updated 03:10 pm EDT, Fri August 24, 2007
iPhone software unlock
Hackers claim to have successfully unlocked Apple's iPhone without modifying any hardware. The iPhoneSIMfree.com team say they have cracked Apple's iPhone SIM lock system, according to Engadget, and have proven their claim with a working unlocked handset. The unlocked phone used a T-Mobile SIM card in place of AT&T's default card, allowing the users to make calls, send text messages, and check email on an iPhone using their chosen T-Mobile service provider. Apple and AT&T launched the iPhone under an exclusive contract designed to seal customers into two-year service plans with AT&T, preventing iPhone owners from using other carriers.
The team of six at iPhoneSIMfree.com says the iPhone works on the T-Mobile network almost exactly as it did with AT&T as its service provider, with expected non-functional YouTube and visual voicemail support serving as the only major drawbacks to the unlocked device.
The unlock process takes just a few minutes, according to the report, and is very easy for end users. iPhone owners looking to unlock their handsets when the team releases its software solution will need to go through the usual activation process using a proper tool, and allows users to configure a carrier's APN with a username/password to obtain internet access on-the-go without the need for a Wi-Fi hot spot.
Software on the iPhone works as expected, allowing iPhone owners to send as well as receive SMS text messages and surf the Web using Safari. Mail, Google maps, and other features also work without issue, according to the report, and a guide is available on configuring YouTube to work when using a carrier other than AT&T.
Resistant to updates
The software-based unlock for Apple's iPhone is even resistant to Apple updates, the hackers who produced the solution say. Testers performed a full restore (v1.0.2) on an iPhone and successfully activated it using an inactive AT&T SIM card. The process requires fake-activating the iPhone and then transferring the AT&T SIM card with the foreign card of the owner's choosing. Reactivating the phone after the previous step makes the phone operational to make calls and surf the Web using a different cellular carrier, and iTunes works as expected with the exception of phone numbers listing as "n/a" in iTunes.
Engadget notes, however, that there is no way to know whether Apple can disable the SIM unlock with future iPhone software updates.