iCloud lock or Find My iPhone Activation Lock prevents someone from stealing an iPhone, erasing it and using it as their own. It can also lock out users who forget their information or who buy a used phone from an owner that did not remove their information from it. There are two ways to bypass iCloud lock and activation lock to make the iPhone work again, but neither will work if the device is stolen.
The simplest solution is to take the device to an Apple store with proof that you own it, but if that is not possible there is a new service that specializes in unlocking the iCloud lock to allow you to use the iPhone just like it was new.
The iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s all include Find My iPhone Activation Lock as part of iOS 7. This is also commonly called iCloud lock as it can lock the phone down and prevent a thief from resetting the iPhone and selling it. Apple introduced this feature in iOS 7 last fall and it is already credited with cutting down on smartphone theft.
For all the good that iCloud lock does, it can lock out otherwise innocent users that lost access to information, to a loved one’s iPhone after they passed away and to people who purchased a used iPhone that was not unlocked. Although some used iPhones are not unlocked because they are stolen, this is also something that happens when users sell an iPhone without knowing exactly what Find My iPhone Activation lock or iCloud lock does.
This guide will show you how you can bypass iCloud lock to make your iPhone work again. If it is a stolen iPhone, or it is in lost mode, you are out of luck.
Bypass iCloud Lock with Apple
If you own the iPhone that is locked with iCloud lock you can work with Apple to bypass iCloud lock. Apple will not do this for just any phone, but if it is your iPhone and you have the original receipt you can work with Apple to unlock Activation Lock in iOS 7.
The best solution is to take your original receipt and your ID to an Apple Store, where many users report success in getting Apple to unlock iCloud lock on a device they can prove they own.
You may also be able to use Apple’s online support service to do the same thing, but make sure you have your information handy to share with Apple.
Remove iCloud Lock From Previous Owner
If you bought the iPhone from a seller on Craigslist or Ebay and they did not remove the Activation lock or iCloud lock your best bet is to contact them and ask them to remove it. If they are the rightful owner it should be something they can do very quickly.
If you meet up they can enter their Apple ID and password on the iPhone and disable iCloud lock. If they do not want to meet up they can go to iCloud.com/Find and sign in. Click on All Devices and then on the device to remove. Click erase all content and settings and keep clicking next. After this is done click Remove from Account.
This will leave the device in a working state so that you, the new owner, can log in and set it up like a new iPhone.
Bypass iCloud Lock for $150
If neither of these are an option, because you live in a country without an Apple Store or the seller will not respond, you can use a service called ChronicUnlocks to bypass iCloud lock. This is an expensive options at $150, but it could turn a paperweight into an iPhone. The service description is as follows,
This will remove iCloud Lock for anyone who has a device stuck on it, whether you are locked out of your own unit (and are in a place like Saudi Arabia which has no Apple Store to present invoice), or you bought a unit second hand from a seller who didn’t remove their iCloud login from.
For users that try to use this service on a lost or stolen iPhone, the company will not unlock it and will forward the information to the original owner so that they can pursue the matter.
iffy about the iCloud service. interested to see the reasons it is bought. again, for lost/stolen devices we will call the owner though.
— Will Strafach (@chronic) July 4, 2014
If you can go to an Apple Store or work with the original owner, that is the best method, but for other users this may be the only way to bypass iCloud lock and make your iPhone work again.