A great tool for those interested in used iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches, and Apple Watches is the Find My iPhone Activation Lock Lookup Tool. This tool helps you learn if a used iDevice is stolen, lost, or hopefully available to reuse. So use this iPhone Activation Lock Lookup Tool anytime you or someone you care about is looking to purchase or receive as a gift a used iPhone or another iDevice. This tool helps you see the current status of the iDevice’s activation lock.
Unfortunately, as of 2017, Apple removed its iCloud Activation Lock status check tool from its website. However, there is a workaround for buyers in the market for a secondhand (New-To-You or Used) iDevice. And some people report that Apple will disable Activation Lock for users upon being provided legitimate proof of purchase.
A Word of Caution
This workaround currently works, but Apple might completely remove it from the website at any time. So if this method no longer works, let us know.
- 0.1 Why is a clean ESN important?
- 0.2 Thought Your iPhone Was Stolen or Lost But Then Found It?
- 0.3 How-To LookUp iPhone Activation Status UPDATED 2017
- 0.4 Check Via a Third-Party!
- 1 Buying a Secondhand iPhone?
- Remove iCloud Activation Lock
- How To Set-Up a Used iPhone or iPad
- How To Prepare for Buying or Selling a Used iPhone
Why is a clean ESN important?
Your ESN or Electronic Serial Number is the gateway to activating your iPhone or another iDevice with Apple and on a wireless network. Sometimes, iPhones (and other iDevices) have bad or blacklisted ESNs–and there are generally three reasons why:
- The Owner has not fully paid off the iPhone
- The iPhone is still active but under another’s account
- Someone reported the iPhone lost or stolen
If the iDevice has any of the three listed circumstances, that iPhone will NOT activate on another customer’s carrier account
Thought Your iPhone Was Stolen or Lost But Then Found It?
If you reported your iPhone as lost or stolen to your carrier, you need to call your carrier and tell them that you found the phone. If you don’t do this, that device will have a bad ESN, and you (or anyone else) will not be able to activate it with your mobile carrier or with Apple.
How-To LookUp iPhone Activation Status UPDATED 2017
- Visit Apple’s Support website
- Select iPhone from the list of devices
- Click any HARDWARE search category such as Repairs & Physical Damage or Battery, Power, & Charging.
- On the next page, select a particular problem like Screen Damage, Operating System Does Not Respond, or Unable to Power Off
- Tap Send in for Repair.
- Then enter your device’s serial number, IMEI or MEID to check its Activation Lock status
- If Activation Lock (or Find My iPhone) is enabled, you see a message saying Sorry but we can’t create a repair while Find my iPhone is active
As of December 2017, we’ve heard from a few readers that this workaround is no longer viable. You must now enter payment information before reaching the Activation Lock status checker.
Check Via a Third-Party!
Another great avenue to check your activation lock (ESN–electronic serial number) is via your mobile carrier or third-party resellers like Swappa and Ting. The best option to check an iPhone’s ESN is through the major mobile carriers. But if your carrier does not have an ESN checking tool, then third-party resellers like Swappa are a good option. However, when using these resellers ESN checkers, make sure you plug in your information into more than one site. Sometimes, these resellers provide incorrect ESN status–so best to double, even triple check!
So if you’re thinking of purchasing a used iPhone or another iDevice, use these third-party sites or carrier websites to check the validity of your New-To-You iPhone and check if that IMEI is clean for activation!
Buying a Secondhand iPhone?
Never take ownership of any used iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch until it has been removed from the previous owner’s account
Follow these steps BEFORE you buy ANY previously owned iDevice
- Turn the device on and slide to unlock
- If the passcode lock screen or the Home screen appears, the device hasn’t been erased
- Ask the seller to completely erase the device by going to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings
- Do NOT PURCHASE any used iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch until it’s been erased
- You know that a device is ready for you to use when you’re asked to “Set up your iPhone,” “Set up your iPad,” or “Set up your iPod” the first time you turn it on
- Begin the device setup process
- After choosing a language, region, and connecting to a network, activation starts.
- If you’re asked for the previous owner’s Apple ID and password, the device is still linked to their account
- Get the seller to enter their password. If the previous owner isn’t present, ask them to remove the device from their account remotely through icloud.com/find.
Always check the ESN when buying an iPhone secondhand. If you purchase a device with a bad or blacklisted ESN, the only way to change its status is thru the original owner. And that’s often an impossibility. To always purchase and sell secondhand iPhones safely, use your carrier’s ESN tool or the third-party checkers mentioned above. Don’t get stuck with an expensive bricked iPhone or iDevice!
To locate your iPhone’s IMEI/MEID or iDevice’s Serial Number, there are a few different methods
- For all iDevices, including Apple Watch Go to Settings > General > About
- Use iTunes, select your device and click Summary (only works if your iDevice syncs with iTunes)
- For iPhone, click phone number to see IMEI/MEID
- With iPad cellular model, click Serial Number to see IMEI/MEID
- For Apple Watch, find the serial number engraved on the back of the watch
- With iPhone 5 and above, all iPads and iPod Touches, and the original iPhone, the IMEI/MEID and/or Serial Number is on the back of your device
- For iPhone 4S and below and iPhone 6S, the IMEI/MEID is on the SIM tray
- IMEI/MEID numbers are also located on the original packing for the iDevice, so if you have access to that packaging take a look at the white label that comes with each iDevice.
- You can also find your product’s serial number on the original product receipt or invoice
- You can also try dialing *#06# on your phone and Apple sends your IMEI/MEID number via text
What Do I Do If the Previous Owner Forgot to Turn off Find My iPhone Activation Lock?
If the previous owner simply forgot to remove the iDevice from their account, the easiest thing is to ask them to remove it now. However, if that owner is not available, then there are a few options. Check out our articles on used iPhone and iDevices, How to Set-Up a Used iPhone/iPad and Used iPhone Buying Guide, to learn more tips on getting the most out of our New-To-You iDevices.
And if you happen to be in the market to sell your iPhone or iDevice, check out our article on what steps to do before you send that iDevice on its next journey.
And take a look at this article if you are in the market for either buying or selling.
Lesson Learned: don’t buy a second-hand device without physically checking to see if iCloud is on. If you buy online you’re taking a chance anyway. According to Apple, Activation Lock must be disabled before a device is passed or sold to another person. Failure to do so renders the device unusable for any new owner. With this tool, Apple makes the process of checking for Activation Lock easy. And hopefully, prevents people from buying a device that may be locked because it was lost or stolen.