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iPhone: no 90-day AT&T unlock policy

updated 06:10 pm EDT, Fri September 28, 2007

iPhone: no 90-day unlock

The iPhone is apparently exempt from AT&T's standard policy that allows customers to have their mobile devices unlocked after 90 days of service. Generally, the company allows subscribers in good standing to unlock their phones for use on other providers -- especially for reasons concerning overseas travel. However, due to an "exclusive agreement between Apple and AT&T," per TUAW, there are no unlock codes currently available for the iPhone. A call to AT&T's customer care department eventually confirmed this state of affairs; we were first shunted off to Apple technical support, who referred us back to AT&T technical support. The representative said that unlocking the iPhone was "impossible," and reiterated that attempts to unlock the device would void its warranty.

iPhones updated with firmware version 1.1.1 cannot be unlocked via traditional means, and those already may become bricked by the 1.1.1 update, though iPhoneSIMFree claims its unlock will still allow the iPhone to be used with AT&T SIM cards. There is still no solution for using unlocked phones that have been updated to version 1.1.1 on carriers other than AT&T.

Apple offered this warning in it's dialogue for the 1.1.1 update: "If you have modified your phone's software, applying this update may result in your iPhone becoming permanently inoperable." Earlier this week, the company confirmed that it was not intentionally disabling unlocked phones, while readers provided methods for re-locking an iPhone to avoid rendering the iPhone inoperable. As expected the update does bring access to the iTunes WiFi Store as well as louder maximum speaker volumes, but breaks many of the third-party hacks.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. chas_m

    Moderator

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -1

    What's the issue?

    This is non-news. Both Apple and AT&T made it CRYSTAL CLEAR that when you bought an iPhone you were LOCKED into a TWO-YEAR contract with them, and that contract says very clearly NO MODDING, NO HACKING.

    I'm certainly hopeful that Apple can sign up a Canadian provider soon, as I am moving there in a couple of months, but I knew what I was getting into when I bought the thing (day one!) and I've been nothing but happy with it. If there is a period of time when my iPhone won't work in Canada, I have other options very inexpensively available, so I don't know where all the whining is coming from.

    Somehow we've gone from the Age of Aquarius to the Information Age to the Age of Entitlement. Our new motto: WAAAAH!!

  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    who's whining?

    I don't see any whining, not here at least. You know who the whiners are? The idiots who filed a suit over the price cut. Jesus Christ. That'll teach you, Steve Jobs, to provide better products at lower prices! Please... gouge us endlessly so that common riff-raff can't afford to have the same technobling that I have!

    I still don't understand why anyone would want to unlock an iPhone, except in narrow circumstances like using it overseas or T-Mobile's coverage is substantially better than AT+T's in your area. You're taking the risk of bricking it, and what's the benefit - save a few bucks a month by using it on T-Mobile's network? It just seems more like something people are doing because they can.

  1. Warrenpeace

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Who wouldn't want to???

    Clearly you don't live in Canada. We get every damn product and service so late, you'd think we were on the moon, rather than sharing our border with the USA.

    No iTunes movies or TV here, no XBox Marketplace, no Amazon Unbox, TiVo works here (although not HD), but they won't ship so much as a remote here even though they take my money.

    I unlocked my iPhone to use it here 'cause I know that, with the lack of competition here, it's going to be a long time until Apple and Rogers compromise on data plan prices. Currently we're paying $60/month for 25mb of data. Compare that to a $20 unlimited for AT&T.

    I know that it's Apple's software and they're only trying to protect their exclusive deal with AT&T, but the damn thing is MY property and I PAID for it, so I shouldn't to worry that it's going to be useless for weeks after an update until someone comes out with a new hack.

  1. petsounds

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    trouble is brewing

    You know, Apple is really turning into a different company before our eyes. It's the kind of company that the "Think Different" ad campaign was a target of.

    Sure, Apple has always had a pretty closed-system approach to their products (except for the early days). But their walled garden has been reasonable and easily defeatable, without fear of reprisal from Apple. However, with Apple's appliance-centric devices such as the AppleTV and the iPhone (and now the iPods), they have taken on a much more draconian attitude towards their users. Their policies on these devices have not been reasonable, and they have actively gone out of their way to disable the functionality people want to use their products for.

