Apple Removes Tool to Check if an iPhone or iPad is Activation Locked

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jan 29, 2017.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple has removed its Activation Lock status checker on at some point in the past few days. The tool enabled users to enter the serial number or IMEI of an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and find out if the device is secured with Activation Lock, helping buyers avoid purchasing a device locked to another user.


    An individual purchasing a used iPhone on eBay or another website, for example, was able to request the device's serial number and use Apple's tool to verify that Activation Lock had been turned off. If the device was still locked, or if the seller refused to provide the serial number, then it was likely lost or stolen.

    The iCloud page where the tool was available now returns a "Not Found" page aka 404 error. Apple also removed the following reference to the tool from a related Find My iPhone support document earlier this week:
    Apple has not explained why it removed the page. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Activation Lock, enabled automatically when you turn on Find My iPhone, is designed to prevent anyone else from using your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple Watch if it is ever lost or stolen. A device with Activation Lock enabled requires the owner's Apple ID and password before it can be used, even if it is erased or reactivated.

    Last year, a number of users who purchased a brand new iPhone experienced an Activation Lock issue where their device was locked to someone else's Apple ID. Apple disabled Activation Lock for affected users upon being provided proof of purchase, but it is unclear if the strange issue factored into the page's removal.

    Activation Lock was introduced alongside iOS 7. The tool to check the Activation Lock status of a device had been available since October 2014.

    Article Link: Apple Removes Tool to Check if an iPhone or iPad is Activation Locked
  2. Mlrollin91 macrumors G5


    Nov 20, 2008
    Ventura County
    I wonder why, it was extremely useful. Maybe they are updating it?
  3. Jovian9 macrumors 68000


    Feb 19, 2003
    Planet Zebes
    Hopefully this is an update to it and they are changing it. If it's just a straight-up removal then this is a terrible decision by Apple.
  4. LCPepper macrumors 6502


    Aug 5, 2013
    United Kingdom
    I can't really see why they would remove it...

    It would only serve to cause them more headache.
  5. andy.ringwood Suspended

    Nov 20, 2016
    Yesterday's news MacRumours, yesterday's news. Keep up.
  6. DotCom2 macrumors 68040

    Feb 22, 2009
  7. andy.ringwood Suspended

    Nov 20, 2016
    It was probably because the bad guys were using it as well. They wouldn't just take it down for no reason. The con's outweigh the pro's on this occasion.
  8. macs4nw macrumors 601


    Perhaps a serial or IMEI# backdoor was found by hackers, that needs to be addressed first?
  9. iHack13 macrumors regular


    Jun 10, 2009
    city of octoberfest
    Nah. Just to make buying used phones more of a pain. So Apple can sell more.
    It's all about the Dollars.
  10. oneMadRssn macrumors 601


    Sep 8, 2011
    New England
    I've wondered before if that tool allowed someone to abuse it to extract some information that they wouldn't otherwise be able to know.

    For example, assuming they can get around the captcha, it could be a way to compile a list of all serial numbers and whether they are icloud locked, and thus compile a statistical analysis of what the odds are model by model of finding an icloud locked device.
  11. KJL3000, Jan 29, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2017

    KJL3000 macrumors 6502


    Oct 13, 2010
    Apple is closing doors for reselling/buying used iPhones (since this makes it nearly impossible for buyers provided with a serial or IMEI number to check wether an iPhone is locked or not before buying). If this isn't temporary, i don't see any other reason Apple is doing this except draining the market for used iPhones and selling new ones.
  12. allanfries macrumors 6502a


    Jun 18, 2013
  13. Glideslope macrumors 603


    Dec 7, 2007
    A quiet place in NY.
  14. Master Atrus macrumors regular

    Oct 17, 2003
    I was worried about it too until I remember that when I bought a new iPhone 7 it was locked via activation lock (brand new, out of the box). When I took it back to the Apple Store the manager unlocked it for me. So perhaps Apple has simply decided proof of purchase is enough? (I hope not, as making "proof" of purchase is incredibly easy, but maybe ...)
  15. thespacekid macrumors regular

    Jun 26, 2011
    I suspect there was some security flaw that is hopefully being fixed.
  16. macfacts macrumors 68030


    Oct 7, 2012
    It was useful to people buying used iPhones. When someone buys a used iPhone, Apple gets none of that money. Now you know why.
  17. nibfiledotcom macrumors member


    May 3, 2015
    Columbus, OH, USA
    There's no "probably" about it. There's video showing Chinese operations set up to reset the serial numbers of stolen iOS devices in mass quantities, and Apple's Activation Lock checker is a vital part of the process.

    And then you have a lot of news recently about brand new iPhones being locked to an Apple ID right out of the box because their legitimate serial numbers have been illegally assigned to a stolen device.

    It's a tough problem to solve, but until Apple has a solution, they're not going to continue helping thieves.
  18. manu chao macrumors 603

    Jul 30, 2003
    If I can sell my used iPhone at a higher price, I am more willing to pay a high price for a new iPhone. Already today, when I ponder whether to get a new iPhone or iPad, I do check used prices for my current device first to calculate the effective cost of a new iPhone or iPad.
  19. Carlanga macrumors 604


    Nov 5, 2009
    --- Post Merged, Jan 29, 2017 ---
    but the phone is stolen already no?
  20. aaronhead14 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 9, 2009
    Why the heck does Apple keep removing helpful features? I swear, every week there's something that Apple gets rid of. What is going on??
  21. nibfiledotcom macrumors member


    May 3, 2015
    Columbus, OH, USA
    The question being asked is, "Why would Apple remove this tool?" and the answer is, "Because it is being used by thieves."
  22. zorinlynx macrumors 603


    May 31, 2007
    Florida, USA
    It's not that hard to solve. Just sign each serial number with a cryptographic key, and have the bootrom check the signature. If the signature is not valid, the device cannot boot.

    Sure, current devices are SOL but moving forward this problem can be solved.

    I watched one of the videos, it's pretty crazy. The thief actually desolders the flash memory from the iPad, puts it in a programmer, resets the serial number to one that's unlocked, and re-solders it back into the iPad. Absolutely nuts how much effort people will go through to bypass activation lock.
  23. Carlanga macrumors 604


    Nov 5, 2009
    thats not what I asked
  24. Fancuku macrumors 6502a


    Oct 8, 2015
    PA, USA
    We all know it was the Russians that removed it, not Apple.
  25. nibfiledotcom macrumors member


    May 3, 2015
    Columbus, OH, USA
    Very well... if you watch the video, you will see that these thieves use software to generate a bunch of new "potential" replacement serial numbers. However, there is no way to know if the serial number is currently locked or not. Only Apple's Activation Lock tool (now removed) can tell them that.

    Without the tool, they can go ahead and take a guess, and pick a serial for reassignment. But they won't know if that serial is locked or not until they solder the flash chip back into the device, power it up, and attempt activation.

    If you're dedicated, you can keep trying until you get lucky, or destroy the device in the process of desoldering/resoldering the flash chip. But as far as mass theft goes, it becomes a lot less feasible, as the process just potentially got a lot more time-consuming.

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