Other How come a lot of iPhone listings say the phone cannot be unlocked?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Totally, Dec 7, 2018.

  1. Totally macrumors 6502a

    Totally

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2012
    Location:
    West Coast = Best Coast
    #1
    It's been many years since I bought a relatively modern iPhone, I'm currently using an SE. I'm looking at eBay listings for iPhone 8s for example, and many of them say that if you buy it for use on an ATT network, it cannot be unlocked. Like it can't ever be unlocked. Why is that? In the past if I bought a locked phone on ATT, I could always get it unlocked, like I did with my SE. What changed?
     
  2. eyoungren macrumors Core

    eyoungren

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2011
    Location:
    ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
    #2
    Probably what they might mean is "Cannot be unlocked to use on all four carriers."

    The iPhone 7 up to the iPhone X was made in two models. The Verizon/Sprint phone which can be unlocked to use on all four carriers and the AT&T/T-Mobile model, which can be unlocked but won't function on Verizon or Sprint.

    That would be my guess.
     
  3. darksithpro macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2016
    #3
    Like @eyoungren said. Verizon and Sprint use CDMA for voice, while T-Mobile and Att use GSM. So it's cheaper for phone makers and carriers to have phones that lack CDMA and LTE bands, so people are forced to stay on their networks. Unlocked phones are usually the safest bet.
     
  4. JPack macrumors 601

    JPack

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2017
    #4
    If the phone is associated with an unpaid bill, AT&T will not unlock it.

    In short, you're buying a device that was purchased through AT&T but the original owner hasn't paid the bill. AT&T doesn't blacklist, but also won't let anyone unlock it either.
     
  5. Totally thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Totally

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2012
    Location:
    West Coast = Best Coast
    #5
  6. Velin macrumors 65816

    Velin

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2008
    Location:
    Hearst Castle
    #6
    The original owner/seller may still owe money on the phone. Or have outstanding unpaid cellular bills. Or as previously stated, the phone may lack one of the necessary radios to communicate with all carrier technologies.

    I’d avoid any carrier-locked phone. At minimum, you’re buying a headache; you also could be buying a problem phone married to an account in default that you can never unlock.

    Unlocked / sim-free is well worth the modest premium. Don’t buy problems. And don’t believe anything the sellers tell you.
     
  7. ImAnAgent Suspended

    ImAnAgent

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2018
    Location:
    My mind
    #7
    There is also a very reliable website that I use to unlock AT&T phones that I have that AT&T won't unlock because I'm still paying for them. I've had an XS Max and a Note 9 unlocked through them and it only took one day to do. I'm using them on T-Mobile with no problems. A Google search will bring up the site. One sure is a scam and the other very reliable so read the reviews first if anyone decides to look them up. Just bringing this up because it is possible to unlock a phone still under contract, you just have to pay.
     
  8. JPack macrumors 601

    JPack

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2017
    #8
    Already explained earlier.

    The listing clearly mentions it’s a GSM phone. So it has nothing to do with the radio compatibility with Verizon.

    You’re buying an iPhone attached to an unpaid or suspended account.
     
  9. Totally thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Totally

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2012
    Location:
    West Coast = Best Coast
    #9
    Right, because it's a GSM phone, even if it was unlocked, it would not work on Verizon. I understand that. What confused me was that it said that it couldn't even be unlocked to work on other GSM networks. Literally ATT only forever. And this isn't the only listing I've seen like that, a lot of listing for the X also say something similar.

    So it's a phone attached to a bad account and because of that, it will never be unlocked. Thanks for shedding some light on this.

    I'm glad I asked here before just blindly buying. I don't recall having to worry about this when I last bought my iPhone SE on eBay. ATT unlocked that phone for me one day when I asked them with no problems. I will be sure to look for an unlocked phone if I purchase one on eBay.
     
  10. perezr10 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2014
    Location:
    Monroe, Louisiana
    #10
    Last year, I bought my AT&T iPhone X on eBay. The listing said that the phone could not be unlocked. Well, lo and behold after a few months on my account, I received a message saying that my iPhone was now eligible to be unlocked. For AT&T, even locked phoned become eligible after a set number of months of paying your bill.

    I think the listings are saying the truth that they can’t be unlocked, but that doesn’t mean they can never be unlocked.

    If you’re looking for an IPhone to keep it’s no big deal. But a lot of people buy iPhones on eBay to flip them. Those people will never be able to unlock them because they aren’t going to hook them up to their account.
     
  11. Totally thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Totally

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2012
    Location:
    West Coast = Best Coast
    #11
    Interesting, thanks for the data point. Follow up: Why would someone buy an iPhone on eBay and then try to flip it? They are already paying what the phone is worth, so who is gonna buy it for more?
     
  12. perezr10 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2014
    Location:
    Monroe, Louisiana
    #12
    When
    When Apple releases the iPhone, it’s only in a handful of countries. I think people outside of those countries try and buy iPhones online to put into a physical store at a big markup.
     
  13. Relentless Power macrumors Penryn

    Relentless Power

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2016
    #13
    It’s been this way for Years. And it’s not just into stores for a ‘big markup’, it’s actually more geared towards online, where it has a larger audience to gain more attention. The iPhone is an massive entity for some who try to maximize profits off shore.
     
  14. vietalogy macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2006
    #14
    What site you use to unlock?
     
  15. kingston73 macrumors 6502a

    kingston73

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2015
    #15
    FWIW I would never buy an ebay phone, I'd rather buy something on Swappa where there's at least a little quality control. Also Swappa tries to limit sales to only phones that do not have any money still attached to them, in other words if you still owe money on it you can't sell it on swappa.

    I'd agree with others and would NEVER buy a carrier locked phone from anybody, too many potential issues and there are many, many unlocked options available.

    Plus unlocking is so easy you have to ask yourself "why didn't the seller unlock it first?"
     

Share This Page

14 December 7, 2018