Unlocking a T-Mobile iphone

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by hgrimberg, Dec 1, 2016.

  1. hgrimberg macrumors 6502a

    hgrimberg

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    Dec 2, 2012
    #1
    How can I unlock an iphone 6 from T-Mobile to use with another carrier outside the US? I tried searching on ebay to buy an unlock code but I find on the web that you can't use a code to unlock an iphone and that it needs to be unlocked by Apple??? Is this true? I found a few that charges more than $100 and others that charge only $8. So, which one I should trust? With Android it was a lot easier, it was just buying a code for $5-$10 and done deal.
     
  2. coolio93 macrumors 6502

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    #2
    Call T-Mobile and ask them if they can unlock it
     
  3. willmtaylor macrumors G3

    willmtaylor

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    #3
    Are you still under contract (AKA a financial obligation) with T-Mo?
     
  4. eyoungren, Dec 1, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2016

    eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #4
    Apple is not like Android, as so many Android users consistently remind Apple users.

    Why then, would unlocking be the same as it is with an Android device?

    Here's the way it works with Apple (not Android).

    1. Customer calls carrier and requests unlock
    2. Carrier determines eligibility and approves/denies unlock
    3. If carrier approves unlock, IMEI of device is submitted to Apple
    4. Apple inserts IMEI into Apple unlock database.
    5. iTunes activation servers issue a new activation ticket based on device IMEI
    6. Your device checks in with Apple's servers and finds new activation policy.
    7. New activation policy is applied, device is unlocked.

    There are no codes to enter. There is no interface to enter a code. Apple has no process in which an unlock code would ever work or even do anything at all. Your sole interaction is to call your carrier and ask for an unlock.

    The unlock services have inside employees of the carrier who have access to the carrier submission process and get paid by the unlock service to submit IMEIs to Apple's database. This is frequently without the carrier's knowledge or consent. The price reflects the difficulty the unlock service has to deal with in order to get your request submitted without the carrier being aware.

    So, for your particular problem, the solution will be to call T-Mobile and ask for an unlock. Based on their criteria and whether you meet that criteria (or not) they will either approve or deny your request. If they deny your request you'll either have to give them what they want/need or pay one of the unlock services.
     
  5. hgrimberg thread starter macrumors 6502a

    hgrimberg

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    Dec 2, 2012
    #5
    Oh, so it is all up to T-Mobile to allow me to unlock the phone... I don't know who was the previous owner of the phone because I am buying it through a dealer who maybe bought it from someone else. I don't have access to contact this previous owner. I will be using the phone outside of the US and with a different local carrier. So, by calling the technical service of T-Mobile and explaining this situation without the previous owner calling them is maybe enough?
    By checking on its IMEI, I found out that the Estimated Purchase Date was: 08.01.2015, so that is more than a year ago. Will that help?
    Those unlock services sound fishy. Do you know of any that is trustable?
    Thank you
     
  6. coolio93 macrumors 6502

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    #6
    The answer is that we don't know. You have to start by calling T-Mobile and see what they can offer about the unlock.
     
  7. avtella, Dec 1, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2016

    avtella macrumors regular

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    Nov 11, 2016
    #7
    They won't unlock, already seen a foreign buyer ask a similar question about a Sony Xperia Z3 a while back on the T-Mobile forums. You can try to reason with them but I am certain it's not going to get you very far. Long story short don't buy carrier phones unless it's Verizon or the seller confirms phone is paid off and unlocked before sale.

    I was with Sprint earlier, my sister lost her iPhone 5 and when it was returned to her we had already switched to T-Mobile but Sprint refused to unlock it because we were no longer their customer even though it was paid off.
     
  8. noobinator macrumors 601

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    #8
    Are you sure the previous owner even paid it off?
     
  9. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #9
    Is there any other way for these services NOT to sound?

    Think about it…

    The unlock company secretly hires employees of the carrier company to secretly and without authorization submit IMEI addresses through the carrier's systems to Apple. How is that NOT fishy? For any unlock company?

    You just have to decide which unlock company is serving YOU more than they are themselves.

    I've heard of swiftunlocks.com and I've heard of chronicunlocks.com. Both have been advocated here at one time or another. I don't use unlock services though so no idea how reputable.

    I can say that three employees from AT&T were fired over a year ago and Swift Unlocks was sued by AT&T. Those three employees were paid by Swift Unlocks to install "malware" on their workstations so that IMEIs could be submitted through AT&T 24/7.

    AT&T only found out because those workstations were active during non-work hours. One of the fired employees only took employment for the specific purposes of submitting unlocks for Swift Unlocks.

    All of that aside, for most people, none of this seems to be an issue and they get their unlock in a reasonable amount of time for a reasonable price.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 1, 2016 ---
    Going to speak to this since I was a Sprint customer for 16 years and the last three of those years I had an iPhone 5.

    Because of the technical limitations designed into the Sprint iPhone 5 (at Sprint's request) and because of the way Sprint's network was at the time it is "technically'" impossible to unlock a Sprint iPhone 5 domestically. If you examine Sprint's unlock page the only thing they will give you for the Sprint iPhone 5 is the MSL code. Since Apple does not use MSL codes this is worthless.

    Sprint CAN unlock an iPhone 5 internationally. The "technical" reasons are that the CDMA radio inside the Sprint iPhone 5 MUST be paired with the Sprint SIM card in order for the phone to function on Sprint's network. But the GSM part of the device can be unlocked for international use - hence being able to use the phone internationally.

    But domestically, without the pairing of the SIM card and the phone it will not function on any network other than Sprint's.

    My own Sprint iPhone 5 is still locked to Sprint but is internationally unlocked.

