The Apple iPhone is without doubt the most hyped, talked about and influential gadget to surface this year. Of course, if you wanted to use one, you needed to be based in the U.S., and you needed to take a
3-year 2-year contract with AT&T. That’s all about to change.
It was really just a matter of time before some enterprising individual, company or other group managed to break through the hardware and software limitations that Apple foisted on buyers of its insanely popular cellphone/media player.
Today, coincidentally the same day that Apple announced its 1-millionth iPhone sold, a company has declared that it has done just that. More importantly, it claims that for $99 USD, it will let any iPhone user do so too.
The company is iPhoneSimFree and unlike the amazing accomplishment of a young hacker, their solution does not require an iPhone owner to pry open their shiny new device and risk rendering it useless with a soldering iron.
Instead, iPhone owners simply download a software package from iPhoneSimFree or one of the authorized resellers listed on their site, and run it on the PC of their choice. When the iPhone is connected to that PC, it installs the new program and connects via the handset’s built-in WiFi to the company’s servers.
This is where the company has cleverly kept the "active ingredient" safely under lock & key. Only their servers are capable of performing the final unlocking sequence.
Once the process is complete, the company claims that you will be able to use your iPhone with any SIM card from any wireless carrier, in any country in the world.
Sound too good to be true? According to Engadget, the product works as described. But before you go and shell out $399 USD for an iPhone and another $99 USD for the iPhoneSimFree software, a wee bit of buyer beware… the following should be kept in mind:
- The iPhone’s sexy Visual Voice Mail system will not work with any carrier but AT&T
- Future firmware updates from Apple will likely block your unlock and iPhoneSimFree is only offering to help customers with these udpates "if" they can
- There is no warranty on the unlock service once you upgrade to the next Apple firmware release
So now that the iPhone has seemingly been freed from its virtual shackles, will you be running south of the border to pick up one of these devices, or are you numb from all the hype and content to stay with your existing choice of MP3 player/cellphone?
Update September 12:
Looks like the hacker community was working overtime on unlocking the iPhone and have launched their own free unlocking service, which Engadget claims works just as well as iPhoneSimFree’s solution. That ought to hurt iPhoneSimFree’s business model a wee bit.