back to article Teen hacker re-unlocks Apple's iPhone

A teen hacker known for his deftness with iPhones has figured out how to unlock models running the latest firmware versions by cracking a protection that has frustrated hackers for weeks. The breakthrough by George Hotz, aka Geohot, means people who have bought a recent iPhone will once again be able to use it on the phone …


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  1. Rick
    Thumb Up


    17 year old kid 1 Apple Iphone developers some point wouldn't it be easier for Steve to give this kid a job/money then lose the quoted "1 billion dollars"?

  2. Ishkandar


    Of course not !! That would be doing things the Microsoft way. Ans Steve Jobs is too proud to stoop so low !!

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Now there's a kid deserving of some praise... cookie-cutter courses required!

  4. Michael Hoenig

    Ummm...wrong score

    17 year-old kid: 2 (plus one nice vehicle!)

    Apple Security: 0

    Won't be long before AppleSec locks 'em down again, but kudos to the FreePhone groups!

  5. elder norm

    Not really 1 billion

    I just do not know why some people bother. Just a thought.

    As far as 1 billion, hey Apple makes a profit on every phone. Yes they could make even more if everyone was logged in, but people lose phones, people "blend" phones, people even take them apart on tv just to see whats inside. So people will need more phones and I don't think Apple will "lose" any real money.

    Now, I hear that Palm, motorola, and Microsoft are getting squeezed. LOL

    Just a thought.


  6. Dave
    Jobs Horns

    A lesson to phone manufacturers

    Of course, if Apple hadn't tried to have their cake and eat it, they wouldn't be in such a situation and would have happily sold unlocked iPhones, possibly a great many more of them (although I doubt it, the interface may appeal to some people but I think it's crap) and not had to engage in losing an arms race.

  7. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton


    So that explains why god refuses to sell his phones into markets with very strong anti competitive business monolith cartel trade laws , for it is all about money just like Paris !

  8. John
    Paris Hilton

    Give him a job

    Imagine the holes he could plug at Apple if he worked for them.

    Paris: Because she knows about plugging holes.

  9. mezla

    What a stupid thing to say...

    "Bernstein Research estimated that 1 million iPhones, or a full 27 per cent of the handsets sold to date, are running on unauthorized networks. At that rate, Apple could lose $1bn in revenue over the next two years."

    Have you not considered that *maybe*... just maybe... some of those 1 million users would never have bought the iPhone if it wasn't unlockable?

    It should read like this:

    "Bernstein Research estimated that 1 million iPhones, or a full 27 per cent of the handsets sold to date, are running on unauthorized networks. It is estimated that Apple has made $XXX due to sales of unlockable iPhones; an unexpected bonus for the companies bottom line."

  10. Mectron
    Paris Hilton

    Apple Secure?

    Since when?

  11. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

    * A title is required...not

    So what is to stop another phone manufacturer making iPhonalikes with crippleware to keep them legal and giving the lad a crate or two to play with?

    I'd buy one for about the £20 they are really worth, if I didn't already have an old Samsung

  12. Rob Dunford
    Thumb Up

    Let's get one thing clear....

    One million unlocked iphones, that is one million unlocked iphones - throughout the world - not just in the USA or the UK or France or Germany. Talk about a trojan horse. I just don't see Apple losing that much sleep over the 'lost' revenue, when you have a vanguard of users already in a market soon to be coming to you. As Apple rolls out the iphone in more and more markets, watch the security get tougher and tougher. Then it will be just 'simpler' to get the iphone with a contract from your local provider.

  13. peter

    title is required

    Even though the Register article fails to mention the firmware version anywhere !!!, (it's 1.1.2 btw) for jailbreaking.

    The "any sim you want" hardware hack of a slim PCB placed between the SIM and contacts has been available for a while for 1.1.2. They are trying to cover 1.1.3.but no joy

    I would guesstimate 90% of users just want to run it on their own network.

  14. Paul Stimpson
    Paris Hilton

    Time for the iPhone Pro?

    One of my friends has an iPhone and, to be honest, I like the UI. I would quite like to have one but I won't because it won't install apps that aren't Apple-approved, I can't get it on the network I use for my business and it doesn't have 3G. OK, I could live without the 3G...

    Apple, why don't you bring out another model, say the "iPhone Pro" ? Add a couple of hundred Dollars to the price, make it work with any network, untie the apps and make an SDK available to start a developer community and add 3G if you can shoe-horn it into the box. I'd buy one. Alternatively have a mechanism I can use to pay and get a code to unlock the phone honestly with no fear ti will get bricked on a future update, just like Orange do.

    Paris, cos she unlocked her phone for everyone.

  15. Tom

    Then it will be just 'simpler' to get the iphone with a contract from your local provider.

    Or buy a different phone that's not locked down.

