Saturday, October 12, 2013

How to unlock your ATT iPhone after you upgrade

When you upgrade your iPhone you can get the old one unlocked. You have to wait two weeks, but then it's pretty a straightforward process of filling out forms online and doing stuff with iTunes.

So from the day you activate a new phone, say Friday afternoon, you have to wait two weeks. Friday morning two weeks after the new phone activation you can click the link below and fill out a form to request ATT unlock your old phone. Then the day after that you can restore your old phone and it's unlocked.

Unlocking means you can put different Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards in your phone, like you can use T-Mobile for less money and slower data speeds instead of ATT, or you can go to Europe and get a local carrier to sell you a month of minutes and a SIM card to put in your phone. This only works for ATT phones because they have the same kind of radio they use in Europe. It's called the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM). It was originally called Groupe Sp├ęcial Mobile when they made it up in the '80s, but they changed it when more carriers adopted it. GSM is a radio with a digital modulation scheme based on Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA). Verizon uses a radio with Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA). It's like the difference in getting your home internet from the phone company with Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) over twisted pair or from the cable company over a coaxial cable. To somebody non-technical they can't tell the difference because they see the same web pages on their iPad either way. But if they want to change from cable to DSL they can't use the cable modem anymore and have to buy a DSL modem instead. There are also technical differences in the way the bandwidth is shared for cable versus DSL, just like GSM and CDMA are dissimilar. But the differences in the pricing, availability and customer service tends to completely outweigh the technology when it comes to deciding which to use. It's a metaphor for my life.

Anyway, back to unlocking. Having an unlocked phone makes people who don't even need it feel extra cool, like having $500 speaker wires. I have no problem catering to their whims. I shall unlock my iPhone for them.

Clearly I don't need anything an unlocked phone offers over a contractually locked one. I use my iPhone within site of the ATT tower at the end of my driveway 98% of the time, and my wifi covers about 5 acres. Yet I keep renewing my 2 year contract every time I get a chance to have an upgraded camera. If you ignore the extra $20 a month I pay to be on contract it's like a free camera every 18 months.

So the reason I'm unlocking my old iPhone is to sell it and completely offset the $199 I just paid for the new 5S.

ATT website detailing eligibility to unlock your phone: Unlock your ATT device

STEP 1: Start the forms to unlock your phone: Customer Device Unlock

You need to click the box saying you read it then click "Agree" to get the following form to come up.

This is easy except for the IMEI number (International Mobile Station Equipment Identity). That's the special number that identifies individual phones. It should let a carrier block use of a phone for life if it gets stolen. Unfortunately carriers don't actually use that feature. Remote wiping your lost or stolen phone with iTunes will remove your personal data and make it unusable though. (details on iLounge.) Anyway, back to unlocking your iPhone.

Your phone number identifies your ATT account. Don't freak out that it will identify your new phone. It's all cool. The form wants the number you just transferred to your new phone.

There are two ways to find your IMEI number. If you aren't using your usual computer where you sync with iTunes, then find it on your phone. Go to the Settings app, then General, then About. Scroll down until you find it. Type the 15 digit number into a note so you can copy and paste it. Or put it straight in the form then take a screen shot of your completed form for future reference before you hit Submit. You may need the IMEI number again to check the status of your request later.

Alternately plug the phone in with the USB cable to your computer and look at the summary tab in iTunes. There's a line next to the picture of the phone for phone number. If you click it it changes to IMEI and again ICCID. (Who knew you could click a number and it would change to another number? This opens up a whole new world of things I can try.)

When you put in your IMEI number right in the ATT form it should pop up with an extra line identifying what kind of phone you have. This means you put it in correctly.

I left ATT Account Passcode blank and it worked fine. It will whine if you don't put in your social security number though.

If you do something wrong you'll get an error box and your browser won't go back. Click the above link again and start over. This is why I recommend taking a screen shot of the completed form before you hit Submit, just in case.

When you get everything copacetic and hit Submit they'll give you a confirmation window with a request number. You don't have to take a screen shot of that as they'll email you two emails in just a second. You can copy and paste the number later from the email if you want to check the status.

