But Olly Farshi of TheAppleBlog has described a method, which is less painful if you are not technically inclined but can be expensive.
It’s legal and users don’t need to hack their iPhone to unlock it.
I’m sure many of you already know about it but this article is for those who didn’t know such a system exists.
Please note that this article is also not about the factory unlocked iPhones that are available in countries like Hong Kong, Italy etc, which come unlocked out of the box and can be used with any GSM carrier.
Olly Farshi describes how he managed to officially unlock his iPhone:
“When upgrading to the iPhone 3GS, those same customers are given the option to pay off the remainder of their original 3G contract. Paying off the contract, and thus completing the two years prematurely, entitles the customer to have their iPhone 3G unlocked.
The helpful assistant at the Sonera store made a note of my IMEI number and then passed it onto his boss — after that there’s a special piece of software that only his boss is authorized to use. This mystical application submits the IMEI to Apple, which in turn authorizes the device for unlocking.
I was advised that when the iPhone 3G was next synced with iTunes, it would be unlocked. Minutes later, back at home, I connected the iPhone 3G to iTunes and received a new carrier settings update. After downloading and installing the update, Apple’s official iPhone unlock screen appeared.”
Screenshot that shows iPhone was unlocked in iTunes:
It is important to note that Olly had to pay off the contract to officially unlock his iPhone, so this method can be expensive.
And Finland is not the only country where this is allowed (mostly due to regulations enforced by Telecom authorities in those countries).
Sophie, TAB reader from France comments:
I have an Iphone 3G contract with orange. In France, it is possible to unlock any phone (including the iphone) after 6 months of contract, legally, with Itunes. We don’t have to wait until the end of the contract to get the unlocking code.
Reader Zoo from Sweden points out:
TeliaSonera in Sweden states on it’s website that they will unlock iPhone after 12 months for a fee of SEK 300 (~EUR 30). Telenor does the same for SEK 350:-. (no mention what happens if there is time left on the contract).
Ervin comments from Singapore:
Actually in Singapore, the laws states that all phones sold must be unlocked. So purchasing an iPhone, and then terminating the contract at an additional SGD850, you can have an unlocked phone, without a contract.
You can checkout this Apple Knowledge Base article to find out the list of carriers that allow authorized unlocking for an additional fee (though as per the link, Olly’s carrier Sonera doesn’t support authorized unlocking).
Note: You should look for the tick under the column “Carrier offers authorized unlocking” to find out if the carrier in your country offers authorized unlocking. No tick under the column “Locked to Carrier” means that you can buy a factory unlocked iPhone from the carrier.
If you are interested, here is some more information on how it works (courtesy Hackint0sh forums):
"To unlock an iPhone you need the NCK which is a unique 15 digit key. Those keys for unlocking are sitting on Apples servers and send to the iPhone via iTunes while the iPhone is connected to the Mac/PC.
Each iPhone has a unique HWID, NORID, CHIPID, (id's embedded in the iPhone hardware/chips and unique to each phone), the NCK is only working with the one iPhone where the above are matching. The NCK does not unlock any other iPhone.
Trying to bruteforce the NCK would take years even on high-end computers (NCK Brute Force – The iPhone Wiki).
Trying to guess the NCK is limited as well, After 5 or so unsuccessful attempts, the iPhone becomes permanently locked to the carrier – unless you're feeling really, really lucky, I wouldn't try it.
Apple has HWID, NORID, CHIPID… of all iPhones sold in countries, where the iPhone has to be sold unlocked. So once a phone of those is connected via iTunes, the apple servers check HWID, NORID, CHIPID and compare it to their database. If the matching iPhone is marked "factory unlocked" the Apple servers send the unique NCK for this iPhone."
We would love to know if you have unlocked your iPhone in a similar way and how much did it cost you.
We would also like to know if you would be interested in unlocking your iPhone, if your carrier started allowing authorized unlocking.