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Hackers release carrier unlock for Apple's iPhone 4

post #1 of 63
Thread Starter 
Hackers on Wednesday released a carrier unlock for the iPhone 4, allowing users with "jailbroken" devices to use their handset on carriers not approved by Apple.

Dubbed "ultrasn0w," the updated hack now works with the iPhone 4 and its baseband version 01.59. It is also compatible with the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, which have basebands 04.26.08, 05.11.07 and 05.13.04.

To run the carrier unlock, users must be on a jailbroken handset, a process that modifies the iOS software and allows users to run unauthorized code. The ultrasn0w unlock can be found in the Cydia store. The unlock comes just days after hackers released a browser-based jailbreak for all iOS devices, including the iPhone 4.

The jailbreaking process takes advantage of a dangerous PDF security hole found in the Mobile Safari browser. Apple said this week it is aware of the vulnerability and is looking into the issue.

The mastermind behind the free software unlock was David Wong, a member of the iPhone Dev Team who goes by the handle planetbeing. He is the same programmer who earlier this year ported Google Android to the iPhone.



While many countries have access to the iPhone on multiple carriers, in the U.S., Apple's iPhone is available exclusively through AT&T. Unlocking it can allow for voice calls and EDGE data speeds on rival carrier T-Mobile. An unlock could also allow iPhone owners to use localized SIM cards while traveling abroad, to avoid paying high roaming charges when using their native carrier.

Last month, the U.S. Library of Congress reiterated its stance that unlocking is legal. It also officially made it legal for iPhone owners to jailbreak their iOS-based device and run unauthorized third-party software. Doing so, however, can still void Apple's warranty.
post #2 of 63
Yes! Now I can use my iPhone 4 worldwide with my other SIM cards! Buh bye BlackBerry, for now.
post #3 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkMS View Post

Yes! Now I can use my iPhone 4 worldwide with my other SIM cards! Buh bye BlackBerry, for now.

Yes because your life is just like the movie Jumper.
post #4 of 63
Is this really an unlock, or one of those "for all intents and purposes, it's unlocked... till you update the firmware" style unlocks? I ask because I'm pretty sure it's the latter. AFAIK it is impossible to factory unlock an iPhone (as in, do what you like to it, it's still unlocked) with out going through Apple.
post #5 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by success View Post

Yes because your life is just like the movie Jumper.

It doesn't take that much travel to make this a big deal for some of us. If you aren't going to a country on ATT's list of discounted data service, you can be looking at $100/day in data roaming charges. Places where you can get a SIM in the airport are a huge bonus for this.

Thinking the unlock process would be as problematic as for the 3GS almost kept me away from the iPhone 4.

Hope Apple keeps the cat and mouse mindset within reason. It is a big deal for some of us.
post #6 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by henderson101 View Post

Is this really an unlock, or one of those "for all intents and purposes, it's unlocked... till you update the firmware" style unlocks? I ask because I'm pretty sure it's the latter. AFAIK it is impossible to factory unlock an iPhone (as in, do what you like to it, it's still unlocked) with out going through Apple.

I thought the factory unlocked phones required activation with your computer each time you changed SIMs. The ideal solution is something persistent through firmware upgrades, but I expect that is impossible. Anything that doesn't require you to hook up to your computer after a shutdown is good enough for me though.
post #7 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by aaarrrgggh View Post

I thought the factory unlocked phones required activation with your computer each time you changed SIMs. The ideal solution is something persistent through firmware upgrades, but I expect that is impossible. Anything that doesn't require you to hook up to your computer after a shutdown is good enough for me though.

Factory unlocked iPhones do not need computer tethered reactivation.
post #8 of 63
Can someone bring me up to speed on this?

I have a 3GS, still on 3.01 (tethering) but haven't done a jailbreak on the phone.

If I jailbreak this to get the carrier unlock, can I still go back to the core 3.01 OS? Or would it always have be jailbroken?

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post #9 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by aaarrrgggh View Post

It doesn't take that much travel to make this a big deal for some of us. If you aren't going to a country on ATT's list of discounted data service, you can be looking at $100/day in data roaming charges. Places where you can get a SIM in the airport are a huge bonus for this.

Actually, even if the country IS on the list for 'discounted data service', the price is huge. I turn off my data access when I travel and only use WiFi unless absolutely necessary.
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post #10 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by John.B View Post

Can someone bring me up to speed on this?
I have a 3GS, still on 3.01 (tethering) but haven't done a jailbreak on the phone.

