Print 91 comment(s) - last by Vanilla Thunde.. on Oct 4 at 4:27 PM

Firmware update 1.1.1 will relock user's iPhones and force them to activate with AT&T.  (Source: Apple Inc.)
Apple has released its new firmware update, which alters unlocked iPhones

Those rushing in droves to unlock the Apple iPhone may be in for a surprise when they try out Apple's newest firmware update; version 1.1.1.

Apple released a statement earlier this week that, "Apple has discovered 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."

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

It turns out that the reports are true -- somewhat.  Apple released its controversial iPhone firmware update yesterday.  Among its new official features:

• iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store
• Louder speakerphone and receiver volume
• Home Button double-click shortcut to phone favorites of music controls
• Space bar double-tap shortcut to intelligently insert period and space
• Mail attachments are viewable in portrait and landscape
• Stocks and cities in Stocks and Weather can be re-ordered
• Apple Bluetooth Headset battery status in the Status Bar
• Support for TV Out
• Preference to turn off EDGE/GPRS when roaming internationally
• New Passcode lock time intervals
• Adjustable alert volume

iPhone unlocking has become very widespread, thanks to two key software offerings:  iPhoneSimfree and anySIM.  These programs "unlock" the iPhone and allow it to work on T-Mobile's compatible EDGE network.  In foreign countries, unlocking the phone's SIM card to other networks is the only way to currently enjoy phone service outside the U.S.  AT&T only provides service within the U.S.  England, France, and Germany are all getting dedicated providers in November, but until then or in other countries, there is no way to use the iPhone without unlocking it. 

It is unknown how many unlocked users there are but with over a million iPhones in the wild there is likely a substantial number.  The iPhoneDev group, based on the number of people who downloaded their software, thinks there are "several hundred thousand" users of unlocked iPhones-- a figure Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster takes as a rough upper bound. "Even if the average hacker downloads the software twice, that's still over 100,000 hacked," he says. "The story is far from over."

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has publicly denounced iPhone unlocking, saying Apple vowed to fight it and that "It's a constant cat and mouse game."

Firmware update 1.1.1 works perfectly on normal iPhones, with no reported issues, as expected. 

The update also does not destroy unlocked iPhones, contrary to what Apple indicated might happen.

It does however render them useless, unless you are willing to get an AT&T contract. and any other unlocking associated software is rendered useless by the update, as well.  It is still in the stored on the phone, but the application will no longer appear on the screen.  Further, the update puts unlocked iPhones into the Activation screen that awaited normal users when they first purchased their phone.

At the activation screen, users can try to activate using a valid AT&T activation card and iTunes.  The update appears to render iPhones unlocked by certain modification programs unable to activate at all, according to early reports.  For these applications, users replaced the unlocked SIM card with a fresh one to no avail. 

The program IPhoneSimfree allows iPhone activation with the AT&T card and iTunes, according to a statement from the software providers.  After activation, the iPhone will operate as normal, but will be locked to the network.

It has not yet been fully tested whether the phone can subsequently be unlocked by any means without at least partially crippling the device.  Part of unlocking software's operation relies on updating the seczone region of the phone's memory.  The firmware update apparently clears any updated values and restores the memory to its default configuration, relocking the phone to the AT&T network.  Further, the firmware update may have additional changes to help prevent this zone of the memory from being accessed.

iPhone users on 3rd-party networks should not install the 1.1.1 update if they wish to continue to use a non-authorized network.  The update is voluntary, so there is nothing stopping you from not doing so.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By Dactyl on 9/28/2007 4:17:15 PM , Rating: 5

No one can think this was an accident. Apple deliberately launched an unnecessary update for the sole purpose of destroying peoples' property. Apple broke phones that had been unlocked LEGALLY . Apple's customers did nothing illegal. Apple had NO RIGHT to deliberately destroy their phones.

Apple was even willing to damage AT&T's customers' phones in order to hurt the people who switched away. FIRST, some people who unlocked their phones stayed with AT&T. SECOND, Apple's update apparently caused users to lose contact info, saved files, and other things on LOCKED PHONES.

Steve Jobs is upset because Apple's customers would not accept being locked down. Steve wants Apple users to be controlled and submissive. He wants to lord over them. Now he is punishing them for wanting to break away. He thinks he is entitled to that, and his belief is so strong that he is now acting like a child throwing a temper tantrum.


Apple can claim that unlocking an iPhone voids the warranty. But the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is clear: a company cannot void a warranty unless the customer's act DAMAGED the phone in some way.

Unlocking an iPhone did not DAMAGE it at all. The fact that unlocked iPhones are more vulnerable to Apple's virus does not mean that they were "damaged." That is a ridiculous claim and would be laughed out of court*

* actually, I expect parties would go back and forth with 100 pages of argument and expert testimony each, before the court rejects it. But it is doomed to be rejected.

