Unlocking an iPhone

Unlocking an iPhone


By Cyrus Farivar

If you’re one of the million people who’ve purchased an iPhone since the end of June, you probably signed up with Apple’s exclusive carrier in the U.S., AT&T, when you activated your phone. That means your iPhone identifies itself to AT&T’s network using an AT&T SIM card, a smart card that’s located in a small tray between your iPhone’s sleep/wake button and its recessed headphone jack.

But what if you’re planning a trip to Europe and rather than paying AT&T to use the networks of its European partners, you want to take advantage of the favorable rates and local phone numbers offered by replacing your AT&T SIM card with a pre-paid European card? Or what if you’d prefer to use T-Mobile as your cellular provider, rather than AT&T?

In the past month several groups have announced that they’ve found a way to “unlock” the iPhone, allowing it to use a SIM card from any provider. (Keep in mind that this is only half the story: the iPhone uses the GSM radio band for its communications, meaning that it’ll only work with providers that use the GSM network. In the U.S., that means T-Mobile and AT&T.)

In August, a group of hackers demonstrated a method for unlocking SIM cards and sold its software to resellers, who in turn began selling it to the public for as much as $100 last week.

But another group has came up with its own hack that, with the help of some free, open-source software, lets you unlock your iPhone in about an hour, free of charge. Below, I’ll show you how it works — and it does work, because I’ve used this technique to unlock my own phone. (One important caveat: Certain AT&T-only features, such as Visual Voicemail, will not work when you’re connected to other cellular networks.)


  1. The iPhone unlock works as promised, just follow the steps closely and its no problem. Being in Dubai where internation rates from att are 2.40 a minute, this is great news. Hopefully the forthcoming update doesnt knock it out, but now that we know this is possible there will probably be quick responses to unlock it again.

    Nice one Cyrus!!

    Taylor Vincent
  2. Pingback: cyrusfarivar.com » Blog Archive » Is unlocking your iPhone legal?

  3. I was excited about your software solution to unlocking my iphone. I am in London a Iot and ATT data charges are extremely high. I followed your instructions to the letter but for some reason on the last step cyberduck fails to install the unlock on my iphone. I reloaded the programs and restarted twice with the same results. I did notice that when I turned off the iphone and removed the sim card, the phone restarts automatically. Could this be the reason? Is there a way to disable this?

    Dan Middleton
  4. Hello cyrus
    I read your macworld article ( many times ).
    I really do require some assistance with activation. I am using mac os 10.3.9 and itunes of course is not availaable as in 10.4.
    iNdependence and iActivator do not work under panther.

    I am quite confident I have unlock and install solutions however..


  5. Hey Cyrus,

    Since we both unlocked our iPhones using the same method (namely, the one posted here and at MacWorld) — how have you dealt with upgrading to 1.1.1?

    Did you somehow ‘virginize’ the phone, if so — can you share how?

    Thanks much!

  6. There doesn’t seem yet to be a clear set of instructions as to unlocking the iPhone with firmware 1.1.1.

    I’d check on modmyiphone.com:

    Right now, this is what they say:

    1. If you have a brand new out of the box 1.1.1 from apple. You can jailbreak/activate with the newest independen and run anysim 1.1

    2. If you have a 1.0.2 and have used ANY of the FREE unlock program, you can either wait for the dev team to release a virginize program then update to 1.1.1 (or if you want to use cash guide to virginize your phone and update to 1.1.1 and try to unlock it, hopefully it wont brick your phone, if it does please let us know so we dont brick our as well )

    3. If you have 1.0.2 but never unlock, please go ahead and update

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