Print 27 comment(s) - last by CZroe.. on Mar 29 at 2:46 AM

Recently leaked slides from AT&T indicate that AT&T and Apple will be selling unlocked iPhones in the U.S. -- but only to existing AT&T customers, and only one per customer.  (Source: Boy Genius Report)
Unlocking is okay, says AT&T, but only if you're an existing AT&T customer

Apple and AT&T have fought long and hard against iPhone unlockers in the U.S.  While some foreign countries have mandated Apple sell unlocked iPhones, in the U.S. such phones are still not available.

According to a Boy Genius Report scoop, that could soon change.  The site claims to have obtained slides from an internal AT&T training presentation that indicate that Apple and AT&T will offer unlocked, contract-free iPhone 3Gs to existing AT&T customers starting March 26.  The 8 GB model would be priced at $599, while the 16 GB would be priced at $699. 

The phones would require no service agreement or activation and could work on other networks.  Again, the "No-Commit" pricing option would be limited to only existing AT&T customers, and only one phone would be available per customer.  Thus, it seems that AT&T is trying to silence complaints about strong-arm tactics when it comes to unlocking, while keeping the sales of unlocked iPhones very limited.

The loophole, it appears, is that only company-owned retail (COR) stores will show up in OPUS, which the company uses to determine the one-phone-per-subscriber limit.  Thus unlocked phones sold at Apple stores or at places like Best Buy could be purchased in large quantities and resold to non-AT&T customers.  However, Apple and AT&T may decide to place additional restrictions if such a practice becomes common.

Apple and AT&T have yet to confirm or deny the report.

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Asking to be Bricked
By lightfoot on 3/19/2009 2:06:20 PM , Rating: 5
I'd be the first person in line for one of these if I trusted Apple even remotely.

Without a contract explicitly stating that it was legally sold unlocked, it would be difficult if not impossible to prove that it is legitimate if Apple ever decides to change their mind. Apple's defacto policy seems to be "Bricking unlocked phones for any reason at any time."

Both Apple and AT&T seem to have no problem screwing their own customers - just imagine how they will treat you if you're not one.

Conceptually I love the iPhone... It's the business practices that I can't tolerate.

RE: Asking to be Bricked
By Silent157 on 3/19/2009 2:23:37 PM , Rating: 4
"It's the business practices that I can't tolerate"

I admire Steve Jobs, but that line is the sole reason I'm not a fan of Apple.

RE: Asking to be Bricked
By MonkeyPaw on 3/19/2009 9:36:17 PM , Rating: 2
And I might consider it if the prices weren't $599 or $699.

RE: Asking to be Bricked
By sprockkets on 3/19/2009 10:01:56 PM , Rating: 2
Well, better than $800 at

RE: Asking to be Bricked
By Adonlude on 3/23/2009 7:34:49 PM , Rating: 2
That's exactly how AT&T wants you to feel. The only purpose of this alleged policy would be to let AT&T say that they aren't forcing an iPhone monoply while pricing them out of reach unless you join their service.

By VeauX on 3/19/2009 2:36:57 PM , Rating: 2
As far as I know, tat exclusivity thing is to protect the operator (AT&T) because they subsidize the phone, so they lock you in a 2 years plan.

Now, we are close to the 2 years of the first iphone owner. AT&T would be obligated to unlock those phones, no?

By lightfoot on 3/19/2009 2:38:56 PM , Rating: 3
Now, we are close to the 2 years of the first iphone owner. AT&T would be obligated to unlock those phones, no?


By Dark Legion on 3/20/2009 6:39:18 AM , Rating: 3
It's not illegal, it is perfectly within their rights as the people who sell it to you. After all you sign a contract when you buy the phone, and I would assume that they left something in there that would not force them to unlock the phone for you. You may hate them for it, but you're the one who agreed to their contract. If you don't like it you shouldn't have signed a contract to be their money slave.

