Following the news that iPhoneSIMFree has begun distribution
of a commercial application to unlock the iPhone for use with non-AT&T GSM carriers, an unofficial group called the iPhone Dev Team has unveiled alternate software for free. The iUnlock tool is not as user-friendly as iPhoneSIMFree's software and it requires that an iPhone already be "jailbroken" and has ssh installed. It also requires the use of the Unix command line and SFTP to install and run the commands, which may be intimidating to some users (though a beta
version of a GUI tool is in development). Details are a little scarce at this point, but the software's capabilities have been confirmed by Gizmodo
and several individual users
(though there are some reports of YouTube functionality being lost after unlocking). Tutorials are available from Free iPhone Unlock
, and Hackintosh
. All tutorials still appear to be in early stages and it isn't clear of all details and potential problems are described in them. A free unlocking solution could very well be AT&T's worst nightmare with regards to the iPhone. While many users in the US might hesitate to purchase a software solution like iPhoneSIMFree for $100, a free solution is significantly more tempting (and possibly more difficult for AT&T to protect through a lawsuit - particularly as unlocking a mobile phone appears to be protected
by an exemption in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act). As with iPhoneSIMFree, which appears to exploit the same mechanism for unlocking an iPhone as iUnlock, there is no guarantee that even after an iPhone is successfully unlocked, a future Apple update may not re-lock the iPhone.