If you don't wait the whole 14 days you'll get two emails in quick succession, one saying your request was submitted and another one telling you it was summarily rejected. I tried it. The morning of the 14th day is fine though.

STEP 2: Get your confirmation email and wait 24 hours more.
Request number: XXXXXXX
Thank you for contacting ATT Customer Care about unlocking your ATT Mobile device.
We have reviewed your request and confirmed that the device may be unlocked.
Please allow 24 hours upon receipt of this notification to complete the unlock process.
To complete the unlock, simply
1. Open iTunes on your Mac or PC and verify that you have Internet connectivity.
2. Ensure a SIM card is inserted into your iPhone.
3. Connect your iPhone using the dock connector to USB cable that came with your iPhone.
4. Backup and restore your iPhone using iTunes. For information on backup and restore, please visit
5. After restoring, your iPhone will be unlocked.
Additional information on unlocking can be found at
For questions regarding AT&T Mobile device, please visit the Phone/Device Learning Center.
Thank you for your business. For other questions about our ATT wireless service or other Mobile devices, please visit

STEP 3: Plug your old phone into your computer with the USB cable. If you already restored it then it will want you to set up up again. Just click "Set up as a new phone" then navigate back to the "Summary" tab and go straight to "Restore".

You already did File>Devices>Transfer Purchases to iTunes, right? And already backed up your phone to put it on the new phone, right? So let's do it! Restore!

The phone might ask you to enter your iTunes password. On the phone, not in iTunes. That's to stop somebody from restoring a stolen phone so they can just set it up as their own. Enter your Apple ID password. (I say it might ask you because I'm not sure it does in iOS 6 if you didn't set it up with that level of security. iOS 7 definitely requires a password to restore the iPhone to factory settings. Mine did because I'd already restored it and then reactivated it with iOS 7 to play with it. I restored it twice today just to see what happens. It doesn't ask for a password if it's already in a restored state.)

You'll get an indicator on the phone saying it's connected to iTunes, then a status bar under the Apple showing it's doing stuff. iTunes also indicates things are happening.

When the phone finishes talking to iTunes it will drop off the list of devices, restart itself, show you a status bar again, then vibrate and come back up on the list of devices. This time is should be just iPhone, not your name anymore.

I name my phone and tablet this way because
"Syncing Into a Deep Sleep" and
"Syncing Into Oblivion" amuses me.
My iPod is just named Valerie.
Notice the restored 4S is just iPhone now, not Barbara Tomlinson's iPhone.

It would save you time if you could resist restoring your old phone as soon as you get the new one. I couldn't resist. Then I set it up again with my Apple ID and everything so I could compare the screen to my new phone because they looked different to me. (The new one seemed yellow but I concluded that really the old one was just really blue.) It's not a big deal if you reactivate an old phone once you've transferred service to a new one. The old one will just come up with No Service where it used to say ATT. You can use it just like an iPod Touch.

There's a rumor on some sites that say iTunes will give you a "congratulations your phone is unlocked message." Mine didn't the first time I did it. I could have missed it so I repeated the process to see if I could get a screen grab. I did get the message the second time.

It's going to try to make you set it up. I just clicked eject in the Devices list instead of Continue.

I think I accidentally left the phone turned on for the 2 week waiting period, thus the dead battery. I finished this blog post while it charged up so I can pack it up and take it to UPS already.


  1. Gosh, I wish I had thought to check your blog before I bought a new iPhone and data package for my trip to Italy. I ended up getting an iPhone 5c through Sprint. AT&T simply was low on stock and I couldn't get what I wanted. Plus, I am so low tech, I had not read any good explanations about this til I now see your post above, while I'm in....Italy!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Hey,At&T has most user compare to other telecommunication provider, and most of you want to unlock your AT&T phone because you are leaving the country or want to change provider, here is the perfect unlocking site for all you AT&T folks, go check out attiphoneunlocking, this site has already unlocked four of mine and my friends' phone. It's also one of the few sites that is still able to unlock all the AT&T devices after the AT&T unlocking server shuted down.Thank you!!!

