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pdp1

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 15, 2018
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116
First for reference, here are the unlock policies for T-Mobile straight from their website today:

Device eligibility is determined as follows:
  • The device must be sold by T-Mobile.
  • The device must not be reported as lost, stolen or blocked.
  • The account associated with the device must be in good standing.
  • The device must also satisfy all the Postpaid or Prepaid unlocking requirements outlined below.
Unlock eligibility for mobile devices on Postpaid plans
  • The device must have been active on the T‑Mobile network for at least 40 days on the requesting line.
  • If the device was financed or leased through T‑Mobile then all payments must be satisfied and the device must be paid in full.
  • If the device is associated with a canceled account, then the account balance must be zero.
  • T‑Mobile may request proof of purchase or additional information in its discretion and certain other exceptions may apply.
I recently purchased a used iPhone SE (2020) that was advertised as locked to T-Mobile. The Settings->General->About->Carrier Lock value shows "SIM locked" and I've put my T-Mobile postpaid SIM in it and everything is working great. My T-Mobile account has detected the phone correctly because it now shows a picture of an iPhone SE (2020) for the line I'm using it on. The phone also looks like it was first turned on/activated on 3/22/2021 because according to the About screen, it still has an Apple warranty until 3/22/2022. And since I'm using it successfully on T-Mobile right now, it obviously means the phone isn't blocked or blacklisted, and it is indeed a T-Mobile locked phone.

So, based on all this, the phone should be eligible for unlocking in roughly 40 days right? However, during an online chat with a T-Mobile rep, they told me only the original owner can unlock the phone. Is this true? I don't see anything in the policies I pasted above that explicitly states this, though the last bullet item could be a "catch all" that encompasses it. Have any of you T-Mobile customers out there successfully unlocked a second hand T-Mobile locked iPhone?
 
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AppleFanatic10

macrumors 68030
Nov 2, 2010
2,799
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Hawthorne, CA
So it doesn’t always have to be 40 days. I unlocked mine in 3. Just contacted T-Force, showed them that the phone was paid for in full and they sent in the request.
 

pdp1

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 15, 2018
130
116
So it doesn’t always have to be 40 days. I unlocked mine in 3. Just contacted T-Force, showed them that the phone was paid for in full and they sent in the request.
How did you show the phone was paid in full? Like I said, I bought this phone second hand, so I assume it's been paid in full. I can't see why someone would sell a phone but still have payments that they still need to make, am I missing something?
 

eyoungren

macrumors Penryn
Aug 31, 2011
28,555
26,399
…I bought this phone second hand, so I assume it's been paid in full. I can't see why someone would sell a phone but still have payments that they still need to make, am I missing something?
There can still be payments on it in the following ways…

• The original owner reported the device as lost and received a replacement. Then they sold the original to you. It can take a while for the IMEI to go into the blacklist.

• Original owner got a BOGO. They are selling the 'free' device, but the BOGO requires that they continue to pay on the original. Otherwise, both phones get blacklisted.

In either case you wouldn't know it wasn't paid off until the day you get no service. But assuming it is paid off, then in your case the only thing that matters is 40 days. After 40 days T-Mob considers you to be the 'original' owner because the IMEI has been on your account for that length of time. You don't or shouldn't need to prove anything.

If you want an unlock before that though, contact T-Force and ask them for a temporary unlock (maybe you're going on a trip somewhere). There is absolutely no such thing as a temporary unlock with iPhones so what happens is that the unlock they grant becomes permanent.
 
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pdp1

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 15, 2018
130
116
There can still be payments on it in the following ways…

• The original owner reported the device as lost and received a replacement. Then they sold the original to you. It can take a while for the IMEI to go into the blacklist.

• Original owner got a BOGO. They are selling the 'free' device, but the BOGO requires that they continue to pay on the original. Otherwise, both phones get blacklisted.

