AT&T will allow out-of-contract customers to unlock their iPhone

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014


Starting this Sunday, AT&T will begin offering out-of-contract customers the ability to unlock their iPhone and use it on another carrier.



AT&T announced the change in policy in a statement issued on Friday. It takes effect in just two days, on April 8.



"Beginning Sunday, April 8, we will offer qualifying customers the ability to unlock their AT&T iPhones," the statement reads. "The only requirements are that a customer's account must be in good standing, their device cannot be associated with a current and active term commitment on an AT&T customer account, and they need to have fulfilled their contract term, upgraded under one of our upgrade policies or paid an early termination fee."



Previously, customers who finished the terms of their two-year contract with AT&T had an iPhone that could not be unlocked through official avenues. That meant even though they were free to leave for another carrier, they could not bring their iPhone with them.



Apple's latest handset, the iPhone 4S, is a "world phone" capable of connecting to both GSM networks like AT&T, as well as CDMA carriers like Verizon. If unlocked, it can also be used to roam worldwide on GSM networks. That means customers who unlock their iPhone from AT&T will not be able to use it with Verizon, even if it is the iPhone 4S.



The iPhone 4S can also be purchased unlocked and contract-free direct from Apple. It is available priced at $649 for the 16-gigabyte model, $749 for 32 gigabytes, and $849 for 64 gigabytes.











Apple's website alerts people that the unlocked iPhone only works with supported GSM networks, like AT&T in the U.S. The iPhone can also be used with T-Mobile in the U.S. for voice and EDGE data connections, but it is not compatible with T-Mobile's faster 3G network.



"When you travel internationally, you can also use a micro-SIM card from a local GSM carrier," Apple's site reads. "The unlocked iPhone will not work with CDMA carriers such as Verizon Wireless or Sprint."



[ View article on AppleInsider ]

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Comments

  • studiomusicstudiomusic Posts: 499member
    You're a week late for April fools....
  • nobodyynobodyy Posts: 373member
    About damn time.
  • christophbchristophb Posts: 1,365member
    /popcorn
  • gatorguygatorguy Posts: 14,319member
    What would be their motivation for doing this? Just being nice guys? Seems odd but I'm sure someone can explain the reasoning.
  • plovellplovell Posts: 652member
    So much for the lies we've been fed "... it is impossible to unlock an iPhone"
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    "Beginning Sunday, April 8, we will offer qualifying customers the ability to unlock their AT&T iPhones," the statement reads. "The only requirements are that a customer's account must be in good standing, their device cannot be associated with a current and active term commitment on an AT&T customer account, and they need to have fulfilled their contract term, upgraded under one of our upgrade policies or paid an early termination fee."



    It was all sounding reasonable until the end. If you have paid the early termination fee you have settled your account.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by plovell View Post


    So much for the lies we've been fed "... it is impossible to unlock an iPhone"



    When was it ever stated as impossible. We know they sell factory unlocked iPhones as required by some countries and we've had SW unlocks with every iPhone model for 5 years.
  • xian zhu xuandexian zhu xuande Posts: 801member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


    It was all sounding reasonable until the end. If you have paid the early termination fee you have settled your account.



    If I'm reading this correctly, if you have an iPhone which is no longer associated with an active AT&T account and that account has been settled (including through an early termination fee) it can be unlocked. For example, if I decide to get my 'new iPhone' through Verizon and pay an ETF to AT&T, it looks like I can have my orphaned iPhone unlocked after I have concluded that transaction.
  • ktappektappe Posts: 641member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


    When was it ever stated as impossible. We know they sell factory unlocked iPhones as required by some countries and we've had SW unlocks with every iPhone model for 5 years.



    I know people who took their iPhones into a store and asked to have it unlocked and were told it was "impossible." So while that word may never have been official policy, it certainly was used at the customer service level.
  • mauijoemauijoe Posts: 65member
    I wonder if that makes the old 3GS I don't use anymore more valuable ?
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Xian Zhu Xuande View Post


    If I'm reading it correctly, having a settled AT&T account in which you have paid an early termination fee does qualify you to have your phone unlocked.



    Mea culpa. I think you're correct.



    PS: Being sick has completely shot my reading comprehension.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ktappe View Post


    I know people who took their iPhones into a store and asked to have it unlocked and were told it was "impossible." So while that word may never have been official policy, it certainly was used at the customer service level.



    Right, it was impossible for AT&T's CS staff to unlock the device.
  • hudson1hudson1 Posts: 800member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


    It was all sounding reasonable until the end. If you have paid the early termination fee you have settled your account.







    When was it ever stated as impossible. We know they sell factory unlocked iPhones as required by some countries and we've had SW unlocks with every iPhone model for 5 years.



    I believe the word "or" implies that that is only one of the ways to have satisfied the criteria for unlocking.
  • xian zhu xuandexian zhu xuande Posts: 801member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


    Mea culpa. I think you're correct.



    PS: Being sick has completely shot my read comprehension.



    I'm still surprised they decided to do this.



    AT&T isn't known for making changes born from the kindness in their hearts.
  • aspenboyaspenboy Posts: 24member
    wonder if this works for iphones that have been bought on eBay. My phone (iPhone 4) is not currently under contract, and presumably the previous owner upgraded to a 4s.
  • aaarrrggghaaarrrgggh Posts: 1,518member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    What would be their motivation for doing this? Just being nice guys? Seems odd but I'm sure someone can explain the reasoning.



