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Team unlocks iPhone via software

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.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. bloggerblog

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    i dont know…

    the lack of youtube, visual voicemail, and phone listings showing as n/a is a little discouraging. But i can see the potential for future versions.

  1. danviento

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    If you just wanted

    to have your normal phone and iPod combined, I would think this feature would work for you. Although, why you'd pay $500 for convenience and lack of ability to upgrade, I can't fathom.

    I wonder if this one still allows you to sync with Apple software updates. Since this is such an integral role in the way this device was designed (entire interface is able to be improved without changing hardware) then your costly purchase could be obsolete within months.

  1. DRuth086

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Bill

    What I'm really interested to know is how the iPhone will affect my T-Mobile bill. Everyone is so happy about the phone unlocking, which IS really great, but do you have to add a T-Mobile web plan, does my text messaging plan still apply, does the phone function the same on the T-Mobile EDGE network, will I be charged more than a regular plan like AT&T does for the iPhone because of the unlimited internet access?

  1. TheSnarkmeister

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Can I use it with...

    Yes, AT&T?

    Once I unlock the phone, can I use it with a regular, pay-as-you-go AT&T sim? Will that allow for the the missing features?

    My problem isn't as much with AT&T, as it is with the contract. I'm not going to sign a contract for an unsubsidized phone handset. That is equivalent to letting the carriers have their cake and eat it too. Once the consumers give in on that, its down hill from there. (See TechSwot.com)

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: i don't know

    the lack of youtube, visual voicemail, and phone listings showing as n/a is a little discouraging. But i can see the potential for future versions.

    So you're saying that the only things that make the iphone special is youtube, visual voicemail, and phone display while listening to the ipod? OK, seems like paying a lot of money for minor trivialities. But if its what you want...

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: upgradability

    to have your normal phone and iPod combined, I would think this feature would work for you. Although, why you'd pay $500 for convenience and lack of ability to upgrade, I can't fathom.

    I wonder if this one still allows you to sync with Apple software updates. Since this is such an integral role in the way this device was designed (entire interface is able to be improved without changing hardware) then your costly purchase could be obsolete within months.


    Who says you can't upgrade it?

    And what do you mean by "obsolete"? Are you saying my iBook is obsolete because its only running OS X 10.4.6, and can't run leopard. Obsolete means its no longer able to work with current technology. The iPhone can still work.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    service

    Bill What I'm really interested to know is how the iPhone will affect my T-Mobile bill. Everyone is so happy about the phone unlocking, which IS really great, but do you have to add a T-Mobile web plan, does my text messaging plan still apply, does the phone function the same on the T-Mobile EDGE network, will I be charged more than a regular plan like AT&T does for the iPhone because of the unlimited internet access?

    You get what you pay for. If you're T-Mobile SIM has just hone access, limited text messaging, and no data service, that's what you get. You don't have to pay for the services you don't want (that's the whole point behind the SIM cards, get the phone you want, and get the service you want). You might not get as good a deal on unlimited data, but you can shop around and try to find a plan that suits your needs.

    Can I use it with... Yes, AT&T?

    Once I unlock the phone, can I use it with a regular, pay-as-you-go AT&T sim? Will that allow for the the missing features?


    I don't see why not. Because its just a network at that point. In fact, the YouTube features might actually work. Don't know, it depends on whether AT&T tied its abilities to iPhone plans or they just have an open API for things like that and VVM.

    My problem isn't as much with AT&T, as it is with the contract. I'm not going to sign a contract for an unsubsidized phone handset. That is equivalent to letting the carriers have their cake and eat it too.

    Actually, its not unsubsidized, as its been reported that Apple gets a healthy slice of every iphone at&t sells, not to mention the monthly fee. Which means, technically, the carriers AND Apple are having their cake and eating it too.

    But, besides that, there's also a lot of people who bought iPhones to find out they couldn't use it with their AT&T business plans (which have pooled minutes and better deals). This should make those people very happy.

  1. BelugaShark

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    international appeal

    I think the unlocking of the iPhone is most appealing to those outside the US of A. In parts of Africa, Asia, the Far-East, all those areas where they felt the iPhone hype, but cannot get one. I doubt many people in the US would go to such lengths and risks only to switch to another provider.

  1. Recto Bold

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    We all saw it coming....

    Anyone with a passing interest in the iPhone must have seen this coming - Pretty much anything can be hacked nowadays and Apple must have anticipated it too. If Apple had just released the damn thing in a sim free version as-well, like all the other companies, then this would have been avoided. Nokia et al seem to be able to make it work, why not Apple?

    Of course, it's moot now anyway. Here in the UK it looks like they are going with O2, which is lucky for me since that is my network but if they had gone with Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile etc. then I wouldn't have switched (although I am sure many would).

    I hope the guys working on unlocking solutions don't end up coming unstuck due to legal issues - It's good to see users being given a choice.

  1. BelugaShark

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    re: recto

    For the visual voice-mail to work, Apple requires the wireless provider to make adjustments to their network, something which wireless companies are still not used to. Cingular, now ATT, was one of the only companies who were willing to do that.

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