iPad Ipad 4th Gen Carrier unlock

Discussion in 'iPad' started by pjbrownva, Feb 14, 2018.

  1. pjbrownva, Feb 14, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018

    pjbrownva macrumors newbie


    Feb 14, 2018

    I can't unlock my iPad from AT&T and would like help or suggestions.

    I bought it from the apple store in December of 2012. It is the ipad 4th gen, model 1459.

    On June 15th, 2013, I activated it on the AT&T network.

    The bill is paid, and the ipad is clean. It's mine. When I try AT&T's unlock page, at one of the last
    steps, it tells me that the imei number is not one of AT&T's, so they can't unlock it.

    I know it's locked, because when I try to use a cricket mobile sim in the device, I get a message about the device being locked to a different carrier. I also did a backup and itunes restore, using the cricket mobile sim, and got a similar message from itunes. It also doesn't work with an comcast xfinity mobile sim I have... I get a message about the device being carrier locked.

    When I called AT&T, the rep sent me to the same page. When his suggestions didn't work, he opened a trouble ticket and said it will be resolved within 3 days.

    A day or two later, I got an email (with no way to respond) saying that they did not unlock my ipad, but
    that I can do it myself using their website, and they gave me a link to the same site that tells me that the based on the IMEI, it's not an AT&T device, so they cannot unlock it. Note that they DON'T say the device has been blacklisted, or it's eligible to be unlocked. Instead, AT&T says the can't unlock it because that IMEI isn't one that THEY show as being locked by them.

    I called apple support, hoping that they could look up my iPad, see that I bought it from an apple store, and thus, at least, agree that APPLE owns the problem of unlocking it -- I don't have the receipt from 5+ years ago. At some point I threw it out, because I thought I didn't need. The apple rep said they can't see where or when the ipad was bought. She said they show that the ipad was locked to a carrier on 6/15/2013, but their system doesn't say which carrier it's locked to.

    I forgot to ask the apple support person if this was common or rare (for them to not see the carrier that it's locked to).

    So I feel that I'm a strange edge case, and I don't know how to get it fixed.

    I believe that AT&T says it's not "their" device, and thus won't unlock it, because I bought it from Apple, so it was supposed to be unlocked.

    Apple tells me it's locked to carrier, but they can't see which carrier, so I have to go to the carrier to get it unlocked.

    I'm POSITIVE its on AT&T. It's been on my AT&T bill for years. At one point (in late 2016) I stopped the data plan for the iPad ONLY, but a few months later, I added it back when AT&T offered to put it on my family share plan for only $5 more per month.

    I've read that for 4th Gen ipads, the "lock" information is actually stored in an Apple online database, and that carriers systems automatically query that database before connecting to the network to see that the device isn't locked, and to make sure that it's not flagged as stolen. I've also read that the carriers update this apple database, that Apple doesn't unlock it.

    Can someone confirm the information that I've read to tell me if it's true?

    Also, does anyone have any advice on how to get my iPad unlocked?

    One last question, my ipad is currently on a post-paid AT&T plan. It I bought an AT&T prepaid data plan, would the sim work in my iPad, of would the fact that it's locked prevent me from using it.

    When I tried to buy a prepaid sim online, the AT&T system told me that the imei that I gave was already for a device on their network. I haven't cancelled my (very expensive) data plan yet, because I'm afraid that I will get even less help from AT&T if I am a former customer, rather than a current customer.

    All info and ideas are welcome.


  2. BugeyeSTI macrumors 68030


    Aug 19, 2017
    Good luck. I tried to have my 4th gen iPad unlocked from AT&T a couple years ago and never got anywhere with them. They gave me all sorts of reasons why they couldn't and finally I just traded it in to BestBuy and picked up a wifi only Air2. Some good friends of mine just went through a long drawn out unlock battle that took months with AT&T dealing with their iPhones and iPads and only after threatening to switch to another carrier did they finally get satisfaction.
  3. rui no onna macrumors 603

    rui no onna

    Oct 25, 2013
    Note that the 4th gen was before iPads had universal cellular models and so the number of supported LTE bands are limited (e.g. AT&T iPad 4th gen won't work on VZW and vice versa).

