Dealers fight Apple unlocking policy


Apple has upgraded its iPhone software to version 1.1.1, locking already unlocked iPhones back to Apple’s US network partner, AT&T. Apple released a statement at the end of last month, warning customers that unlocked handsets would be rendered inoperable when future Apple software updates are issued.

Unlocking specialists have been furiously working on iPhone ‘cracks’ since Apple announced the device three months ago. At least one UK company, Northern Ireland-based UniquePhones, claims to have a crack for the original iPhone software already. However, reports last week claimed UniquePhones had been threatened with legal action by AT&T and was not taking calls as Mobile News went to press.

One source said six unlocking specialists had made cracks available for the first version of the software, for around £40. Other UK unlocking companies said they were also close to a solution.

Meanwhile retailers complained that Apple’s policy on unlocking was unfairly restrictive, especially in light of the £269 UK price tag for the iPhone and the premium tariffs attached to it by O2.

One London dealer said: “What Apple is doing is ridiculous.When a customer is spending £269 to sign up to a £35 a month contract that doesn’t offer a lot of value, then what right does the service provider have to lock the phone again?”

Fone Doctors proprietor Faisal Sheikh said: “Apple hasn’t got a leg to stand on. It’s the customer’s right to do what they want with their handset. It’s like selling a car to someone and telling them it only takes Shell petrol.”