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The iPhone unlocking software in action  (Source: Engadget)
iPhoneSimfree frees the iPhone to accept SIM cards from other walks of life

In less than two following the release of the iPhone, hackers were finally able to crack open the carrier lock on the Apple device to free it from its AT&T shackles. iPhoneSimfree.com made claims during late August that its software would unlock the device to run on any compatible GSM carrier. Those claims were verified as Engadget ran its iPhone unit on the T-Mobile network.

After several delays, the iPhoneSimfree software is now available for purchase. Currently, four online retailers in the world hold licenses for the unlocking software: Wireless Imports in the US, iPhoneWorldwideUnlock in Australia, 1digitalphone in Germany, and iPhone4arab in Saudi Arabia. Current prices for a single unlocking process range from $50 to $100.

Although an unlocked iPhone can run on any able GSM network, certain special features associated with the device may only be available on AT&T’s service. For example, visual voicemail will not appear on unlocked iPhones running on T-Mobile, as the feature is an AT&T network-specific feature.

For further details on the software iPhone unlocking solution, Engadget has posted an HD video detailing the entire unlocking process from start to finish.

The iPhoneSimfree method of unlocking is completely software-based. For those not afraid of a little wetwork, George Hotz, a 17 year old from Glen Rock, New Jersey, has discovered and documented a way to unlock the iPhone using a mix of internal soldering and software. For Hotz’s inventiveness and bravery, he scored three new 8GB iPhones and a Nissan 350Z.



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I'm no lawyer...
By pauldovi on 9/10/2007 5:05:08 PM , Rating: 3
But something tells me AT&T / Apple will look for legal ways to get this off the market.




RE: I'm no lawyer...
By AMDfreak on 9/10/2007 5:24:45 PM , Rating: 2
They could probably get the US based company, and maybe the Australian one, but I doubt Apple will get anywhere in Saudi Arabia.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By DestruyaUR on 9/10/2007 9:29:09 PM , Rating: 1
Interesting point - how soon until Apple and AT&T commission a story that the Saudi Arabian store "might" be somehow funding terror?

I'd like to say they'd be above this...but we're dealing with lawyers and corporate entities that have a history of shady tactics.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By carl0ski on 9/11/2007 6:48:08 AM , Rating: 2
Since AT&T and Apple do not sell the iPhone in Australia
Australian courts will throw such a case out since if an Australian owns a iPhone (they wont be able to use AT&T) obvious fair usage laws will allow users to make use of a product.

The land mark case for this was Legal Console modding and DVD multi region since to allow full usage of a product otherwise not completely functioning (eg NTSC DVDs that were not released in Australia)


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By Lord Evermore on 9/11/2007 12:02:25 PM , Rating: 1
If they don't sell it in a country, what right does anyone in that country have to expect it to work there? The iPhone does completely function to its specifications in the country where sold, i.e., it runs on the network they say it will. Same for DVDs, they run in the region they claim they will.

Of course without some law like the DMCA in the US, there wouldn't be any law against modifying a product in any way you want, so obviously any legal case should turn out that way. Obvious fair use even in the US says we should be able to use a product how we want, there just are other laws that give product-makers a way to override fair use via a side door.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By oab on 9/10/2007 5:27:25 PM , Rating: 3
They can't. Cellphone unlocking is allowed under the DMCA.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By kuroioni on 9/10/2007 5:30:46 PM , Rating: 1
taken from Wikipedia...

"Computer programs in the form of firmware that enable wireless telephone handsets to connect to a wireless telephone communication network, when circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of lawfully connecting to a wireless telephone communication network. (A new exemption in 2006.)"


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By The Boston Dangler on 9/10/07, Rating: -1
RE: I'm no lawyer...
By Cullinaire on 9/10/2007 9:47:15 PM , Rating: 5
#1 is untrue. I like looking up vegetables on it. They have pretty pictures and recipes.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By The Boston Dangler on 9/10/2007 11:50:42 PM , Rating: 1
wikipedia is, by nature, begging to be abused. i could swap pictures of pretty veggies with roadkill, or remove "inconvenient" information about politicians or companies, and "paint a prettier picture" with some creativity of my own. it's sad that many people refer to wikis as gospel truth.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By acer905 on 9/11/2007 3:28:02 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, by its very nature, where eveyrone can help to contribute to the knowledge base, there is the ability for people to take the information and twist it a certain way. And yes, people have done it, and been caught doing it. However it is still the closest thing to a complete listing of all knowledge. And i will bet that if you were to do anything you said it would be found, and reversed rather quickly. They will even lock down articles because too many people vandalize them. No, its not perfect, but only because people aren't.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By Samus on 9/11/2007 12:14:22 AM , Rating: 1
#1 is untrue. I like looking up pot on it. They have pretty pictures and recipes :)


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 9/10/2007 5:31:21 PM , Rating: 2
True, they can't hit them with the DMCA, but I would be surprised if AT&T and Apple couldn't come up with something though.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By gramboh on 9/10/2007 5:40:53 PM , Rating: 2
My roommate has an iPhone (here in Canada) and is excited about this. He made the point that this might not be a bad thing for Apple as it could increase sales of iPhones for enthusiasts willing to do the unlock.

