Is an iPhone 3G Unlock Imminent?

By  |  Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 8:28 am

Have a hankering to unlock your iPhone 3G so you can run it on any network? You may be in luck before too long.

The iPhone Dev Team–the group of hackers who figured out how to unlock the first-generation iPhone–has cracked the iPhone’s baseband processor and can run applications on it. That’s a critical step–maybe the critical step–in figuring out how to unlock the phone, since the software that does the job will run on the baseband processor.

I’d love to have an unlocked iPhone 3G, partially for practical reasons (I’d like to be able to buy a cheap prepaid SIM when I travel internationally) and partially on the principle of the matter (when a phone is locked, it’s been intentionally crippled). And you gotta admire the technical chops of the iPhone Dev Team. But I’m not all that excited by its progress in unlocking the iPhone 3G. In the past, Apple has showed itself to be completely willing to foil people who do things to its products that it doesn’t want done. And it doesn’t want you to unlock your iPhone. So me, I’m not going to risk it.

If I lived in Hong Kong, I’d be able to buy an unlocked iPhone today. More to the point, AT&T has cheerfully unlocked multiple phones for me in the past, once I’d owned them for a few months. I’ve never heard a rational explanation as to why unlocking a Treo is no biggie, but unlocking an iPhone can only be done if hackers manage to worm their way past all the barriers that Apple puts up to prevent them from unlocking the phone.

I also don’t understand why AT&T doesn’t sell iPhones at a higher, unsubsidized contract-free price (I would have happily paid it). Nor do I understand why why rumors of a tethering plan for the iPhone remain nothing more than rumors. The weird bottom line is that the iPhone is both the most powerful phone in the world and one of the most limiting ones.

Anyhow, the iPhone Dev Team has posted a video showing off their accomplishment. And hey, here it is:

 
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11 Comments For This Post

  1. Susan Says:

    } I also don’t understand why AT&T doesn’t sell iPhones at a
    } higher, unsubsidized contract-free price

    They already do.

  2. Harry McCracken Says:

    I don’t think so, Susan. Or if they do, they haven’t updated their Web site, which says:

    “How much will I pay for iPhone 3G?
    If you are upgrade eligible and your account is in good standing, you will pay $199 for 8GB (black) and $299 for 16GB (black or white). Two-year contract required.

    If you are not currently eligible, you may have the option to purchase an early upgrade priced at $399 for 8GB (black) or $499 for 16GB (black or white). Two-year contract required.

    In the future, AT&T may offer a no-commitment option of $599 for 8GB and $699 for 16GB.”

    Kinda of odd–they’ve announced the price of a contract-free iPhone…but say you can’t actually buy one.

    –Harry

  3. Sidharth Says:

    @susan AT&T doesn’t sell unlocked phones. they plan to sell contract free phones but are not doing it presently

  4. air phloo Says:

    Even when (if) AT&T starts selling contract-free iPhones, will they actually be unlocked for use with another carrier or will they just be contract free? I mean, they could still sell a locked iPhone at an unsubsidized rate with no contract, right?

    I have an unlocked original iPhone thanks to the iPhone Dev Team. However, I am clueless about the technical details of all this. Does anyone know how it is that the 3G can be so much more difficult to unlock even while they are selling unlocked versions? To put it as ignorantly as I can, why can’t they just look at what a Hong Kong iPhone’s firmware looks like and copy it?

  5. Harry McCracken Says:

    Air Phloo: The contract-free iPhones will still be locked to AT&T, as far as anyone knows. In the past, I’ve bought contract-free phones from AT&T and the company has cheerfully unlocked them for me; I don’t know why the iPhone should be any different…

    –Harry

  6. Susan Says:

    You pay $199, and another $175 to immediately cancel your contract.
    Duh.

  7. Debby Says:

    You can already unlock the iPhone3G with a simple, cheap SIM card.

    iunlockiphone3g (DOT) com

    Takes about 30 secs.

  8. vito Says:

    Hello. I unlocked my iphone 3G with this website, http://www.unlockiphone-3g.com . Now i want to update my iphone 2G to iphone 3G version…is this possible?? ps:
    sorry for my English

  9. bpomeroy Says:

    Why not just import one from Australia?

    Due to competition laws in Australia it is possible to get a legally unlocked iphone that wont crash or something when apple launches a new firmware update.

  10. mxc Says:

    @Susan –
    Susan Says:
    You pay $199, and another $175 to immediately cancel your contract.
    Duh.

    Yes but it will still be locked. He was talking about unsubsidized (unlocked) contract-free phone.
    Duh..

  11. MrMan Says:

    Its so strange that any phone is locked to any network. I had this hassle with several of my phones, including my iPhone

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