If I jailbreak this to get the carrier unlock, can I still go back to the core 3.01 OS? Or would it always have be jailbroken?

You should be able to jailbreak and unlock with your set up. See the matrix here.

Once you are jailbroken, you should be fine staying at 3.01, if you choose to, with the one caveat being if you do a restore through iTunes, you will probably have to jailbreak and unlock again. Actually, choosing to stay at one OS and not updating is the safer option. Those that want to update always run the risk of losing their jailbreak and unlock until the tools are updated.

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post #11 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Actually, even if the country IS on the list for 'discounted data service', the price is huge. I turn off my data access when I travel and only use WiFi unless absolutely necessary.

And because, using some insane logic, it would be theft of service for you to jailbreak, unlock and use an alternative providers SIM, you won't ever opt to do so, will you?

"My 8th grade math teacher once said: "You can't help it if you're dumb, you are born that way. But stupid is self inflicted."" -Hiro. 

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post #12 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by henderson101 View Post

Is this really an unlock, or one of those "for all intents and purposes, it's unlocked... till you update the firmware" style unlocks? I ask because I'm pretty sure it's the latter. AFAIK it is impossible to factory unlock an iPhone (as in, do what you like to it, it's still unlocked) with out going through Apple.

It is a 'true' unlock but it is not a factory unlock. Apple maintains a whitelist of IMEIs for factory unlocked phones. If you aren't on this list, then everytime you use iTunes to restore or update, you will lose your unlock.

In Canada, where you can go to an Apple store and buy unlocked phones or buy carrier locked phones on your choice of 4 carriers (5 once Virgin starts carrying the iP4) all of the phones in the store are actually unlocked. If you buy a carrier contract phone, the IMEI registered as a locked phone and you have a locked phone. If you buy an unlock phone, they simply do not lock it and you pay full price. The really screwy thing is that if you buy a carrier phone, but choose contract free, you pay almost as much as the factory unlocked phone but are locked to the carrier..all for saving about $30.

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post #13 of 63
Stop these stupid games, Apple/ATT. Just allow an unlock, and get on with it.
post #14 of 63
how do you find the baseband version on your iphone? i can't figure it out.
post #15 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by tania View Post

how do you find the baseband version on your iphone? i can't figure it out.

Settings > General > About > Modem Firmware
post #16 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Stop these stupid games, Apple/ATT. Just allow an unlock, and get on with it.

Agree. People are often financially locked to their carrier by the contract they sign anyhow so AT&T don't need technical locks to ensure they get paid.

The rest of the world works happily without so many locks and there's not many reports of phone companies going broke.
post #17 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesYFarley View Post

This must be keeping Steve Jobs up at night. I think that's funny.

I highly doubt it, since I bought an unlocked one here in Canada right from the Apple store. Keeping AT&T up at night, sure... but I'm sure Apple doesn't loose much sleepover jailbroken phones because that is just one more device they didn't have to support (since they are clear on the action voiding the warranty). It's AT&T that loses money (in loss of service payments) on this venture, not Apple. I am 100% certain, when you guys get multiple carriers, you'll also be able to buy unlocked phones. That means steve get's paid the whole cost of the phone instead of chasing AT&T for the subsidy remainder (lol, just pictured AT&T being chased by apple for "support" payments).
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post #18 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by aaarrrgggh View Post

I thought the factory unlocked phones required activation with your computer each time you changed SIMs. The ideal solution is something persistent through firmware upgrades, but I expect that is impossible. Anything that doesn't require you to hook up to your computer after a shutdown is good enough for me though.

No, this is a common misconception. If you have your "locked" phone factory "unlocked" by Apple, it will accept any SIM card after being "reactivated" via the computer. This gets old really quickly. However, if you restore the firmware on to your iPhone (as in wipe it and completely rewrite the software) the firmware is written tot he phone in such a way that from that moment onwards, you phone will accept any SIM card at any time without needing any interaction from or activation with a computer. Once Factory unlocked, you can restore your phone as many times as you like, upgrade and such and the unlock stays in place. Factory unlock is forever.
post #19 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by benice View Post

Agree. People are often financially locked to their carrier by the contract they sign anyhow so AT&T don't need technical locks to ensure they get paid.

The rest of the world works happily without so many locks and there's not many reports of phone companies going broke.

It's not as simple as all that. Apple HAS to get involved. The activation server needs to knopw to send the magic handshake to unlock the phone. Without that it is not factory unlocked, it's just like you have your foot in the door till the next update.
post #20 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulkas View Post

It is a 'true' unlock but it is not a factory unlock. Apple maintains a whitelist of IMEIs for factory unlocked phones. If you aren't on this list, then everytime you use iTunes to restore or update, you will lose your unlock

I know all that. Like I said, my phone was factory unlocked by my Carrier at my request.