  4. It is the intent to provide valuable information and best practices, including an understanding of the regulatory process. iPhone Repair Dubai

  5. Additionally, great repair work implies a more drawn out existence of the gadget, or, more than likely it can create additional harms that may cost more later on. Iphone reparatur

  6. This web page won’t show up correctly on my iphone – you may wanna try and fix that iphone png

  7. we have different sectional sofas at home, i find them very comfortable and easy to setup“ iphone sketch

  8. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. Big thanks for the useful info. iPhone 8

  9. I admire this article for the well-researched content and excellent wording. I got so involved in this material that I couldn’t stop reading. I am impressed with your work and skill. Thank you so much. sell your phone online in South Africa

  10. I recommend that as a component of your underlying brief you truly investigate all the various sorts of iPhone applications that are inside your market. buy iphone 12 pro max

  11. Gadgets like iPhones have become a personal item for most people. The convenience that it has provided in the lives of is users are one great advantage. Most people are buying iPhones not just because this can make them look sophisticated but because this offers a lot of handy application that can be used personally or perhaps in business. iPhone Screen Repairs in Ipswich

  12. Its as if you had a great grasp on the subject matter, but you forgot to include your readers. Perhaps you should think about this from more than one angle. iphone 6 cases

  13. What is an outstanding post! “I’ll be back” (to read more of your content). Thanks for the nudge! iphone screen repair

  14. iPhone 6 is one of Apple's flagship phones. Following its yearly trend, Apple has launched its next flagship phone. Having released just another one of their models, it is time to revel in the glory of their newest range of phones. So iPhone users rush to your nearest stores to get the newest version of the iPhone! youtube++

  15. The post is written in very a good manner and it contains many useful information for me. Walmart iPhone 13 Deals

  16. We highlight the best free monospace fonts for coding and programming and offer some basic pointers for selecting a great mono font. Best Free Fonts for Programming

  17. Whatever the telephone embellishment there's one that fits each character. phone case suppliers

  18. PDAs are as of now not simply an advantageous method for staying in contact perceptibly, they are significantly more since their first appearance in cutting edge culture. phone case manufacturer

  19. There are possibilities for Online Mobile Repairing Courses also where one can enlist himself/herself as per the time accessibility. Mobile Alabama iphone repair shop near me

  20. Video gameplay generally falls into two categories: single-player gaming and MMOGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Games.) Single player gaming is the most traditional form of gaming and what most people remember during their childhood.

  21. Search Engine Optimization is like a key to Fort Knox for any online entrepreneur. Why? Because proper SEO opens your website the door to leading positions in search engines.

  22. With the huge number of videos being uploaded on YouTube daily and the constantly growing competition, it is not an easy task to get new subscribers for your YouTube videos. By using some proven techniques, you can make the task a lot less challenging.

  23. This laptop comes with a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2 GB of RAM DDR2, a 200 GB hard drive and a DVD Read/Write drive. The screen is a nice looking 15.4 inch with a maximum resolution of 1440 by 900. The graphics card is also very impressive, an NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT with 256 MB of GDDR3 memory which allows the user to play most games on the market and watch high definition movies flawlessly. huawei south africa

  24. Thank you for sharing such an informative blog on how to unlock att iPhone after the upgrade. Read your blog and it is very interesting. If you want to buy iPhone covers then you can visit JustAndBest site as it provides trendy mobile covers and is also offering a New Year sale 2023 of Rs 200 with code HURRYNEWYEAR and 10% OFF with code NEWYEAR10. So, purchase the mobile covers before the offer ends as it is valid till 31st Jan 2023

    iPhone 14 Covers
    Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 Covers

  25. Thank you for sharing your valuable knowledge with us on how to unlock att iPhone after the upgrade. So interesting and excellent blog. Really appreciate your time and knowledge. Keep sharing!

    ISO 22000 Certification
    ISO 9001 Certification