When you activate your iPhone or iPad, Apple uses the device’s unique identifier and ties it with your Apple ID. This ensures that someone who steals the phone is not able to reactivate and use it. But, if you buy a used iPhone with the right intentions and then find that it’s still locked, you may want to bypass Activation Lock on your iPhone or iPad. Then only you can make the device fully yours. Let me tell you more about it and how to remove the Activation Lock.
- What is Activation Lock?
- How to Remove Activation Lock on iPhone or iPad
- How to Avoid Activation Lock When Buying a Used iPhone
- Remove Activation Lock When You Are Selling Your iOS Device
- Should I Pay And Remove Activation Lock From Third-Party Websites?
What is Activation Lock?
Activation Lock is an anti-theft security system that is automatically enabled when Find My iPhone is turned on (during the setup process by the first owner). It safeguards the device and the information on it.
Once the iCloud Activation Lock is in action, someone else can not activate the device using a different Apple ID. Additionally, the device can not be deleted from that iCloud account. Plus Find My service can not be disabled. All these actions can only be performed if the Apple ID and password that was originally (or last) used to set up the device is entered.
How to Remove Activation Lock on iPhone and iPad
There are only two ways to remove the Activation Lock.
- When You Are an Existing Owner and If You Erased Your Own Device
- When You Are the Second Owner – By Contacting the Previous Owner
1. When You Are an Existing Owner and If You Erased Your Own Device
A. Use Your Apple ID and Password.
If it is your device, you do not have to worry. In case you enter recovery mode and restore the device without signing out of iCloud, you will see the Activation Lock screen. Simply enter your Apple ID and password, and you are good to go.
B. Contact Apple Support and Verify Ownership.
If you have a valid proof of purchase, you can contact Apple Support and ask them to remove the Activation Lock. You can reach them via the Apple Support app, Twitter, Live Chat, or customer care number.
Or, even better, if there is an Apple Store near you, visit them with the proof of purchase. They may remove the Activation Lock on your iPhone or iPad. Usually, you won’t be charged for this, even if you do not have Apple Care or the device is out of warranty.
As you read, it is relatively straightforward if you are the first or existing owner. But when you see the Activation Lock on a just-bought second-hand iPhone, here is how to bypass it.
2. When You Are the Second Owner – By Contacting the Previous Owner
The chances to remove Activation Lock on used iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or Mac that you bought or were given, depends solely on the previous owner. If they do not cooperate, you are practically left with a paperweight with an Apple logo!
On many occasions, device owners may accidentally sell or gift you the iPhone with their Apple ID, and Activation Lock still enabled. In such cases, you need to contact them and follow the steps below.
A. If You Can Meet the Previous Owner in Person.
Ask them to enter their Apple ID and password on the Activation Lock screen. Next, let them set up the device with their Apple ID. Once the iPhone is set up, they need to do all the following processes:
- Unpair Apple Watch, if any.
- Turn off Find My iPhone: To do this, open the Settings app → tap on Apple ID banner from the top → Find My → Find My iPhone → turn off the toggle for Find My iPhone.
- Sign out of iCloud and the iTunes & App Store: To do this, open the Settings app → tap on Apple ID banner from top → scroll to the bottom and tap on Sign Out. Choose not to keep any data and tap on Sign Out again.
- Erase All Content and Settings: To do this, open the Settings app → tap on General → Reset → Erase All Content and Settings → enter your iPhone password → confirm.
After the erase process completes, the device is just like new and without any Activation Lock. Now, you can set up the phone and use your Apple ID or create a new one. Problem solved. Enjoy!
B. If You Can Not Meet the Previous Owner, Ask Him for Remote Help.
If the owner lives at a far off place and it is not possible to follow the above steps, you can try to ask him to share his Apple ID and password. This is not a great solution as people must not do this. But, if a relative or someone close has sold or gifted you the device, then you may give a shot to ask their Apple ID credentials.
In case the above solution does not work, ask the previous owner to follow the steps below:
- Erase and Remove from Account remotely: To do this, the previous owner can use the web or use his other Apple device. Here are both the ways.
