In this post today I am going to explain how iPhone iTunes activation works. Understanding the iTunes activation process is important, specially if you want to get your iPhone factory unlocked.
But before we get into that, let’s understand why an iPhone gets de-activated every-time you update or restore iOS software. It’s because majority of the iPhones are sold under contract by Apple. Which are locked to a particular network. Those phones will work only with a sim card from the network it’s locked to. To ensure this, Apple implements an IMEI, ICCID and IMSI verification process through iTunes. This check is performed when you try to activate your iPhone through iTunes. This is the reason behind whole iTunes activation scheme.
Now with that understanding, let’s proceed on how to activate and unlock your iPhone using iTunes. And then, will cover bit more about what actually happens in the back-end during iPhone iTunes activation process.
Activating the iPhone with iTunes:
First of all you need to put a sim card inside your iPhone. In case your phone is locked to any network, use the sim card from that network only. For example, if your phone is locked to AT&T network, insert an AT&T sim card in the phone.
You may insert any sim card, in case you have bought our iPhone Factory IMEI unlock services. Same applies if you have got your iPhone factory unlocked through your network service provider and trying to activate your iPhone after unlock confirmation.
Now connect your iPhone to your computer using the USB cable that came with your iPhone.
Launch iTunes now and select your iPhone in the left side menu on iTunes screen. You’ll be presented with two options by iTunes
- Check for Update and
Click on any of the above two, it’ll update your iOS to the latest available version.
Wait for the iOS update process to finish. The activation and unlock process is automated. Your iPhone will get activated within 10 seconds after your iOS version is updated.
In case, you have got your iPhone officially unlocked using our iPhone iTunes IMEI unlock service, you’ll get an iTunes unlock confirmation message as shown below. Wait for few more seconds and iPhone will detect network signal. You can see your carrier logo on the top-left side on the iPhone screen.
What happens in the back-end:
All the IMEIs of iPhones sold by Apple till date are stored in an Apple server. Those IMEIs are either associated with the network it’s locked to, or listed as factory unlocked (also known as Apple white-list database). When you connect your iPhone to your PC or Mac to activate it, iTunes connects to Apple server in the backend. iTunes sends the IMEI number, baseband details, iOS version detail, ICCID and IMSI number to Apple server. There is an automated check that takes place at the server which verifies the ICCID and IMSI of the sim card with network lock record in it’s database. If the inserted sim card ICCID matches with the network the IMEI is locked to, Apple server sends the activation ticket back to iTunes. iTunes places the activation ticket into iPhone, and your iPhone gets activated.
The inserted sim card or ICCID and IMSI doesn’t matter in case your IMEI is listed in Apple’s white-list IMEI database. In that case, Apple server will send activation and unlock ticket simultaneously. Which means, your iPhone will work with any GSM network in the world.
I have tried to cover as much possible on the topic. Please let me know through comment if I missed anything or you need any clarification. I’ll be happy to answer your queries.
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