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

post #1 of 99
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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 ]
post #2 of 99
You're a week late for April fools....
post #3 of 99
About damn time.
post #4 of 99
/popcorn
post #5 of 99
What would be their motivation for doing this? Just being nice guys? Seems odd but I'm sure someone can explain the reasoning.
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post #6 of 99
So much for the lies we've been fed "... it is impossible to unlock an iPhone"
post #7 of 99
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.

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #8 of 99
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.
The true measure of a man is how he treats someone that can do him absolutely no good.
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post #9 of 99
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.
post #10 of 99
I wonder if that makes the old 3GS I don't use anymore more valuable ?
post #11 of 99
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.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #12 of 99
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.
post #13 of 99
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.
The true measure of a man is how he treats someone that can do him absolutely no good.
  Samuel Johnson
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The true measure of a man is how he treats someone that can do him absolutely no good.
  Samuel Johnson
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post #14 of 99
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.
post #15 of 99
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.
post #16 of 99
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 ]
post #17 of 99
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?
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post #18 of 99
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.
post #19 of 99
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.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply
post #20 of 99
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
post #21 of 99
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).
post #22 of 99
Did you miss the part where I said IN MY MIND? That clearly implies that the only place it is currently a crime is, well, IN MY MIND.

sheesh.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

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.

That's not a crime. Neither is not-unlocking the SIM once you're out of contract, but I think it should be.
post #23 of 99
Forgive my ignorance, but what can you do with an unlocked phone?
post #24 of 99
ATT got tired of getting emails from Tim Cook about unlocking iPhones.
post #25 of 99
Wonder if they'd do this for my eBay purchased brand new 4S, as my contract expired on the shattered 4 it replaced last month. If the contract expired regardless, does it matter if the serial number of my current phone matches that of the one I purchased through them 2 years ago?
post #26 of 99
Great Time to buy a subsidized iPhone on AT&T, pay ETF and walk over to the t-mobile store to get a micro sim on a value plan! I know it's only going to be edge speeds. But for emails, weather, stocks and appleinsider those speeds are fine and save you a lot of money
Any older iPhones should be much more valuable on eBay for all those intersted in moving to t-mobile. And by next year they will even work on 3G/4G on t-mobile which might not have better rural coverage but gets much higher speeds in urban areas.
post #27 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keda View Post

Forgive my ignorance, but what can you do with an unlocked phone?

You could use an unlocked phone on any GSM network that is supported by the phone, such as Tmobile and many of the smaller regional carriers. Being unlocked also adds to the phone's resale value.
post #28 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by plovell View Post

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

Yet another silly claim that no one (at least around here) has ever made. It has been possible for quite some time to buy an unlocked phone from Apple and it certainly is well known that iphones can be unlocked.

You're apparently confusing a silly sales claim made by an ignorant or dishonest person with a problem due to the phone.



As an aside, though, it's not clear that this really does much good for most users in the U.S., at least. Most of them require a contract. If you're going to sign a contract, you can get a brand new 3GS for free or a 4 or 4S for modest charge (probably less than you could sell your old iPhone for). So for most people, it simply makes more sense to sign a new contract with the new carrier, get a subsidized phone, and sell your old one.

Of course, there's no down side to this new policy, so I'm not complaining.
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post #29 of 99
About damn time.
post #30 of 99
So... I walk into the ATT store and they do this for me? Or, I still have to do it the old fashioned way. If the phone is out of contract it has nothing to do with ATT. So unless they are offering the service, what has actually changed?
post #31 of 99
Bad for APPLE...they will sell less new iPhones. If I can use my current iPhone on another carrier, I won't have to buy a new one.
post #32 of 99
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.

There have been many accounts were ATT reps contacted customers and told them in no uncertain terms that the cannot unlock phones. That only Apple can unlock them (taking advantage of a technicality in how unlocking is accomplished). No ATT is saying that they will unlock iPhones.

So yeah, I would say that's equivalent to ATT saying it's impossible [for them] to unlock an iPhone and now proving that was a lie.
post #33 of 99
But you still have to have a data plan right? So what's the point if I stay with AT&T? Just take it to T-Mobile who don't care if I have a data plan or not. If the idea is to draw more customers into AT&T with cheap phones, then drop all the draconian plan charges ...
post #34 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Yet another silly claim that no one (at least around here) has ever made. It has been possible for quite some time to buy an unlocked phone from Apple and it certainly is well known that iphones can be unlocked.

You're apparently confusing a silly sales claim made by an ignorant or dishonest person with a problem due to the phone.



As an aside, though, it's not clear that this really does much good for most users in the U.S., at least. Most of them require a contract. If you're going to sign a contract, you can get a brand new 3GS for free or a 4 or 4S for modest charge (probably less than you could sell your old iPhone for). So for most people, it simply makes more sense to sign a new contract with the new carrier, get a subsidized phone, and sell your old one.

Of course, there's no down side to this new policy, so I'm not complaining.

I'd say it's good for individuals like me, who have regional carriers that offer the same HSPA+ network services as AT&T, but at better rates. GCI of Alaska being one of those, who I already get my internet service through.
post #35 of 99
What isn't clear is this: what if I own an iPhone 3GS locked to AT&T (purchased on Craig's List) which I unlocked using Ultrasn0w and have always used on T-Mobile?

I.e. can someone without *any* AT&T account get their iPhone unlocked? The current language suggests that one has to be a customer.
post #36 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keda View Post

Forgive my ignorance, but what can you do with an unlocked phone?

You can use it on multiple carriers (with a different SIM card for each).

So I can take my Orange SIM card out of my cheapo phone and use it in my ATT iPhone now when I'm in Amsterdam. (After I get them to unlock it.) Then put the ATT SIM back in it when I return to USA.
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post #37 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by noexpectations View Post

Bad for APPLE...they will sell less new iPhones. If I can use my current iPhone on another carrier, I won't have to buy a new one.

You are looking at this backward! Apple sell unlocked iPhones for full price. Even if you buy one from AT&T with contract and terminate to get it unlocked it will cost you the same:

$200 iPhone
+ $375 early termination fee
+ $50 for at least one month of service
-----------
Total = $625 + tax

This is more expensive than getting an unlocked iPhone from Apple. This action from AT&T is just to get customers and Apple off their back regarding this issue.
post #38 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

You are looking at this backward! Apple sell unlocked iPhones for full price. Even if you buy one from AT&T with contract and terminate to get it unlocked it will cost you the same:

$200 iPhone
+ $375 early termination fee
+ $50 for at least one month of service
-----------
Total = $625 + tax

This is more expensive than getting an unlocked iPhone from Apple. This action from AT&T is just to get customers and Apple off their back regarding this issue.

What part of "I can use my CURRENT phone" did you miss in his statement, current meaning "I won't have to buy a new phone when I switch carriers?"

Yeesh.
post #39 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

Total = $625 + tax

This is more expensive than getting an unlocked iPhone from Apple. This action from AT&T is just to get customers and Apple off their back regarding this issue.

4S from Apple is $649 + tax
post #40 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cash907 View Post

What part of "I can use my CURRENT phone" did you miss in his statement, current meaning "I won't have to buy a new phone when I switch carriers?"

Yeesh.

which carrier is he planning to switch to? The Edge only carrier called T-Mobile?
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