    Quite a few of the unlocked phones are in areas where you can't buy one. They are not available in Canada but I see quite a few on the street.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why Bother with Iphone

    Why bother with phones locked to particular networks? Buy the phone outright - if you can´t *don´t buy the phone, buy something else*

  17. Chris Gibson

    It's not *that* technical...

    I bought an iPhone over the weekend and unlocked it using this technique. While it is a bit fiddly, it's really just a case of following some clear step-by-step instructions: see

    In fact, having just checked that link, the same site is now discussing an "Ultrasimple" method that will apparently unlock a new iPhone in three minutes.

  18. Steve ten Have
    Paris Hilton


    How much money they would make if they just stopped cocking around and sold it to everyone who wanted one without all the controlling pap.

    It's the supremist rubbish that causes people to resent Apple and their products and all it will take is someone else to come up with a comparible product and their market share will quite nicely evaporate.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    When will Apple...

    ...hire this guy?

  20. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    I just don't understand...

    This all is increasingly looking like an exercise in masochism - pay you own money to Apple to be screwed by Apple and more than once too...

    Why would anyone buy that thing if it means a never ending struggle to keep it working?

    There are plenty of other phones around, with which you don't have to battle the out-of-control manufacturer every couple of months.

  21. Bobak Fakhraee


    Just a thought, but surely this kid is good all round, I mean put it this way: Would apple update their kit very often if they didn't need to? I don't reckon so (i of course don't know) so surely by showing them what's wrong with their product, it helps them fix it. improvements all round.

    I personally think apple has been a bit to greedy on this one and should make it readily available. Perhaps even make is Sim-Free only.

  22. Ascylto

    @ Steve ten Have

    By Steve ten Have

    Posted Tuesday 12th February 2008 08:48 GMT

    "It's the supremist rubbish that causes people to resent Apple and their products and all it will take is someone else to come up with a comparible product and their market share will quite nicely evaporate"

    Yeah ... I wonder why nobody's come up with the comparAble product, Steve? I wonder why, with all their expertise, dollars and, ahem, 'innovation', Microsoft haven't come up with a compArable product? That would wipe the smile off the face of that nasty 'supremist' Apple wouldn't it.

    Do you know, Steve, I don't resent Apple or their products and it's not JUST because I am a member of the Master Race!

    Paris ... because you just KNOW she writes some of the posts that appear here.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    When will they cease ?

    "Several weeks ago, analysts at Bernstein Research estimated that 1 million iPhones, or a full 27 per cent of the handsets sold to date, are running on unauthorized networks."

    When will companies cease to believe in the myth that linked offers are any sure way to make money ? People *are* used to that technique and will happily make everything to defeat it. That number will very likely raise to 50%, in my opinion.

    No idea what percentage of unlocked iPhones Apple counted on to make any good money out of the iphone, but it better be more than that ...

    PH icon, since she makes business in a linked way :-)

  24. fluffels


    he'll be able to take his pick of seven-figure-salaries at any number of firms.

    good on him.

    the bastard.

  25. Rolf Howarth

    Making money

    "How much money they would make if they just stopped cocking around and sold it to everyone who wanted one without all the controlling pap."

    What makes you think making money isn't precisely what all this is about? I'm sure Apple don't mind at all that so many people are buying unlocked phones, especially in countries where it isn't otherwise available. But why shouldn't they try to get a slice of the mobile phone companies' very lucrative profits, if they can, by negotiating exclusive contracts with them?

    Maybe you feel sorry for the mobile phone operators cartel and don't feel an outsider should be allowed to try to shake up their business?

  26. jai


    actually, i'm convinced this is a good thing for apple.

    everytime they release new firmware, there are tons of news articles about it

    and each time someone jailbreaks the new firmware, there's yet more new articles

    as the old adage goes, there's no such thing as bad publicity

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Is it a cult???

    What is with you apple apologists here? I mean WOW!!

    Apple could easily have made a LOT more money by offering the phone to all the networks. The locking down to a particular vendor may work in the US where people are happy to be ripped off by their providers, but in Europe the deal is EITHER you get a free phone and get shoe horned into a 12 or 18 month contract OR you pay for the phone and get to do what you like with it. No one in their right mind is stupid enough to do both. Full Kudos to this guy for giving the ordinary consumer a voice. If I am going to spend £269(nearly $600) for a phone I want to be able to put whatever SIM I want into it.

    Thats why I have the N95. A MUCH more stable product, comes free, has 3G, I prefer the size, has GPS, a better camera and upgradable memory and battery. I cant wait for the N96.

  28. Phil Rigby
    Paris Hilton

    SDK out soon, isn't it?

    Isn't the SDK out this month? Might be interesting to see which l33t ha><or is able to use it to circumvent security, write ivirus or something.