This means Apple will have to honor its warranties, and fix/replace people's phones, or it can be sued.

Unless Apple can FIX the iPhones for cheap, it will be out a LOT of money.


Apple's customers, who own unlocked iPhones that were bricked, are all in the same spot. They have been harmed in the same exact way by Apple. Their stories do not differ much. This is important, because it means class action relief is available (there only needs to be ONE lawsuit against Apple if it won't honor its warranties, not 1 million separate suits).

Apple's shareholders must be furious. This is going to cost them a lot of money--both in terms of fixing the broken phones, and harm to Apple's good name. Steve Jobs should be fired for this. If he had any shame, he would resign in disgrace.

I was only joking when I said yesterday that Apple would deliberately brick the phones and Apple's customers would buy new ones.

By ltcommanderdata on 9/28/2007 5:09:27 PM , Rating: 3
Well, in this case the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act likely wouldn't apply:

(c) Waiver of standards
The performance of the duties under subsection (a) of this section shall not be required of the warrantor if he can show that the defect, malfunction, or failure of any warranted consumer product to conform with a written warranty, was caused by damage (not resulting from defect or malfunction) while in the possession of the consumer, or unreasonable use (including failure to provide reasonable and necessary maintenance)

The iPhone's warranty states:

This warranty does not apply: ... (e) to a product or part that has been modified to alter functionality or capability without the written permission of Apple;

It's also clearly presented in their Support FAQ:

pple reserves the right to refuse service on iPhones that are outside their warranty period if damage has occurred due to accident, abuse, misuse or unauthorized modifications.

Seeing that a firmware update to unlock the phone would be considered a modification to alter functionaility or capability of the iPhone Apple would be within their rights to refuse warranty based on their policy. Magnuson-Moss would likely allow such an exclusion since it conforms to Apple written warranty policies and the damage was caused while in the consumer's possesion.

That would be for a lawsuit based on whether unlocking gives Apple the right to void warranty. The other argument is that Apple caused the damage to the phone by creating/releasing this firmware update. But for this challenge to work, you would have to prove that Apple specifically designed this firmware to target and disable unlocked phones. That would be very hard to prove.

I'm no legal expert, but that's how I read it.

By Dactyl on 9/28/2007 5:54:52 PM , Rating: 3
Well, in this case the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act likely wouldn't apply
Thank you for pointing that out.
The other argument is that Apple caused the damage to the phone by creating/releasing this firmware update. But for this challenge to work, you would have to prove that Apple specifically designed this firmware to target and disable unlocked phones. That would be very hard to prove.
I don't necessarily agree. If someone sued Apple, they could hire expert witnesses who would be allowed to analyze Apple's source code and testify at trial whether they thought Apple deliberately bricked the phones. Depending on how Apple wrote the code, it might be very obvious that this was intended all along to brick the phones.

It is hard for me to understand what reasonable explanation Apple would have for modifying a part of the phone that would cause unlocked phones to become bricked. Assuming that Apple's modifications even accomplished anything, what was it that was so important to accomplish that Apple had to meddle with the phone's private parts?

Also, there might be another way to get Apple. There is something called the "implied covenant of good faith & fair dealing," which in plain English means, when you make a deal with someone, you should be able to expect them to treat you fairly.

Deliberately bricking peoples' phones after a sale is not nice and not fair. If Apple breached that, that's like breaching its contract with its users. Apple would have to restore its users to their pre-brick state, which means fixing, replacing, or refunding the bricked iPhones, and paying people for money they lost as a result of not having a working cell phone.

By borowki on 9/29/2007 7:24:45 AM , Rating: 2
Remember, it's the people hacking the phone who were acting in bad faith in the first place. Apple sold them the phone with the understanding that it's going to be used on the AT&T network. They signed the contract. It's crazy to think that the courts will uphold some sort of right to breach a contract.

By clovell on 10/1/2007 11:10:35 AM , Rating: 2
No, I don't think signing a contract with AT&T was compulsory when you purchased the phone. And besides, I think breaching a contract with AT&T is a separate legal matter from what's being discussed here.

By Muirgheasa on 9/28/2007 5:17:27 PM , Rating: 2
What I don't get is how did these people legally get the phone without signing a contract? Was it not a case of signing the contract before they give you the phone, or am I missing something? And if they got it through illegitimate channels surely Apple's warranty means nothing?

That's a genuine question by the way, not trying to catch anyone out on what there saying, just wondering if I've got it all wrong.

By mdogs444 on 9/28/2007 5:24:27 PM , Rating: 1
I believe there were two channels to buy the phone.