By vapore0n on 3/19/2009 4:11:08 PM , Rating: 2
The exclusivity contract is so that only ATT can sell the iphone. They agreed to pay apple a certain % of sales or montly payments.

Once it expires it means Apple can sell to other companies. Would they though?

The contract is for getting back some of that money that ATT spent on subsidizing the phone.

By Lerianis on 3/19/2009 11:49:11 PM , Rating: 2
And those kind of agreements should be illegal, because it is a de-facto monopoly given to AT&T.

Personally, I would LOVE if phones were sold for their actual price, and the contracts were MUCH lower than they are right now.

Ok ok
By bill3 on 3/20/2009 1:32:49 AM , Rating: 2
I have a very interesting, difficult question if anybody could help me out..

Basically I have a cheap prepaid cell using ATT "Gophone" prepaid service. I do this because I dont use my cell much, I am able to buy a $100 minutes card and go an entire year on it. Thus getting a very cheap spot use cell phone.

The selection of phones available for prepaid gophone use (or any competing prepaid service) are generally lower class though. None of this high end touch screen stuff. Generally speaking a Motorola Razor is the highest end phone I can get with prepaid, and it's def not worth the $100 price tag to me.

HOWEVER, I am also a gadget/tech enthusiast, and would love an Iphone. However living a frugal lifestyle and not using my cell much, theres no way in hell I can justify an $80-100 a month bill for the minimum Iphone service. Dont just tell me to get a Ipod Touch either, because roaming internet access (beyond wi-fi hotspots) through 3G or whatever other networks cell phones use is one of the main reason I want an Iphone.

Now, I have net access of sorts on my prepaid's called media's not "true" internet like the Iphone though. I get charged a certain amount per KB which is deducted from my prepaid balance when I use it. I'm pretty positive this isn't 3G (obviously it's nothing high end). I'm not sure what you'd call this network I get net access on. GSM I think.

So basically, for some time now I've been casually researching the possibility, if there is anyway to use my current ultra cheap limited use prepaid setup, but do it with an Iphone. What I have found is that it might be theoretically possible. Apparantly all AT&T sim cards will work in an iphone. However, Iphones arent sold without a contract, so it's getting the phone thats the problem (and I wasn't really interested in paying $600-$800 on ebay for a last gen used unlocked iphone).

So I'm pretty interested in these new "legit" unlocked Iphones (which have been rumored for some time). I dont actually mind paying a high upfront cost like 599. I just dont want to be locked into $100 a month.

So I guess basically, I'm wondering, if all ATT sim's are supposed to work in Iphone, could I buy one of these unlocked Iphones, stick my sim in it, and what would happen?? Mainly I just dont understand how 3G and all that would work..would I get 3G access? Would they have some way of "identifying" my sim and that I'm "not supposed" to get 3g? I'm assuming I'd get charged an arm and a leg because Iphone net use would burn up the KB's? Would I somehow be able to get normal net access on the iphone, but only on "GSM"? Would AT&T figure out Im doing something "shady" and ban me or something? Questions, questions...

RE: Ok ok
By Chaser on 3/20/2009 8:37:13 AM , Rating: 2
If it truly is unlocked I would think you could. As it would be no different as sliding a T-mobile SIM in it and gaining service.

RE: Ok ok
By Dennis Travis on 3/21/2009 5:47:17 AM , Rating: 2
I have a old Pay As You Go account that I have used for years. A close friend who hates all things Apple got an iPhone 3g and hated it so much he bought a Windows phone. I asked if I could borrow it. He let me and I popped in my AT&T Pay As You Go Sim in and it came right up and works perfectly. Since the phone was already registered and activated, it just worked (I hate to use apples slogan but in this case it did! :D).

So if you can wait for AT&T or find a buddy with a used iPhone they don't want, it will work for you just fine. I did and am doing electrical and other work on his new house to pay for the phone.