    Pending federal mandate. Head it off at the pass. This gives them more control and less incentive for the Feds to require unlocking for any customer in good standing which is what they would like to avoid.



    Doesn't help me much; I want my current iPhone unlocked rather than a 2-year old one for when I travel.
  • rtm135rtm135 Posts: 310member
    There's no financial incentive that I'm aware of to purchase an unlocked phone in the United States. Part of your monthly bill still goes towards the subsidy of the phone, regardless if it needs it or not.



    In my mind, that's the biggest crime here, and something the federal gov't should have stepped in about a LONG time ago.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Starting this Sunday, AT&T will begin offering out-of-contract customers the ability to unlock their iPhone and use it on another carrier.



    AT&T announced the change in policy in a statement issued on Friday. It takes effect in just two days, on April 8.



    "Beginning Sunday, April 8, we will offer qualifying customers the ability to unlock their AT&T iPhones," the statement reads. "The only requirements are that a customer's account must be in good standing, their device cannot be associated with a current and active term commitment on an AT&T customer account, and they need to have fulfilled their contract term, upgraded under one of our upgrade policies or paid an early termination fee."



    Previously, customers who finished the terms of their two-year contract with AT&T had an iPhone that could not be unlocked through official avenues. That meant even though they were free to leave for another carrier, they could not bring their iPhone with them.



    Apple's latest handset, the iPhone 4S, is a "world phone" capable of connecting to both GSM networks like AT&T, as well as CDMA carriers like Verizon. If unlocked, it can also be used to roam worldwide on GSM networks. That means customers who unlock their iPhone from AT&T will not be able to use it with Verizon, even if it is the iPhone 4S.



    The iPhone 4S can also be purchased unlocked and contract-free direct from Apple. It is available priced at $649 for the 16-gigabyte model, $749 for 32 gigabytes, and $849 for 64 gigabytes.









    Apple's website alerts people that the unlocked iPhone only works with supported GSM networks, like AT&T in the U.S. The iPhone can also be used with T-Mobile in the U.S. for voice and EDGE data connections, but it is not compatible with T-Mobile's faster 3G network.



    "When you travel internationally, you can also use a micro-SIM card from a local GSM carrier," Apple's site reads. "The unlocked iPhone will not work with CDMA carriers such as Verizon Wireless or Sprint."



    [ View article on AppleInsider ]



  • gatorguygatorguy Posts: 14,319member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aaarrrgggh View Post


    Pending federal mandate. Head it off at the pass. This gives them more control and less incentive for the Feds to require unlocking for any customer in good standing which is what they would like to avoid.



    Doesn't help me much; I want my current iPhone unlocked rather than a 2-year old one for when I travel.



    I didn't realize the government was threatening to stick their nose in. That would be a good reason for ATT's new attitude. Any link to what it's about or what was being discussed?
  • normmnormm Posts: 453member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aspenboy View Post


    wonder if this works for iphones that have been bought on eBay. My phone (iPhone 4) is not currently under contract, and presumably the previous owner upgraded to a 4s.



    As long as the previous owner upgraded or terminated legitimately, they should be able to get you an unlock code (or whatever it takes). Or at least give you the information you need to get it unlocked.



    Presumably this should make life worse for stolen ATT iPhones, but really the carriers should be blacklisting those -- it's a scandal that they don't.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Xian Zhu Xuande View Post


    I'm still surprised they decided to do this.



    AT&T isn't known for making changes born from the kindness in their hearts.



    I knew it would eventually happen though I thought some politician would throw a fit that he can't put another country's SIM into his iPhone which would start the ball rolling. I didn't think that Tim Cook calling AT&T was even on the table.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rtm135 View Post


    There's no financial incentive that I'm aware of to purchase an unlocked phone in the United States. Part of your monthly bill still goes towards the subsidy of the phone, regardless if it needs it or not.



    In my mind, that's the biggest crime here, and something the federal gov't should have stepped in about a LONG time ago.



    That's not a crime. Neither is not-unlocking the SIM once you're out of contract, but I think it should be.
  • tonyinseattletonyinseattle Posts: 1member
    Of course they refused.



    I believe that they are making this change because the newest iPhones are world capable and the Verizon has become a better value proposition and ATT believes that their customers will realize this.



    I was quite clear on the phone that I have 4 iPhone 4's in my family plan and they have all aged out of their contract. Why would I renew in the fall with ATT with whatever the new iPhone will be when I can get an equivalent phone from Verizon and that phone would work well overseas without paying huge fees?



    It showed no loyalty to a customer to "hold" them after the contract. Why should the customer stay with ATT?



    If this turns out to be true I might well stay with ATT.



    Tony
  • applegreenapplegreen Posts: 421member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MauiJoe View Post


    I wonder if that makes the old 3GS I don't use anymore more valuable ?



    I believe it does. Not much in the U.S. because the GSM iPhone works only on AT&T's 3G network, and the monthly fee is the same whether the iPhone is unlocked or not. AFAIK, it is not compatible with T-Mobile's 3G.



    But if you want to use it in many foreign countries, you don't have to purchase another "factory unlocked" iPhone to avoid AT&T's exorbitant roaming charges.



    By unlocking your old iPhone, AT&T just made it more valuable by an amount somewhat less than the subsidy (which is $450 for iPhone 4s).
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