1. Purchase from AT&T store - get phone and sign contract in store, activate at home.

2. Purchase from Apple Store - get phone in store, sign AT&T contract & activate online or by phone.

Apple's warranty is not service provider based, it is phone based. It says that if the phone was "modified" by any means, that it automatically voids the warranty. Therefore, if you modify the firmware, it is no longer covered by apple and they do not have to repair it for use on any network.

Now whether all of it is legal or not isnt in question here, just stating the facts of the warranty.

By Dactyl on 9/28/2007 6:12:36 PM , Rating: 2
There was more than 1 contract involved.

First was the contract for buying the phone.

Second was the contract for getting telephone service (with AT&T or with T-Mobile)

Everyone who legally bought an iPhone from Apple agreed to the first contract/license agreement. They may have signed something when they bought it, or there may have been a license agreement inside the box. If you don't want to agree to a license agreement, you have to return the item.

In this case, only the first contract (that everyone agreed to) matters.

By zombiexl on 9/28/2007 10:59:32 PM , Rating: 2
Ah.. but intentionally breaking something is also illegal and that appears to be exactly what Apple has done.

By mdogs444 on 9/28/2007 11:16:08 PM , Rating: 2
Apple is not technically breaking anything.

The person who altered the firmware already technically "broke" the phone by Apple's warranty standards. By issuing an update that modifies a way the already unsupported modification works is not Apples fault - intentional or not.

This is the same thing in which people are altering xboxs, and being suspended from Live service. I dont see them calling microsoft and complaining - why? because they already voided the warranty and do not want microsoft to know.

This is the same situation. You alter it, you void the warranty, the product is no longer supported. Apple is not responsible for maintaining or fixing something that is not in its stock state anymore.

This goes for all products. Overclocking processors by using them outside of their warrantied clockspeed, modifying xboxs, modifying cars motors under manufacturer warranty, etc.

The concept is very simple, people just dont want to accept it.

Im not blaming people for wanting to alter the phone, and im not against it either. However, if you want to change something, do it by the rules. Contact your state political representatives and voice your concerns. Until then or if this goes to trial, Apple doesnt technically or legally owe anybody anything - except the users who abided by the signed agreement.

By omnicronx on 9/29/2007 1:19:41 AM , Rating: 2
The person who altered the firmware already technically "broke" the phone by Apple's warranty standards
How so? All that apple says is their warranty is void if you modify it, this doesn't mean Apple is free from laws not pertaining to warranty. It doesn't matter what apples writes in their agreement, technically they are not suppose to be able to damage a product you bought intentionally, regardless of how you modify it. If the update breaking things was a side effect of the update than of course they can get away with it, but we all know this probably was not the case

I really don't see what all the fuss is though, just don't update your phones. Apple does not have to support your unlocked phones in any way, that should have been made clear to your in the first place when you unlocked your phone.

By Dactyl on 9/29/2007 3:39:41 AM , Rating: 3
The concept is very simple, people just dont want to accept it.

Just because it's simple doesn't mean that it's correct.

This simple concept you describe--that companies get to define what is a healthy product and what is a "broken" product, and then destroy "broken" products at will to punish disobedient users--is not a concept that I want to accept.

Luckily, it's not just me who refuses to accept it. And I don't think courts will accept it, either. Judges do have common sense.

By rcc on 10/1/2007 1:37:07 PM , Rating: 2
So, how did Apple destroy these phones? Did they detect for mods and write inoperative firmware to them?

Or, are they just not unlocked anymore?

By clovell on 10/1/2007 11:18:31 AM , Rating: 2
I think we agree on how to resolve the issue, but I don't agree with a lot of the reasoning. Unlocking a phone may reduce functionality, but it doesn't break anything. The phones weren't useless until Apple released the update.

Altering an xbox is different - most people do that to violate copyright laws. Unlocking a phone is completely legal. I don't think this is the same situation.

Overclocking processors pushes them beyond their rated QC-standards - unlocking an iPhone, I can't imagine, does anything to shorten its lifespan (assuming Apple doesn't punish you for it later...) Modifying car motors - same story. The concepts you introduced are simple, but I don't see how they don't relate to the situation at hand.

By rcc on 10/1/2007 2:44:01 PM , Rating: 2
The phones weren't useless until Apple released the update.

Actually, the phones weren't useless until the owner installed the update, which, anyone with an IQ north of 20 should have known was a bad idea.

I still haven't heard a good explanation for what's happening on the phones, are they actually non-functioning? Or just relocked and therefore useless to the owner? More or less.

By zombiexl on 10/3/2007 3:57:18 PM , Rating: 2
So lets sya you overclock your Intel chip happen to own an intel MB.

Then Intel releases a firmware update that disables your mobo for future use then thats ok, right?

"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Related Articles
The iPhone Goes Orange
September 20, 2007, 5:26 PM
iPhone Tops One Million Mark
September 10, 2007, 11:24 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki