Unlocked iPhone 6S Suddenly Became Locked.

TheKricket

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 12, 2012
86
4
Hey gang! I posted this to the Apple discussion forums with no responses, so hopefully one of you fine folks may be able to save me!!!

This is an interesting, and incredibly frustrating, issue. Apologies for the long post but I'm not sure what information is pertinent to the issue so I'm giving all of it.

TL;DR: I purchased an iPhone 6S full-price and outright directly from an Apple Store in September 2015. The phone was unlocked (I switched from T-Mobile to Verizon after I purchased it without issue). I recently purchased an iPhone 7 Plus and after that phone was activated on Verizon's network, the iPhone 6S now indicates that it has an "Activation Lock". It is also linked to some unknown iCloud account (not the account I activated it with or have been using it with for close to a full year).

Background:

In September 2015, I purchased an iPhone 6S from a physical Apple Store. I bought it outright under no contractual terms. I purchased the T-Mobile variant as that was the carrier that I was using at the time. I also let the salesperson know that I was planning on switching to Verizon in the near future and he assured me that it wasn't a problem because the T-Mobile variant was unlocked (in fact, I never even provided him with my T-Mobile account information since it wasn't necessary for the transaction). This was later confirmed when I switched to Verizon a few months later with no issues whatsoever. I popped the Verizon SIM card into the T-Mobile iPhone and it activated within seconds. Great! I didn't feel so awful shelling out over $1,000 for the phone, case and AppleCare+ knowing that I could do whatever I wanted with the phone when I was done using it.

I very recently pre-ordered and have received my new iPhone 7 Plus. I ordered it through Apple's upgrade program (since I like to upgrade my phones a lot). The new phone came with a new Verizon SIM card installed. I fired it up and it activated, again, within seconds. No problems there - I'm happily sporting the iPhone 7 Plus as I type this.

The old phone (the iPhone 6S), I decided, I would give to my mother since she is using a beat-up hand-me-down iPhone 5 with a crack in the screen. First order of business: I synced her phone and prepared an up-to-date backup that I could use to restore my old phone from. I disabled Find My iPhone on the 6S, signed out of iCloud on the device itself, removed the device from my Apple Support profile and then did a full reset ("Erase All Content and Settings"). I now had, what I thought, was a fresh, unlocked iPhone 6S to work with.

I plugged it into the computer and selected my mom's backup to restore from. Instead of a smooth transition (as has happened with several old iPhones I've had), I'm greeted with an error message stating that the phone was under an "Activation Lock". It asks me to sign in with the account originally used to activate it. The only problem with that is that the account it shows is some iCloud account that starts with the letter "z". I have NO email accounts, iCloud or otherwise, that begin with the letter "z". I typed in MY iCloud information (that I use on an almost daily basis across several other Apple devices) and it tells me that that account "cannot be used to activate this phone" (something to that effect, at least). That is the account I originally activated the phone with! No other accounts have EVER been associated with that phone. I used it personally up until the day I received my iPhone 7 Plus.

So now - my unlocked iPhone 6S somehow became "locked" and associated with some mystery iCloud account. How the heck did this happen? How do I fix it when it's telling me that the account information is incorrect? WHY the heck did this happen? I followed all of the proper steps Apple says to take when giving away your old phone. From Apple's site: "When you erase your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, Find My iPhone and Activation Lock is turned off".

What do I do now? I just wanted to surprise my mom with a pristine condition iPhone 6S that I have lovingly cared for and, instead, I have a $1,000 paperweight.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 
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Mlrollin91

macrumors G5
Nov 20, 2008
13,477
8,687
Ventura County
Your best bet is finding your receipt for the phone and head to the Apple Store and make a Genius Appointment. If you can prove 100% that it is your device, Apple might be willing to help. I know they will unlock corporate phones that are activation locked, can't tell you about personal devices.
 

TheKricket

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 12, 2012
86
4
Excellent! I always have my receipts emailed so I've got it handy.

Off to the Apple Store I go!

Thanks for the info!
 

Lancetx

macrumors 68000
Aug 11, 2003
1,977
585
Texas
I would be very interested to hear how this turns out. I didn't think they could do anything unless you have forgotten your iCloud password.

The OP was saying that the Apple ID it is asking for on the activation lock screen doesn't match and that's something I was under the impression Apple couldn't ever assist with.
 

T5BRICK

macrumors G3
Aug 3, 2006
8,086
2,055
Oregon
TL;DR: I purchased an iPhone 6S full-price and outright directly from an Apple Store in September 2015. The phone was unlocked (I switched from T-Mobile to Verizon after I purchased it without issue). I recently purchased an iPhone 7 Plus and after that phone was activated on Verizon's network, the iPhone 6S now indicates that it has an "Activation Lock". It is also linked to some unknown iCloud account (not the account I activated it with or have been using it with for close to a full year).
For what it's worth, activation lock has absolutely nothing to do with the phone being locked to a carrier.
 
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TheKricket

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 12, 2012
86
4
You're confusing activation locked with "locked," as in locked to a carrier.
I suppose I am - I have no idea what the difference is! I thought they were one and the same.

And Lancetx is spot on - the iCloud account it claims the phone is "locked" to isn't one I've ever even seen. Only I have used this phone for the last year and I've only ever used my usual Apple ID login. I don't understand how something like this is even possible!

I've given several (well, 3-4) old iPhones away to family members and this has never happened.

I was using the phone up until the day I got my iPhone 7 - with my Apple ID. No other ID was EVER used.

This is definitely a major annoyance. I'm going on vacation this week so won't be able to visit a store until I'm back.
 

auero

macrumors 65816
Sep 15, 2006
1,359
94
Wow. I can't believe you have this issue as well. I just went through a whole fiasco with Apple support with exactly the same problem.

Last week I disabled Find My iPhone and wiped my phone. I ended up selling it, but before I shipped it out I decided to double check everything was working right. Turns up I got an Activation Lock to an unknown email. Like you, I owned my phone from the beginning. I was advised to go to the Apple store to have them unlock it since I had my receipt. Doing it over the phone takes longer depending on how busy they are. I ended up getting it unlocked and I shipped it out only to discover it was locked AGAIN 19 hours later. The phone was in transit via UPS so it was impossible for me to even lock. I had to request for UPS to send the package back to me and go back to the store. It was a huge mess, but in the end the Apple Store replaced it for me. The specialist I was dealing with over the phone couldn't figure out how this was even possible. I suggest you call them and open a case.
 

AndrewR23

macrumors 68040
Jun 24, 2010
3,850
998
Happened to me too with my 6. I bought my 6 SIM FREE full price and used it in USA/China for a year.

When I was ready to sell it, the phone suddenly became locked to an email I've never seen. Went to the genius bar and showed them my receipt. They got in touch with engineering on the phone and they removed the lock.

Very strange but it worked out.
 
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Doublemint

macrumors member
Oct 24, 2011
34
14
This is crazy! the exact same thing happened to my 6s plus last week. I just got the email today from Apple Support that they have removed the activation lock after I provided the proof of purchase. Now I am very curious how this happened... the phone never left my possesion and no one else used it.
 

JulesJam

Suspended
Sep 20, 2014
2,537
300
TL;DR: I purchased an iPhone 6S full-price and outright directly from an Apple Store in September 2015. The phone was unlocked (I switched from T-Mobile to Verizon after I purchased it without issue). I recently purchased an iPhone 7 Plus and after that phone was activated on Verizon's network, the iPhone 6S now indicates that it has an "Activation Lock". It is also linked to some unknown iCloud account (not the account I activated it with or have been using it with for close to a full year).
Something similar happened to me. I purchased a sealed brand new iP6s from Verizon and activated it fine. Then I did a factory reset and the phone was locked to an email account I had never heard of.

No one had been in my house or touched the phone but me. I wasn't even using it, it was a Christmas gift and all I wanted to do was test to make sure the phone worked, then factory reset it so that I could give it to my relative on Christmas.

I had to submit proof of purchase but once I did, Apple unlocked it for me. It took about 3 business days.
[doublepost=1475564968][/doublepost]
I would be very interested to hear how this turns out. I didn't think they could do anything unless you have forgotten your iCloud password.

The OP was saying that the Apple ID it is asking for on the activation lock screen doesn't match and that's something I was under the impression Apple couldn't ever assist with.
If you are the original owner and can produce the original receipt, they will unlock it for you. It happened to me too.
 
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kazmac

macrumors 604
Mar 24, 2010
7,764
5,329
Any place but here or there....
This happened to me two weeks ago, had Apple unlock it over the phone and it took 5 days because my rep was not working for two of those days.

Mine was locked to an unknown yahoo email. I was thinking it was a result of the yahoo mail hack, if it is iCloud though that is worse. I fully erased and restored the phone 2x to be sure once it was unlocked.

