Why is an Internationally Unlocked iPhone Not Working?

Ken asks:

I recently purchased an iPhone 5 from an online store through a seller. Now, whenever I insert the SIM card into this iPhone, I get a request to enter the PIN number. After entering a number the iPhone simply keeps on searching for signal, finally showing a “No Service” message. The software is iOS 7. The seller also mentioned that it’s an international iPhone (IMEI unlocked), and I should have no problems using it. What can I do to force this unlocked iPhone to work again?


Your question is short, so it’s a bit difficult to tell you what steps you should take. Was the iPhone tied to a carrier before? Has it been unlocked using “other” ways? I will explain everything you need to know about iPhones and unlocking.

As you mentioned the iPhone was unlocked through IMEI, it is possible that the seller was having a contract-based iPhone. Unlocking using such a fashion is not exactly the right technique. Only carriers (network providers) have the authority to unlock your iPhone. If you do this by yourself, then you might want to check with the law.

The rule is simple: unlocking iPhones is not legal. There is a thick chance that you have paid for a phone that was unlocked using various shady techniques. As lost phones can be tracked through IMEI, there have been numerous stories of how people stole phones, changed the IMEI number, and resold it at a cheaper price.

Your best bet is to get in touch with the seller and politely tell him that the iPhone shows “No Service” message. Make sure to avoid writing angry messages, as that will only create a communication gap between you and the seller. Write a meaningful message requesting for help.

Who knows the phone is legally unlocked? Next step is to insert another SIM card. There can be an issue with your current provider. So you can try inserting a new GSM SIM into the iPhone and switch on the device to see how it reacts.

If this still doesn’t help, then head over to the Apple Store. You can also call Apple customer care and tell them about this problem. Your only hopes of making the iPhone work back again is by being completely honest. Tell them you bought a phone and it’s not working at all. You didn’t really knew it was unlocked manually, as you bought the iPhone online.

If the genius folks at Apple Store can fix your iPhone for a fee, then let me tell you: it’s worth the investment.

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