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Can I use unlocked iPhone with bad ESN in South America?

  • 30 August 2014
  • 2 replies

I want to buy an unlocked iPhone 4s or newer but it has a bad ESN/IMEI/MEID. I read that even though it is blacklisted and can’t be used in the USA and Canada, it can be used in most of the world’s GSM carriers (assuming a compatible frequency). Assume the iPhone is GSM and the carrier abroad is GSM too. Because it has a bad ESN it’s cheaper. But I’d like to buy the phone in Canada and test it here before I leave the country so I can return it if something doesn’t work. How can I test it? I read that data might work wherever there’s public Wifi but I mean I wanna test if it can actually make calls and text. Is there usually problems with those features with used iPhones? Do any carriers abroad check the ESN blacklist and not allow the phone? I also read that some phones have a country code lock, which says that the phone won't connect to systems with particular country codes and that cracking the country code lock is a lot more difficult than the SIM unlock. Is this usual in iPhones? For the record, "bad ESN" isn't exactly a synonym for "stolen phone”.

2 replies

Userlevel 7
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The GSMA database is shared among nations if they participate so it's a crap shoot. If your phone is on the lost/ stolen database then you're probably going to have a hard time with it. Forget testing it if it appears on the list. The most you'll be able to tell that the radio is scanning and can find signals. Wifi may or may not work depending on iTunes but I'm iDumb on apple products so not sure of that. If you know who reported it/ owes money on it, can they contact the carrier to say they found it. / paid their bill?
The GSMA database is shared among nations if they participate so it's a crap shoot. If your phone...That's a good tip about checking if the device is scanning a radio signal. But how do I see that? Cause if it's got a bad ESN then it's obviously disconnected from the carrier and it wouldn't show the bars you usually see on a regular phone indicating signal strength. If the person selling it were able to contact the carrier and lift the bad ESN then the phone would rise in value. The point of buying a phone with a bad ESN it's because it's cheaper than other phones that are in good standing.