My concern would be what about iPhone OS/firmware updates? I'd imagine the exploit that allows the unlock might be closed and your phone reverted to a factory state but such updates.

Either way it's pretty cool, and those companies are going to make a lot of money the next few weeks.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By TomZ on 9/10/2007 5:46:50 PM , Rating: 2
That's right, Apple wins with the unlock - they can have their cake and eat it too. They get paid by AT&T for exclusive access, then design in primitive security figuring it will quickly get broken, and then voila, the iPhone can be used on other networks without Apple technically violating their agreements.

In my view, AT&T should go after Apple, since Apple is, through lax security, violating the spirit of the exclusivity agreement. Whether that idea can survive AT&T PR calculations in another question.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By spluurfg on 9/10/2007 6:39:19 PM , Rating: 2
Wrong... Apple loses since they are very likely getting a cut from the new contracts. This will also be the case in Europe, where Apple will be taking something like 10% from the monthly bill, and mobile networks will not be permitted to subsidize the phone.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By TomZ on 9/10/2007 7:21:43 PM , Rating: 2
No, you're assuming that all these people would have signed up with AT&T if the phone was more securely locked to their network. Probably most of the people doing this don't like AT&T's network and/or have a strong preference for a diffrent carrier.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By spluurfg on 9/18/2007 7:03:32 PM , Rating: 2
No, I'm assuming that -some- of these people would have signed up with AT&T and thus Apple lost some revenue that they otherwise would have gotten.

This is akin to the statement that people who pirate music don't cost the record industry anything because they wouldn't have paid for it anyway. This is too strong a statement, as some of them probably would have paid for some of the music.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By daniyarm on 9/11/2007 12:48:59 AM , Rating: 2
Apple is totally f***ed in Europe. If they use their US business pracitices there, they will get fines up their a**. There is no way iPhone will fly in Europe with the same restriction as US, European commision will eat them alive.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By theapparition on 9/11/2007 9:42:14 AM , Rating: 2
From what I've read, Apple makes NO money from the contract, that's all AT&T's. Apple makes all their money from the sale of the device. So unlocking the device to increase sales is only in Apple's best interest. They don't give a damn if you ever activate your phone, as long as you buy it.

TomZ is right, AT&T should look long and hard at their contract with Apple.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By spluurfg on 9/18/2007 7:04:36 PM , Rating: 2
In that case the practices in the US differ from those in Europe, where Apple will be taking a cut.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By kamel5547 on 9/10/2007 6:41:36 PM , Rating: 2
Apple loses out on shared monthly revenues... likely a larger profit now that the price cuts have come.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By melgross on 9/10/2007 5:56:02 PM , Rating: 2
Jobs said, a while ago, that they wouldn't try to stop it. ATT is another matter though. They are the ones who sent the lawyers.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By rsmech on 9/10/2007 8:56:16 PM , Rating: 2
Then why did Apple demand a contract with a service provider if they didn't care to uphold such contract? Verizon was smarter than I thought. If Mr. Jobs feels he wouldn't stop it I think AT&T should feel free not to pay off of service contracts since Apple has the power to limit it.

Basically it comes down to the fact that if it's legal to unlock your phone then there is & never was such a thing as an exclusive carrier. As such the contract seems frivolous. Besides Apple probably doesn't care about the contract, it's the media hype that matters. Sell an image not the product. Let the press see how important you are to be exclusive. They couldn't have paid for a better ad campaign then the free one the press has given. That matters more than a contract.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By Hare on 9/10/2007 11:34:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Then why did Apple demand a contract with a service provider if they didn't care to uphold such contract?
Because they get a cut of the bill and most people don't unlock their phones. Unlocking is a niche market and this way Apple could sell a) the AT&T exclusive package and b) unlocked device to enthusiasts still being "AT&T exclusive".

Some might argue that this way Apple can address two markets. Those who are willing to take AT&T with the iPhone (majority of AT&T customers) and those who refuse the operator deal.

I personally don't think Apple cares too much about the unlocking.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By rsmech on 9/11/2007 7:52:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Because they get a cut of the bill

You are stating the obvious. If they don't care about unlocking it should also hold true for ring tones. So why are they making any attempt whatsoever about blocking custom ring tones. Where is there consistency in Apple policy?


