How to Remove Activation Lock on an iPhone

The lock screen on an iPhone XS.Hadrian / Shutterstock

The activation lock makes iPhones less attractive to thieves. When you set up an iPhone, it is associated with your iCloud ID. Even if someone steals it, they can only configure and use it if you remove the activation lock.

Unfortunately, criminals aren't the only ones frustrated with the activation lock. If you buy a used iPhone and don't realize it's locked, for example, you might find yourself locked on your new phone. Here's how to get around it.

What is activation lock?

When you activate your iPhone for the first time, Apple takes note of the device's unique ID and your Apple ID. It then links your iPhone's unique identifier to your Apple identifier. This will prevent any other Apple ID from using the device. Without the username and password combination for your Apple ID, your iPhone cannot be reset and used by someone else.

You probably won't notice the activation lock until you reset your iPhone or install a major iOS upgrade. At this point, you need to log in with your Apple ID to verify your identity and activate the device.

The activation lock screen on an iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.Apple

This security feature is closely related to another called Find My iPhone, which helps you locate a missing device. If you activate Find My iPhone on your device, you also activate the activation lock. By default, both are enabled on all iPhones and should remain so.

If you want to see if Find My iPhone (and Activation Lock) is enabled, go to Settings> (Your name)> iCloud> Find My iPhone, or sign in to to see the current location of your device.

Although users most often experience issues with activation lock on used iPhones, the functionality is also available on iPads and Apple Watch. Just like on iPhones, the activation lock locks an iPad or Apple Watch on the Apple ID used to configure it.

How to recover your Apple ID password

To activate an iPhone, simply log in with your Apple ID. You need to know your email address and password. If you're using two-factor authentication, you can tap "Unlock with password" and then enter the one-time digital code that Apple sends you instead.

If you don't know your Apple ID email address, you can find it on Apple iForgot website. If you don't know what your password is or want to reset it, you can also do it on i forgot. In addition to activating your device, you also need your Apple credentials to configure the App Store, FaceTime and iMessage calls.

The entry page on

If you can't reset your Apple ID password or recover your email address, call Apple support. If you are in the United States, the telephone number is 1-800-APL-CARE. And you don't need to have a Apple Care Plan call.

Ask Apple to remove the activation lock for you

If you still can't activate your iPhone, there's one more thing you can try. Apple will remove the activation lock from a device for which you have valid proof of purchase. You can do this in two ways:

Make an appointment at your local Apple Store. Take your device, your proof of purchase and your best smile.
Call Apple Support and explain the situation. Ask the representative to remove the activation lock from your remote device.

We called our local Apple Store and were told about these two options. The representative told us that removing the device activation lock (both in-store and over the phone) "generally falls within the scope of our free services."

We fully understand that the activation lock is removed. This article explains how to disable the iPhone activation lock and also provides links if you need to reset your Apple ID password.

– Apple support (@AppleSupport) May 23, 2018

The representative will notify you that there is a good chance that your iPhone will be erased during this process. The support staff we spoke to said that not all iPhones are erased, but you must sign a waiver for all work done by Apple.

This is just one of the reasons why you should always have an iPhone backup.

Avoid activation lock when buying a used iPhone

One of the biggest drawbacks to activation locking is the way it affects second-hand sales. Many people don't realize that their devices are locked to their Apple ID when they sell them. Likewise, many buyers don't know this when they buy a used iPhone.

If you buy an iPhone through a service like eBay, you should be covered by buyer protection for anything you can't use. Unfortunately, this protection does not extend to face-to-face transactions. Here are some ways to avoid buying a device that you cannot activate:

When you turn on the iPhone, you should see the "Hello" configuration screen prompting you to "Configure your iPhone" for the first time. This means that it is activated and not locked to another Apple ID.
If the device requests a password, it has not been erased. Ask the seller to go to Settings> General> Reset> Erase all content and settings and erase the device. After that, the "Configure your iPhone" screen should appear.
If the device prompts you for an Apple ID and password, it is locked and worthless to you in its current state. Ask the seller to log in with their Apple ID and password to activate the device. He will also need to go to Settings> General> Reset> Erase all content and settings to erase the device. Again, if this has been done, you will see the "Configure your iPhone" screen.

If the seller refuses to do any of the above, stay away from the sale. Once you are satisfied that the device is unlocked (and working), proceed to the sale.

Be extremely careful if you decide to buy a used iPhone on the Internet, especially on classified sites like Facebook Marketplace, Kijiji and GumTree. These websites offer little or no protection to buyers, so you are much more likely to end up with an expensive clipboard.

Ask a seller to deactivate the remote activation lock

If you have already bought a locked iPhone, all hope is not lost! In a perfect world, the seller simply forgot to turn it off or didn't realize that the functionality existed in the first place. Fortunately, the seller can delete the device from their account remotely.

You have to contact the seller for it to work, so don't burn your bridges too early if you feel you are being scammed. To dissociate the device from the Apple ID of the previous owner, the seller must perform the following steps:

Log in with his Apple ID on
Click on "All Devices" and then select the appropriate iPhone.
If "Delete from account" is available, she must select it;
Otherwise, she can click "Erase iPhone" and then click "Remove from Account".

The iPhone in question should no longer be locked to an Apple ID. You may need to reboot the device before seeing the changes.

Third-party services that offer to unlock your device

Many third-party services will unlock your device for a fee. However, some do it to exploit vulnerabilities in Apple software, and others are used by law enforcement. None of them is official, and there is no guarantee that they will work.

Some people "divorce" your Apple device to bypass the activation lock. This allows you to access the iPhone, but Apple will likely blacklist it. This means that it will not receive any future iOS updates and that you will not be able to use iMessage, make calls via FaceTime or download apps from the App Store.

The iCloud removal service website.

The only legitimate and reliable methods to unlock your iPhone are the ones we have described above.

Sell ​​your old iPhone? Disable activation lock

Before selling your iPhone, you need to do two things: deactivate the activation lock and erase the device to the factory settings. The first guarantees that the seller can use your device and the second keeps your data private.

Follow these steps to deactivate activation lock:

In Settings, tap your name at the top of the list.
Press "iCloud", then "Find my iPhone".
Disable "Find my iPhone," and then enter your Apple ID password.

You can now follow these steps to reset your device:

Go to Settings> General> Reset.
Press on "Delete all content and parameters", confirm your decision, then wait for the procedure to finish.

When you see the "Hello" screen that says, "Configure your iPhone", you can sell your device.

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