AT&T May Factory Unlock Your On-Contract iPhone If You Ask Nicely

AT&T May Factory Unlock Your On-Contract iPhone If You Ask Nicely

Unlocked iPhones have the ability to run on other carrier’s SIMs.

If you’ve been itching for an unlock on your iPhone, then you may be able to score a free factory unlock from AT&T. The way it typically works is that a U.S. carrier will unlock an iPhone after its two-year contract is up, but it looks like AT&T is offering unlocks for free to certain on-contract iPhones.

Requesting an unlock through AT&T’s web form has produced good results for multiple iPhone owners. If you’d like an unlock to use your iPhone on any GSM carrier worldwide, then it’s worth a shot.

Ars Technica is hearing from AT&T customers who have received free clean, factory unlocks while on contract:

“I got this even though I’m 10 months into my 2 year contract,” Ars poster lunarobverse wrote. “When I upgrade to the iPhone 5 next week, I’ll still have to pay the ETF but it’ll make selling my old iPhone (or handing it down to an iPhone-less friend) much easier.”

I called AT&T a few days ago to see about a factory unlock for my iPhone 4S (still a year left on my contract) and I was told that the service could not be offered until I had paid my subsidy. It looks like potential unlockers will have more luck getting through to AT&T on the web.

AT&T’s Seth Bloom told Ars that “The only requirements are that a customer’s account must be in good standing, their device cannot be associated with a current and active term commitment on an AT&T customer account, and they need to have fulfilled their contract term, upgraded under one of our upgrade policies or paid an early termination fee.”

If your application to receive an unlock is granted, AT&T will send a confirmation number requesting that you restore your iPhone in iTunes. During the restore process, you’ll see a message that your iPhone has been successfully unlocked on AT&T’s end.

Short of securing a factory unlock under the table, it’s typically pretty difficult to make a carrier unlock your iPhone before your contract has expired. Apple and AT&T will gladly unlock an iPhone when it’s off-contract, but on-contract phones are another matter. If you do manage to get your iPhone unlocked the aforementioned way on AT&T, let us know in the comments.

  • Josh Yates

    I just submitted my request. Just unlocked my wife’s iPhone 4 to sell to get an iPhone 5, but she was off-contract. If I can get this unlocked, I just may jump ship to Verizon and sell my 4S unlocked as well!

  • Sikandar Hayat

    i phone 3gs discontinued iphone 4 will be their entry level phone on the release day of iphone 5 for details visit seven colour gossips

  • shade/ohio

    i have 7 months left on my contract and they wont unlock it ,their greedy been with them since 2006

  • Andy Walton

    I assume the deal with unlocking is the same as for upgrade eligibility: it depends on whether AT&T has made its mooney back on the subsidy when you bought the phone. AT&T doesn’t publish an exact formula, but the bigger your monthly bill the earlier they’ll sign off on it.

  • Blair Wilson

    I got my iPhone 4 unlocked (out of contract) for a recent trip to Europe to use a local SIM card. I restored about 4 times and never saw the unlock message pop up. I went to a T-Mobile store and they let me borrow a mirco-SIM in order to verfiy that I was truly unlocked.

  • iSalameee

    I just told them I want to unlock my phone and they were 100% ok with it, lol the girl helping me actually lives in my area and said we should hang out haha, shes probably fat :/ anyways just unlocked it and she was like anything else, and I brought up my other iphone and she unlocked that too. So i dont know if its being nice or if they just do if for you anyway.

  • fPelin17

    My iPhone 4S was unlocked after only 5 months in contract (signed the contract last November 2011 then requested for an unlock on April 2012). I just asked nicely then the lady said my account will be in review for a week and she gave me a case number. After a week of waiting, called them again to check the status of my request and was very happy when she said that my request was approved and can go through the process of unlocking using the iTunes. I did what she instructed then got the message from iTunes that my iPhone is unlocked. :) Note that I just tried it out to request, I know that the requirement is to finish first the 2-year contract before I request for an unlock, but was very surprised when my request was approved..Try it out, just be friendly with the CSR when you call.

  • Aaron

    I’ve been with AT&T since 2000. They unlocked my two iPhone 4 phones just short of 2 years after I got them, and I immediately jumped ship to StraightTalk. (I have Cult of Mac to thank for that!) I didn’t HAVE to unlock my phones to work with StraightTalk, but I occasionally travel outside the country and it will be nice to get a local SIM.

  • iBestWallpaper

    Well, I’ve been trying this steps many times, unfortunately could never get my iPhone unlocked.

    Then a friend of mine recommend a site that can unlock it quick and dirty and I get it unlocked within 8 hours upon payment.

    Yeay, that was amazin rather than wasting time on AT&T unlock request.

    No at&t account, no contract, no SSN, or any other requirement, simply submit your imei and make payment.
    That’s all.

    Simply type >>> “unlock at&t imei senseiphone” and you will find the site!

  • Babak Mir-Eschghi

    Even if you don’t fullfil the requirements for AT&T, you can still unlock your iPhone via UnlockStreak activations for iPhone unlock software. It is a permanent unlock too just like the one from AT&T.

  • Christian Vogel

    I called them and they didn’t unlock it for me. Saw in the comments here that UnlockStreak Activation for iTunes does the job. Used that and it is now unlocked. Good bye AT&T! T-Mobile I’m coming.