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By Griswold on 9/11/2007 4:37:50 AM , Rating: 2
AT&T will give Jobs a swift kick to the nuts if he doesnt do (technically) anything to prevent this. They have a contract after all and its meaningless if this unlock is good for apple or not - its not good for AT&T.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By DEVGRU on 9/11/2007 12:49:53 PM , Rating: 2
Then why should Apple care? I think as far as Apple is concerned, its a win/win for them. Sure they might get a cut of the AT&T contract side, so they might not make AS much if a new iPhone is sold without an AT&T contract - but they're still selling the iPhone; which means revenue (for Apple) via accessories and iTunes, and more market penetration for the iPhone overall.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By rninneman on 9/10/2007 5:41:52 PM , Rating: 3
Unlocking is allowed under the DMCA; selling unlocking tools for a profit is not. AT&T and Apple will most certainly go after the US company and try the Austrailian and German companies. When a company copies Slysoft's model of selling DMCA circumventing software from someplace where there are no DMCA like laws, it is goodbye to locked iPhones. I'm sure by the end of September, there will be several out of Apple and AT&Ts reach.

Apple probably doesn't really care because no matter what, they're selling an iPhone. They just have to appear interested because of they're contract with AT&T. (Although, what if any kickbacks from AT&T on the service plans has not been publicly disclosed.) In the end, even at the new lower price, Apple is still making money if the phone is used on another network and I'm sure Steve Jobs would love to have as many out there as possible regardless of whose network they are one.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By Christopher1 on 9/11/2007 3:00:42 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Unlocking is allowed under the DMCA; selling unlocking tools for a profit is not.


Where are you getting that from? I can find nothing in the DMCA that says that selling unlocking tools for profit is illegal or not allowed, and I've been through it about 5 times now.

I might be missing something, but it doesn't appear that you cannot sell an unlocking tool for profit.


Apple Security
By ArenaNinja on 9/10/2007 7:54:00 PM , Rating: 2
What surprises me is that no one has pointed out how weak Apple's security has been. Doesn't Apple tout MS for their security? Didn't their system just get fully violated two months after release?

I believe this goes to all Mac fanboys with their Apple Kool-Aid. When you get popular, you're a target. Apple's (and Linux) increased "security" is really nothing than a false sense of such, as growing popularity will find the OS to be more of a target. This, in turn, will bring to light existing flaws.

With the exception of Paris Hilton's Sidekick, I believe this is the first time I hear of a phone being hacked.

Again, popularity.




RE: Apple Security
By Oregonian2 on 9/10/2007 8:26:09 PM , Rating: 2
AFAIK most all cell phones have their locks breakable, with one usually able to buy the unlock code (it's just a code one has to type into the handset somewhere). Carriers also say that they'll give out the code after a period of time if they're requested with the right procedure. Personally I just bought unlocked phones and put AT&T SIM cards into them (doing it the other way around). My Motorola phones came from overseas and are unlocked to begin with (and have no vendor logos on them other than Motorola's logo). Got them that way so I could use them overseas on trips. Previous phone was Verizon which worked fine, but not useful in a GSM world.


RE: Apple Security
By ChristopherO on 9/10/2007 10:06:04 PM , Rating: 2
Actually the locks haven’t been hacked... Almost all manufacturers sell unlocking/flashing/test equipment that goes out to the respective service centers. The online un-locking places have simply acquired this equipment via gray market sources. You pay for the privilege of running your IMEI through their device. In many cases the un-locking shop has built a phone emulator (it pretends to be your phone attached to the machine). The device then reads the unlock code as issued by whatever device it is attached to.

That's just one of the many methods employed. To the best of my knowledge, none of the widely available unlocks were the result of hacks. It just isn't needed... With the exception of Apple none of the manufacturers seem to be so tight lipped about their codes. I’m guessing Apple probably doesn’t care (especially if it results in sales they wouldn't have otherwise had). I’m also not sure if AT&T would, since if you're so gung-ho for an unlock, you probably wouldn't sign-up for their service anyway.


RE: Apple Security
By rmaharaj on 9/10/2007 10:18:31 PM , Rating: 2
It is a general rule in security that if someone has unlimited physical access to the device, there is no security measure that cannot be circumvented with sufficient time. While your point is well taken I don't believe this case says anything the security of Apple products from remote exploits.

Just another reason why all this DRM is a waste of everyone's time and money.


iPhone for other networks?
By EglsFly on 9/10/2007 10:48:52 PM , Rating: 3
Does anybody know if Apple has plans to release an iPhone that will work on the other types of networks, like what Verizon and Alltel use, etc...




RE: iPhone for other networks?
By Hare on 9/10/2007 11:37:29 PM , Rating: 3
It's AT&T exclusive so I doubt it. At least not in the near future. Maybe iPhone 2.0 ?


By theapparition on 9/11/2007 9:55:16 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Does anybody know if Apple has plans to release an iPhone that will work on the other types of networks, like what Verizon and Alltel use, etc...

