Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Orange iPhone in France - the prices and the small-print

OK, the prices for iPhones in France on the Orange network have just been published on

The subsidized iPhone is 399 Euros (US Dollars, Swiss Francs, British Pounds).

The subsidy requires a 12 or 24 month commitment to a service, the cheapest being 49 Euros a month (US Dollars, Swiss Francs, British Pounds) that includes 2 hours peak time and 2 hours off-peak time and "unlimited" GPRS.

Except that unlimited, according to the small-print, is actually 500Mo and excludes bluetooth tethering, VOIP, P2P and "Newsgroups". And minutes over the "forfait" cost 0.37 Euros, gulp. Gotta love these telcos!

Note that according to law, Orange will be required to give you unlock codes for free 6 months into your contract.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Free iPhone SIM unlock codes on May 29 2008... from Apple!

Now that Apple has announced launching the iPhone in France with Orange on November 29, Orange will be obliged by law – as reported here – to provide SIM-unlock codes for free 6 month into any contract.

So on on May 29 2008, 6 months after the introduction in France, Apple will be endorsing SIM-free iPhones. Better late than never.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Instructions to downgrade and reflash baseband firmware of hacked iPhones

The "iPhone Elite" hackers have posted detailed instructions on how to downgrade any iPhone to 1.0.2 and re-flash the baseband firmware.

Highly recommended as it makes the 1.1.1 update a smooth experience. Unbricks too, apparently.

Monday, October 1, 2007

iPhone unlocking - back to square one and 1.0.2

As reported just about everywhere, the Apple iPhone 1.1.1 update risks making your 1.0.2. hacked iPhone unusable.

So it's back to square one, sigh.

In the meantime, the iPhone Dev Team recommends downgrading to 1.02 before attempting a software SIM unlock.

I'm following the "new" hacks (such as this one that claims a 1.1.1 unlock) and will report on any significant proven breakthroughs as they are released.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

First easy iPhone unlock?

Gizmodo is reporting the first commercially available (60 Australian dollars) software SIM unlock for the iPhone.

One caveat seems to be that the unlock only works if your SIM card does not have a PIN lock.

I'll be following up to see if this is legit or not.

Update: Seems to be legit. I'd hold back on going the commercial route as a free unlock might just be around the corner.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Don't drop the iPhone price – just unlock the damned thing!

Apple just dropped the price of the iPhone from $599 to $399. I can't help thinking that maybe – just maybe – the drop was required because it wasn't hitting its sales targets.

If this is true, surely the best way to increase sales is to provide the iPhone unlocked? If you add up the potential increase in US sales with newly created International sales you're probably talking about a 3-4x sales increase. At least. And that's at 600$ a unit! And Steve Jobs wouldn't even have to deal with pissed off early adopters by handing out $100 vouchers.

I wish Apple would take the long-term view on this and look beyond the short-term kickbacks from the telcos.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

iPhone unlocking claims

A few claims of a successful iPhone sim unlock – most notably from George Hotz and iphonesimfree – have been made over the last couple of days.

This is not the first time full unlocking of the iPhone has been claimed since it was launched at the end of June. Rest assured that I'm looking into how true and feasible these claims are and that I'll be posting my conclusions here in this blog.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Five down, one to go

The amazing guys at the iPhone Dev Wiki are working on the final and hardest task they set themselves five weeks ago: unlocking the iPhone. The unlocking task was originally in the middle of the list of tasks planned, but as unlocking was harder than originally thought it has slipped to the end of the list.

With running 3rd party applications done (way to go!)  only Unlock Iphone remains.

Progress is is being made on unlocking the basband radio as the Baseband unlocking ideas page indicates. Ideas such as Dumping nvram, IMSI check trapping, Locating cyrptographic functions, Modifying onchip root certificate store, and SIM Proxies are all being explored.

I really think that we are getting closer now. Anyone ready to guess how long before a end-user-friendly unlocking solution is released?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Searching for the Network Control Key

Every SIM card has a unique IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) number of between 14 and 15 digits. The first three digits are the MCC (Mobile Country Code) and the next two or three the MNC (Mobile Network Code).

The iPhone's baseband radio's firmware is locked to only work with SIM cards with IMSI numbers starting with the digits 310410, i.e. Mobile Country Code = US* and Mobile Network Code = AT&T.

According to the iPhone Dev Wiki the radio firmware can be unlocked with the AT command:


where xxxxxxxx is a number specific to each iPhone. I suspect - although the wiki does not say so – that the "specificity" is based on the unique IMEI number that every GSM phone has, including the iPhone.

The x's are the NCK (Network Control Key). Brute-force can't be used most notably because "there is a limit of 3-10 unlock attempts per phone, after which the firmware will "hard-lock" itself to AT&T".

Of course someone at Apple or AT&T holds the cryptographic key to calculate the NCKs. If you are buying your iPhone in France Apple or AT&T will be legally obliged to use that key to calculate a NCK based on your iPhones IMEI.

(*) the US actually has 7 country codes: 310, 311, 312, 313, 314 and 316. I wonder what the story behind that is?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Unlocked iPhone - harder than initially thought?

It's been two weeks since the iPhone launch and despite wild rumors and some real progress, no one has – at least publicly – managed to unlock the iPhone SIM-lock to AT&T.

As reported here the iPhone will be released un-simlocked, at least in some countries.

In the meantime I'm scrounging the forums looking for breakthroughs that I'll report back here.

