Apple says iPhone unlocking may cause permanent damage

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple said Monday that many of the unauthorized iPhone unlocking programs available on the Internet cause irreparable damage to the iPhone's software, which will likely result in the modified iPhone becoming permanently inoperable when a future Apple-supplied iPhone software update is installed.



The Cupertino-based company said it plans to release the next iPhone software update, containing many new features including the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store, later this week.



"Apple strongly discourages users from installing unauthorized unlocking programs on their iPhones," the company wrote in a statement to the press. "Users who make unauthorized modifications to the software on their iPhone violate their iPhone software license agreement and void their warranty."



Apple added that the "permanent inability to use an iPhone due to installing unlocking software is not covered under the iPhone's warranty."



The iPhone maker's announcement reflects an increasingly consistent anti-modification policy from the company, which is likely the result of pressure from AT&T to enforce the multi-year exclusivity agreement between itself and Apple.



In one recent incident reported by Mac news site MacNN, a customer discovered that Apple had refused service on his iPhone at a company retail store and even suggested that the phone would be permanently blacklisted from further support regardless of how well it was restored to factory conditions.



Both moves are likely to put Apple's claims of possible permanent damage under close scrutiny, as the company will be responsible -- if perhaps unintentionally -- for breaking otherwise functional iPhones.



Update: TUAW offers a quick-and-dirty guide to relocking an iPhone.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 92
    tednditedndi Posts: 1,921member
    OOH!



    Prepare for the smackdown!
  • Reply 2 of 92
    naughty naught!
  • Reply 3 of 92
    Bah.. scare tactics.
  • Reply 4 of 92
    Ooooh... I wonder if they're purposefully going to put something in this new update that will fry all those suckers hacked phones...



  • Reply 5 of 92
    Awesome! Let all the bricks be thrown to the trash. Patience, people. till the time is right.



    What day will the latest and greatest update be available?
  • Reply 6 of 92
    This sounds bogus to me.

    Unless the "Restore" option doesn't actually restore to the original factory specifications, then you should always be able to restore to the non-hacked version of the iPhone software and then update.



    Can't wait for the next update to come out though!
  • Reply 7 of 92
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SurfRat View Post


    Ooooh... I wonder if they're purposefully going to put something in this new update that will fry all those suckers hacked phones...







    They might, if their agreement with AT&T calls for that. Or, they just may already have tested and discovered that their next update breaks hacked phones without any intent, and they want no part of diagnosing and cleaning up the mess so they're giving fair warning.



    In either case, the hacking companies may be able to develop fixes of their own, so you're not necessarily without any support. (Which still doesn't help your warranty.)
  • Reply 8 of 92
    Why bother, to go to T-Mobile and lose visual voicemail and still pay about the same plan fees? Doesn't make sense at all. ATT's Unity Plan is the bomb.
  • Reply 9 of 92
    As long as the update includes something useful, I could care less about what happens to the people that have "UNLOCKED" their iPHONE. I had a Nintendo Emulator on there for a week. It was cool at first, but lost it's novelty in about a week. I certainly didn't want to risk a Firmware update totally bricking my $500 investment because I thought it would be fun to play Mike Tyson's Punch-Out on my iPhone.



    I think they were referring to people using their phones with T-Mobile, but either way, the phone does what it's supposed to do out of the box. Certainly not worth the risk.



    Just give us something useful like SLINGPLAYER.
  • Reply 10 of 92
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by joe in miami View Post


    Why bother, to go to T-Mobile and lose visual voicemail and still pay about the same plan fees? Doesn't make sense at all. ATT's Unity Plan is the bomb.



    I hear ya, Joe. Thankfully, I have no problems with my AT&T iPhone account and didn't have to pull any tricks. I'm a satisfied customer. But I'm guessing the unlocking folks will continue to provide updates in a tit-for-tat fashion for some time to come.



    Now bring on that software update, Apple! Keeps getting better...
  • Reply 11 of 92
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by donlphi View Post


    As long as the update includes something useful, I could care less about what happens to the people that have "UNLOCKED" their iPHONE. I had a Nintendo Emulator on there for a week. It was cool at first, but lost it's novelty in about a week. I certainly didn't want to risk a Firmware update totally bricking my $500 investment because I thought it would be fun to play Mike Tyson's Punch-Out on my iPhone.



    I think they were referring to people using their phones with T-Mobile, but either way, the phone does what it's supposed to do out of the box. Certainly not worth the risk.



    Just give us something useful like SLINGPLAYER.



    Yeah, the market has spoken... c'mon, Apple, release an official SDK (not hacks) and let the fun begin.
  • Reply 12 of 92
    Someone said scare tactics. Maybe there are those who are not scared to loose 400-600 dollars. I believe I am on safe ground when I say that may be a small club. Most people are scared and wait and see.
  • Reply 13 of 92
    This is a total scare tactic. Apple won't do a perma-brick update. They almost certainly will do one that returns unlocked iphones to a locked, out-of-the-box state, but specifically targeting users who are exercising their legal right under the DMCA to unlock their phones is asking for a class action suit. Whether unlocking voids the warranty or not I have no idea, but it seems like a case of "thou doth protest too much"...they mentioned it twice in a very brief statement.
  • Reply 14 of 92
    I bet some of this is due to the firmware updates that some of these hacks use. I don't think these are reversed when you restore the software on the iPhone...
  • Reply 15 of 92
    I have to say, I'm very surprised and even disappointed in forum-members' resistance to phone unlocking!