Yes, when hell freezes over.

Verizon uses CDMA, so the iphone, in it's current form, won't work. It would have to be another model with CDMA tech inside. That's the easy part.

The hard part is Verizon. Apple initially targeted to sell this through Verizon, not Cingular (AT&T). Verizon turned them down when talks failed to progress. Sticking points:
1. iTunes Activation - Verizon said no way in hell
2. Handset cost - They wanted to subsidize cost with higher contract fees.
3. iPhone profit - Verizon wanted Apple to take a smaller profit margin.
4. iTunes - Verizon has it's own online store, "Get it now", and that would clash with their business model.

Overall, Verizon is a control freak, and Apple is an stubborn ego-maniac. Verizon wants complete control over their network and treat Apple like a traditional phone maker. Apple has a vision and won't budge, no matter how bad the vision may be at times. They are not a good match for one another.


I"m really confused...
By Souka on 9/10/2007 7:03:13 PM , Rating: 2
But you're still signing a 2-year commitment with AT&T right?




RE: I"m really confused...
By jkresh on 9/10/2007 7:07:31 PM , Rating: 2
You can walk into a store and buy an iphone without a contact, however you unless you unlock it or use itunes to setup a contract there is no way to use it (there is other software that will basically let you use it as an ipod touch but that doesn't really have much of a purpose anymore).


RE: I"m really confused...
By Dactyl on 9/10/2007 7:44:42 PM , Rating: 2
You can walk into an Apple store and buy it that way.

I'm not sure if you can walk into an AT&T store and do that.


Not very much useful for US
By clnee55 on 9/10/2007 7:43:50 PM , Rating: 2
Changing from ATT to T-Mobile doesn't improve much. Verizon doesn't use Sim so it can't be done. Probably outside US will like the unlocking option.

CN




By SiliconAddict on 9/10/2007 9:07:22 PM , Rating: 2
Yah it doesn't improve much...other then going from a shittastic carrier to one that isn't. You couldn't fucking pay me per month to go back to Crapular.


By ChristopherO on 9/10/2007 9:15:11 PM , Rating: 2
Are you kidding me? At my house I get excellent T-Mo coverage but can only get AT&T if I'm upstairs in the master bedroom. Not to mention with MyFaves I use a crazy number of minutes and pay $40/mo (I'd be on the $129 plan with any other carrier). Sure they are both EDGE capable networks, but I don't really care about data. And if I did, the plans are still cheaper than AT&T.

Not that I want to be a shill for them, but I'm just surprised they don't have a bigger chunk of the market.


What the...
By Polynikes on 9/10/2007 6:47:00 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Current prices for a single unlocking process range from $50 to $100.


That's ridiculous. A little patience and it'll be available for free.




RE: What the...
By helios220 on 9/10/2007 7:10:43 PM , Rating: 3
I agree.

While I would not necessarily outright brand the developers of the unlock software as pirates, it still never ceases to entertain me when hackers or pirates think that people will not do the same thing to their software as well.

I may be wrong, but I think in general people are even less inclined to be bothered by using hacked or pirated versions of software of questionable legality than your standard main stream developers. What goes around comes around...


I wonder
By JonnyBlaze on 9/10/2007 6:22:42 PM , Rating: 2
How long until iPhoneSimfree is on the web for download.




RE: I wonder
By iGo on 9/10/2007 7:38:03 PM , Rating: 2
But it wouldn't work unless some clever spoof is used... since the software checks license for your iPhone's IMEI number for validation on IPSF's server.

If some smart hacker finds a way to spoof it like iPhone activation trick, then it will be available on every download site.


...months?
By isorfir on 9/11/2007 10:09:24 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
In less than two following the release of


Small typo, but can't hurt to point it out.




RE: ...months?
By xphile on 9/12/2007 9:11:24 PM , Rating: 2
Probably can't hurt to point out either that if you are going to be pedantic about English spelling mistakes, it might help if the person has actually made one. All the words are spelled correctly, so there is actually no typo at all.

On the other hand, there could quite possibly be an omission of a word - but the author may well feel that it was a deliberate gap left to stimulate the readers imagination. I couldn't possibly comment:-)


How will AT&T respond to this?
By steven975 on 9/11/2007 12:04:43 PM , Rating: 2
Right now, AT&T subsidizes EVERY iPhone to the amount of $200 or so.

Since this unlocking is legal, AT&T will lose $200 for every phone unlocked (they make back the $200 if you use their service, though). How is AT&T to respond??

I bet you that they will soon revoke the subsidy and the iPhone will be $599 again, except that you will get $200 back when you activate a new contract. This is the only way AT&T and Apple can avoid a fight.




Going to be pricey...
By EGBTMagus on 9/11/07, Rating: 0
"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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