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UK company ready to unlock iPhones?

updated 12:20 pm EDT, Fri July 6, 2007

iPhone unlocking soon?

A company based in Belfast, Northern Ireland says it is "almost ready" to debut software for unlocking the iPhone. Uniquephones founder John McLaughlin tells IDG News that programmers have been working "around the clock" on a crack, which would allow users to activate their iPhones without agreeing to an AT&T service contract. The company is already claiming a 75 percent success rate for its pre-release software, and a forthcoming public beta may prove even more effective.

Unlock codes are generated based on the iPhone's IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) numbers. The potential rewards for Uniquephones may be substantial: should it be first with commercial software, it plans to charge approximately $50 for it, a price considerably higher than what it charges to unlock other phones. The demand for carriers other than AT&T has also proven remarkably high, especially in light of network speeds and activation problems.

The Uniquephones crack should be distinguished from the one produced by "DVD Jon,", which renders the phone component useless, only allowing use of iPod and Internet services. It may also require Windows to implement if not done manually.

The long-term viability of Uniquephones' solution may be questionable. While it is legal to unlock phones in the United States, doing this with an iPhone first requires a different AT&T SIM card, which must still work with the device and permit iTunes activation. Users then need to break the protection on the iPhone's firmware, altering it so it will accept carriers other than AT&T. It is this step that McLaughlin admits may trigger legal action from Apple, who could also undo the process with a simple firmware update. "They'll probably come after us for copyright infringement," he says.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. bobolicious

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    How about giving...

    ... customers what they seem to want ...? Or has that simple adage along with open competition been eradicated by the MBA's & lawyers...?

  1. hassanpr

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Stupid

    Who wants an 8 gig 600 ipod when they can buy a 30 gig ipod for 250. Thats stupid.

  1. lockhartt

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    to what end?

    There will be no visual voicemail, possibly no EDGE access, and the potential disabling of the phone by Apple during a sync with iTunes.

  1. LouZer

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: stupid and what end

    Who wants an 8 gig 600 ipod when they can buy a 30 gig ipod for 250. Thats stupid.

    Umm, its got a better screen, a wide screen, can surf the web, get email, etc. Its not just about the 'ipod'

    There will be no visual voicemail, possibly no EDGE access, and the potential disabling of the phone by Apple during a sync with iTunes.

    OK, but who cares? Visual voicemail is a nice-to-have feature, possibly a 'must-have' to those who get dozens of phone calls a day, but, to most people, I doubt they care.

    EDGE access is again a who-cares, for most people wouldn't mind giving up the $20 a month data charge they HAVE to spend, and just use it in wi-fi mode.

    But, most of all, both of you apparently misunderstand the point of 'unlocking' a phone. Its not to disable the phone, but to allow you to use whatever SIM cards, carriers, data plans, etc, that you want (you know, its that silly concept of choice bobolicious mentioned). By unlocking it, you could actually, say, use it in Europe without having to pay extra for AT&T's international plan. Or use it extensively in Europe at all, because its been reported that AT&T will disable phones if they're roaming too long.

  1. jpellino

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    i'm almost ready

    as soon as i figure out how to do it i'll be really ready. this is nonsense.

  1. cmoney

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    roaming too long

    i believe at&t cancels roaming accounts when too much roaming is done an affiliate network in the US. not for international roaming. in other words, if you primarily use it in podunk Montana on a non-AT&T network, they'll cancel your account.

  1. bobolicious

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Rogers just unilaterally

    ...announced (as I understand it) an increase in my local rate from $0.33 to $0.40/minute to facilitate US roaming capability - something I doubt I'll ever use...

    Freedom to choose would be nice...

    As for features simply combining my treo, contact data, camera & bigger screen ipod (promo portfolio for unexpected potential clients) would be a huge bonus - I don't currently use voicemail or browsing & I'd still buy an iPhone & use it on random wifi for free email & web where available...

  1. ender

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    under-appreciate

    I think many of my fellow Americans under appreciate the usefulness of an unlocked phone. I have one. On recent trips to Germany and the UK, I was able to purchased local, pre-paid SIM cards, which are much like pre-paid calling cards except you can use your own phone (which already has all your contacts, etc) instead of having to use a hotel phone or pay phone to make a call with the calling card.

    But the MAJOR advantage is that the pre-paid SIM card gives you a LOCAL phone number. With ATTs international roaming, if I'm in London and want to call the UK cell phone of the guy sitting next to me, it's an international phone call! And the same if he calls me...international rates to call a local number! With the SIM card, those calls are local.

    Locking phones is simply the carrier's way of forcing your phone call to go through them even if their network isn't being used, and charing you outrages rates to do it. My UK SIM card lets me make local calls for a fraction of what ATT would charge me, and international calls for 1/3 - 1/2 what ATT would charge for the same call.

    My understanding is that US law allows you to unlock your phone (but doesn't obligate the carrier to help you do it). So until some thoroughly reads the agreement that comes with the iPhone, shouldn't that still apply? If I unlock my phone, with or without the carrier's assistance, a future firmware upgrade shouldn't be allowed to lock it again, I'd think!

  1. LouZer

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: under-appreciated

    My understanding is that US law allows you to unlock your phone (but doesn't obligate the carrier to help you do it). So until some thoroughly reads the agreement that comes with the iPhone, shouldn't that still apply? If I unlock my phone, with or without the carrier's assistance, a future firmware upgrade shouldn't be allowed to lock it again, I'd think!

    I don't believe there's prohibition on re-locking the phone. Then again, there's nothing that says you should run the firmware upgrade at all (nor any reason why Apple couldn't block the firmware upgrade because the phone's been unlocked).

    And regardless of all that, I still would be hesitant to install any update on a modified iPhone. h***, Apple has no problem s******* around with people's modified macs, turning off Apache, changing configuration files, etc, when installing a new update. You think the iPhone's going to be safe?

  1. UberFu

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    first of all...

    either you crack it or you don't_

    there is no 75% success rate_ That's B.S.

    Secondly it was already announced that Jon Lech Johansen - the guy partly responsible for DeCSS that cracks DVD among other things- see MacNNs own report [retards]

    http://www.electronista.com/articles/07/07/04/dvd.jon.iphone.crack/

    the crack can be found here - http://nanocr.eu/2007/07/03/iphone-without-att/

    So maybe the Irish [drinking team] "hackers" might want to stay off the hooch for a longer duration of time so they can wotrk it up to a 100% success rate_

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