Temporarily unlock your iPhone for $99

A new software-based unlocking scheme for your iPhone makes it easier for those of us without soldering skills to leave AT&T. But the good times probably won't last.

Tom Krazit Former Staff writer, CNET News
Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.
Tom Krazit
2 min read

Free yourself from AT&T! The iPhone revolution is at hand! You'll no longer suffer the tyranny of forced cell phone use for at least another, uh, couple of weeks!

Through the magic of technology, it's now possible to unlock an iPhone from AT&T's network through a software download developed by iPhoneSimFree.com. Engadget and Gizmodo tested out the process, and it does appear that the software will let you use the iPhone on any GSM network either inside the U.S. or overseas.

Unlocking your iPhone is now easier, but the experience could be fleeting. CNET Networks

It's not the first piece of iPhone unlocking technology. After the iPhone Dev Team figured out how to install applications on the iPhone, a few other hacks have arrived including TurboSim, Uniquephones, and that 17-year-old kid from New Jersey who came up with an unlock that involves much soldering and most definitely voids the warranty.

But do you really want to pay money to unlock the iPhone? Apple intends to release software updates to the iPhone every so often to deliver new features or capabilities, and it doesn't seem that much of a stretch to assume Apple has purchased a copy of the software unlock in order to lock the iPhone again with the next software update. With so much riding on the iPhone, it still seems likely that Apple doesn't want to open up the iPhone to either application development or other networks until it feels more confident about the OS X iPhone software, which is really a 1.0 release of a new operating system.

Rest assured, there will be at least one more iPhone software update this year. And it's not likely that the unlocking software will work after that update arrives, as the folks at iPhoneSimFree.com make clear in several places. Also, the iPhone Dev Team coders, who are asking us not to link to their wiki and flood it with incoming traffic, are mounting a fund-raising campaign spearheaded by Gizmodo to help preserve nonprofit iPhone hacking and reverse-engineer the iPhoneSimFree.com software.

Update at 2:25 p.m.: Later in the day, another member of the iPhone Dev Team posted a message in their forums that the group would not be reverse-engineering the iPhoneSimFree.com software out of respect for that organization. But the group says that no one person speaks for the iPhone Dev Team, so it's hard to get a sense of the group's official position in this case.

So, I can't recommend that you spend a hundred bucks to unlock your iPhone, although I'm sure that advice will have zero effect. Just wait--at the rate AT&T and Apple are going in the early days of their star-crossed relationship, this thing might be officially unlocked quicker than you think.