    I think these policies will end up hurting Apple more than helping. Brand is king for this company, and their brand is being tainted with a popular opinion that Apple is aggressive towards its customers and shows monopolistic tendencies.

  1. Terrin

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    It is my phone

    I hate to tell you, but when you buy a product, you have not entered into a contract with anybody unless you signed a contract or explicitly agreed to terms. As such, I didn't agree to do anything when I bought an iPhone because 1) I didn't sign anything, and 2) I wasn't presented with any terms. Sure, Apple and AT&T may only agree to provide you support under such conditions, but that is no concern to me if I am not interested in support.

    I paid good money for the product, and if I feel like unlocking it, that is Apple and AT&T's problem not mine.

    Moreover, AT&T customer's have a legitimate claim when they point out that every other AT&T phone under contract can get an unlock code after 90 days. These are AT&T contract customers. They merely want an unlock code so they do not have to pay crazy rates overseas. Apple and AT&T aren't exactly advertising that if you buy an iPhone you will be screwed overseas. No they are adversing unlimited rate plans. That is deceptive.

  1. moteltan

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    contract

    read the definition of the word "contract". You don't have to sign anything to enter into a contract. I explicitly and distinctly recall the clarity the AT&T salesperson insisted upon before I was able to sign my credit card receipt. It's all there, my friend--your two year agreement. As for apple specifically targeting unlocked phones, I see no proof whatsoever of that happening. As a programmer, I know it to be totally reasonable for a 134 mb update to get fouled-up by some foreign code injected into the mix. You void your warranty, you pay for a brick. Those are the rules. Apple has a contractual obligation with AT&T to suppress any pirating attempts. So they must walk the line between convincing AT&T that they are not condoning unlocking without completely pissing all of you whiners off.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: contract

    read the definition of the word "contract". You don't have to sign anything to enter into a contract. I explicitly and distinctly recall the clarity the AT&T salesperson insisted upon before I was able to sign my credit card receipt. It's all there, my friend--your two year agreement.

    Yet people still feel they should be able to get out of the contract without any type of penalty (not just AT&T, but any provider).

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    trouble is brewing

    You know, Apple is really turning into a different company before our eyes. It's the kind of company that the "Think Different" ad campaign was a target of.

    Sure, Apple has always had a pretty closed-system approach to their products (except for the early days).


    Open? The only time they went 'open' was back when Woz worked at the company. The original mac was as closed as you can get. One of the reasons Steve was kicked out was his insistence on not allowing memory upgrades or the like (and people mock Gates and his '640K is enough' comment, but lest we forget, Jobs thought 128K was enough).

    But they are becoming quite draconian and money-gouging. And they sure love it when their fans give them the excuses they need (like "But they need to charge for ringtones, the labels force them!", meanwhile also claiming they've got all the leverage on the labels when it comes to music on-line).

  1. yakirz

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    I am inching so ever

    slowly to going Linux on Apple's a**.

    I love my MacBook and OS X. I'd rather use it than some distro of Linux, but Apple's becoming so disgustingly corporate and like the PC side, that they're losing my trust.

    I like many aspects of the iPhone, and likely will buy one eventually. But this extremely closed model, the "changing your iPhone from what we allow will ruin it via our updates," attitude (I didn't know I was paying $399 to rent the bloody thing) is pissing me off.

    Apple never kissed the corporate a** so willingly as they do now.

  1. bobolicious

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    If it was my biz & I had

    ...the hottest gadget this side of the moon I'd be wanting a partner who could facilitate my custom voicemail feature & yet wasn't a major player ie bully so I could ramp up demand at production capacity AND break some revenue sharing ground - iPhone will no doubt trickle down to unlocked access as the market saturates & demand slows... Unfortunately for those in other countries likely not before the bulk of the initial 2 year revenue sharing agreements are complete & the original iPhone is a commodity selling for perhaps $75 on eBay... :)

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