RE: Ok ok
By Dennis Travis on 3/21/2009 5:49:48 AM , Rating: 2
Forgot to say, totally stock iPhone 3g. Not jailbroken or Unlocked. Just works with the AT&T Pay as You Go Sim card.

Waste of time
By sprockkets on 3/19/2009 6:24:43 PM , Rating: 2
This is pointless. Unless the iphone supports the 2100mhz band, which is probably doesn't, don't expect 3G to work on T-Mobile here in the states.

Then, what is the point of being an ATT customer? If they don't commit to the service, why require it in the first place?

$600 for an iphone, or $200 + paying the extra $240 over a normal unlimited data plan over 2 years?

The iphone has got to be the stupidest phone out there. You can praise it for its features, but I do not know of any other brand of phone that has to exclusively sell their product to one provider, and tie it to their store ecosystem, and took it to version 3 of the OS to give it features that other smartphones had for 3+ years.

RE: Waste of time
By QueBert on 3/20/2009 1:13:32 AM , Rating: 1
"features that other smartphones have had for 3+ years" is incorrect. I've owned both Motorola Q's and neither had cut & paste or GPS. If you're talking about A2DP that's the only feature. C&P is only in phones that are touch screen + run Windows Mobile Pro. Which is a quite small number of smartphones. Regular Smartphones aren't very smart at all, and while they do have a few features iPhones don't, the same can be said about features iPhones have that Smartphones don't. I'm looking at a "smartphone" right now that doesn't do anything you probably claim they do over iPhones.

RE: Waste of time
By sprockkets on 3/25/2009 3:01:09 AM , Rating: 2
May I introduce you to my Motorola Ming with EZX Linux as its operating system, complete with cut and paste, MMS, a good camera for its time, no restrictions on media playback or syncing, voice command w/ over the headset, plays the ringtones over the headset when calls come in, allows me to delete single calls and text messages from the list, complete with GPS in other countries, supports 5 different languages all in the same device, the BT 2.0 (latest for its time) supports transfer of all files over the computer or to any other BT phone, ringtones included without restrictions, and came out two years before the iphone did.

Yep, until iphone OS 3.0, this would have been a downgrade in usability over the road vs, the iphones wifi and browser.

Exiting.. or existing?
By Whaaambulance on 3/19/09, Rating: 0
RE: Exiting.. or existing?
By lightfoot on 3/19/2009 2:22:26 PM , Rating: 1
Sadly I doubt that it is a typo. Only existing customers are allowed to buy unlocked phones, because they are the only ones who don't need them. And it isn't saying that they will unlock an existing iPhone, they will simply make you purchase a new one that is unlocked.

To your point, I agree that I would be inclined to get one of these and then ditch my AT&T service for some (any) other service. Thus making me an exiting, not existing, customer.

RE: Exiting.. or existing?
By Dark Legion on 3/20/2009 6:44:15 AM , Rating: 2
Let it go, it's not like the article is riddled with them. Save it for another Mick article =P.

By ltcommanderdata on 3/19/2009 1:36:00 PM , Rating: 2
Seems to me the logical way to enforce the one unlocked phone per customer rule is to only offer the unlocked option at AT&T stores and not at Apple Stores or at Best Buy.

Easy money?
By Alphafox78 on 3/19/2009 1:40:27 PM , Rating: 2
So I could just buy one of these since im an ATT customer and resell it for an easy $200+?

RE: Easy money?
By afkrotch on 3/19/09, Rating: 0
By ozarkamax on 3/19/2009 6:53:58 PM , Rating: 2
seen several sites stating the phones would still be locked... just not bound to a contract.

Forbes article
By Smokey48 on 3/19/2009 9:44:49 PM , Rating: 2
Forbes magazine had a recent article on unlocked iphone resellers:

By CZroe on 3/29/2009 2:46:59 AM , Rating: 2
Not only are these still locked (there is a difference between "no commitment" and unlocked), but they've been offered at and since launch.

Heck, they tried to sell me one when I needed to replace mine in December.

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller
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