Print 15 comment(s) - last by Alexstarfire.. on May 27 at 2:38 PM

The iPhone is the only phone NOT covered in the unlocking class action lawsuit. You will soon be able to "legally" unlock any other AT&T or Cingular phone that you bought with contract between 1999 to 2010.  (Source: The Huffington Post)
AT&T still won't let Apple's "magical" phone free

AT&T has reportedly reached a proposed class action lawsuit settlement over a case over its practice of locking phones to its network.  The practice makes the phones unable to be used on other GSM networks (like T-Mobile) even after the user's AT&T contract expires.

The new settlement entitles those who purchased handsets with an AT&T or Cingular contract from March 12, 1999 to April 2, 2010 to a free unlocking code.  According to Top Class Actions, other groups may be entitled to an unlocking code as well.  The site describes these scenarios and possible conditions, writing:
1) Customers with postpaid accounts who have completed a minimum of 90 days of active service and are in good standing and current in their payments.

(2) Customers with prepaid accounts who have provided a detailed receipt or other proof of purchase of the handset.

(3) Customers who own handsets for which AT&T has an exclusive sales arrangement with a manufacturer of less than 10 months will have to wait until the 10-month period expires before they can receive an unlocking code.

There is one major exception to note, though -- the Apple iPhone does not apply to this settlement.  AT&T reportedly was absolutely unwilling to compromise on this point.

Apple reportedly has an exclusive contract with AT&T until 2012.  Recently there have been rumors that the contract may have been renegotiated and/or extended.  While this would likely make the contract even more lucrative to Apple, and bring in even more profits, it would be a virtual death sentence to Apple's hopes of remaining competitive with Google's Android in terms of market share.  Android is available on every major network in America -- AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint.

Returning to the settlement, the full settlement description can be found here [PDF].  You can also visit for more info.

If you wish to opt out of the settlement or object to it, you must postmark your comments by June 4, 2010.  A final settlement hearing will be held on July 2, 2010.

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By semo on 5/25/2010 10:22:24 AM , Rating: 1
While this would likely make the contract even more lucrative to Apple, and bring in even more profits, it would be a virtual death sentence to Apple's hopes of remaining competitive with Google's Android in terms of market share
I don't quite understand this statement. Is the assumption that once someone finishes their AT&T contract, they will just unlock their android handset and continue using it with another carrier potentially?

Also I didn't know the problem was so severe... in he UK, an operator is not allowed to deny you freedom of choice even if you have outstanding debts (they can always chase you for back payments regardless of whether you have been given an unlock code or not). We are going backwards in terms of contract lengths though with two years as standard nowadays.

RE: awful
By tlbj6142 on 5/25/2010 10:28:50 AM , Rating: 1
Isn't Tmo's 3G data on a different radio freq than ATTs? If so, an unlocked phone would only be useful for voice. So, I'm not sure what value an unlocked iPhone would have even if they did allow it.

RE: awful
By ksherman on 5/25/2010 11:39:45 AM , Rating: 2
Correct, you'd be stuck with EDGE.

Though, AT&T are the only national carriers that use GSM, but I'm sure there are a number of smaller regional carriers that some people might be eyeing.

While it's not a 'big deal' on the surface, it's just angering that after I've paid out more than $2500 for the phone and service over two years, that I don't have the option to actually own my phone. I was thinking of giving it to my mom (who is on T-Mo) and EDGE would probably serve her just fine, if she even wanted internet. Right now she's still rockin' a second generation RAZR. I'd jailbreak it, but I'd rather she didn't have to worry about not being able to update the phone etc.

Thanks AT&T. I love using my iPhone, but it's no longer worth the cost. Lets go EVO 4G!

RE: awful
By inperfectdarkness on 5/25/2010 1:36:55 PM , Rating: 1
even with evo4g, you'll still be paying ~$2120 over two years. for two phones, it's $4000. neither of these figures includes the $30/month for "legally" tethering.

even without a data-plan, my 2-phone plan is costing me > $1000 annually. shit adds up.

RE: awful
By ksherman on 5/25/2010 2:38:43 PM , Rating: 3
I know, but it will cost me $10-15 a month less, saving me a couple hundred dollars and get a better plan to boot. I'm in Chicago, where WiMax has been around for a while now. Also maybe I will own the phone at some point.

I'm going to tether with Froyo when it comes out. Or I'll root.

