A new service from smartphone unlocking company ChronicUnlocks is offering iPhone users the ability to remove Apple’s Activation Lock security feature that the company first introduced in iOS 7.

Activation Lock, a security feature that Apple first announced alongside iOS 7, is supposed to be a theft deterrent by making it harder for lost and stolen devices to be reactivated on the second hand market. The feature accomplishes this by linking a device’s activation to the user’s iCloud account. Since its launch Activation Lock has been credited by police as helping reduce iPhone theft in some cities, but there are some legitimate cases where users are unable to remove the Activation Lock.

For example, devices that are sold on the second hand market with Activation Lock enabled can only be disabled by following Apple’s steps to remove the feature using the original owner’s iCloud info. Apple’s advice is to make sure the feature is switched off before purchasing it, but that doesn’t do much for users with used iPhones in hand and no way to contact the original owner. Users that for whatever reason lose access to their Apple ID account could also be stuck with a legally purchased device they can’t unlock. Apple’s support doc notesIf you forget your password and cannot reset it, you will lose access to your Apple ID and may be unable to use or reactivate your device.”

The service claims it won’t remove the Activation Lock for devices that have been put in “Lost Mode”— a feature of Apple’s “Find My iPhone” app that Apple recommends enabling when a device is lost or stolen— but it’s unclear exactly how it might detect other stolen devices without the feature enabled. More from ChronicUnlocks:

This will absolutely not work for a lost/stolen device. In the US, stolen devices is the most commonly known reason for iCloud Lock, but handsets that have iCloud Lock due to being lost/stolen cannot be fixed with this service. The service is primarily for devices that a user has acquired second hand and the buyer hadn’t removed their iCloud details from it, as that is not something that many people know that they need to do when selling a device. Additionally, in countries like Saudi Arabia or Yemen, handset owners have set and forgotten their iCloud password, and there is no Apple Stores in the country that they can take the device to (Even though they can almost always produce a purchase receipt / invoice).

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About the Author

Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.