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Go anywhere you want to go with an unlocked iPhone

What does it mean when an iPhone is unlocked?

An unlocked iPhone doesn’t have a term contract or otherwise have any ties to a specific carrier. Previously, locked iPhone devices would be tied to a carrier’s network and services when customers purchased them on contract, attaching a subsidy to reduce the upfront price on every monthly payment.

Under those terms, a locked iPhone could only work with that carrier’s SIM cards, meaning that those from other carriers, both in Canada or abroad, would not be compatible. As of Dec. 1, 2017, carriers were mandated by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to offer all devices unlocked, though iPhone can still come with contracts. Or you can choose to buy one outright.

In either case, the iPhone must come unlocked out of the box, letting you use it with any carrier you choose to subscribe with. Since most carriers can work with iPhone, you have plenty of options to choose from.

Does anything change in how an unlocked iPhone works?

It’s important to distinguish between an unlocked iPhone and what a “jailbreak” iPhone is. The two are mutually exclusive terminologies that are unrelated to one another. When Jailbreaking an iPhone, you are using unauthorized third-party tools to eliminate media and app restrictions that would normally be in place. It does technically unlock an iPhone from carrier locks, but is not the same as simply unlocking from a carrier’s network. Jailbreaking an iPhone also voids any warranty, so beware of trying it.

An unlocked iPhone works like any other smartphone would when free to work with any carrier. While travelling, it affords you the opportunity to use a local carrier’s SIM card, or take your phone with you if you plan to move and live in a foreign country. Compatibility may differ depending on where you go, however. Major carriers are usually fine, whereas regional ones could be more restrictive.

Major carriers in Canada offer roaming services at fixed daily prices, and those would work with any iPhone operating on their networks. The same is true within Canada, should you have a monthly plan offering nationwide calls, for example.

What types of iPhone are available unlocked?

There is no real limitation on which iPhone would be available unlocked. Apple has offered iPhone devices without any network restrictions for many years, regardless of the particular model. This also applies to past models that are not part of the current lineup. If you do come across an iPhone locked to a Canadian carrier, they must unlock it free of charge upon request.