12 September
2007

This news will be all over the place soon, but I was surprised it has not been widely publicized yet. The software-onlysolution for unlocking the iPhone to allow it to work with and GSM cell phone company was released for free yesterday.

[ Followup 9/20: the software-only fix described below works well sometimes, often it is quite tricky, and occasionally (rarely?) it leads to complete disaster. ]

A solution that required a hardware fix, including opening the very-hard-to-open case has been around for some time. A software-only solution was announced weeks ago, but was widely considered to be false or premature. There ewre numerous announcements that failer to materialize. About 2 days ago a commercial vendor started selling a software-only solution which was widely believed to be derived from the intensive efforts of a public reverse-engineering group. Finally, yesterday, a free solution was released and it is being widely distributed on the internet. It seems to be compatible with Rogers in Canada as well as Fido, Vodafone, T-Mobile, Telstra, SingTel, ORANGE, PCCW Mobile, Telenor and other GSM providers.

So far, the solution still requires you to find various critical files on obscure web sites, but simpler and simpler ready-to-click packages are being produced by programmers. I have not tried any of these, but they are being very widely reported to work well for most people. A few caveats remain, such as that the solution will not work for SIM cards that have a PIN lock on them, or that a few people report rendering their iPhone inoperable (but who knows this small minority actually did, as some of the tools have the potential to be used incorrectly).

It remains possible that a subsequent release of iTunes from Apple with be incompatible with this or other unlocking solutions, but that is impossible to predict with certainty. It seems certain that Apple will be under pressure from AT&T, due to their contractual obligations, to try and stop this unlocking. They almost certainly cannot to anything to interfere with people using the current version of iTunes though, and they can't force people to update, so the risk is probably quite low.


By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
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