iPhones that are sold as "unlocked" through Orange of France (the iPhone's official provider there) are crippled on various wireless carriers outside of France, failing to make phone calls, send SMS messages and perform other critical functions.
We previously reported that the phones appear to be "country locked," meaning they will only allow use of SIM cards for carriers that operate in France. In other words, you can't take your French, "unlocked" iPhone to any compatible GSM network, pop in a foreign SIM card, and make calls on a local carrier ? you're still stuck paying international roaming fees to your French carrier. This remains, despite apparent assertions from Orange officials to the contrary, true in effect; however, a genuine country SIM lock may not be in use.
The following occurs for users of Orange-sold, "unlocked" iPhones that are used on various, otherwise iPhone-compatible GSM networks (where iPhones that have been unofficially unlocked are working properly, and locked iPhones can roam): the iPhone will recognize the inserted SIM, and acquire a network signal. However, any attempts to dial a a number from the keypad or send an SMS will result in the device crashing. Other operations may also be inaccessible or cause similar crashes.
An exemplary post to Apple's Discussion boards:
"I bought an unlocked iphone in france and i got it unlocked in itunes fine. But I'm in Portugal right now and can't use SMS and make/receive calls with a Portuguese prepaid SIM card. [...]"
Another from a purchaser of a similar, officially "unlocked" phone bought through T-Mobile in Germany before a court ordered that T-Mobile didn't have to sell unlocked iPhones anymore:
"I can't call the phone (the hourglass just runs and then the phone jumps out to screensaver). I can't open the SMS app after receiving SMS. I can't open last-calls list. I can't dial phone numbers in the dial-app. [...] I use an unlocked German iPhone with Swedish carrier SIMs (Telenor and Telia)."
Apple may rectify this issue with a future firmware/software update that allows officially unlocked phones to work in countries where the devices are currently crippled. However, the company has not responded to requests for comment or technical explanation of this issue.
UPDATE: There is an apparent fix for this issue, though unofficial. Use our guide to jailbreak your iPhone and prepare it for third-party applications, then install the application "iWorld" in the "Tweaks" category (make sure you have installed Community Sources as instructed in the guide). This should alleviate the crashes.