How to Get Your iPhone Officially Unlocked from Airtel

This is some really good news for all the people who purchased iPhone in India from Airtel. There were rumors that post 1 year of customer’s contract period, Airtel, which has been empowered by Apple to do so, can unlock the iPhone. We decided to find out how true this is and the hardwork paid. If you have used the Airtel iPhone for more than a year, read on for instructions to get it officially unlocked forever.

Officially Unlocked iPhone Airtel

I had purchased my first iPhone from Airtel back in August, 2008. That was the first time iPhones officially launched in India. While I enjoyed my stay with Airtel, which I’m going to continue for now, I did want to earn my rightfully deserved Carrier Unlock. Now why do I say rightfully deserved? Unlike AT&T, here in India we paid a much greater price for the handset. The price wasn’t subsidized, not noticeably in my opinion.

However, among the two iPhone providers in India – Airtel and Vodafone only Airtel supposedly has the ability to authorise an unlock procedure. Here’s a news mention from Business Standard. Now let’s take a look at the mention of unlock in Airtel’s Terms and Conditions.

This phone can only be used with an Airtel connection. Customers can enjoy free 500 MB of data download / month for 12 months. The charges beyond this usage will be Re 0.30/50 Kb. After the expiry of 12 months, customer can opt for a plan of his choice from the different plans available on offer. This offer is not valid if used on any other phone. To activate this GPRS offer, please request the Helpdesk at any Airtel outlet. Upon activation of this offer, customer will give up the tariffs and benefits available on the existing plan. After the expiry of the offer period of 12 months, customer may get this phone unlocked free of cost which will allow use of SIM from any other service provider. In case customer unlocks the phone before the expiry of 12 months, all warranties / benefits are null and void. For more details, call 121 from your mobile or log in to

Since, all of the above speaks in favor of the rumor, we thus decided to go ahead and talk to Airtel and request an unlock.

Who is Eligible for an Unlock?

Only iPhone 3G or 3GS units purchased within India from Airtel can be unlocked by Airtel offices. You must be able to present the original proof of purchase if asked for. You can apply for unlock any time after one year from the date of first activation.

How to Apply?

You will have to write to the nearest Nodal Officer requesting her to unlock your iPhone. You can find the e-mail address of your state’s Nodal Officer on the Airtel website. Finding it can be tricky, so we enclosed a copy of the list of Airtel nodal officers at the end of this post. Please remember to mention “iPhone unlock” and your mobile number in the subject line of the e-mail to enable a quick response.

Relating my experience

I mailed my Nearest Nodal Officer early morning yesterday and was amazed by the quick response. With two hours I received an acknowledgement of my e-mail via an e-mail reply as well as an SMS. By noon I had received a call back from the Nodal Office and also an e-mail about the same.


Since, I was away and could not take the call I have been advised to visit the Airtel centre in my city to get my phone unlocked. I will do it tomorrow and will update you with the same. Once again, Airtel’s fast and positive response here is truly appreciated.

So for all you Airtel customers, here we have a free and legal carrier unlock solution. Those users who used to jailbreak their iPhone before just for the iPhone carrier Unlock using Ultrasn0w should now be at peace. You will able to upgrade to the latest firmware released by Apple without worrying about losing your unlock.

If you are an Apple iPhone customer you may apply to Airtel in a similar manner for the unlock. Feel free to ask any questions that you have in this regard.

List of Airtel Nodal Officers



28 thoughts on “How to Get Your iPhone Officially Unlocked from Airtel”

  1. Great article. It will surely help thousands of subscribers who love to switch to other operators 🙂

    Good one bro.

    – Robin

  2. very valuable post for iphone users. many do not know about the official unlock by the company. 🙂

  3. I have iphone 3g and its official carrier is airtel.
    I know airtel contract is finished and i want to
    factory unlock my iphone but the problem is
    that i buy this iphone from unknown person and
    i don’t know the details like airtel number
    please help me factory unlock it.

