Open season on the iPhone


Iphonesimfree 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.

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9 comments

  1. Sooby

    Having worked for a 3rd party corporation that provided customer care to AT&T customers, I can only hope that iPhoneSimFree posts the drawbacks, right up front, and of course, requires the user to accept the terms and conditions. US providers tend to "bury" certain terms in wordy, legalese contracts that nobody ever reads, although they sign them. As well, they force products and services onto the market place, without ever knowing what the bugs and glitches may be, leaving hapless phone reps to either "wing it", or refer the subscriber to the manufacturer of the device. As you said, "buyer beware". I think that North American providers should adopt European practice, regarding purchase of devices. Customers buy directly from the manufacturer, and the manufacturer is responsible for warranty and servicing of devices. It would save the wireless providers millions of dollars, and leave them to concentrate on service, instead of devices.

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  2. Bob Atkinson

    Software unlocking the iPhone is pointless.

    Is anyone here DUMB enough to believe that any major mobile phone carrier outside of Kazakstan or The Marshall Islands would touch an iPhone with a SNAIL FORK on a new or existing account of theirs, knowing that AT&T has an iron-clad legal exclusive for that phone at this point? And knowing that AT&T have over 400 pitbull lawyers on staff who are perfectly happy to visit other countries with cease-and-desist orders?

    The iPhone is a breakthrough device, and it will get wider distribution soon enough, starting in a few months in Europe (although God knows when in Canada — Rogers is nowhere to be seen on this one).

    Crippling the iPhone and a couple of it's coolest features with unlocking software is worthless at this point – and good luck on getting it serviced at Apple or AT&T stores with no AT&T contract on file or a different SIM card.

    BUT there are always people dumb enough to do most anything, I guess …

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  3. Jukson Kwong

    The whole iPhone hype is complete garbage. People wake up and smell the coffee, Apple sucks! Further, Canadian Cell phone rates are the highest in all of the industrialized world relative to our economy, why don't we concentrate our efforts on telling our providers to give us fair rates.

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  4. Mike Yu

    I just purchased one from http://www.puremobile.ca and they are straight forward. They have you sign an agreement but they offer a one year 3rd party warranty that covers manufacturer defects only and not the unlocking. I'm using Rogers in Vancouver and I have to that this phone is amazing.

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  5. Simon Cohen

    Wow, Mike you just bought an iPhone for $999 + tax ? And now you have to buy the unlock for another $99 US? You must have REALLY wanted an iPhone!

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  6. Wes Dillen

    What happened to the simple idea that Mr Bell had which was to invent a device to talk to someone with. If you want something that makes your breakfast buy a frying pan for $ 2.00

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  7. Kim B

    Just wanted to point out, as I also worked for a third party provider of customer service for AT&T, that the iPhone is only available with a TWO year contract. AT&T, like most US wireless providers, does not have the THREE year contracts that we Canadians have to agree to in order to get a decenly priced cell phone.

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  8. Alim

    Bob Atkinson,

    I'd be one of those people willing to spend the money to buy the iPhone. By going down to the states, I could purchase the phone for $450 CAD and unlock it for free with the new free unlocking software that's now available. The features that the iPhone provides are definitely worth the price. If you look at similarly priced phones on websites such as Tigetdirect.com you quicly realize how worth it the iPhone is.

    As far as the warrany is concerned, the software unlock doesn't void the apple warranty becuase the device can be reflashed back to its original condition. As far as other carriers are concerned, it's not their problem whether you have an iPhone or not. The sell you the service plan, the phone you use is at your discretion. I've been using unlocked phones from other providers for years because I hate the store models.

    I don't think I'd be "dumb" for buying the phone as you've so elequently put it. I've done the research and I'm willing to get the phone now just so I can have the exclusive use of it until it comes to Canada. For the features and the price point, the phone is definitely worth it.

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