It's not a true unlock. A true unlock is what Apple provide in Europe. What it is is a time constrained hack. Time constrained because you only have it till you have to restore or update your iPhone. I've needed to do that more than once in the last 3 years, so it wouldn't have worked for me.
post #21 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by henderson101 View Post

I know all that. Like I said, my phone was factory unlocked by my Carrier at my request.

It's not a true unlock. A true unlock is what Apple provide in Europe. What it is is a time constrained hack. Time constrained because you only have it till you have to restore or update your iPhone. I've needed to do that more than once in the last 3 years, so it wouldn't have worked for me.

It isn't time constrained. It is permanent until you do a restore or update, as you say. It is a true unlock as far as it can be. No iPhone can stay unlocked if it is not on Apple IMEI white list. You could find a way to unlock it using the exact protocols that Apple and the carriers use, but if it isn't added to the list, it will always relock when restored. It isn't time constrained. It is constrained by the identifying information of each iPhone.

If you know it isn't a factory unlock and you know any phone not on Apple's whitelist will relock, why would you even ask if it is 'true' unlock? Either by 'true' you mean factory, which of course it isn't, or you mean unlocked as far as it can be without being on Apple's list, which of course it is.

I suppose of you want a 'true' unlock, you would have to find a way to either hack Apple's database to add your IMEI or you could try to fool itunes into thinking Apple's server has responded to the status request to say the IMEI is on it's list. Or course those would only be useful until Apple corrected the DB or you updated iTunes.

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post #22 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulkas View Post

It is a 'true' unlock but it is not a factory unlock. Apple maintains a whitelist of IMEIs for factory unlocked phones. If you aren't on this list, then everytime you use iTunes to restore or update, you will lose your unlock.

In Canada, where you can go to an Apple store and buy unlocked phones or buy carrier locked phones on your choice of 4 carriers (5 once Virgin starts carrying the iP4) all of the phones in the store are actually unlocked. If you buy a carrier contract phone, the IMEI registered as a locked phone and you have a locked phone. If you buy an unlock phone, they simply do not lock it and you pay full price. The really screwy thing is that if you buy a carrier phone, but choose contract free, you pay almost as much as the factory unlocked phone but are locked to the carrier..all for saving about $30.

A great explanation, and exactly why (if you can afford it), it's always best to buy the iPhone the full price.

Buying something on contract, buying something on time payments, or on credit, and even rent-to-own schemes are all just a way of making you pay more and be indebted both financially (and in other ways), to the company selling you the product. The whole concept that you are getting a "deal" in these kinds of situations, or that the company is doing you some kind of favour by letting you buy on a payment plan or whatever it is, is a kind of pleasant fantasy that people buy into. A popular misconception if you will.
post #23 of 63
What are some of the other advantages of unlocking your phone other than the carrier unlock? Or is that basically it?

I think I already know the disadvantages.
post #24 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Buying something on contract, buying something on time payments, or on credit, and even rent-to-own schemes are all just a way of making you pay more and be indebted both financially (and in other ways), to the company selling you the product. The whole concept that you are getting a "deal" in these kinds of situations, or that the company is doing you some kind of favour by letting you buy on a payment plan or whatever it is, is a kind of pleasant fantasy that people buy into. A popular misconception if you will.

What a pleasant notion. Did you pay cash for your home as well?

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post #25 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

A great explanation, and exactly why (if you can afford it), it's always best to buy the iPhone the full price.

Buying something on contract, buying something on time payments, or on credit, and even rent-to-own schemes are all just a way of making you pay more and be indebted both financially (and in other ways), to the company selling you the product. The whole concept that you are getting a "deal" in these kinds of situations, or that the company is doing you some kind of favour by letting you buy on a payment plan or whatever it is, is a kind of pleasant fantasy that people buy into. A popular misconception if you will.

100% agree. However, with cell carriers, you will often benefit by being on contract, even ignoring the subsidies. Canadian carriers are generally pigs, but they are pretty good about giving retention deals if you ask. You can get retentions deals without a contract and they will give you more if you are under contract. I've been with my carrier for a decade, so if I can get even cheaper rates by staying with them and I have no other reasons to move, then I will sign a contract with them. And if I am going to stay with them anyway, I might as well benefit further by getting the phone subsidized, but only if I have no intention of moving.

