Apple Removes Tool to Check if an iPhone or iPad is Activation Locked

Apple has removed its Activation Lock status checker on iCloud.com at some point in the past few days. The tool enabled users to enter the serial number or IMEI of an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and find out if the device is secured with Activation Lock, helping buyers avoid purchasing a device locked to another user.

checkactivationlockstatus
An individual purchasing a used iPhone on eBay or another website, for example, was able to request the device's serial number and use Apple's tool to verify that Activation Lock had been turned off. If the device was still locked, or if the seller refused to provide the serial number, then it was likely lost or stolen.

The iCloud page where the tool was available now returns a "Not Found" page aka 404 error. Apple also removed the following reference to the tool from a related Find My iPhone support document earlier this week:

How do I check for Activation Lock before purchasing a used device?

When you buy an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple Watch from someone other than Apple or an authorized Apple reseller, it is up to you to ensure that the device is erased and no longer linked to the previous owner’s account.

You can check the current Activation Lock status of a device when you visit icloud.com/activationlock from any Mac or PC.

Apple has not explained why it removed the page. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Activation Lock, enabled automatically when you turn on Find My iPhone, is designed to prevent anyone else from using your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple Watch if it is ever lost or stolen. A device with Activation Lock enabled requires the owner's Apple ID and password before it can be used, even if it is erased or reactivated.

Last year, a number of users who purchased a brand new iPhone experienced an Activation Lock issue where their device was locked to someone else's Apple ID. Apple disabled Activation Lock for affected users upon being provided proof of purchase, but it is unclear if the strange issue factored into the page's removal.

Activation Lock was introduced alongside iOS 7. The tool to check the Activation Lock status of a device had been available since October 2014.

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Top Rated Comments

nibfiledotcom Avatar
96 months ago
It was probably because the bad guys were using it as well. They wouldn't just take it down for no reason. The con's outweigh the pro's on this occasion.
There's no "probably" about it. There's video showing Chinese operations set up to reset the serial numbers ('//www.youtube.com/shared?ci=ImXgMoviQD0') of stolen iOS devices in mass quantities, and Apple's Activation Lock checker is a vital part of the process.

And then you have a lot of news recently about brand new iPhones being locked to an Apple ID right out of the box ('https://www.macrumors.com/2016/10/05/iphone-activation-lock-wrong-apple-id-issues/') because their legitimate serial numbers have been illegally assigned to a stolen device.

It's a tough problem to solve, but until Apple has a solution, they're not going to continue helping thieves.
Score: 60 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iHack13 Avatar
96 months ago
I wonder why, it was extremely useful. Maybe they are updating it?
Nah. Just to make buying used phones more of a pain. So Apple can sell more.
It's all about the Dollars.
Score: 44 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nibfiledotcom Avatar
96 months ago
thats not what I asked
Very well... if you watch the video ('//www.youtube.com/shared?ci=ImXgMoviQD0'), you will see that these thieves use software to generate a bunch of new "potential" replacement serial numbers. However, there is no way to know if the serial number is currently locked or not. Only Apple's Activation Lock tool (now removed) can tell them that.

Without the tool, they can go ahead and take a guess, and pick a serial for reassignment. But they won't know if that serial is locked or not until they solder the flash chip back into the device, power it up, and attempt activation.

If you're dedicated, you can keep trying until you get lucky, or destroy the device in the process of desoldering/resoldering the flash chip. But as far as mass theft goes, it becomes a lot less feasible, as the process just potentially got a lot more time-consuming.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nibfiledotcom Avatar
96 months ago
Well they are two excellent examples and people are still asking why they've removed this...
Well, these threads would be a lot shorter and more informational if people would actually read the thread before blindly typing whatever ignorant, emotionally-motivated comment they they want to make and then smugly mashing the post button.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Jovian9 Avatar
96 months ago
Hopefully this is an update to it and they are changing it. If it's just a straight-up removal then this is a terrible decision by Apple.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nibfiledotcom Avatar
96 months ago
how?
[doublepost=1485717735][/doublepost]
but the phone is stolen already no?
Why the heck does Apple keep removing helpful features? I swear, every week there's something that Apple gets rid of. What is going on??
The question being asked is, "Why would Apple remove this tool?" and the answer is, "Because it is being used by thieves."
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)