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Recently, all iPhones were sold with a SIM lock, software that made it so that you could just use the phone with the phone company that you bought it from. That changed for various reasons — including that customers now pay the maximum price for their phones, rather than getting discounts from phone companies in exchange for multi-year contracts — but now you can purchase an unlocked phone and use it with whatever phone company you prefer.

Here are the answers to the most common questions regarding the unlocked iPhone.

What is an Unlocked iPhone?

An unlocked iPhone is a device that isn’t connected to any iPhone company. This means that you can use it on any cell phone network until you have a service plan with that phone company. It also means that you have not given any agreement to a multi-year contract with the phone company and, assuming your phone is paid off, you’re free to change to another company whenever you want.

Unlocked Iphone

Where Do I Buy an Unlocked iPhone?

The simplest way to buy an unlocked iPhone is to buy directly from Apple. In addition to selling new iPhones tied to specific phone companies, Apple also sells phones that are unlocked by default, allowing you to choose the phone company you want to use when you activate the phone. Apple usually charges extra for unlocked phones, but now they’re the same price as any other phone.

While phone companies may sell unlocked phones, be careful not to buy an unlocked phone on an installment plan in which you pay a bit each month for the phone. If you do that, even though your phone is unlocked, you’ll be caught with that phone company until you’ve paid off the phone and won’t have the freedom that an unlocked phone normally brings. If you prefer to buy an iPhone in installments, check out Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program instead, which won’t tie you to one Phone Company.

Does the Unlocked iPhone include a SIM Card?

No. If you buy an unlocked iPhone directly from Apple, it does not contain a SIM card. But when you decide what phone company you want to use, you’ll get a SIM card from that company when you sign up.

With the Dual SIM on XS and XR, Do I Need an Unlocked Phone?

The iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR support the use of two SIM cards in one phone at the same time. The first SIM is a physical card, while the second is a software-based e-Sim. Because there are two SIM, you don’t necessarily need an unlocked phone. You could have the primary SIM tied to a specific phone company and use the second only for short-term situations like foreign travel. On the other hand, you may prefer to keep both SIMs unlocked for maximum flexibility. It really depends on how you want to use your phone.

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Can I Use an Unlocked Phone With Any Phone Company?

Yes. All modern iPhones can work with any major cell phone company. This is because they support both GSM phone networks and CDMA. When you change the Company, you need to get a new SIM card for the new company, but otherwise, your phone will be the same.

Can I Use the Phone more Carriers at the Same Time?

Yes, you can. To do this, you need to have active service and an active SIM card from the two phone companies. Then, when you want to change the company that you use, just insert the SIM cards in the phone.

Some iPhone models support two SIM cards at the same time, so you don’t need to swap the SIM.

Advantages to Having an Unlocked Phone

The important advantage to unlocking iPhone is flexibility. As mentioned in the last segment, your iPhone unlocked means that you’re ready to change to another phone company whenever there are better advantages. Unlocked phones are also useful when traveling to a foreign country since you can get a short-term phone plan from a local phone company instead of using your primary phone company’s international plans.

Can I Unlock My Existing iPhone?

It’s possible to unlock the iPhone, even if they were not unlocked when you bought them originally. Assuming you’re not under contract with a phone company, and that you’ve paid off all remaining installments on your phone, you should be eligible to unlock. Your phone company can perform the unlocking for you.

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About the author

Ravi Shah

Ravi is the head of Content Strategy at iFixScreens Corporate. With over a decade of experience writing technical content for his readers, Ravi has helped thousands of readers with helpful content, tips, and tricks. He mainly writes content related to gadget repairs, such as iPhones, Smartphones, tablets, and laptops.