In either case you wouldn't know it wasn't paid off until the day you get no service. But assuming it is paid off, then in your case the only thing that matters is 40 days. After 40 days T-Mob considers you to be the 'original' owner because the IMEI has been on your account for that length of time. You don't or shouldn't need to prove anything.

If you want an unlock before that though, contact T-Force and ask them for a temporary unlock (maybe you're going on a trip somewhere). There is absolutely no such thing as a temporary unlock with iPhones so what happens is that the unlock they grant becomes permanent.
Thanks for the comments, the two scenarios you mentioned both make sense, I guess I've never come across them purchasing used phones before, I'll definitely keep it in mind before I buy another used, locked phone. I suppose I'll just call in to T-Mobile and ask them if they can determine if there are still payments on the phone, because I don't know who else would know besides the original owner (I have no idea who the original owner was). Thanks again.
 
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eyoungren

macrumors Penryn
Aug 31, 2011
28,555
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Thanks for the comments, the two scenarios you mentioned both make sense, I guess I've never come across them purchasing used phones before, I'll definitely keep it in mind before I buy another used, locked phone. I suppose I'll just call in to T-Mobile and ask them if they can determine if there are still payments on the phone, because I don't know who else would know besides the original owner (I have no idea who the original owner was). Thanks again.
They may or may not give you that information. I can say however, that even if they were to confirm that payments were still owed, they would not tell you how much. Nor would they allow you to pay it off. That deal is between the original owner and T-Mobile unfortunately.

Good luck!
 

ian87w

macrumors G3
Feb 22, 2020
8,704
12,633
Indonesia
Another reason not to buy a locked iPhone. Unlike any other phones, iPhone unlocking system is convoluted, and involves carriers. Often times, people got iPhones through carrier deals, then sell them thinking they can make a healthy profit.

OTOH, T-Mobile should be able to tell you if the phone is paid off or not by the original owner (your second hand transactions is not considered as “paying off” the phone, that’s just private transaction between you and the original owner).
 

pdp1

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 15, 2018
130
116
Well I guess I got lucky, when I called T-Mobile and described my situation and asked them if my phone was eligible for unlock, she put me on hold for a while and checked on my IMEI. Then, without me explicitly asking, she went and requested an unlock as well. Even before we hung up, she asked me to reboot my phone and it was unlocked! I guess either she was nice or they realized the phone was already paid off. I’m not going to complain, happy holidays all!
 

Fred Zed

macrumors 603
Aug 15, 2019
5,054
5,956
Florida Unfortunately
My experience with unlocking two iPhone 13 PM devices which were bought from Best Buy and locked to T-Mobile. Used TForce via Twitter on both occasions. One of the reps requested proof of purchase receipt one didn’t. None of the devices had been on the network for 40 days, at most a week perhaps. Devices were both successfully unlocked within 2 days of request.
 
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eyoungren

macrumors Penryn
Aug 31, 2011
28,555
26,399
My experience with unlocking two iPhone 13 PM devices which were bought from Best Buy and locked to T-Mobile. Used TForce via Twitter on both occasions. One of the reps requested proof of purchase receipt one didn’t. None of the devices had been on the network for 40 days, at most a week perhaps. Devices were both successfully unlocked within 2 days of request.
I've unlocked four phones with T-Mob. The first two (6s and 6s+) were still under payments, but T-Mob unlocked them anyway 40 days in upon my request.

The second two were earlier this year, using the unlock app. Both Pixel 3a XLs.

I suppose for me it was pretty easy because all four were bought from T-Mobile, we are the original owners, and even though they are unlocked these phones have only seen service on T-Mobile.
 

eyoungren

macrumors Penryn
Aug 31, 2011
28,555
26,399
Well I guess I got lucky, when I called T-Mobile and described my situation and asked them if my phone was eligible for unlock, she put me on hold for a while and checked on my IMEI. Then, without me explicitly asking, she went and requested an unlock as well. Even before we hung up, she asked me to reboot my phone and it was unlocked! I guess either she was nice or they realized the phone was already paid off. I’m not going to complain, happy holidays all!
Congrats, you got an understanding rep.
 