So what everyone is saying here is correct, contact Apple in store or over the phone with your original proof of purchase.
 

Mr. Zarniwoop

macrumors demi-god
Jun 9, 2005
732
127
Happened to the 6S Plus I traded back in as part of the iPhone Upgrade Program. I was the only owner but it showed it was locked to k*********@icloud.com which is not my address.

Apple removed the lock in store, took the phone back and all was well.
 

JohnApples

macrumors 65816
Mar 7, 2014
1,487
2,219
I hear this happening A LOT, here and elsewhere. How the hell does they even happen? Assigning a perfectly legitimate iPhone to a completely random Apple I'd? I don't understand how it's even possible nor how frequently it happens still.
 

kazmac

macrumors 604
Mar 24, 2010
7,764
5,329
Any place but here or there....
I got to wonder what Apple is doing when you get a device that looks like it was tied to another iCloud account.:rolleyes:


Makes me wonder if "new" is really "new".
That's an interesting point as I bought my 6s in the store sealed and "new" last December. Considering how frequently this is happening now I have wonder just how fine (i)tuned iCloud is or if there was another hack. (Yes, you can call me Mulder if you want).
 

auero

macrumors 65816
Sep 15, 2006
1,359
94
I'm surprised how many customers experienced this. My senior advisor couldn't find incidents like mine in the system. He was very helpful and persistent in helping me. What's more surprising is that mine was locked for a second time within 19 hours. I'm guessing no one else had that issue.
 

zemaker

macrumors regular
Nov 25, 2011
242
93
I had the exact same issue, it was some Yahoo email that I had clearly never heard of.
 

mackiee

macrumors member
Mar 14, 2014
45
17
Oh, I really don't want to read stories like these. It gives me the chills... This can only mean a couple of things and both of them are really bad. :(

1) The phone sent out/bought as "new" wasn't really "new" but a return and somehow the original owner's iCloud account is being stored in the phone even if "everything" was deleted because of a bug in iOS.

2) iCloud is f****d up and probably is not something you can trust.
 

smarks90

macrumors regular
Sep 19, 2013
129
54
Akron, Ohio
same thing has happened to me twice now...erased and restored phone-activation lock with some icloud account I've never heard of before... phone was a replacement from Apple due to a string of dead pixels on my originally-purchsed September 2015 6s plus. Sent follow up to the Senior AppleCare Specialist who has been helping me through all of this (another check mark in the box of Apple having fantastic customer support)

I fear something more systematic in nature is happening here. now that it's happened a second time I'm hoping to find some more answers :(

A couple of us are talking about this same exact topic over here: http://forums.macrumors.com/threads/turns-out-apple-can-remove-activation-lock.2004128/#post-23661826
 
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JulesJam

Suspended
Sep 20, 2014
2,537
300
Mine was locked to an unknown yahoo email.
Mine too, they insisted that I or someone else had to have done it and that there was no way it could have happened without someone being in physical possession of the phone. No one had touched the phone but me.

I started thinking someone had broken into my house, lol! Gtk that I wasn't the only one this happened to.
[doublepost=1475602148][/doublepost]
1) The phone sent out/bought as "new" wasn't really "new" but a return and somehow the original owner's iCloud account is being stored in the phone even if "everything" was deleted because of a bug in iOS.
Mine was definitely brand new in shrink wrap.

2) iCloud is f****d up and probably is not something you can trust.
I am sure it was an iCloud thing, likely a hack that Apple won't admit to.
[doublepost=1475602178][/doublepost]
I had the exact same issue, it was some Yahoo email that I had clearly never heard of.
Mine was locked to a yahoo email too.
[doublepost=1475602271][/doublepost]
I'm surprised how many customers experienced this. My senior advisor couldn't find incidents like mine in the system. He was very helpful and persistent in helping me. What's more surprising is that mine was locked for a second time within 19 hours. I'm guessing no one else had that issue.
Was it to a different email? Because mine got locked to the same email twice but I think I forgot to do something Apple told me to do. Can't remember now it happened at the beginning of the year.
 

heyyitssusan

macrumors 65816
Feb 9, 2014
1,476
526
This makes me nervous. I traded my 6s into verizon and I'm hoping that same thing doesn't happen when they go in and activate the test the phone.
 

Lancetx

macrumors 68000
Aug 11, 2003
1,977
585
Texas
I'm wondering if this has anything to do with the recent Yahoo hack since there were over 500 million accounts compromised with that.