How to check if there is no activation lock on the iPhone

Updated: June 12, 2023
6 min read
How to check if there is no activation lock on the iPhone
by Mykola Hezhoian
Tech Expert & Writer
Checked by
Quality Control team

As a rule, sellers of used equipment offer iPhones in two states: after a complete reset (the screen displays greetings in different languages) or turned on but not activated (all data is deleted, but the binding to iCloud is not performed).

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In both cases, you must ensure the iPhone is not locked for activation before buying. That means that it is not tied to the previous owner's account and will work with your account. This is important because restoring access to a smartphone that you don't lock is impossible, and such a device is only suitable for parts. Here's how to quickly check your iPhone for iCloud tethering.

These verification methods will not compromise the seller in any way and will not deprive him of access to the smartphone if the deal goes wrong. If the owner does not agree with them, you should look for another ad.

If the iPhone is wholly reset

The device displays the welcome screen in different languages — exactly like a new iPhone that has just come out of the box. While it may seem like your smartphone is ready to use, this reset doesn't guarantee anything.

  1. Perform the device's initial setup: select the language and region, and then connect to Wi-Fi. The device will contact the Apple server for activation.
  2. If it detects a link to another account, the iPhone will ask you to enter the password for the account you previously used. In this case, you must ask the seller to enter the data, unlink the Apple ID in the settings, or refuse the transaction.

If you're not tethered, you won't need to sign in to your Apple ID immediately after connecting to Wi-Fi and activating it. Instead, the smartphone will prompt you to accept the privacy rules and set up Face ID or Touch ID. You can (and are encouraged to) do this to check that the scanners work, but at this point, you've ensured there's no activation lock on your iPhone.

If only data is deleted

no activation lock on the iPhone

Some sellers offer an iPhone with the initial setup already done. This is more convenient than a completely reset device because it allows you can test all systems, compare the IMEI to the one on the box, and perform other tests.

  1. To check your Apple ID tethering, open the Settings app.
  2. There should be a Login to iPhone tab. Click on it and ensure that the system prompts you to enter your Apple ID and password (that is, you can use any iCloud account). You don't need to enter your data: this pop-up is enough to understand that the smartphone is unlinked from the old Apple ID.
  3. If you already have an Apple ID in the settings, you need to click on this bar, scroll down and click Exit. Then, ask the owner to enter the password to remove the device from the account and disable Find iPhone.
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