Vietnamese Hacker Unlocks iPhone 3G at Hardware Level

Unlock iPhone 3G

We have heard about the hardware-method to unlock iPhone 3G using turbo or proxy SIM cards (which does not work with iPhone firmware 2.2).

We have also reported about the iPhone dev team who are working tirelessly to release their software method to unlock iPhone 3G and appear to be very close.

There is apparently a third way to unlock iPhone 3G. You can get your iPhone 3G physically unlocked by an industrious Vietnamese hacker.

CNET editor and Crave contributor Dong Ngo has stumbled upon hacker, Tuan Anh, in his homeland Vietnam who unlocks iPhone 3G at the hardware level.

He details the unlocking process are quite interesting:

First, a technician opened up the phone and stripped it to the motherboard. In his skillful hands, the device seemed much easier to dismantle than I expected.

Unlock iPhone 3G

The technician then extracted the baseband chip, the component that controls the connection between the phone and the mobile network, from the motherboard. (This is a painstaking task as the chip is strongly glued to the phone’s motherboard. A mistake during this process could brick the phone completely.)

Unlock iPhone 3G

Once the chip was extracted, it was Tuan Anh’s turn. He used a chip reader to read information into a file. He then used a Hex editor to remove the locking data from the file, and after that, the chip got reprogrammed with the newly altered file. Now it was no longer programmed to work with only a specific provider.

Unlock iPhone 3G

The chip then got reassembled into the motherboard, another painstaking process.

Unlock iPhone 3G

As a last step, the technician put the phone back together, and it looked like nothing had been done to it.

The entire unlocking process takes about an hour to complete and will cost you 1.2 million dong (about $80).

Tuan Anh claims that his business has unlocked hundreds of iPhone 3Gs and thousands of first-generation iPhones.

He also confirms the issue we had pointed out earlier where the hardware method to unlock iPhone 3G no longer works with firmware 2.2 due to the baseband update. In such cases too, Tuan Anh, is willing to re-unlock the iPhone 3G for a discounted price of $50.

What do you think? Anyone planning a trip to Hanoi, Vietnam?

[via Crave]

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