    There are many reasons to unlock... say, for one, to avoid paying ridiculously high termination fees, to use out of country, to use without a data plan...



    And there isn't much of a reason for Apple to oppose unlocking. Sure they get a few extra bucks of AT&T's phone plan revenue... but it's nothing compared to all the extra plans they will sell. In fact, the only motivation I see is for Apple to maintain their contract with AT&T, but y'know, if they lost it, I'm sure many other carriers would be eager to allow interoperability with the iPhone on their networks.



    People deserve the freedom of choice, which is precisely why the DMCA legalizes the unlocking of phones.



    -Clive



    By the way, I do not own an iPhone, and I use AT&T, so no, I am not biased.
  • Reply 16 of 92
    I am shocked at the naivety of some members here. You all seem to be forgetting that iPhone is available only in one country at present - there are billions of people who live outside of its sales area. Here, Apple will actually gain money by selling phones to people who cannot legally sign a contract with AT&T because they are not US residents.



    Seriously, this is a mess. Quite why this device wasn't just sold SIM free is beyond me.
  • Reply 17 of 92
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by joe in miami View Post


    Why bother, to go to T-Mobile and lose visual voicemail and still pay about the same plan fees? Doesn't make sense at all. ATT's Unity Plan is the bomb.



    Why bother indeed sigining with a Telco that shares all your data with the intelligence community.
  • Reply 18 of 92
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jmillers View Post


    This sounds bogus to me.

    Unless the "Restore" option doesn't actually restore to the original factory specifications, then you should always be able to restore to the non-hacked version of the iPhone software and then update.



    Can't wait for the next update to come out though!



    My question is, does 'unlocked' included the 'jailbreaking' or only the SIM unlocking?



    I can say for sure that 'restore' does NOT go back fully to factory conditions. For example, I installed a lot of third-party stuff and then got suspicious that it was causing some problems (turned out to be a red herring) but I restored the firmware. I then added back some of the third party stuff and those programs preferences were NOT removed. I had the same RSS list I had before, etc.



    So no, restore is not a 100% restore.



    As far as SIM unlocking, I believe this involves overwriting firmware that would not normally be restored in any case as I would expect that its intended to be read-only.



    edit (AP report)



    As reported by AP this is only SIM unlocking, not jailbreaking.



    Quote:

    SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Apple Inc. on Monday warned iPhone owners who have used unauthorized programs to unlock the cellular service feature of their handsets that they may end up with a phone that doesn't work after the company's next software update for it.



    Since the iPhone debuted in June, hackers have posted a number of methods online to make it possible to use the iPhone on cellular networks other than AT&T, which is the exclusive official carrier for the iPhone.

    Apple executives say they have discovered that many of those unauthorized unlocking programs cause some software damage to iPhones. Now, a software update that Apple plans to issue later this week that will add features such as accessibility to the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store may end up making the touch-screen cell phone completely inoperable if it has been hacked into.

    "This has nothing to do with proactively disabling a phone that is unlocked or hacked," Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, said in an interview. "It's unfortunate that some of these programs have caused damage to the iPhone software, but Apple cannot be responsible for ... those consequences."

    As with any Apple product, hacking into the iPhone will void its warranty, Apple said.

    Apple has sold over a million iPhones since it hit the market June 29.



  • Reply 19 of 92
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by joe in miami View Post


    Why bother, to go to T-Mobile and lose visual voicemail and still pay about the same plan fees? Doesn't make sense at all. ATT's Unity Plan is the bomb.



    It's not just for the US, and even in the US, there are plenty of places that ATT doesn't serve. Even for just travelling, you get robbed with extraordinarily high roaming fees even when the phone is "off", you may as well just leave the thing at home and buy a cheap temporary phone while overseas. All that could be easily avoided, and possibly still allow email & SMS checking if it allowed the user to pop in another SIM.



    Anyway, I call this FUD to the highest degree. It's one thing for Apple to say they aren't responsible for supporting modified phones (I think they said that), it's another to say that it's got a notable chance to break the unit.
  • Reply 20 of 92
    Agreed. This is a mess. Why cant Apple sell the iPhone unlocked NOW, in all the countries that dont have iphones for sale?

    Visual voice mail - thats the only thing that would be lost. Big deal.

    EDGE plans here in Canada are insanely expensive - impossible to use in fact, but I have an unlocked iPhone, running on Rogers, use the WiFi, great phone, and great emails etc. etc.



    All this fuss - sell the iPhone unlocked Apple, please!



    I can legally drive to Washington State, buy an iPhone, legally unlock it, legally use it on my network (I asked them, they said its fine).



    I can see Apple wanting unlimited data plans, so it works as designed, but unfortunately, data plans like that arent available everywhere.



    When (if?) it comes to Canada, I will simply change my Rogers plan to an iPhone plan.

    Until then, I will take the risk, because this phone has made my life SO much easier.
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