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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.  Installer.app 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.


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RE: Shoulda brick'd em.
By darkpaw on 9/29/2007 4:22:36 PM , Rating: 4
Seriously, I think its people like you that don't really get it. I haven't seen anyone asking Apple to *support* hacked phones, but there is a difference between not supporting them an intentionally ruining them.

In the DirectTV case, that is a whole different matter. People were using hacked cards to STEAL service. If people were using hacked iPhones to STEAL network service I don't think there would be many complaints about them getting zapped either.

Apple does not have any need to support hacked phones, but they also should not be screwing over people that PAID for the hardware. The iphone isn't even a typical cell phone that is being subsidized, you pay full price wether or not you sign an AT&T contract.

If someone pays for the hardware and decides to hack it to do something Apple doesn't intend but still a legitimate use, that fine Apple doesn't have to support them. Apple doesn't have a right to completely ruin the device either though. They could have just flashed them back to factory install instead of bricking the devices.


RE: Shoulda brick'd em.
By mdogs444 on 9/29/07, Rating: -1
RE: Shoulda brick'd em.
By clovell on 10/1/2007 11:38:03 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
by operating the product outside the permitted or intended uses described by Apple
Which are?
quote:
to damage caused by service (including upgrades and expansions) performed by anyone who is not a representative of Apple or an Apple Authorized
Right. The damage here is the loos of some functionality suffered by unlocking the phone. The inoperability of the phone caused by the update was caused by Apple. People are upset about the latter, not the former.
quote:
to a product or part that has been modified to alter functionality or capability without the written permission of Apple
The law states otherwise.

None of those quotes say anything about what is or isn't legitimate usage.

These people modified their phones within the law. I've yet to see that unlocking the iPhone and using on another provider's network gives Apple the right to brick the phone.


RE: Shoulda brick'd em.
By tjr508 on 10/2/2007 2:10:32 AM , Rating: 2
Users that purchased the phone without actvating on ATT did not pay full price. Apple is out about a couple hundred every time that happens and as the contract was agreed upon, I would assume ATT is out quite a bit as well.
The correct price of an iPhone is clearly $400 PLUS a specific ATT contract.


"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

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