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Unlocking iPhone 6s: What you need to use the new iPhone on any carrier you want

iPhone 6s Plus Unlock

Buying a new iPhone used to seem like such a simple process, or at least comparatively less confusing than it is nowadays. All carriers used to offer you the option of purchasing the handset for just $199.99 with a new two-year contract or paying outright for the handset. Apple would also sell you full-price unlocked devices if you so desired. But things have changed a lot since then, and you’ll also have to consider one more important factor when buying the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, especially if you want carrier freedom.

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T-Mobile started a massive pricing war that turned the carrier-subsidized smartphone sale model into almost a distant memory of the past. All mobile operators are ready to sell you a brand-new smartphone without a contract and let you pay for it in installments.

Even Apple has jumped on board, letting you purchase the device for just around $1 per day and bundling your purchase with AppleCare+. Unlike carriers, though, Apple sells you an unlocked device that can be used on any network, so if you bought the handset directly from Apple (unlocked or using the iPhone Upgrade Program) you’d get to do just that: Choose what carrier you like, whenever you like it.

As TheAppFactor reminds us, buying the device directly from Apple is the easiest way to get an unlocked iPhone. All iPhones sold by carriers (on contract, on installments plans, and full-price) will be locked to that operator even if you pay full sticker price for your chosen flavor.

You’ll be able to unlock the device only after you pay for it in full, regardless of what your wireless plan choice is. Only then will any operator unlock the device so that you can use it with a SIM card from a competitor. But the procedure won’t be automatic, and you’ll still have to request an unlock through the proper channels. That usually involves contacting your operator and verifying whether you qualify.

Here’s the quick guide of unlocking the new iPhone, if you purchase it directly from Apple, as listed by TheAppFactor:

  • Turn ON your new iPhone 6s or 6s Plus.
  • Plug it into your computer and launch iTunes.
  • Follow the carrier activation prompts with the SIM that came with the new iPhone installed.
  • You will see an unlocked message confirming that your device is unlocked.

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.