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post #26 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

What a pleasant notion. Did you pay cash for your home as well?

I would if I could, and more importantly, so would anyone who had the money. That was essentially my point in that everything I said was prefaced by the statement "if you can afford it."

As for cash, I avoid using it as much as possible. It's bulky and cumbersome to use. If it wasn't for the ridiculous "handling fees" that banks charge for you to use your own money, we'd all be be better off using bank cards or phones to pay for things.
post #27 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by henderson101 View Post

Is this really an unlock, or one of those "for all intents and purposes, it's unlocked... till you update the firmware" style unlocks?

You are correct that it is actually the latter. Because any update to iOS has the possibility of hosing an unlock or jailbreak, even if Apple isn't actually trying to do that.

Quote:

I ask because I'm pretty sure it's the latter. AFAIK it is impossible to factory unlock an iPhone (as in, do what you like to it, it's still unlocked) with out going through Apple.

Correct. the lock is actually just code in iOS, which is why it can be unlocked. Apple is the only one that can change that code in a way that nothing they do with hose it. In the US they won't do it, because legally they don't have to. Not so long as the contract with ATT is legal and binding. When it drops, sure they can be forced to unlock for us provided you completed or paid out your contract. But that could be another year or more. Meanwhile they don't have to support unlocking or jailbreaking in any form including not hosing it or servicing your hardware if there's evidence you did either

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post #28 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Postulant View Post

What are some of the other advantages of unlocking your phone other than the carrier unlock? Or is that basically it?

I think I already know the disadvantages.

By definition, unlocking your phone is the carrier unlock, so no, there are no other benefits.

Are there other benefits to jailbreaking your phone? Many. One, obviously, is that it then allows you to carrier unlock it. But, it also allows you to installs very useful and well written apps that Apple would not allow. Of the top of my head, a few of these apps allow:
-using your phone as a wifi router to share your 3G connection to other devices
-using your iPhone as a portable harddrive, the way you could with older iPods
-using a third party Google Voice app if you have a GV service acct
-quick settings toggles without drilling down in Settings
-customized themes

As Apple has grown iOS many of the reasons that people used to jailbreak have been added into the OS. Tethering, MMS, CnP, wallpaper are a few.

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post #29 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by henderson101 View Post

I know all that. Like I said, my phone was factory unlocked by my Carrier at my request.

It's not a true unlock. A true unlock is what Apple provide in Europe. What it is is a time constrained hack. Time constrained because you only have it till you have to restore or update your iPhone. I've needed to do that more than once in the last 3 years, so it wouldn't have worked for me.

Heck, Apple/Rogers are able to do in Canada. Why not here!? (The italics are meant to only emphasize the fact that they are geographically next door to us, so, Canadian brethren, please don't read anything more into that!).

As I said, it is stupid. And unnecessary. Period.
post #30 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

I would if I could, and more importantly, so would anyone who had the money.

No, you would not. Actually, you should not: it depends.

It depends entirely on the opportunity cost associated with the use of your funds.
post #31 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulkas View Post

100% agree. However, with cell carriers, you will often benefit by being on contract, even ignoring the subsidies. Canadian carriers are generally pigs, but they are pretty good about giving retention deals if you ask. You can get retentions deals without a contract and they will give you more if you are under contract. I've been with my carrier for a decade, so if I can get even cheaper rates by staying with them and I have no other reasons to move, then I will sign a contract with them. And if I am going to stay with them anyway, I might as well benefit further by getting the phone subsidized, but only if I have no intention of moving.

True enough.

I'm on fido which has given me pretty much the worst customer service experience I've ever had with any company, so of course i'm hot to get off the contract. I feel like I was forced into a deal with the devil sort of speak, so I'm buying full-price phones so as to let the contract play out to the end of the three years.

The hope I suppose is that a more reasonable, fairer deal might emerge from the (ever hoped for) competition between carriers that always seems to be just around the corner. Even though all the current iPhone carriers basically collude on pricing, I believe (maybe just wishful thinking), that we might see some actual movement on contract prices in the next year or so. Right about when those first three year contracts run out.
post #32 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

A great explanation, and exactly why (if you can afford it), it's always best to buy the iPhone the full price.

Buying the phone at full price is moot. In the US, it is still locked to ATT, even at full price. Apple and ATT can and do refuse to unlock it and Apple will not service it if they find it has been unlocked.

Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Heck, Apple/Rogers are able to do in Canada. Why not here!?