    There is a caveat to this however. A loophole that somehow made it possible for the Sprint iPhone 5 to be unlocked domestically. Turns out that before Sprint slammed the door shut, some international unlocks got submitted as full unlocks. This had the effect of unlocking the phone domestically but killing any future use of the phone on Sprint.

    The Sprint iPhone 4s is/was in the same boat while it's impossible to unlock the Sprint iPhone 4 because it does not have a SIM slot at all.
     
  10. hgrimberg thread starter macrumors 6502a

    hgrimberg

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    Dec 2, 2012
    #10
    So, this means that most likely if I call T-Mobile and tell them that I need the phone for using it outside the US, they will unlock it internationally but it will continue being locked in the US to be used only with T-Mobile?
    --- Post Merged, Dec 1, 2016 ---
    How can I know?
     
  11. noobinator macrumors 601

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    #11
  12. avtella macrumors regular

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    #12
    From having seen others ask this same question on T-Mobile forums I can tell you with great certainty, they won't do a thing, especially since you did not have an account with them in the first place. Then again it doesn't hurt to try either. If you can, try to return the device to the seller and buy a new or used Verizon/Sim Free device.
     
  13. hgrimberg thread starter macrumors 6502a

    hgrimberg

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    #13
    I just called T-Mobile and they told me the phone is clean and it is all paid off. I asked them to unlocked it to use it internationally and they said it wasn't possible and they guy told me to look for one of these unlocking services. I checked on the ones eyoungren mentioned here and they both charge $139. Is there another service? Are they trustable?
     
  14. avtella macrumors regular

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    #14
    That went as I expected sadly, I suppose you could have the seller request T-Mobile for an unlock if they still have an account with them. That would be free and done within minutes.
     
  15. hgrimberg, Dec 1, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2016

    hgrimberg thread starter macrumors 6502a

    hgrimberg

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    Dec 2, 2012
    #15
    I called the dealer I purchased the phone from but he said he has no way of contacting the previous owner because he actually buys these phones from others and that he buys 50 at the time. He just checks if the phones work and if they are clean.
     
  16. willmtaylor macrumors G3

    willmtaylor

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    #16
    Lesson learned then I hope.
     
  17. jlczl macrumors regular

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    #17
    I have used swiftunlocks and they have been in business many years. Only downside would be the price but that is the going rate for TMobile iphones.
     
  18. willmtaylor macrumors G3

    willmtaylor

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    #18
    Since you're still in contact with the seller, is it too late to simply return the phone?
     
  19. hgrimberg thread starter macrumors 6502a

    hgrimberg

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    #19
    It is one of the ideas I had but unfortunately, I will loose $40 of delivery charges and my relatives are on a vacation trip, so not too much time since they are leaving tomorrow afternoon. Plus, I don't know if this dealer will want to...
     
  20. Applejuiced macrumors Westmere

    Applejuiced

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    #20
    That kinda of thing annoys me that some carriers do.
    The phone is clean, paid off and not under contract but they will not unlock it for him.
    That's nonsense, I'd try contacting higher up Tmobile customer service or the FCC and BBB to try to get it resolved.
    Other than that the only other way would be to pay a 3rd party IMEI unlocker and those are expensive for Tmobile iphones.
     
  21. avtella, Dec 1, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2016

    avtella macrumors regular

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    #21
    At this point you don't have a choice, either pay the shipping to return or try that unlock site and with that cost you were probably better off buying a refurb from Apple with warranty. Applejuiced, I highly doubt complaining to higher ups will achieve anything as he wasn't the original owner, for whom they would have unlocked if requested. Quite a few of these cases on TMO's own forums and with the same results.
     
  22. willmtaylor, Dec 1, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2016

    willmtaylor macrumors G3

    willmtaylor

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    #22
    What a second, I'm confused. I thought Legere & TMO were the saviors to all those enslaved by evil VZW & ATT?!?!

    ;) (I jest.)
     
  23. Applejuiced macrumors Westmere

    Applejuiced

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    #23
    I hear you, its a shame because carriers by law have to unlock devices that are paid off or not under contract for anyone. Even if they're not a customer with them or the original phone owner.
     
  24. techiebug macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 20, 2013
    #24
    Keep calling T mobile and hope you'll talk to someone nice. This happened to me before. I was able to sell the phone to someone else tho. My old iphone (bought from someone else)was locked to T mobile and I was told T mobile can't unlock it without speaking to the original owner. However, i got another answer from a nice lady from T mobile that they have an "unofficial" way to unlock the phone without the original owner. They said once the device is paid off, the non-original owner can use the phone for 40 days to register that phone to his current T mobile number. After that, T mobile can unlock the phone without the original owner. Now I don't know how accurate this is since I haven't tried it, but at least you can try. Keep calling back.
     
  25. greatness macrumors member

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    Jun 15, 2014
    #25
    That's garbage, and the customer service representative is not giving you the 100%. I am currently using an iPhone 6, but I have been with T-Mobile since the 4S and I have always had my phones unlocked for international use. Currently using it on Guam, and have used it in South Korea as well (all with local SIMs). T-Mobile's policy is for you to have been with the service for a minimum of 30 days (can't remember if the phone had to be paid off or not), but my iPhone was unlocked when it was still under EIP. I think you may have to explain your situation better or speak to a supervisor.

    Although I don't have the details of your specific situation (so my apologies if I misinterpreted it) it may help to explain that you specifically plan to use the phone overseas and it isn't to jump ship to another US carrier. Usually after the unlock I have to perform a reboot through iTunes for the phone to recognize its unlocked-ness.
     

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