  4. Hi,
    I have a unlocked iphone 4 which i got from saudi. I had cut my airtel sim to micro sim, It was working fine until i connected the phone to itunes. suddenly it started to show invalid sim. I think so it has got locked again can anybody help me in unlocking as i dont want to go to a mobile shop to get it unlocked

  5. Hi Imran,
    seems you might have performed a firmware upgrade without realizing. go to settings > about > Version
    tell me what it says. and i can tell you what can be done to unlock.

  6. hi…i suddenly updated to new ios 4.1…and i stucked at unofficil sim msg and not able to restore it…if i jailbreak then no solution for carrier unlock till ultrasnow release…i have iphone 3g gifted from canada…i use airtel sim from last 9 month in iphone should airtel unlock my iphone….

  7. no Manish. airtel will only unlock iPhone purchased from them. you cannot do anything right now as it seems your baseband has been upgraded.

  8. you don’t have to tell them that Ankit. Just give them your current Airtel number and it will be fine. They don’t care who purchased and from where as long as it was purchased from Airtel in India.

  9. hi rajat…gratefully i downgrade my base-band with fuzzy down grader…and now iphone working…

  10. Thanks fro the information dude
    really useful,have just mailed them lest c the response 🙂

  11. I have an iPhone 3GS from America, officially an AT&T phone, but I dont have AT&T. I bought the phone off eBay and unlock it via Ultrasn0w for use on T-Mobile in America, but I can’t stand having to wait for new unlocks every time Apple updates the firmware. I hate jailbreaking, I hate Cydia and it’s 15000 ads, I just want to be able to use my iPhone on T-Mobile. Is there anyway to send foreign iPhones to this Airtel and have them unlock it then send it back? I really hope someone sues Apple over this, its absolutely ridiculous I have to resort to hacking my own phone to use it on a carrier I choose. This is monopolistic activity at its finest.

  12. no, you cannot do that Justin. I know it sucks to not have a factory unlocked iPhone. I’ve been there before. Unfortunately, that scenario is not going to change for a lot of us right now.

  13. unfortunately i am in Nepal and i don’t have any airtel number
    please help me to unlock my iphone

  14. I had purchased iPhone 3GS from Croma, Surat on May,2010.

    I have Paid Full Amount & there’s no Due with Dealer & I had got only & only Apple iPhone 3GS without any Airtel GSM Connection.

    I haven’t got any Airtel SIM or Scheme. I am & I was not concern with Airtel from the Date of Purchase.

    Soo plz help me factory unlock my iphone

  15. Hey Rajat,

    This post is very useful and informative.I dont think you have left any detail that is required to get it unlocked officially.

    Appreciate it!

    Thanks a lot dude!!

  16. plz help me…i bought it from authorised apple store( istore) but not frm airtel showroom…can it still be unlocked officially.???? plz help ASAP

  17. sorry Ankit, you need an Airtel number to unlock. It does not necessarily have to be used with the iPhone. if you have a friend in India, just use his number.

  18. I was wondering if I can still get my iPhone 3G unlocked from airtel which I purchased in aug 2008 because the apple website now shows that airtel does not provide authorized unlocking but I think airtel should unlock my phone because it was part of out agreement when I purchased my phone. Here is the link to apple support site which shows no authorized unlocking by apple :

  19. Someone had gifted me an iPhone. Initially it was working good with cut sim of Nepal Telecom but unfortunately after connected with iTunes it stucked and locked. BTW I am living in Nepal and i have an airtel sim. Can i unlock my iPhone 4 (FW 4.2.1 and BB 3.10.01) in Nepal?

  20. i update my iphone 4 to 5 then after it restore to factory setting now it is saying sim not valid, only compatible sim cards from a supported carrier may be used to activate iphone, so what to do from Nepal, Can i buy a airtel sim from india and use it in nepal for activating or something else ,, i have gevey sim pro too, plz help me yaar..which airtel sim works for unlocking iphone ?

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