- Using the web: Ask the previous owner to visit iCloud.com/find on a computer and log in to his account. Next, click on All Devices and select the device he sold to you. It would be listed under All Devices. Next, click on Erase iPhone. After the erase completes, click on Remove from Account (if visible).
- Using other Apple Devices: Ask the previous owner to open Find My app on his other iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Login with his Apple ID if asked. Next, click on Devices and select the iPhone he gave to you. Choose Erase This Device. Once the process completes, choose to Remove from Account.
Important: While the previous owner takes the above actions, make sure mobile data or Wi-Fi is connected to the iPhone that is with you. Then only, the device can be erased.
Once the process completes, the iPhone is free of Activation Lock. Now, restart the iPhone and set it up using your existing Apple ID or create a new one.
As you might have figured out, the above steps work if the previous owner is kind, cooperative, and without ill motives. There are plenty of scamsters, especially online, who sell you the device and then later ask you additional payment to remove the Activation Lock. So make sure you are cautious before buying.
How to Avoid Activation Lock When Buying a Used iPhone
If you do not find a good refurbished deal, there is absolutely no harm in buying a second hand iPhone or iPad. But make sure to check for Activation Lock before buying from someone else. Plus, check the status of the iPhone or iPad before buying.
Check for Activation Lock Before Buying the iPhone From Someone Else
Roundabout 50% of iOS devices are legally sold with Activation Lock on. In some cases, the seller doesn’t remove iCloud lock intentionally to ask for more money later. And in other cases, it happens accidentally. To avoid being trapped, you should check whether the device is locked or not before buying it.
Before buying an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple Watch from an authorized Apple reseller, you must ensure that the device is erased and isn’t linked to the previous owner’s account. Besides, you need to ask the seller whether or not they’ve removed Activation Lock.
Turn on the device. If the passcode lock screen or the Home screen appears, that means it hasn’t been erased. Then, ask the seller to completely erase the device from Settings app → General → Reset → Erase All Content and Settings. If you’re requested for the previous owner’s Apple ID and password, that means that the device is still associated with their account.
In case the previous owner isn’t present, you can ask them to remove the device from their account by signing in to iCloud.com (explained above). When you are prompted to “Set up your iPhone/iPad,” the first time you turn it on, it means Activation Lock is disabled on it.
Check the Status of iPhone or iPad Before Buying
Another important thing you need to keep in mind before buying an iPhone from an unknown seller is to ensure that the device is not stolen. Earlier, Apple allowed viewing the status of any iOS device using the Activation Lock tool. But now it has removed the option in the wake of some reports that Chinese hackers were taking the undue advantage of it. However, you can still check the status of any device.
Head over to stolenphonechecker.org site and enter the IMEI of the device you want to purchase. The tool will compare the IMEI against several source databases and deliver a quick result. The IMEI number is printed on the back of older iPhones. If you are using a recent model (or even old ones), you can find it inside the SIM tray.
If you are still reading this post, I think you know the pain when someone finds his/her iPhone with iCloud lock enabled. Hence, it’d be better if you unlock the iCloud lock before selling it.
Remove Activation Lock When You Are Selling Your iOS Device
What we explained above is precise that you must follow before selling your device. It ensures a comfortable experience for the next owner. Plus also ensures that your private data is no longer on that device.
Here is a quick recap of what you need to do before selling or giving it to someone else. You can see the exact steps on how to perform these actions above.
- Unpair your Apple Watch.
- Turn off Find My iPhone.
- Sign Out of iTunes and App Store.
- Erase Everything.
- Remove from your list of trusted devices.
- Deregister iMessage if you are moving to Android.
Should I Pay And Remove Activation Lock From Third-Party Websites?
No! You will see many reviews, customer feedback, and get incited to pay the fee and have the Activation Lock removed in a day or two. But this can lead to serious consequences. Your device may stop getting updates and even fail to go past Activation Lock again after a reset/erase. Overall, it is not at all recommended to follow this route. Even if the website looks genuine and has words like official, trusted, oldest, guaranteed, etc.
This is how you can bypass Activation Lock. This article was focused on the iPhone and iPad. However, the same works for Mac and Apple Watch as well. I hope this guide helped you.