They CAN do it here. they have the tech skills and knowledge. It's a legal issue at this point. They have a totally legal and binding contract. And although there are hints that they could pay their way out of that contract, there's no logic to do so. The only other GSM carrier in the US is T-Mobile and that's only one edge speeds. So they would be unlocking the phones to promote folks going backwards and having a less than ideal phone situation. Don't see it happening

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post #33 of 63
Edit: Wow I feel dumb, I must have clicked the hyperlink for another article while reading this one. My bad.
post #34 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

Buying the phone at full price is moot. In the US, it is still locked to ATT, even at full price.

So buy a non-US phone. You don't even have to travel. Just get one on eBay.
post #35 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

No, you would not. Actually, you should not: it depends.

It depends entirely on the opportunity cost associated with the use of your funds.

Well yeah, if I had a complicated scheme of investments etc. then I might get a better return by investing the money elsewhere.

The funny thing is if you knew me you'd know how completely alien that entire world of business and investing is to me and how that would so never, ever be a factor in my decisions.
post #36 of 63
I still have my original iPhone as well as an iPhone 4.

I want to get the original iPhone unlocked so I can use it with a local SIM card in Europe when I travel. I do not want to jailbreak it and I am happy with AT&T so I have no desire to switch carriers in the US.

Surely, since I have met my original contract obligation I should legally be allowed to get it factory unlocked. I have had every phone I have owned in the past 11 years unlocked by AT&T in the US or Virgin Mobile in the UK.

Not allowing us to have our iPhones factory unlocked is unacceptable.

It's AT&T and Apple's unfriendly stance to consumers that is encouraging unauthorized unlocking. No wonder many enlightened, consumer-friendly European countries have laws that force Apple to unlock phones.
post #37 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Heck, Apple/Rogers are able to do in Canada. Why not here!? (The italics are meant to only emphasize the fact that they are geographically next door to us, so, Canadian brethren, please don't read anything more into that!).

As I said, it is stupid. And unnecessary. Period.

Actually, no that is incorrect. All phones bought from Roger/Bell/Telus or Virgin in Canada are carrier locked by Apple upon delivery at the Carrier's request. It's only the supply in the Apple store that is unlocked, then locking occurs to a particular when a plans is activated but initially, in the Apple store they are unlocked.
It's only after you've lost everything that you're free to do anything.

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post #38 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by websnap View Post

Actually, no that is incorrect. All phones bought from Roger/Bell/Telus or Virgin in Canada are carrier locked by Apple upon delivery at the Carrier's request. It's only the supply in the Apple store that is unlocked, then locking occurs to a particular when a plans is activated but initially, in the Apple store they are unlocked.

Thanks for that clarification. That sounds even better! Apple could/should just do it.....
post #39 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Well yeah, if I had a complicated scheme of investments etc. then I might get a better return by investing the money elsewhere.

The funny thing is if you knew me you'd know how completely alien that entire world of business and investing is to me and how that would so never, ever be a factor in my decisions.

You don't really need a complicated scheme of investments etc. It could be something as simple as: by taking out (say) a 5% mortgage loan, I could be using the funds instead to pay for my kid's college, which obviates the need for a (say) 7% loan (assuming similar tax consequences).

I could give you dozens on other similar examples.
post #40 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Thanks for that clarification. That sounds even better! Apple could/should just do it.....

It's all kind of a moot point, really. I think the biggest factor for most is "freedom" but really, that is negligible. For instance, and unlocked phone is great if you want the "freedom" to leave your carrier to either punish poor coverage or behaviour/service but that is really only of value if there is at least a comparable carrier to switch to. In my province, there is only one carrier (Rogers/Fido) that is GSM. The second reason would be if you have an amazing plan that is no longer available that you would loose if you sign a new contract ($30 - Unlimited talk/text + 1 Gb Data). The last reason is if you see yourself traveling with some frequency, an unlocked phone would save on roaming charges by grabbing Pay-as-you-go Sims.

Beyond that, what would be the point? A friend of mine was in line with me on launch day and switched from Telus (currently CDMA in our province, with no iPhone on the horizon) to Rogers and asked if he should get an unlocked phone. I asked if he traveled out of the country and he said extremely rarely. I told him to sign up then and save himself the initial cost. He was switching carriers so there was no plan to hold onto. There's no second iPhone carrier so there's no foreseeable possibility of hopping services during the length of a contract, and there's a $75 activation fee to attach an unlocked phone to any plan.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that, depending where you are and your situation, all an unlocked phone is good for is selling on eBay.

Just my two cents.
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