Can an Unlocked iPhone Be Used With All Cell Carriers? Yes
If you want to buy an iPhone and pay it in installments, you go directly to your chosen carrier and sign a contract. Many people go down this road as it makes owning an iPhone more accessible. This device is tied to the carrier in question, and SIM cards from other carriers aren’t compatible.
However, some are ready to pay the total amount upfront to have an unlocked phone and not get into a multi-year commitment.
While buying an iPhone directly from Apple can be convenient, it may leave you with questions about which carrier you can use. Here’s everything you should know to navigate this issue.
Will an Unlocked iPhone Work With Any Carrier?
The short and direct answer is – yes. If you own an unlocked iPhone, it will work with all major cell phone companies. That includes all the leading carriers, such as Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T.
As long as a carrier at least support a Global System for Mobiles (GSM) or Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) radio systems, you can use it with an unlocked iPhone.
If you had a locked iPhone previously and want to switch to another carrier, keep in mind that you will have to get a new SIM card. However, you might be able to keep your phone number if you’re staying in the same geographic area.
Can You Use More Than One Carrier at a Time?
Indeed, you can. With an unlocked iPhone, you can have as many SIM cards as you want. The SIM has to be active, though, and you must be in a location where the carrier has coverage.
If your iPhone doesn’t have a Dual SIM feature, you’ll need to remove the SIM card each time manually. This can be tricky, and you’d have to be careful not to damage the SIM cards during replacement.
However, if you own iPhone 11/12/XS/XR, you have the option of using two carriers at the same time. You can use one physical SIM card along with a software-based SIM called eSIM.
How to Setup an eSIM on an Unlocked iPhone
The first step is to choose a cell carrier that offers eSIM services. You can go through the list of companies and see which has the best offer.
When you choose a carrier, they will give you a QR code to scan and set up the eSIM or use the carrier’s mobile app to complete the installation.
Using an eSIM is especially useful for those who travel as it facilitates faster access to the local carrier. If your iPhone is unlocked, you can make the most of the Dual SIM feature.
How to Check if Your iPhone Is Unlocked
If you’ve had your iPhone for a while, you might not be sure if it’s unlocked or not. So, before buying a SIM card from another carrier, it’s a good idea to make sure that you can actually use it. There’s a straightforward way to check if your iPhone is unlocked or not. Here’s what you should do:
- Open the “Settings” app on your iPhone.
- Select “General” followed by “About.”
- Select the “Carrier Lock” option.
If you read “No SIM restriction,” that means your iPhone is unlocked, and you can use it with other phone companies.
How to Unlock an iPhone
There are many advantages to using an unlocked iPhone, and flexibility is at the top of the list. If you have purchased your phone from a carrier and paid for it in full through installments, it becomes eligible for official unlocking. Still, you will need to contact your carrier directly and request they review your account and unlock your phone.
The entire process may take a few days, but the carrier will notify you when your iPhone has been unlocked. All you have to do then is to remove the existing SIM card and enter the SIM card of a new carrier. Once you turn on your phone, the new SIM card should be active.
However, keep in mind that you can also purchase a new unlocked phone directly from Apple. These devices are unlocked by default and can be used with any carrier from the moment of purchase.
Is a Jailbroken iPhone the Same as Unlocked?
The terms “unlocked” and “jailbroken” in the context of the iPhone are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same at all. An unlocked phone is merely a device you can use with any carrier, and any contractual obligation with the carrier from which you’ve bought the device has expired.
On the other hand, you can’t buy a jailbroken phone from Apple.
If you jailbreak an iPhone, you void any warranty you have with the carrier or manufacturer. While users are free to jailbreak their devices, this action leaves them unprotected.
Jailbreaking is often confused with unlocking the phone because you can pick your carrier in both instances.
However, with a jailbreak, you can also alter the iPhone’s system settings and use third-party applications you otherwise couldn’t. Usually, it’s the app developers who use jailbroken iPhones and those who’d rather not wait for the contract to expire before they can use another carrier.
Choosing Your Carrier Freely
If you have an unlocked iPhone in your possession, you have more freedom to choose the phone plan that works for you. While buying an iPhone and signing a contract with the carrier is practical, it comes with some downsides.
We often get into commitments that don’t seem so great in the long run, just because we wanted the new iPhone. Once the duration of the contract expires, though, you can officially ask the carrier to unlock your iPhone.
If you’re willing to pay the full price upfront, you can buy the phone directly from Apple. Either way, once your iPhone is unlocked, you can use any major cell carrier in the US.
Do you have an unlocked iPhone? Let us know in the comments section below.