    Oh and to all the people who bitch about not being able to load custom apps on to it... pick up another phone from your local supplier, then install an SSH client on it. Or a new address book. Or a new mailer. Can you?

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Anti Apple??? Never.

    Guys, cant help feeling a little pent up resentment here.

    IPhone Users = posers on the trains.

    Non-Iphone Users = £270 richer and less chance of being mugged.

    IPhone Hacker = What a dude!!! But seriously ......... he must dream in binary

    Anti-Applers: Well Apple are just trying to do a MS.

    Applers: Quit thinking Apple is better then MS - they are both as bad as each other, just a different spin thats all.

    I'll get my coat.....

  30. jubtastic1

    Why it's tied to networks.

    Unlocked iPhones = most users picking them up without unlimited data plans.

    iPhone without unlimited data plan = half the functions don't work without incurring massive charges.

    Half the functions not working = terrible press reviews and no 90% user satisfaction rating.

    Terrible reviews = no momentum, no iPod effect, no future.

    Everyone assumes that the Networks were all courting Apple for exclusivity but the reality is that Apple absolutely needed to ensure every iPhone came with unlimited data, it's the key to the phones future.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    @ the people who ask why apple dont offer him a job...

    Because he already works for microsoft.... the mPhone is due on the market Q3 2008... the hacks are from microsoft doing the best to disrupt the jesus phone sales and make the jesus developers look like asses.......

    the mPhone will be very similar to the jesus phone, it will have a 1000 hours battery life with each charge, and will have no problems with G3.It will be available to everyone free of charge with every retail verson of vista (TM). the only contract tie in is that you use vista (TM) on your desktop pc for a minimum of 18 months.

    mine is the one with the large pocket for the external battery pack !!!!....

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Iphone are not locked in France

    French law prohibits locking..., so can't you just compare a french iphone with another one...

  33. JP
    Dead Vulture

    It's probably just to keep the image, but...

    Wouldn't Apple have made more money by now having a simple lock on the phone (or not-so-simple), that was hackable by the those that really wanted to, AND THEN LEFT IT AND SAVED DEVELOPMENT MONEY on the teams that try to re-lock it, rather than trying to keep up with the hackers??

  34. Steven

    @ Ascylto

    Just because you haven't looked for a better phone, doesn't mean they don't exist. Fortunately for Apple, they have a team of fanatics to worship every re-hashed "invention" they put out there. The iPhone is nothing new to the market now, and it was nothing new to the market when it was first released.

    For some laughs, check out the following (pretty old article).

    <Vulgar comedy and Obscenities ahead>

    </Vulgar comedy and Obscenities ahead>

  35. sleepy

    have a little respect . . .

    Apple knows exactly what they are doing - commenters who think they know better are deluding themselves. Apple makes a nice profit on the phone (manufacturing cost around $200), and an even bigger profit on any contract revenue share. Apple has no difficulty to stimulate demand whenever needed. People love iPhones. Apple's actions are driven by a multi year game plan for taking iPod into a market dominated by carriers, Nokia, and even Microsoft.

    I would expect Apple to incorporate vulnerabilities, and to hope they are all found by hackers. That's what will give them confidence that a lock down update can hold for the required year or so.

    Geohot's original hack required temporary hardware modding to the iPhone; it wasn't the one that opened the floodgates. The "anysim" unlock did that, but also erased phone-specific data in the baseband section. That's what bricked the iPhones, not Apple's update. The anysim authors acknowledged this and eventually produced a "revirginizer" app to repair the bricked iPhones.

  36. theotherone

    is this legal?

    what's the word on the legality of unlocking iphones, and then distributing instructions? is it illegal, or a fuzzy area?

  37. Shun F
    Thumb Up

    Because it was there

    This reminds me of the days of PSone and Xbox hacks. Lots of folks went around reverse engineering the boxen, building and installing mod-chips, etc. Hey, it's not an Apple specific thing...really, what this is about is human curiosity and arbitrage.

    If you have a black box, and you can play with it and get some secrets out of it, you're already a rockstar. Publish your work, and any code monkey, theoretically, can replicate your work. You've just employed a million eBay drones. Also, there are markets where Apple is barred from entering. Guess who's selling iPhones into these markets? Apple doesn't care, as long as they get the revenue from the individual phone. If the iPhone were being cloned at the hardware level, then they'd be pissed. Extra revenue from carriers is just icing on the cake (and good on them for pulling that out of AT&T).

    The reason a phone can be carrier locked, in the U.S., is that there is no national standard for cellular access. Here, we have 2: CDMA and GSM. GSM also works in Europe, while CDMA is strongest in South Korea. This is a problem in the States because the two biggest carriers are AT&T (GSM), and Verizon (CDMA). Now, in order to satisfy carrier neutrality rules, you'd have to stick 2 antennas in the phone (or use a software-defined radio, but no, we're not going there, yet). Because the FCC is a bunch of cowards, there are no carrier neutrality rules, therefore, AT&T and Apple are allowed to have this cozy relationship.

