Suppose I buy an iPhone 7 directly from Apple, and I select the SIM-free version. Will this lock to the first carrier it is activated with? Or is it unlocked for life so I'll be able to switch carriers freely without restrictions?

Searching online, I found some reports that claim past SIM-free iPhones might lock to the first carrier they're activated with (even if bought via Apple), but the sources don't seem fully credible to me. Going through the purchase process on apple.com, Apple describes the phone as SIM-free but never calls it unlocked and doesn't seem to have any definition of what SIM-free means. That makes me wonder.


3 Answers 3


According to Apple a SIM-free iPhone purchased directly via Apple should be unlocked. So, it is pretty unlikely that you get locked afterwards.

Furthermore you should be able to use every SIM worldwide*.

*considering there are no restrictions in the chosen country like e.g. in Turkey.

Edit: This answer is based on the situation in the U.S. only. Other countries/markets may vary.


It happened to me. Bought an iPhone SE directly from the Apple store, put in a Three SIM. When I moved to another country, I found out it was locked to Three even though I had ended my contract with them. It took 7 days to get an unlock code.


Just had similar issue in UK, two iPhones purchased unlocked and sim free, they are both now locked to a carrier and have to wait 10 days to get unlocked.

  • 1
    Where did you purchase them from? Did you purchase them directly from Apple, via the Apple store? In person, or online?
    – D.W.
    Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 20:53

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