  • bobella

    I work for the military but im not a deployed member, i was trying to unlock my iphone trough att but they said im not elegible they requested to send them the original proof of purchache, i could not do it becasue i bought the iphone used from ebay. I was searching online for a while i found a site http://www.attiphoneunlocking.com/ they helped me to unlock my iphone in a few hours, im not sure how they did it ,they said my iphone is like a factory unlocked iphone now and really it works, i connected my iphone to itunes and it displayed a message saying my iphone is permanently unlocked, i inserted my tmobile simcard, and it works!

  • attiphoneunlocking

    We can unlock any ATT iphone!! Our service is lightning fast, we unlock every phone in max 6 hours.
    See our Website online w_w_w_attiphoneunlocking_dot_com

  • RobertGe

    I recently bought a second hand iphone online on amazon. Do you have any ideas where can i unlock it? I dont have any AT&T contract.

  • Tallest_Skil

    I recently bought a second hand iphone online on amazon. Do you have any ideas where can i unlock it?

    Do it yourself. All these idiot paid services are spam that the site owners won’t remove.

  • Robin Kalina

    I assume the deal with unlocking is the same as for upgrade eligibility: it depends on whether AT&T has made its mooney back on the subsidy when you bought the phone. AT&T doesn’t publish an exact formula, but the bigger your monthly bill the earlier they’ll sign off on it.

    The biggest problem is that they wont unlock an iphone if its not on your contract. If you have a second hand iphone the best way is to use an unlock service. I unlocked my iphone on http://attiphoneunlocking.com they do permanent unlocks by IMEI number, so your phone will stay unlocked forever no matter if you update the firmware or whatever, same as a factory unlocked one.

  • lilajojob

    I assume the deal with unlocking is the same as for upgrade eligibility: it depends on whether AT&T has made its mooney back on the subsidy when you bought the phone. AT&T doesn’t publish an exact formula, but the bigger your monthly bill the earlier they’ll sign off on it.

    Yeah, i tried to call them to unlock my iphone, however they could not do it. I was searching online and i found some info here: http://www.eventbrite.com/org/2718305870

  • Geopolc

    I assume the deal with unlocking is the same as for upgrade eligibility: it depends on whether AT&T has made its mooney back on the subsidy when you bought the phone. AT&T doesn’t publish an exact formula, but the bigger your monthly bill the earlier they’ll sign off on it.

    I had unpaid contract and i still could unlock it. I used a service online from attiphoneunlocking .com they were really fast unlocking my iphone, I can recommend them.

  • adam_gto

    YEEEAH !!! I’ve found a way how to unlock in contract or lost and stolen iphones!! Search attiphoneunlocking in google! they can unlock any kind of at&t locked iphones!!

  • Reginald_Button

    Here are some useful tips to unlock your iphone. Check it out from here
    iPhone .

  • Fatt Tee

    If You need Your Phone Unlocked or Have Any Questions Just Email Me (sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address)I Can Unlock? Any AT&T iPhone On? ANY iOS

  • YoungMoney

    Alternatively, if you’re still locked on a 2 year contract but still wanna unlock your AT&T iPhone 4/4S or 5, I’ve found an extremely reliable and cheap service – in fact, cheaper than most out there while still guaranteeing that your phone will never get relocked. Extremely fast turnaround. Check it out: http://theiphoneunlocker.us/

  • xGl0be

    If you are unable to get through AT&T free unlock, you can get your iPhone unlocked for just $9 at http://iosbasics.com

  • gunter

    I have found a good webpage that does it, it’s the fastest one I know
    attiphoneunlocking.com is the address

  • loneranger

    Even when I was on-contract I got my iPhone remotely unlocked from http://www.mobile-unlocker.com/ and now I am free to use all GSM network on my phone.

  • gunter

    google att iphone unlocking, it’s reliable as google treated as the first result for searching this category.

  • hassan_a36

    i got my att iphone unlocked through bamaonlineshop. com for $13

  • androidgenius
  • AdamDaieh

    I have an iPhone 5 and it’s permanently unlock, I can use my phone while traveling abroard because I can use other carrier. This process just took 24 hours. I’m glad I did it here http://jailbreakhome.com/iphone-factory-unlock

  • SoyDeMoca

    Factory Unlock your iPhone 3Gs 4 4S 5 for Just $4.75 At http://iUnlockSmartPhones.com

  • AdamDaieh

    Finally my iPhone 4 is Unlocked permanently forever. My AT&T iPhone 4 IOS 6 unlocked in less than 12 hours! Thanks to ???.?????????????.??? for the excellent service! Check it here http://jailbreakhome.com/iphone-factory-unlock

  • Kalinkako

    I’ve used http://www.attiphoneunlocking.com to unlock my iphone 5. They offer a pretty fast service with maximum 2 hour turnaround time. I think, they offer the most secure and professional service around.

  • abhi28191

    Read all the crappy comments posted. regarding unlocks.. i tried with attiphoneunlockin and they said they will do it in 12 hours.it was never unlocked by them. never responded any of my emails. A friend of mine suggested americaunlocks.com they have a store in chicago after much queries i went with order. It as unlocked in4hours. They also provide one accessory free with every unlock and i got a usb charger for my iPhone 5.

  • DanielDorilas

    the only recommended service find online at http://digitaljournal.com/blog/21272 is http://myattiphoneunlock.com they have best rate unlock usually done in 4 days for out of contract phone

  • danley0022

    if you are looking for ATT unlocks, go check out attiphoneunlocking, i have been using that site for many time

  • Blake Skyler

    Just had myattiphoneunlock unlock my 3 month old iPhone 5s while under contract from AT&T. Popped in a t-mobile sim and switched over. Took less than a day. Highly recommend. Had tried two other services and they failed to unlock it.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath has been a staff writer at Cult of Mac for three years. He is also a co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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