updated 10:40 am EDT, Fri August 31, 2007
Lithuanian iPhone unlocks
A group of Lithuanian hackers is already promising to unlock iPhones for a fee, says Agence France-Presse. For the price of 990 litas (approx. $390), the group's website -- located in India -- offers multiple methods for making iPhones usable with carriers other than AT&T. The first is cloning the SIM card, which is said to be illegal; a hardware unlock is another option, but the preferred method of the hackers is a tweak of the original SIM card, altering commands exchanged with an iPhone. This method "seems to be legal," according to the website, since it neither clones the SIM card nor affects mobile networks.
The group claims to have successfully unlocked two iPhones so far, and has posted a YouTube video as proof of success (see below). Lithuanian law permits unlocking cellphones so long as their IMEI codes are not altered.
The launch of the website follows shortly after a flood of unlocking reports, most notably by UniquePhones and iPhoneSIMfree.com, both of which claim to have achieved the feat through software. The step is considered important, as it could possibly bring unlocking to the general public, or at least make it more financially practical for businesses. Legality remains a concern though, since AT&T is issuing legal threats in order to preserve the profits of its five-year US exclusivity deal. Lithuania and the rest of Europe have yet to hear official plans for the iPhone there.