Locked & Unlocked iPhone: What’s The Difference?

Locked & Unlocked iPhone

Apple’s range of iPhones is widely regarded by many as the best smartphones money can buy. Even though there are varying opinions regarding the price of iPhones compared to Android-based smartphones, there is no doubt that iOS offers tons of amazing utilities and features that enhance the user’s experience. According to Android Authority, there are numerous things that iOS is better at than Android. Therefore, to compete and maintain a stronghold in the dominion, Apple implements numerous tactics to attract more customers.

What Option Does Apple Provide Potential iPhone Buyers?

To enhance the sales of iPhones, Apple allows interested buyers to either purchase an unlocked iPhone or a locked one. This article will take an in-depth look at what locked and unlocked iPhones are, how to unlock a locked iPhone, the differences between the two, and the benefits of owning a locked and an unlocked iPhone. Let us get started:

What Is A Locked iPhone? 

Any iPhone locked by a specific carrier is known as a locked iPhone. You cannot put a sim of any other carrier in a locked iPhone other than the one that it is locked to. Locked iPhones are generally bought by people who do not want to pay the full price of an iPhone at one go. When opting for a locked iPhone from a specific carrier, the user can pay fixed small monthly installments over a stipulated period.

What Is An Unlocked iPhone?

An unlocked iPhone is not locked by software to any carrier. Users of unlocked iPhones can use any carrier’s sim without any restrictions. You can conveniently switch to any carrier without hassle if you own an unlocked iPhone. However, to get an unlocked iPhone, you need to pay the full price of the iPhone at the time of purchase.

How to Unlock an iPhone:

There could be numerous reasons for a user wanting to unlock their iPhone, such as switching to a carrier that offers better plans or to one that offers better network coverage. Different carriers have different instructions following which users can unlock iPhones. For instance, AT&T users can head to the carrier’s official website, enter their IMEI number and follow the given instructions to unlock their iPhone. Similarly, iPhone users having a Sprint sim can connect with their carrier’s customer service and present their phone’s IMEI number to the representative to get their iPhone unlocked. Before getting your device unlocked, ensure that your iPhone bill is fully paid since keeping pending payments can be problematic. 

What Are The Main Differences Between A Locked iPhone And An Unlocked iPhone?

Two of the factors where a locked iPhone and an unlocked one differ from each other are:


One of the biggest differences between a locked and an unlocked iPhone is the price. When it comes to a locked iPhone, users can conveniently purchase one by paying a small amount beforehand and choosing to settle the rest in monthly installments. Going for a locked iPhone is a great option for users on a tight budget and who do not want to spend a huge amount of money on the phone at once. Moreover, locked iPhones are generally cheaper than unlocked ones since the former often feature numerous discounts and deals. On the other hand, if you want to get an unlocked iPhone, you must pay the device’s full price at the time of purchase.


Unlocked iPhones allow users to switch to any carrier of their choice whenever they need, whereas users who own locked iPhones cannot do so until they have cleared all the installments of their iPhones. In this case, unlocked iPhones have the upper hand over locked ones. For instance, if you own an unlocked iPhone and use a Verizon sim, you can conveniently switch to any other carrier if you are not satisfied with Verizon’s plans or network coverage. However, you cannot switch to any other carrier if you own an unlocked iPhone. You would need to keep using it until your iPhone’s dues are cleared, which in most cases, may take more than a year.

Benefits Of Owning A Locked iPhone:

  • The most significant benefit of purchasing a locked iPhone is that it costs less than an unlocked iPhone. Carriers offer you good deals so that you can add to their base of customers and benefit them in the long run by using their data and cellular services. 
  • Another advantage of going for a locked iPhone is that it has your device and carrier’s bill in a single place. This greatly benefits users since they can easily manage and systematically pay their bills without hassle. Moreover, carriers offer attractive discounts on plans that make the deal even sweeter. 
  • If you opt for a locked iPhone, you can visit the carrier’s stores to avail support for any issues. For instance, if you face trouble getting coverage, you can put forth your query and get potential solutions.

Benefits Of Owning An Unlocked iPhone:

  • If you purchase an unlocked iPhone, you can conveniently switch to another carrier if you are not satisfied with the services of your current one. To switch, all you need to do is buy another carrier’s sim and place it inside your iPhone after taking out the previous one. 
  • You also get the advantage of trying out different carriers to pick the best one for yourself. This factor greatly benefits users who frequently travel, as they can use sims of local carriers to save money and not depend on expensive international roaming services. 
  • Unlocked iPhones offer higher resale values as compared to locked ones. Therefore, if you keep switching between different smartphones frequently, buying an unlocked iPhone will provide you with good returns. 

Choosing between a locked and an unlocked iPhone depends entirely on your requirements. For example, you should go for an unlocked iPhone if you want freedom. However, a locked iPhone might be a better option if you want to cut costs and save money. Therefore, make an informed decision before locking in on a specific type.


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