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pdp1

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 15, 2018
130
116
Congrats, you got an understanding rep.
Yep, and thanks again for the input, I’m definitely going to think twice before I purchase a used, locked phone in the future. I’ll probably only consider unlocked ones from now on.
 
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eyoungren

macrumors Penryn
Aug 31, 2011
28,555
26,399
Well I guess I got lucky, when I called T-Mobile and described my situation and asked them if my phone was eligible for unlock, she put me on hold for a while and checked on my IMEI. Then, without me explicitly asking, she went and requested an unlock as well. Even before we hung up, she asked me to reboot my phone and it was unlocked! I guess either she was nice or they realized the phone was already paid off. I’m not going to complain, happy holidays all!
I just found out about this today: https://www.reddit.com/r/tmobile/comments/rl2q4y
T-Mobile has updated it's unlock policy. They are not automatically unlocking paid off/eligible phones if those phones are capable of being remotely unlocked. That would definitely include iPhones.

I'm going to bet that the rep you spoke to just went and unlocked it because it was eligible, original owner or no.
 

Fred Zed

macrumors 603
Aug 15, 2019
5,054
5,956
Florida Unfortunately
I just found out about this today: https://www.reddit.com/r/tmobile/comments/rl2q4y
T-Mobile has updated it's unlock policy. They are not automatically unlocking paid off/eligible phones if those phones are capable of being remotely unlocked. That would definitely include iPhones.

I'm going to bet that the rep you spoke to just went and unlocked it because it was eligible, original owner or no.
40 days on their network 🤣 these carriers are scammers. The world needs to wake up and not tolerate locked devices anymore. In fact most of the world has except for the USA where anti consumer practices are rife. Thanks to lobbying.

Now, don’t get me wrong. If the phone were to be subsidized by the carrier then I’m all for locking.
 
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eyoungren

macrumors Penryn
Aug 31, 2011
28,555
26,399
40 days on their network 🤣 these carriers are scammers. The world needs to wake up and not tolerate locked devices anymore. In fact most of the world has except for the USA where anti consumer practices are rife. Thanks to lobbying.

Now, don’t get me wrong. If the phone were to be subsidized by the carrier then I’m all for locking.
Until we get a Congress willing to pass a law that bans locking phones/devices, we'll be stuck with this. Part of the reason we're at where we are now is because the four major carriers saw the handwriting on the wall and agreed to be more 'open'. That was to avoid actually being forced to unlock phones out of the box. Those concessions are how the carriers got the loopholes into Obama's 'law' allowing for company policies before actual unlocking. Hence, 40 days on the network in T-Mob's case.

There's even been slippage. It used to be that as part of the FCC license to use a specific wireless spectrum, Verizon had to offer all LTE devices as unlocked. Now they are locked for the first month or so.
 
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pdp1

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 15, 2018
130
116
I just found out about this today: https://www.reddit.com/r/tmobile/comments/rl2q4y
T-Mobile has updated it's unlock policy. They are not automatically unlocking paid off/eligible phones if those phones are capable of being remotely unlocked. That would definitely include iPhones.

I'm going to bet that the rep you spoke to just went and unlocked it because it was eligible, original owner or no.
I just confirmed this works. Roughly 40 days ago, I bought an iPhone from Best Buy, fully paid off on the spot. I was locked to T-Mobile when I bought it. Today, I checked the SIM Lock status in the General->About menu and it says it's now "No SIM Restrictions".
 
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Mark Stone

macrumors 6502
Mar 20, 2022
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In its case.
Well I guess I got lucky, when I called T-Mobile and described my situation and asked them if my phone was eligible for unlock, she put me on hold for a while and checked on my IMEI. Then, without me explicitly asking, she went and requested an unlock as well. Even before we hung up, she asked me to reboot my phone and it was unlocked! I guess either she was nice or they realized the phone was already paid off. I’m not going to complain, happy holidays all!
Niiiiice!! Glad it worked out. ?
 
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