    It doesn't matter, though, as long as Apple is seen as relatively good, AT&T is seen as all evil, and the hacker scene is left to carve out its niche, things will go smoothly. If people wake up to the fact that Apple is quietly raking in a ton of dough, the citizens of this great nation may finally put a stop to forced vendor lock on handsets (yeah, right, like that's ever going to happen). Bottom Line: Apple does not care about AT&T's bottom line. If people choose to hack their iPhones let them.

    I'm waiting for a fully functional N96 to cross the pond, so I can play with it. Until then, "old" Samsung for me.

  38. Anonymous Coward


    Anyone who pays hundreds of dollars/pounds/euros/whatever for a phone is an idiot.

    My coat's the one that isn't vibrating, buzzing, singing, dancing...

  39. Mark

    How can they lose a billion

    when they never had it in the first place?

    "Expected earnings will double if you have a degree" was the mantra when I was doing A levels.

    It isn't true any more.

    So can kids doing degrees claim against taxes a loss of £300 million? They've "lost" it in the same way as Apple have. Money they expected to have if things worked out their way.

  40. david mccormick

    Why are they wasting the money?

    I'm probably wrong (according to my girlfriend, I'm always wrong) but isn't selling a locked phone in europe going to be against eu rules in less than 18 months? Surely then spending time and money finding ways to relock the phone is a big waste.

  41. Ryan Stewart

    hacked by a 17 year old more than once....

    but mac owners swear that OSX is secure.

    Just wait until there are enough of you to justify another 17 year old stealing your information.

    @Mark, they lost he money they would have recieved had the phones been on the authorized network. That is like losing future pay when you get canned. Sure you never had the money but you would have if you continued to work.

  42. Danny Thompson
    Thumb Up

    @It's not *that* technical...

    The GUI unlock is out already on that link (above).

    One has to admire what is going on here. Even the antiApplers, who will not hear a good word about Apple in case their ears catch fire and their tiny brains explode, must be able to see what a success the iPhone is. It has single-devicedly kept Apple in the forefront of everyone's mind. As such it is a huge marketing success all round. Forget the iPhone per se, but see that the sheer frenzy of opinion and counter opinion is escalating Apple to heights it could not have imagined a while ago.

    The iPhone has been the tool behind all of that. I suspect that even Steve Jobs is taken aback at the success he has had with this. On my infrequent sorties to the Apple store I am aware that the number of people there has never been so high. If even a fraction of that footfall turns into a sale they'll be more than paying their expenses and wages.

    So pass the sackcloth and ashes around to the naysayers, they'll be needing it for a very long time yet. Me? I'm chillin with my iPhone and will be happy to toast Apple with another glass of bubbly if its all the same.

    A stonking great thumbs up at Apple's marketing success with the iPhone.

  43. Martin Usher

    Hasn't Apple got anything better to do?

    The title more or less says it all.

    Its a pretty device with a nice UI but if the price you have to pay is that you buy it but down own it then its too much for me. I can wait. After all, I think I'll get better functionality out of an EEPC plus Bluetooth to my regular cellphone.

  44. Johnny FireBlade
    Thumb Up

    17 year old kid in car insurance shocker!

    Insurance on a 350Z? Good luck to him! I suppose if he flogged the iPhones first, he may just be able to afford it. Then again, we all know that American kids drive around in sports cars, thanks to such historical documents as "Beverly Hills 90210", so they must all be rich.

  45. Jared Earle
    Jobs Halo

    @ vishal vashisht

    "Apple could easily have made a LOT more money by offering the phone to all the networks."

    This is why Steve Jobs is in charge of Apple and you're not. Who cares about short-term gains from the fashionista when you have a long game plan? To assume it's all about short-term gains is why there are buckets full of 50p Rios, Yepps and Zens.

  46. Ian de'Wessington

    another option

    Probably cheaper for Apple and the'network' to just sell the unlock. It would save all the hard work and loss of revenue.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    1 billion?

    no way it's going to lose 1 billion revenue because of the unlocked phone, I doubt that Apple would sell so many iphone if it couldn't unlock in the first place. Actually Iphone doesn't do really well so far in the UK, so I think the sales was mainly made in the state.

  48. David Glasgow
    Paris Hilton

    Everyone wins!

    Apple make money

    Kid has fun

    Apple gets free publicity

    Some like to moan about Apple

    Some like to praise Apple

    And I like to read about it

    .....Paris because her name is an anagram of TAIL IR iPHONS which I am sure she would if they came with IR. Damn. If only her name was Hiltone.

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