How to Officially Unlock the AT&T iPhone: 5 phones for under $50
AT&T allows a contracted customer, in good standing, to unlock up to five devices per year. Prepaid GoPhone customers with an active account, for at least six months, may unlock up to five mobile phones per year as well.
Want to know how to have your out-of-contract iPhone unlocked by ATT officially? The ATT approved way? Here's how you can use AT&T's prepaid GoPhone account to unlock 5 devices for less than $50:
- Purchase a new GoPhone SIM card off of eBay for @$1 (Add @$40 to the cost if you purchase your SIM card from the AT&T store)
- Go here to activate your device: AT&T Activate Your Device
- In the past, the website would not accept an iPhone IMEI. AT&T instructed us to input (15) fifteen "zeros" for the iPhone IMEI.
- Log into your account here: AT&T Pay As You Go Online
- All of the above information will be used for account verification in the future.
- Credit your GoPhone account with Prepaid Wireless Airtime Minutes
- The minimum amount we found that could be purchased online was $10 with Calling Mart (No affiliation)
What to do for the next six months?
Keep the account active - use it! Isn't that what you activated it for? ;-)
After simple activation and the $10 airtime credit, your account will remain active for 30 days if you did nothing else. According to AT&T, the account will remain "active" for an additional 60 days after your credit expires, totaling 90 days or a 3 month, active account at $10, plus the cost of the SIM card.
Three months does not grant you the ability to unlock anything. To gain an additional 90 days, right before the account is terminated, add an additional $25 of Prepaid Wireless Airtime Minutes. This will extend your active account by another 3 months, completing your 6 months.
We're only outlining the minimal needed to maintain an active account for six months. When using the above method, it will cost around $35-40 to reach six months and around $100 per year to keep an account active all year long. You will spend more if you're using the service regularly, of course.
Our recommendation: Just use the phone as you normally would. We only provide these details to give you approximate minimal costs.
Why go through all of this?
This works best if you're already in the market for a prepaid wireless service with unlocking benefits. This is not to encourage all out abuse of AT&T's Customer Device Unlock Request system. We all know what AT&T does when abuse is detected, right? In fact, AT&T clearly states on its Customer Device Unlock - Request:
AT&T reserves the right to deny any unlock request that it concludes would result in an abuse of this policy or is part of an effort to defraud AT&T or its customers. AT&T further reserves the right to alter this unlocking policy at its discretion without advance notice.
We feel that this is worth the effort for the following reasons:
- You will be making use of a valid Cell Phone service offered by AT&T. They welcome your business.
- With that service comes the perks of being able to officially unlock your or a family member's device directly with AT&T - no third party unlocking service needed.
What to do after six months?
Allow AT&T to fill you in:
AT&T Mobile Device Unlock Requests
To request an AT&T Mobile Device unlock just complete our simple online unlock request form and we'll take it from there.
Requests may complete within 48 hours but may take as long as 5 business days.
Please read ALL of the Eligibility Requirements and Customer-Specific Requirements on the Customer Device Unlock - Request. Agree to the terms and proceed to submit your unlock request.
In the past, when requesting an IMEI unlock using the GoPhone account, the situation required the need to speak with a technician. Here are the phone numbers for GoPhone customers only: 1 866-695-2750 (night time support. Rings once) or 1 800-331-0500.
For daytime support, sometimes there are long waits with many prompts. To get to technical support, select option #5 "more options" then "0" (zero) for a technician: 1 800-901-9878 (Post-paid customers: 1-800-331-0500)
But I don't live in the United States!
That sucks. We've been trying to get this message out to AT&T: An Open Letter to AT&T Wireless Division: iPhone Unlocking. By the looks of the low number of "likes" and "retweets", it doesn't seem like AT&T will ever take notice of our little open letter. Maybe it's not that big of a deal after all?
Other than paying a third party "supplier" $100 or more to unlock your iPhone, in the future, it might just be best to avoid purchasing an off contract AT&T iPhone if you're not residing in the United States.
There are other options for carrier unlocking, but we'll save that for another time.
Until next time,