It's high noon, Apple and AT&T -- we really hate to break it to you, but the jig is up. Last night the impossible was made possible: right in front of our very eyes we witnessed a full SIM unlock of our iPhone with a small piece of software. It's all over, guys.
The iPhoneSIMfree.com team called us up to prove their claim that they cracked Apple's iPhone SIM lock system, and prove it they did. (No, we don't have a copy of the unlock software, so don't even ask us, OK?) The six-man team has been working non-stop since launch day, and they're officially the first to break Apple's SIM locks on the iPhone. It's done. Seriously. They wouldn't tell us when and how they would release it to the public, but you can certainly bet that they'll try to make a buck on their solution (and rightly so). We can hardly believe the iPhone's finally been cracked. No, scratch that -- we just can't believe it took this long.
While Engadget goes out of it way to try to legally distance itself from these claims, I think its pretty clear that the iPhone can now be used on almost any GSM network.
Here is a short list of tips on how to use an unlocked iPhone:
* The unlock process took only a couple of minutes. From our end it was totally painless.
* Once you put your new, non-AT&T SIM in the device, you have to go through the usual activation process. This can, of course, be done by anyone anywhere with the right tools (like iASign or iActivator)
* We tested with an active T-Mobile SIM -- after the hack was finished and we reactivated we immediately got full bars and the T-Mobile carrier info popped up in the top bar.
* Everything is otherwise the same, except the menu system now has a couple more options. The root menu has Carrier settings where you can select your preferred network if you don't want to roam.
* The General -> Network menu now has an EDGE network settings area where you can input your carrier's APN and username / password. We put in our T-Mobile info, and were immediately online. (Apparently these hidden menus were added in the 1.0.1 update, they tell us. How convenient!)
* Visual voicemail isn't in the cards -- sorry. That was, of course, to be expected because it's a special AT&T network-specific feature right now. When you hit the voicemail button you are taken immediately to your carrier's default voicemail line though, and that works just like it would on any other phone.
* Everything is confirmed as working on a non-AT&T network: SMS send / receive, Internet (including Safari, Mail, Google maps, etc.). YouTube doesn't work out of the box, but that's to be expected. If you're not on AT&T you have to manually activate YouTube -- here's the guide on how to do that. (YouTube is the only app you have to activate like this.)
* We know, it's kind of crazy, but this isn't a hoax.
Go to the Engadget post to see the rest, including an explanatory video.
What does this mean for Apple and AT&T? I think it means that these companies may have to rethink their exclusivity agreement. It only took hackers two months to open and unlock the iPhone. Assuming Apple and AT&T can figure out how to relock it, it's likely that it will only take another two or three months for some mobile geeks to open the device up again.
When Apple started advertising the iPhone, it promised that the iPhone would offer the full Internet. Well, an unlocked iPhone is a device that is certainly more open to the full Internet. It looks like the iPhone may be living up to its hype in some ways that Apple and AT&T never intended.