Carrier Unlock process via iTunes vs iCloud

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by tennisproha, Jul 6, 2013.

  1. tennisproha, Jul 6, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2013

    macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2011
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    Texas
    #1
    I couldn't find a thread on this nor did i find my answer in search. Any help from someone who knows the process would really be appreciated!

    Ive got an iPhone 4S with at&t that i purchased in october 2011. My contracts not up yet but I contacted at&t about unlocking the device this week. I got an email back from at&t stating that my device is approved for unlock and to restore from iTunes to complete the process.

    I understand restoring from iTunes does a full firmware update. My question is, will resetting the device through 'Erase all content and settings' and restoring from iCloud using the setup assistant have the same effect in unlocking the phone as restoring from iTunes?:confused:

    Thanks again!:D


    PS: What actually changes when a phone is unlocked? I assumed it would just be a software access change but does it in fact change code in the firmware?
     
  2. macrumors demi-god

    Gav2k

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    #2
    I've not unlocked an iPhone since my 3G been on a sim only rolling contract since but I didn't restore my iPhone I just sync'd with iTunes an it popped up with a message stating it was now unlocked. Obviously this process might have changed.
     
  3. macrumors regular

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    Nov 17, 2012
    Location:
    Australia
    #3
    I don't even think you need to restore. A lot of people in this forum just requested an unlock and then their phones were ready to be used with simcards from other telcos. (As long as your phone is connected to the internet) Seems like restoring only to give you that message to confirm your phone is unlock. if you don't want to go through the hassle restoring, just grab a cheap non-AT&T sim to test whether your phone is unlocked.
     
  4. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2009
    #4
    It HAS to be done in iTunes.

    A restore is not necessary, just an update is all that's needed. The email you get from AT&T explains it pretty well
     
  5. thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #5
    Thats what i figured. I figured the phone just checks with apple servers to see whether the IMEI is on its unlock list. However, if a restore from itunes is required then that means its a firmware code change.

    An update to what?
     
  6. macrumors 601

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    #6
    No.

    This page gives some explanation of the exact locking mechanism, but it's quite technical:

    http://theiphonewiki.com/wiki/WildcardTicket
     
  7. macrumors 6502a

    chestvrg

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2010
    Location:
    Miami, Florida
    #7
    I did a restore the other day and got my unlocked msg via iTunes. ImageUploadedByTapatalk1373147442.905870.jpg
    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1373147461.317257.jpg
     
  8. thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Texas
    #8
    Okay, that makes a lot of sense. So theoretically, when the phone is restored, the updated wildcard ticket that is pulled during activation will allow all sim access.

    So any type of restore should pull the updated wildcard ticket or is there a reason it has to be an itunes restore? I would think that since 4S onward the phones have been PC-free setup, an icloud restore should pull all relevant activation data…
     
  9. macrumors 6502

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    Oct 18, 2012
    #9
    It's not really an update (more like an activation), it just verifies with apple servers that the IMEI is unlocked. I have unlocked 5 different iPhones and never had to do a restore to get a foreign SIM to work in the phone.
     
  10. macrumors 601

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    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    #10
    I really don't understand the need for a restore.

    That seems to be something do with iPhones that were originally locked to AT&T.

    My iPhones (locked to two different UK carriers) didn't require me to do a restore when I unlocked them.
     
  11. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2004
    Location:
    Ozark, Missouri
    #11
    Are you absolutely sure about that? I know the email from AT&T says that, but I'm pretty sure the last unlock I did was completely through the phone itself (on iOS 6). I put in a foreign SIM, it went to the activation screen, lost cell service, and shortly thereafter I got the "Congratulations! Your iPhone is now unlocked!" message on the phone itself.

    I ahold preface this with the fact that I did have a wifi connection at the time. I don't know if it would have gone so well if there was no "non-cellular" connection to the Internet.
     
  12. macrumors 6502

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    #12
    I have unlocked 5 AT&T iPhones and didn't have to do a restore.
     
  13. thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #13
    What was the process like? Did you just swap sim's and it gave you the message?
     
  14. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    #14
    None of them ever gave me the message. Basically, just tested a SIM card. If it searches for signal, then it unlocked. If it says invalid SIM it's probably still locked. If you connect the phone iTunes and sync, you should be good to go. Try picking up a T-Mobile SIM to test it.
     
  15. thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #15
    Alright. Well thanks for the input everyone.

    Looks like the consensus is that if you've got wifi access to the internet during sim activation, it'll pull the most up to date IMEI configs from apple and act accordingly. As far as the 'Congrats…' message, apparently it varies.

    Any additional insight into the technical process is welcome.:cool:
     
  16. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2011
    #16
    You can do it in redsn0w just go to extras->deacticate and then it should work(make sure you connect to iTunes)
     
  17. thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #17
    How did you exactly go about this? If it went to the activation screen, then you must've reset the device? Or connect to itunes?


    Alright, so i wanted to do a restore anyway… I 'Erased all content & settings', went through setup assistant, connected to wifi; it activated the phone and is now restoring content from my icloud backup. However, I did not get the 'Congrats!…' message. :confused:

    It connected to wifi before it activated the phone so it should have pulled the updated IMEI settings before it authorized my att sim… yet i got no unlock acknowledgement. I shouldve gotten the message right after activation…
    Urgh! Come on apple!
     
  18. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
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    #18
    Pick up a T-Mobile SIM to test. Using a different SIM is only way to know for sure. The unlock message does not always show up.
     
  19. macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    There are two kinds of "restore." This confuses many folks.
    1) Restore iOS software. This is a wipe of the phone's memory, and a clean re-install of the operating system - restoring the iPhone to as-new condition. You can only do this using iTunes. (I believe Apple should call this something other than "restore.")
    2) Restore from backup. In this case, the operating system is not touched - you're just restoring the data. The backup can be saved either in iTunes or iCloud. If you Erase All Contents and Settings, you can restore from an iCloud backup without using iTunes.

    The Restore required for the unlock is #1: reinstall iOS on the phone.

    You did restore #2, but you needed to do restore #1 followed by restore #2.
     
  20. thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #20
    You're right, I'll grab a T-mobile sim. This would be much easier if it just gave a confirmation message on the phone after activation. :rolleyes:
     
  21. macrumors 6502

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    Oct 18, 2012
    #21
    It's never easy, is it? :D
     
  22. macrumors 6502

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    Jun 22, 2009
    #22
    How about you just do the damn restore thru iTunes, then backup your iPhone thru iCloud and then we don't have to hear for 4 days on whether it matters or not? It's very possible that a restore isn't necessary, but if you back up thru iTunes before the restore, then choose that backup as the restore, it will be the same. Can't believe I wasted my time on this, so many better uses for this amount of space you've wasted on these boards...
     
  23. macrumors 601

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    #23
    There are many reasons why a restore from backup is not a good idea.

    If you don't want to read this thread, don't open it!
     
  24. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2010
    #24
    My iPhone 4S went to an activation screen when I put in a foreign SIM. It was very similar to the process when you setup the phone for the first time. It required me to connect to a WiFi network and then it activated. This feature must be specific to the newer phones, as my iPhone 4 that I unlocked on the same day asked me to plug into iTunes, and then activated as soon as I plugged it in (no sync or anything necessary).

    I was nervous about whether the unlock process worked so I purchased a T-Mobile SIM before I left to make sure they were activated. I also didn't want to do the restore process because it would have erased my jailbreak.
     

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