You may have heard that in certain countries, carriers offer their customers the possibility to buy unlocked iPhones. These iPhones don’t differ from yours. They have exactly the same hardware and exactly the same software.

iphone officially unlock

How does this official unlock work?

The difference between a locked iPhone and an officially unlocked one is due to the IMEI number, a number unique to every phone (it’s like a fingerprint if you want). When officially unlocked, your IMEI is added to an Apple database which authorizes the device for unlocking.

Fine, but how to add your IMEI to the database? Well, turns out there are some people out there who seem to have the right connections at the right companies. After doing some research, I found one of these companies. According to their website, they know people at T-Mobile Germany (which offers officially unlocked iPhones). You can just pay them a hefty $190 and they will submit your IMEI to T-Mobile, who will add you to the official iPhone unlock database.

Apparently, it takes somewhere from 4 to 25 days to get this done. Once the addition to the database is processed, you can simply connect your iPhone to iTunes, follow the prompts to install a new carrier settings update, and you should be good to go.

I contacted this company about a month ago to get more information but they never replied to me, which is why I don’t bother mentioning their name in this article.

Two days ago I talked to one of my friends who owns a mobile store in France. He’s in the process of being approved by Apple to resell the iPhone so I asked him if he would be able to provide this official unlocking service to his future Apple customers. He told me he wouldn’t take the risk but he said that he knows a few store around town that can do it for you for about $100.

It sure is expensive but the main benefit is that this iPhone unlock is permanent. Unlike some of the software unlocks such as UltraSn0w or BlackSn0w, you’ll be able to update your iPhone firmware without losing your unlock.

Would you be willing to pay nearly between $100 and $200 for an official unlock?

  • Justin

    Absolutely, since they would (re)sell for more than the $100, I would say it’s a no brainer to me.

  • OMG, really? 100 bucks?
    Here in Brazil my carrier (Vivo) did this in just one minute and for free.
    After I get back to my home and connect my iPhone to iTunes, that message appeared and it was unlocked. Really quick. =)

  • Rob

    Very interesting. I bought my handset from the Apple store with it tied to O2 over a year ago. (A time when other operators weren’t carrying the handset). As far as I know, O2 (in the UK) are still the only operator who will unlock their contract customers handsets for free (and they do it quite quickly), and will unlock pay as you go users for a £15 fee (takes two weeks). I wrote about his some time ago on my blog (which I won’t link to in case it’s seen as blatant self promotion!).

    I’d always prefer to have a factory unlocked handset. At the end of the day, you either pay for a phone outright, or get a large monthly tariff over a long term in order to get one discounted or for free so the operator can win either which way.

  • ed

    so if they doit in Brazil for free why cant we in America doe the same can

  • I just asked O2 to do my contract phone for me as I said I used a payg one for eork took them 20 mins and I wasn’t charged. As far as I know it’s uk only

  • What annoys me is that AT&T is supposed to have a way to do this. By law, if I’m not mistaken. After your contract is complete, then the phone is supposedly yours, free and clear. So they are supposed to unlock it for you upon request. They do it with other phones, but not with iPhones. I do not know why, but somebody needs to bring a lawsuit on their asses and force them to obey the law here.

  • thefallen

    ummm it would be great if there could be a way to “make iTunes or Apple think” you’re authorized to unlock your device. I mean… They figured out a way to redirect the to Saurik’s server… So this is not far from a possibility, am I right?

  • Alex

    @thefallen….that would be a great idea that the DEV Team should work on. There would be no need to use Blacksn0w or any of the other software that we use to unlock our iPhones. Even if it was a paid thing like 5 dollars, I would pay it for the fact that I don’t have to worry about losing my unlock by upgrading my firmware.

    But I guess until then, we can only dream here in the good old USA!
    I think I might take a trip down to Brazil and check out this Vivo that Eduardo was talking about!

  • Blapp

    yepp, i’ve done this through official channels on my phone. In my country the sellers are required by law to unlock the phone if you wish. Even if you are on contract, but you obviously would have to keep the contract, or pay termination fee.
    Only thing that sucks about it is that you don’t get an official carrier update so tethering is turned off. Think there was something with MMS too, but i’ve got that working now.

