What Does iPhone Carrier Lock “No SIM restrictions” Mean?

A SIM (subscriber identity module) is a seventeen-digit code memory chip issued by a mobile service provider that stores information about a cell phone user and enables phone calls.

The mobile service provider can use carrier lock software to restrict a mobile phone from using SIM cards from other network providers.

This tactic first appeared with Apple and AT&T to lock Apple users in until they finish their device payment plans. Many mobile network providers have since adopted this model and are partnering with mobile phone manufacturers to sell locked mobile phones.

So, what’ the meaning of No SIM Restrictions?

What Does “No SIM restrictions” Mean?

Have you ever noticed the “No SIM Restrictions” under Carrier Lock of your iPhone?

iphone carrier lock no sim restrictions

When you buy a phone, it is either SIM locked or has no SIM restriction.

With a SIM-locked phone, the phone manufacturer limits the phone to a specific mobile network, while a no SIM restriction mobile phone is open for use with any network provider.

SIM restriction is commonplace when buying a phone under contract. Since the third party sells the phone at a discount, they lock the buyer into their network and deter them from getting the financing and switching to another network or selling the phone at a profit.

It also ensures the buyer honors the terms of the contract and makes their monthly payments.

How to Check If Your iPhone is “No SIM restrictions”?

An iPhone can be carrier-locked. It is critical to know if it is locked before you buy one. There are 3 ways to check if your iPhone is locked. These are:

Method #1: Check in Settings

Step 1. Open Settings

Step 2. Tap on General

Step 3. Click on About

Step 4. Scroll down and look for Carrier Lock.

If it reads No SIM restrictions, the iPhone is unlocked.

If it shows SIM locked, your iPhone is locked to a specific network, and you cannot switch to another carrier before unlocking.

iphone carrier lock sim locked

Method #2: Check If iPhone Is Unlocked with the SIM Card

You’ll need another SIM cards for this method.

Step 1. Switch off your iPhone

Step 2. Remove the current SIM card

Step 3. Insert the other SIM card from a different network provider

Step 4. Switch the phone on and make a call

Step 5. If the call goes through the iPhone is unlocked, if it shows a message like “SIM Not Supported“, then it’s locked.

Method #3: Check with IMEI Checker

Step 1. Open Settings > General > About, scroll down and look for the IMEI number. Alternatively, dial *#06# to get your device’s IMEI.

dial to get imei

If you’re using an iPhone X or later, you will see a second IMEI listing, note it down

Step 2. Visit WipeLock IMEI Checker and submit your IMEI number. It will show you whether your iPhone is locked or not.

iphone 12 pro xfinity imei check

What to Do if Your iPhone is “SIM locked”?

If your iPhone is locked, you can either call your carrier or use an unlocking service to unlock it.

Method #1: Contact Your Carrier

If your iPhone is carrier-locked, you can submit a request for unlocking to your carrier and wait a couple of days for them to unlock.

When they unlock your iPhone, and you want to switch your SIM card to another carrier, remove your current SIM card and insert the new SIM card. Your iPhone will be ready to go on the new carrier.  

If you want to continue using your current SIM card, backup your iPhone, and erase its data. Then restore your iPhone from the backup, and your iPhone will be ready to go.

For more details, just refer to this guide.

Method # 2: Use an Unlocking Service

DirectUnlocks is a professional iPhone unlocking service that charges about $28 to unlock your iPhone.

To unlock your phone, you will first have to provide them with your details: the locked carrier and IMEI number.  

directunlocks iphone unlock

They unlock remotely “Over-The-Air” using Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity. When unlocking you do not need to switch off or restart your iPhone you also don’t need to connect your iPhone to a computer.

You can track the progress of unlocking on their tracking page, and in case of anything, you can contact the support that is available 24/7.

Once they unlock your device, they send confirmation via SMS, and from there you can use whichever SIM you want for your iPhone.

DirectUnlocks has a 100% success rate with no risk on your iPhone warranty.

Advantages of an Unlocked iPhone

Compatible with Any Carrier

A factory unlocked iPhone does not tie you down to a specific carrier or contract. So, you can use any network SIM card and plan.

This is the biggest advantage of an unlocked iPhone, since it gives you flexibility and freedom to switch between carriers and patronize the one with better rates and signal.

Traveling Overseas More Convenient

Another advantage of an unlocked iPhone is that when traveling overseas, an unlocked phone offers high flexibility in the choice of carrier.

A locked iPhone will lock you in with international roaming rates that are usually high, whereas with an unlocked iPhone, you can buy a local SIM card and pay lower local call rates.

Save Money in a Long Term

Buying an unlocked iPhone can save you money.

Though some unlocked iPhones may cost more upfront in comparison to locked phones, when spread over time, they can be less expensive when paired with an affordable voice and data plan.

However, most locked iPhones end up to be more costly because most of the financing comes with a high APR.

Bonus: How to Check If Android Phone is Unlocked?

If you’re using an Android, there are two ways to see if your phone is unlocked.

Method #1

  1. Open Settings
  2. Click on Connections
  3. Go to Networks and select Networks Operators.*(It may take a while for the phone to search for available networks.)

If the phone is unlocked, the available networks will appear.

To confirm, make a call with one of the available networks. In case after the network search, only one network shows up; there is a high possibility the phone is locked.  

Also, if the search network option is unavailable in the networks menu, the phone is likely to be locked as well. However, this method is not foolproof. To confirm if your phone is locked, use method 2.

Method #2

To use this method, have 2 SIM cards from 2 different network providers. Here is a rundown of how to do it

  1. Turn off your phone
  2. Remove your phone’s SIM card
  3. Put the SIM card from the other network provider
  4. Switch on the phone
  5. The carrier’s name should appear on the home screen
  6. Make a call

If the call goes through, your phone is unlocked. If not, the phone is locked to the first network. A message will appear at the top of the screen “SIM not supported.”

If there are no SIM restrictions but the message reads “phone not allowed“, reset your network settings. If it does not reset, contact your network provider.


Advancements in technology are always democratizing technology. One of these advancements has been no SIM restrictions for mobile phones. Today, most phones allow users to use whichever mobile network they like.

Regarding locked phones, people can unlock them and use their preferred networks.

Though mobile operators may not like it, it is empowering for consumers to use network providers they want rather than be tied down to a specific provider simply because they bought the phone on a payment plan.

About the Author

Darren is an Apple Certified Independent Technician with a passion for researching all aspects of phone locks, including Activation Lock, carrier lock, screen lock, FRP lock, and more. With years of experience in the mobile phone industry, Darren has become a leading authority in his field and has been a sought-after consultant for individuals and businesses seeking to unlock their devices.

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