you look at the difference between a factory unlocked iPhone compared to a locked version, the unlocked handset can be used on any network, anywhere around the globe, but cost five times the price.
The idea of being able to get a brand new iPhone for virtually pennies sounds great. Is a locked iPhone, all be it a seriously cheap one, going to be the best option for you? Perhaps you move to a new apartment block and you can’t seem to get a signal using you current service provider. Don’t be mistaken in thinking you can just swap carriers and your iPhone will work on the new network. If you place an simcard from a different network in your phone, instead of seeing the network name displayed in the top left hand corner of the phone’s display, you will be greeted with the dreaded “no service” message instead! You will need to unlock your iPhone before it will work.
Before July 2011 you had two alternative methods you could use to unlock an iPhone. It used to be possible to temporarily unlock an iPhone using software. However, if you want to permanently unlock your iPhone you need to use the official factory iPhone unlock. Not surprisingly the software hacking unlock method was only a temporary method which required reapplying every time the phone was rebooted.
It used to be possible to software unlock an iPhone so that it could be used on any network. However this method required the handset to have previously been jailbroken (a procedure which uses glitches in the phones operating system to enable third party software to be installed on the device). What is perhaps not clear is that it has never been possible to software unlock the newer models of iPhone, such as the iPhone 5 or iPhone 5s.
The alternative method of unlocking is the iPhone IMEI unlock. If an iPhone is unlocked using this method it will operate in exactly the same way as an expensive, factory unlocked iPhone, bought in the Apple store. The great thing is though, it would have only cost you a fraction of what Apple would charge you for an original. One of the primary benefits of IMEI unlocking is that it does not invalidate your Apple warranty. Once you have unlocked you may also safely upgrade your phone in iTunes when new iOS is release without ever having to worry about it relocking. Although this method is not new, it was limited, and only offered by certain carriers under certain conditions.
In the past few months there has emerged several independent companies that can provide iPhone factory unlocks with very few limitations in place for them to be successful. As long as your iPhone hasn’t been reported as lost or stolen, known as an IMEI blacklisting, they will be able to unlock it.