  • Joseph

    What if we can change the IMEI on the phone to fool Apple into thinking the phone has one of the unlocked IMEI. Hope someone can figure out how to do that. Is it feasible? =D

  • Kev

    Again o2 in the uk did mine for free in 2 weeks. On a pay monthly sim only. Just fill in the online form, they send you a text 2 weeks later to say sync with itunes and hey presto.

  • Patrick

    I have the official unlock, all iphones sold in South Africa are officially unlocked.

  • thefallen


    sounds great but changing an IMEI is as ILLEGAL as changing a VIN on a car

  • I’d be happy to pay upto $50 for the official unlock!

  • MK

    I would…
    better for

  • killen

    any news with regards to unlocking tool?or software tnx any info and help is much appreciated

  • Tek

    Hi, i got my iPhone from Malaysia on telco Maxis. And i tried inserting other carriers and have no problems using other carriers. the only thing i cant do with other carrier is internet tethering. the option disappears whenever i insert another carrier sim. Is this considered lock or unlock?

  • Aaron

    I am willing to pay to have my phone unlocked the shit is killin me, hook dis nigga up pleeze I will pay whateva!!!

  • stef


    here, in France, the law authorizes customers to ask for a free unlock for any mobile phone to their mobile provider after a 6 months delay after the subscription, otherwise it is also possible to unlock officialy before this delay but it will not be free (nearly 100 euros ~ 130$)

    • Alain


      Can you help me out with this? I’m from Holland and I have an iPhone 4 with a lock of SFR France and I’m currently looking for an unlock for it. Will you be able to help me out to get an unlock from SFR?

  • Pete W

    Anyone know what the policy is in the Norway or Sweden? I’ll be travelling there from the US and if I could get them to do it that would be great.

  • Dee ey

    Hell I’ll pay for this!!!! How do we do it??? Spill it dammit lmao…..

  • Birdie

    I will to pay 100$ go official unlocked.

  • Sarah

    Yes I will pay ..
    just tell me how to do it :'(
    this unlock thing drives me craaaazy

  • Although mentioned before, I’ll reiterate this for all UK O2 iPhone users. Your iPhone can be unlocked for free. Visit

    Hope that helps.

    • Nash

      thanks mate just filled in the form lets see what happens next.

  • Sami

    i don’t mind paying USD 100 to make my phone officially unlocked. how can i get in touch with them. i badly need it.

  • I would just use an unlocking sim

  • Rimas M.

    Yes, I would pay $100 for official unlocking.

  • Pong Tea

    I bought my iPhone in November in Thailand and the Provider (True Move ) unlocked it also for free. So is my iPhone unlocked or isn’t. I’m using my iPhone on vacation in Germany right now with o2 pre paid SiM and it works great! Why are countries providers charging to get your iPhone unlocked and why do otthers don’t?

  • Paul

    Pong Tea: As a matter of intrest what did ‘Tru Move’ charge you for thephone and what model was it.

    I am going to be in Bangkok in a month so that is of interest to me.

  • Sami

    Can you please let me know name of the compnay you are talking about. I really want to officially unlock my phone.
    Mine is now lo locked with vodafone Uk
    do you think they will be able to help me unlocking my phone

  • how can I officially unlock my iphone 4,locked with AT&T?tnanks

    • Carmine

      Yes you can i went to an apple store and a friend of my that work there did it in 2 minutes. If they wont can be’ done in front of you.

      • bogdan


        how they unlock your iphone in apple store? I was 2 days ago in apple store in Washington DC, I told them that I hve am iphone4 locked in ATT. iphone I bought last year from apple store at full price. and they told me that apple does not unlock iphones.

        can you or anybody else provide some info???

      • Ashutosh kumar

        Pls share you mobile number and mail id

  • John

    America sucks don’t buy from piece of crap ATT

  • ronshoo

    I unlocked my iPhone permanently by the IMEI , which was locked to Orange France. It took around 5 days and unlock it through

    • bogdan

      how much you payed?

  • Sami

    I managed to fully unlock my iPhone thru these sort of channel. It cost me about 100 usd for uk tmobile and 150 usd for uk vodafone. None of these operator of uk official allow to unlock except o2

  • Frank Cabrera

    permanent unlock service

    price from 29.99

  • George

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