RE: awful
By Alexstarfire on 5/27/2010 2:38:24 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting, a couple years ago I got a W595 from AT&T and after like 90 days I called them and got an unlock code. I was under the impression this could be done on any non-iPhone phone.

RE: awful
By JasonMick on 5/25/2010 10:58:41 AM , Rating: 5
I don't quite understand this statement. Is the assumption that once someone finishes their AT&T contract, they will just unlock their android handset and continue using it with another carrier potentially?

The problem is that you can't *get* the iPhone in the U.S. on T-Mobile (or any other network besides AT&T) officially by any means. You can't buy a new iPhone or reactivate a used one (as you state) and use them *officially* on any network other than AT&T (of course you can unlock it unofficially, which Apple contends is illegal).

The problem is simply numbers. AT&T is a pretty good network for the iPhone to be on -- it's the second largest network in the U.S. in terms of subscribers and the fastest data network. However, when Android is on AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, they simply have access to millions of more customers.

As long as AT&T and Apple are exclusive there will be no CDMA iPhone widely available in the U.S. even if Apple chooses to make one for the handful of international carriers that use the standard. That means that there's no way unlocked or otherwise for Verizon and Sprint's millions of customers to use the iPhone.

It may sound harsh, but ultimately Apple will be losing millions of U.S. customers if it sticks exclusively with AT&T. In fact that will probably be the decisive factor in the smart phone war, if Apple indeed falls behind.

Despite all the Flash rejection/censorship issues with Apple, its app store it is still widely regarded as having the best app selection and its next gen hardware looks to remain pretty competitive with the top current gen Android models.

At the end of the day two things are truly killing Apple the most -- lack of multiple handset offerings, and being tied to a single carrier in the core U.S. business.

RE: awful
By xsilver on 5/25/2010 11:29:15 AM , Rating: 2
they may be losing millions of customers but are they losing millions of dollars?

keeping some vague veil of exclusivity is worth something to apple I would think.

RE: awful
By Adonlude on 5/25/2010 4:17:21 PM , Rating: 2
Price of an iPhone x Millions of customers = Dollars lost by Apple

RE: awful
By ksherman on 5/25/2010 11:52:44 AM , Rating: 2
I doubt any exclusivity agreement with AT&T would ultimately stop Apple from selling a phone with Verizon.

If Apple chooses to make a CDMA, they could probably get out of any contract they are in with AT&T, whether a payout or a renegotiation (imagine if AT&T tried to block, Apple could just walk. Last thing AT&T wants).

It likely hasn't happened yet because there hasn't been a significant reason for a Verizon phone. GSM is what the rest of the world uses, so they developed for the widest market possible. Sure a lot of CDMA users were left out, Verizon is the only significant contingent of CDMA in the world, for the most part.

Apple put out a new phone, new OS, new hardware and has had reaped TONS of profits and had several comfortable years with a single US carrier. If Apple decides that the costs of creating a separate model for CDMA networks will make them millions and millions of dollar more, they'll do it eventually.

And all this discussion of divergent handset models completely negates the possibility of using one of the multiband Broadcom chips that have CDMA and GSM hardware in one package. Frankly, I would be surprised if that wasn't one of the 'unexpected' features coming at WWDC.

My guess, it will be able to run on Verizon, but won't sell through or for Verizon for several months. AT&T probably sacrificed the remainder of their exclusivity agreement for being a sole provider for the initial launch months. Makes perfect sense. People that want the phone right away will have to stay with AT&T or wait until later in the year for Verizon.

Personally, I couldn't care less between AT&T and Verizon. They both have extremely overpriced plans (seriously, we're still paying for SMS messages plans?!). AT&T has been fine for me, T-Mobile worked fine for me too. I'm more interested in a better plan value than anything else.

RE: awful
By Mr772 on 5/26/2010 8:05:20 AM , Rating: 2
I agree the current plans are way over priced for the service that is being offered.

RE: awful
By ender21 on 5/25/2010 6:49:22 PM , Rating: 2
Fantastic summary.

AT&T to Apple
By threepac3 on 5/25/2010 11:11:59 AM , Rating: 2
My precious!

I wonder..
By leuNam on 5/25/2010 10:04:25 AM , Rating: 1
What does Newton's Apple look like?

By Anoxanmore on 5/25/10, Rating: -1
"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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