    Instead of Cricket and Xfinity, can you maybe try a T-Mobile SIM? Cricket is AT&T which may be causing some weird issue while Xfinity uses Verizon which is unsupported by the hardware.

    As far as I'm aware, AT&T doesn't lock the physical SIM card slot on iPads to their network. I've got a T-Mobile SIM on a 4th gen iPad and that one was actually purchased on a 2-year contract with AT&T. Currently have a Pro 12.9 on AT&T Next and the physical SIM slot on that is also unlocked.
  4. pjbrownva thread starter macrumors newbie


    Feb 14, 2018
    You're right about xfinity using Verizon, and thus 4G speeds aren't supported on my 4th Gen iPad. Thank you for the info.
    I don't have T-mobile, but I'll check with a few friends. It's at least worthwhile to TRY one of their sims, but I don't think it will work, because my understanding is that 4th Gen iPads are locked by the carrier putting a record in an apple database indicating that the device is locked. When a new sim goes into a 4th Gen iPad, the device or the carrier query this apple database, and if the database says it's locked or blacklisted, then the carrier refuses to connect.

    Apple won't update this database for you. Their position is you have to go through the carrier.

    I like contacting ATT and threatening to cancel service if they don't escalate the issue. I can also send them a current bill and one from a few years ago, to show that over those three years, I've paid AT&T almost SIX GRAND for cellular service. It seems that I need to ask AT&T to have an ATT person contact Apple to help ATT update have the lock record removed from apple's "activation database", as I'll start calling it.

    The other thing I've tried is an online website that claims they can unlock 4th Gen iPads. Personally, I'm skeptical, because of what I've learned about how the process works, but I suppose anything's possible. It was $20, and worth a try. Most unlock services don't list my device as supported. I already tried a different service that DID list my device, but a day later I got an email saying they couldn't do my device, and the actually refunded the fee to my credit card.

    I've only tried these unlock services, because I'm hitting a brick wall by going through the normal channels. It's just not right. I bought the device and paid for it up front in full (about $600 IIRC), and later paid AT&T to provide me with a data plan, and paid them for years. Now that I want the freedom to use MY DEVICE with any compatible sim, AT&T says it's not their device (true... I didn't buy it from them), and apple says it's locked, but some carrier, and they can't see which, locked it and only that carrier can unlock it.

    --- Post Merged, Feb 15, 2018 ---
    Not encouraging, but useful info nonetheless.

    My current iPAd dataplan bill is now $45 per month, so it I simply drop the data plan, in 10 months, I'll have saved enough to pay the $459 price of a new basic ipad 32GB with wifi and cellular. Maybe that's the way to go... plus, if I get a few bucks as a trade-in, it will be even better!
  5. rui no onna macrumors 603

    rui no onna

    Oct 25, 2013
    That's just it, though. I'm using a T-Mobile SIM (free 200MB plan) with an iPad 4th gen purchased with 2-year contract from AT&T around 5 years ago and it works fine. I've even used it internationally with local SIM even back when the contract was still in effect.

    Yes, the lock status is stored on Apple's activation servers and you have to go through the carrier to request unlock. As far as I'm aware though, none of the carriers in the US lock iPads. This was probably caused by a glitch in AT&T and Apple's systems when you activated service since iPads are not supposed to be locked regardless of how/where it was purchased from. That just isn't expected behavior.

    If you have any emails or chat transcripts from AT&T saying the iPad is not in their system, send those to Apple. While the policy may be that the carrier approves the unlock, Apple can still override lock status for devices on their systems. They actually do that for iPhones automatically at point of sale when you pay in full for the device or use the Apple iPhone Upgrade Program.

    For the unlock services that you tried, did they give you the lock code/status for your iPad? That might be useful information to help with troubleshooting.

    Btw, Verizon is flat out not supported on the 4th gen AT&T iPad. It's not just a matter of no 4G speed. It also lacks CDMA hardware as fallback.
  6. kevink2 macrumors 65816

    Nov 2, 2008
    A postpaid ATT iPad should work on prepaid ATT. And vice versa.

    And as posted above, iPads in the US shouldn't be locked from what I've read. Though the "Apple" sim can be locked to some vendors, a replacement SIM should work.

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5 February 14, 2018