Friday, July 6, 2007

iPhones in France - law says they must be unlocked

In the United States mobile phones may be unlocked but phone operators are not legally obliged to assist you.

In France however, according to a by-law passed on the 17th of November 1998 (text, scan), phone operators are obliged to unlock your phone, for a cost during the first 6 months of a contract but for free after the initial 6 months.

All three operators have lost civil lawsuits citing this by-law: Bouygues Telecom in April 2000, France Telecom Orange in January 2002 and SFR in October 2002.

Vivre le iPhone! Vivre la France!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

iPhone Development Project: 2 down, 6 to go

Only five days since the iPhone release and the iPhone Dev Wiki has reached 2 of its 8 goals:

  1. Break DMG Password (Done)
  2. Break Activation (Done(
  3. Download a Faked dmg
  4. Unlock Phone
  5. Run Third Party Applications
  6. Allow DUN/Tethering
  7. Remove IMEI Transmitting
  8. Enable Disk Mode

I'll be watching the fourth in the list, and will report any findings here in this blog.

Update 7 July: links to iPhone Dev Wiki removed on request so as to reduce their server load.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Why the iPhone should be unlocked and SIM-Free

There's a great article over at allaboutsymbian entitled Unlocking the Mobile Phone: Why we need to go SIM-Free.
It explains why myths such as "Phones need phone network operators, that's why they have unusual pricing arrangements" is simply not true. Well worth reading!

iPhone Hack Unlock Thread

I'll be following the Consolidated iPhone Hack Unlock Thread on hackint0sh and reporting back here with any breakthroughs.

It's my feeling that the hackint0sh community stands a good chance of being one of the first to unlock the iPhone.

Here's where they stand today:

The iPhone SIM, once activated seems to work fine in unlocked and newer and older AT&T/Cingular phones that are locked. Other AT&T/Cingular SIM cards will not work until activated with iPhone plans. They connect, can't dial. iTunes will let you activated it. Non AT&T/Cingular SIM cards will not work at all.
So, this phone has almost a double-lock on it. You have your standard GSM subsidy lock, but you also have some sort of mechanism that is tying the SIM card to the phone.

Unlocked iPhones for Belgium?

It will be interesting to see what Apple does if and when the iPhone is sold in Belgium as, according to Wikipedia:

Belgium doesn't allow networks to sell locked handsets

Know of any other countries where this is the case? Please feel free to comment.
Update 11 July 2008: OK, The Register and Wired have the story 1 year after you saw it here ;-)

All about SIM Locks

Wikipedia has a great page on SIM locks, covering "Types of SIM locks, "Laws on SIM locking" and "Unlocking technology".

Looks like the iPhone has a service provider lock (SP-lock) to AT&T that:
[...] ensures that the handset is only used with SIM cards for the same service provider that marketed the handset

Bad news Apple chose AT&T:
However, some providers, including the former AT&T Wireless, never unlock handsets, even after a customer has fulfilled their service contract.

Bluetooth needs unlocking too :-(

Gizmodo reports that Bluetooth can't be used for file transfer, Bluetooth printing, or headset streaming. My guess is that it won't be usable as a modem either, sigh.
So not only do we need to find a way to unlock the SIM card from the iPhone, now we also need to unlock the Bluetooth. Eeeks!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

First unlocking services available

With the the iPhone just released, Gizmodo reports that are "beta testing" a iphone unlocking service and that arstechnica has the story.
I guess time will tell whether these business are legit.
Thanks Robert for the tip!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Last resort - tips to end your existing cell contract

OK, so you can't and don't want to unlock your iphone you might still have a problem if you're bound to another telco's contract. Wired Magazize has clever but ethically-questionable Tips to End Your Existing Cell Contract, some of which are probably illegal!

SIM card physically locked in?

OMG, it looks like the SIM card is actually physically locked inside the iphone.

There are no slots or removeable panels on the iPhone. How else can you possibly access the sim.
The reason it's "pre-installed" and the reason you activate via iTunes is not for convenience or an "innovative way to activate your service." It's because Apple stores are selling them as any other product and are not activating service at the store. That is also why existing AT&T customers have to purchase their phones through AT&T and not Apple stores. You can't transfer your service from your existing phone to the iPhone by simply moving the sim to it. Otherwise, it would work like any other GSM phone that doesn't have a "pre-installed" (aka embedded) sim. [link]

That's the first time I've ever heard of such a dumb idea. Way to go apple :-(

Update 1 July 2007 : the SIM card can be removed, see the YouTube video below:

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

iPhone License Agreement

The iPhone License Agreement is online here.

Some interesting comments re unlocking the iphone:

Its not the law that binds you its your contractual aggreement by pressing "agree" Breach of contract and breaking the law are two diffrent things... that provide diffrent levels of punishment. and im fairly certain that its not the first time in an APPLE TOS or any other companies TOS that that statement has come up. [Link]

In the US, it appears that the "law" with respect to cell phone unlocking is an excemption made by the US copyright office, under provisions of the DMCA. In other words, handset makers and carriers can't use the DMCA to protect their business model by disallowing the use of the phone with other carriers. This exemption can potentially go away as exemptions are reviewed every three years, per the terms of the DMCA statute.

I don't know if EULA and TOS terms that prohibit unlocking are enforceable. That is a different matter.[Link]

Monday, June 18, 2007

Pure Digital

Pure digital claims that they will be unlocking iphones. Some interesting comments on Digg and analysis on arstechnica.