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O2 3G iPhone: Apple cracks down on unlocking

Unlocking the iPhone is about to be made less worthwhile than before, because you're going to have to sign up to a contract before you can take it home

According to our sources at O2, Brits who want to buy a 3G iPhone are going to have to sign up to a contract before they can get their hands on one, wherever they buy it. This is seriously bad news for people eager to unlock their new iPhone, as you're not going to be able to buy one for the discounted contract price and then unlock it.

If you don't want to get tied to a contract you'll have to choose the pay-as-you-go option, which hasn't been priced yet but is likely to be more than a couple of hundred quid. Either way, unlockers are going to be stuck between a hard place and a rock. The choice is clear: sign up to a contract or splash some cash on a pay as you go handset.

In addition to a new payment system, Apple is also going to offer users the opportunity to download third-party applications officially via an app store. While this may stifle the hacked-iPhone development community and in turn make it less appealing to unlock the 3GiPhone, it has yet to be seen how good the official programs will be and how tightly Apple will control them. (You'll also have to pay up to $9.99 for some, if not all, of them.) Apps such as VoIP and third party browsers, such asOpera Mini, may not be indexed on the Apple app store, which will continue to interest underground developers.

It's obvious why this has happened though. This method means you're tied into a contract, or you're paying O2 and Apple a massive wodge of cash for the privilege of owning a 3G iPhone. We're disappointed about this decision, but it does make business sense -- and the official apps do take most of the sting away. But before you go and buy one with dreams of unlocking it, you have been warned. -Andrew Lim

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