Tips on How to Unlock an AT&T iPhone 4 and 5 Step by Step

Planning on going abroad and wondering how to use your iPhone with a different provider? It is actually easier than you might think. AT&T has been very lenient in its unlocking policy lately due to, probably, intensifying competition from other smaller mobile service providers  and, of course, T-Mobile that now carries a full line of modern smartphone models, the iPhone 5 included.

So, the company has made it relatively easy for its customers to get official unlocks when certain conditions are met. According to the official memo:

“… if we have the unlock code or can reasonably get it from the manufacturer, AT&T currently will unlock a device for any customer whose account has been active for at least sixty days; whose account is in good standing and has no unpaid balance; and who has fulfilled his or her service agreement commitment.  If the conditions are met we will unlock up to five devices per account per year. We will not unlock devices that have been reported lost or stolen.”

It is also worth mentioning that only the original owner of the iPhone may submit an unlocking request. If you just got a used iPhone and it is locked, you may need to look into a third party service like to get it unlocked for you. The sixty days condition simply implies that At&t doesn’t want to issue unlocks for new accounts as the chances are that you might have purchased the iPhone for reselling purposes.

POLL: Did AT&T approve your unlocking request?

How long does it usually take to get an unlock? The time frame indicated on At&t’s official website is 5-7 business days but many customers reported they were able to get their phones unlocked within just a couple days. There are definitely situations when At&t staff may refuse to provide an unlock. If the phone was reported lost or stolen and was blacklisted, as a result, the company will not issue an unlock. Many people who buy used devices on eBay run the risk of purchasing a blacklisted handset. It is worth double checking and, perhaps, even running an IMEI check before sealing the deal.

The good part about factory unlocks is that there is no need to download or install any software, unlike with jailbreaking. The process is very easy – submit the IMEI number – the unique identification number that comes with every iPhone – and wait for the email notification that the handset was successfully unlocked. Then run a few easy operations through iTunes with the new SIM card that you are good to rock and roll.

The iPhone will work with any SIM throughout the world. Once you got your GSM port unlocked, you can check which wireless technology is in use where you’re headed. Most of the world is using GSM technology, with swappable SIM cards that work almost anywhere. A world map of GSM coverage can be found online at If you have iPhone 5, for example, you can go with a provider that invested in 4G LTE – the fastest data pipeline. Once you have arrived in the country of your destination, buy a prepaid SIM card package that includes voice and data, which will come in handy when using the Maps app for walking directions where Wi-Fi is unavailable. These cards can be topped up at any time when you run out of credits.

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