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Thread: Is my new iPhone SE actually locked? And what's AT&T's unlocking policy?

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    Is my new iPhone SE actually locked? And what's AT&T's unlocking policy?

    Eh, hopefully it's okay to cross-post this, as it's both and iPhone and AT&T thing, so...

    I've been with AT&T prepaid for years. I prefer unlocked iPhones, but needed a replacement fast, and the (I think?) locked SE is less than half the price of an unlocked model.

    Well I just got the SE in, and...the container doesn't actually indicate that it's locked in any way. It has an AT&T prepaid SIM sort of taped to the outside of what appears to be a totally normal iPhone SE.

    Is it actually locked? And if so, what are AT&T's policies about unlocking them? I've heard you can after a year or something?

    I've got two phones of AT&T prepaid, and have for years, and I'm happy, BUT I've been toying with the idea of switching some stuff to Comcast if Comcast ever lets you bring your own phone (AND assuming Comcast allows VPN, and doesn't cut you off for actually using data...) so obviously I'd prefer it be unlocked, AND I'd like to know how or if it can be unlocked in the future if it is locked.

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    It will be locked to ATT (Prepaid, Postpaid, I think Cricket). It may even work with an ATT SIM on a MVNO though I haven't tested this.

    But, the only way I know to unlock it officially is to use it for 6 months on ATT Prepaid. I don't know if can unlock it if you used it on Postpaid for that 6 months. Or if you just occasionally used it on Prepaid. I suspect that it has to be the phone that shows up on your ATT Portal web page.
    iPhone 11 is my current primary phone. I have older model iPhones and Moto phones available on other lines. Currently prepaid, though would consider postpaid on right plan.

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    I just used Verizon.com's "Bring your own device" to check my IMEI...it claims I can bring the phone?

    lists the phone as "IPHONE SE NVZW"?

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    I physically checked it with a Verizon postpaid SIM last summer before trying another SIM, and it didn't work. It briefly showed LTE until it did some check, then it failed.

    I suppose it is possible that the store didn't enter the phone in the system correctly to report to Apple that it is tied to ATT Prepaid. Or the Verizon checker only checked for technical compatibility.

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    Oooooh okay, so like the STORE, Best Buy, when you buy it, THEY are entering the phone in some "phone locking system" that's tying it to the company. And Verizon's checker might just be checking what the phone physically is, and that the phone could (if not locked) be used on it.

    I realized I MIGHT have a Verizon post-paid nano-sim somewhere, from when I bought my Verizon 5s years ago (as back then the Verizon one could be used on AT&T, but not vice versa...I only ever used it on AT&T but I wanted the option).

    Maybe I'll just try sticking that in first if I can find it, see what happens, then switch to my actual active AT&T sim.

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    I suspect that the companies have to be more careful with prepaid models, since there is a subsidy provided but no contract signed.

    The Flex system for iPhones that is mentioned is for more if you buy the phone outright. Will lock to the SIM provided (so if you have ATT Postpaid service, and put it in, it locks to ATT). But then you can contact ATT and have it unlocked since you have paid off the phone and it is therefor unlock able. The trick with Verizon is that since Verizon postpaid phones aren't GSM locked, if you stick it in first, you don't have to go through any more steps to have it stay unlocked.

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    Oh okay...it shouldn't be locking anyway when you buy the phone outright (which I normally do). Yikes...maybe I should buy a Verizon prepaid sim anyway just to make sure my X isn't locked when I get it...or maybe I'll just buy a "Verizon" X so it comes with a postpaid Verizon SIM, then I'll swap in my prepaid AT&T sim.

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    Buying prepaid subsidized or with Device payment plan will normally lock the phone until terms are filled out or DPP is paid off.

    The 8/8+ this year surprised me by being available SIM Free immediately. I don't expect that to be the case when the X is put up for preorder next Friday morning. In 2016 I moved to Verizon postpaid a week ahead so I could preorder immediately (since I had a postpaid account active).

    People in the past have gamed the system in the past with scheduling a in store pickup, then when they get there just paying outright for the Verizon model. (Or T-Mobile model in years when that was the phone to get). That apparently violated policy, but some got away with it.

    If SIM-Free is not available, you see a major disadvantage of being a prepaid customer in the US.

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    The Verizon/Sprint or SIM-Free X will be the one you want if you want flexibility to unlock and use on any of the US carriers. Historically, Best Buy will have the good phone too, so would be an acceptable place to buy it for ATT/T-Mobile use too. But unless you signup for some DPP through them, they generally charge higher than Apple's list prices since that is their profit. For DPP, I believe, they get some commission from the carrier which is their profit.

    They also can bring in some profit if you buy cases, etc, with purchase.

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    It SHOULDN'T be an issue-what do they care if someone's buying the hardware?

    With the 5s, the Verizon model was the closest to being a generic model-worked on Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T out of the box.

    Is that still the case? Like if no SIM-Free one exists, can I just buy the Verizon X? And is this really true that any company other than verizon your phone is locked to them when you put in the sim, even if yo bought the phone outright?

    Sorry, this is really confusing and all the info in conflicting :-/

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    At Best Buy, if you buy it outright, and stick in the ATT SIM, it appears it locks to ATT. But is then unlock able after about 60 days. https://www.att.com/esupport/article...less/KM1008728
    Which is why if buy outright from Best Buy (no subsidy) some people recommend inserting a Verizon SIM so it is unlocked immediately.

    When the demand is high, there is a very strong incentive for everyone to limit it to carrier's postpaid plans. Since most iPhones are still sold through channels other than from Apple, they want to make the carriers happy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kevink1 View Post
    At Best Buy, if you buy it outright, and stick in the ATT SIM, it appears it locks to ATT. But is then unlock able after about 60 days. https://www.att.com/esupport/article...less/KM1008728
    Which is why if buy outright from Best Buy (no subsidy) some people recommend inserting a Verizon SIM so it is unlocked immediately.

    When the demand is high, there is a very strong incentive for everyone to limit it to carrier's postpaid plans. Since most iPhones are still sold through channels other than from Apple, they want to make the carriers happy.
    Does this also apply to iPhone 6 bought from Best Buy as well

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    I'm assume that if you buy it for a prepaid account, it would be treated like a SE. If bought outright or for postpaid, like the other phones. But I don't know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by punisherbv View Post
    Does this also apply to iPhone 6 bought from Best Buy as well
    It would have been 3 years ago. But the 6 is no longer the brand new model just released. This year, the 8/8+ have had plenty of supply.

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    Quote Originally Posted by punisherbv View Post
    Does this also apply to iPhone 6 bought from Best Buy as well
    Yes. The Best Buy iPhone flex policy applies to all iPhones. Only Verizon post paid iPhones are not locked.

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