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iPhone Question About IMEI Numbers

ianmcqueen

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 6, 2015
7
7
Detroit
Hi,

I'm with AT&T USA and I'm traveling to France soon and would like to swap out SIM cards. I bought my previous iPhone 5 under contract from them about 1.5 years ago. Now I have an iPhone 6 that I bought out of contract for full price from Apple. My iPhone 6 is the device I'm using.

Are IMEI numbers associated with a single device or are they transferred between devices upon upgrades? Like, did my iPhone 5's IMEI number transfer to my iPhone 6?

What I'm asking: is my iPhone 6's IMEI number locked because I am still under contract with AT&T or was the IMEI number associated with my iPhone 5 the only thing that was locked (because that was bought under contract)? Under these circumstances, would by iPhone 6 be technically unlocked?

I don't really want to get into IMEI lock-checking services, as I've read most of them are scams or unreliable at best. Thanks in advanced.

EDIT: If I bought my iPhone 6 from Apple, does that mean it's already unlocked then since I didn't buy it from my carrier?
 
Last edited:

eyoungren

macrumors Core
Aug 31, 2011
22,637
15,592
ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
Each device has it's own IMEI. Any unlock is for a specific IMEI and the device it applies to.

So if you unlocked a previous model of iPhone then upgraded the unlock does not "transfer" because your IMEI does not transfer. Think of IMEI as a MAC address. It's individual to the device. However, if you REPLACE the device you will get back exactly what the original was. Hence if the original was unlocked, but got replaced, then the new one would be unlocked. This would only be for warranty repairs/replacements, not "replacing with a new device".

Your new phone has a different IMEI. If you bought it on contract, no matter where you bought it from it's locked. Except in the case of Verizon phones where come automatically unlocked because of certain things between Verizon and the FCC.
 
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ianmcqueen

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 6, 2015
7
7
Detroit
Thanks for your reply.

I bought my previous (now not in use) iPhone 5 under contract but didn't buy my iPhone 6 under contract directly from Apple.

UPDATE: called AT&T directly, gave them the IMEI number, and it turns out my iPhone 6 is locked, despite it being purchased for full price out of contract.
 
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eyoungren

macrumors Core
Aug 31, 2011
22,637
15,592
ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
UPDATE: called AT&T directly, gave them the IMEI number, and it turns out my iPhone 6 is locked, despite it being purchased for full price out of contract.
Ask them to unlock it, or find that page they have for unlocks and submit a request. If it's fully paid for and you have no contract with them they have no legitimate reason to not unlock it for you.
 
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ianmcqueen

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 6, 2015
7
7
Detroit
What I've discovered with AT&T is that, if you still have a line in contract with them (2-year) but buy a new phone out of contract, they will register your new IMEI when you switch to your new device and lock it. That's what they did for my iPhone 6... as soon as I activated it on their network, they updated the IMEI in their systems and locked the new one. Sneaky.

The only way to unlock is to pay the early service termination fee. I'm super disappointed.
 
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AndrewR23

macrumors 601
Jun 24, 2010
4,125
1,336
What I've discovered with AT&T is that, if you still have a line in contract with them (2-year) but buy a new phone out of contract, they will register your new IMEI when you switch to your new device and lock it. That's what they did for my iPhone 6... as soon as I activated it on their network, they updated the IMEI in their systems and locked the new one. Sneaky.

The only way to unlock is to pay the early service termination fee. I'm super disappointed.
I am pretty sure thats not allowed...? If so thats ridiculous.
 
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eelw

macrumors 6502a
Sep 19, 2012
631
26
What I've discovered with AT&T is that, if you still have a line in contract with them (2-year) but buy a new phone out of contract, they will register your new IMEI when you switch to your new device and lock it. That's what they did for my iPhone 6... as soon as I activated it on their network, they updated the IMEI in their systems and locked the new one. Sneaky.
Not true. AT&T iPhones sold in the US during the first few initial months of sale are always locked even when purchased full price from Apple. They don't locked a device to their system upon activation. But after the first few months after launch, you can purchase unlocked phones from Apple.
 
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cyber16

macrumors 6502
Jan 12, 2013
487
28
Just call att and ask them for the subsidy code "unlock" If you are in good standings with them and have not had a phone unlocked for the past ? six months, they have no reason to say no.
Did you know the phone was a branded att phone when you purchased from apple? or did apple make a mistake selling you a branded att phone?
If a Apple unlocked phone was purchased, att should not have locked it, taking it up with apple may also be an option
 
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1984world

macrumors 6502
Aug 26, 2008
456
11
This all sounds a bit different. I bought my iphone 5s, on contract directly from Apple Store and went with a carrier at the time of purchase. It was unlocked from the get go. Then I bought a 6plus outright at the Apple Store, moved my SIM to it, and it was unlocked. I know this, because when I bought my galaxy S6, it was with a different carrier (and it is locked to that carrier) I moved the SIM card to my 6plus and it worked right away. As did ,my 5s. Both bought straight from Apple Store. Maybe it's different in my country.
 
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