An activation lock removal in reference to iPhone is the act of doing an iCloud unlock or an iCloud bypass. By removing the associated iCloud credentials (a.k.a. your Apple ID), the phone can be unlocked and associated with a different Apple ID.
One of the more distasteful ways to remove activation lock on an iPhone or iPad is to use a software tweak (reprogramming the CPU) to change the IMEI number of the phone into a “clean” one. This may be considered illegal, and it is in your best interest to avoid it at all costs. Even if done on a refurbished iPhone before being sold to another user, it’s not above board.
The only right way to do it is to approach a qualified vendor for iCloud unlocks. This involves engaging the services of an authorized device recycler with access to Apple’s GSX, or Global Stack Exchange. By internally changing the status of the device in a legitimate manner, a used iPhone or iPad can then be recycled as a refurbished product. You’ll see such iPhones available on Apple’s website as well.
Of course, the IMEI of the phone needs to be clear, meaning the phone can’t have been reported as lost or stolen. A service like checkmend will tell you everything you need to know about your device.
When to Remove an Activation Lock
If you bought an iPhone off someone second-hand and they forgot to remove their Apple ID from the device, you won’t be able to use the device without those credentials. Obviously, the previous owner has to enter the password or share it with you. But often, buyers purchase used iPhone units online, and after the sale, there’s usually radio silence from the seller, who very likely just created an account to sell their old device. If they’re not active on that account or if there’s no response to your PMs, then it’s probably better to delete the iCloud account from the device.
Obviously, for an iCloud account, no password other than the original one held by the account owner will work. If you can’t reach them, then your iPhone is as good as a very expensive, chic-looking brick! But a brick, nonetheless. Your only option in this type of situation is to remove the activation lock so you can start using the device with your own iCloud account.
What is an iCloud Activation Lock?
An iPhone or iPad is said to be iCloud-locked when the device has been remotely wiped and blocked using the Find My Phone service. This can be done online in a matter of a few seconds by the owner of the iCloud account with which the device has been associated.
To enable this service to work, the Find My Phone feature has to be enabled on the device. As long as the phone is on, the GPS will keep pinging its position to Apple’s iCloud servers. It is meant to help locate lost or stolen devices.
Unfortunately, a device will also be locked if the original phone’s user has signed out of iCloud but hasn’t removed that account from the device. In such cases, only the right password can access the device. If you’re the new owner but you don’t have the password, you need to do an activation lock removal. This can only be done by a genuine service provider since it requires access to Apple’s database.
The process itself is simple. All you do is select the right iPhone model and put in your IMEI number. You can get that by dialing *#06# on your device. Unfortunately, since it’s locked, you’ll need to look at the SIM tray, where it will be written in tiny lettering. You can also view it on iTunes in the summary tab after your device is connected and detected.
Once you order the iCloud unlock with a service provider like AppleiPhoneUnlock.uk by providing your device model and IMEI number, you will be notified about how long it will take. For international devices, use IPhoneIMEI.net. Typical turnaround time is 3 days if the queue is choked up, but it’s usually done much faster. In extreme cases, it can take a little longer. The only time when you can’t do an unlock this way is if the phone has been blocked because it was reported as being stolen.
In a recent news article, it was reported that hackers sometimes try to recycle stolen devices by tricking the device’s owners into giving their Apple ID and password. They allegedly use what are known as “phishing kits” that can mount a phishing attack that looks like the real thing. The device owners, thinking that Apple is contacting them directly, often don’t hesitate to provide their credentials in the hope that their phone might be recovered. Unfortunately, they just end up helping the hacker.
To be clear, activation lock removal should only be done if you’re the legitimate owner of the iPhone or iPad in question, and there’s no way to contact the original owner to dissociate their Apple ID from the device. Doing it under any other circumstance could land you in trouble.