back to article Unlocking the iPhone for pleasure and profit... revisited

After months with my unlocked iPhone still running firmware 1.0.2, the arrival of Zibri's ZiPhone tool persuaded me to try an upgrade. I'm glad I did - I now have an unlocked 1.1.3 iPhone. Why didn't I do so before? Cowardice, really. Having read how tricky upgrading became with subsequent firmware releases, I was worried …


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  1. John
    Thumb Down

    All this effort...

    to get a phone that you paid for to do what you want it to do by taking control away from a tyrannical hardware/software company.... Wake up people. the iPhone is NOT the first smart phone. It is cool, but not THAT cool. If you REALLY want to be able to install applications on your handheld, go buy something with Windows Mobile or buy a Blackberry or even an old school Palm. Then you can do what you want all day long without having to resort to hackery at the risk of bricking your ~$2000 - $4000 investment (yes, do the math, if you think it only cost 4 or 5 bills stop reading the reg...).

  2. Trevor Watt

    And what about all the other phones?

    i-Phone, i-Phone, bloody i-Phone.

  3. Ed


    I don't think anyone has actually permanently bricked their iPhone yet - not that I've heard of anyway. Generally the worst you can do is get stuck with a phone you can't use as a phone...

  4. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Up

    Cool, thanks for that

    I'm using the O2 contract that came with my iPhone (for better or for worse, feel free to flame me, everyone else), so I'm perfectly happy with my data plan and everything (my bill tells me I downloaded several hundred mb last month, if data wasn't included in my plan it'd probably cost me hundreds of pounds).

    So my question is this; beyond being able to use the iPhone on other networks, which doesn't interest me right now, is it worth unlocking it? Are the third party apps that much better than web apps? I told myself I'd wait for the official SDK but I'm wondering if I'm missing out.

  5. sektah


    You could have just navigated your iPhone to, which would automatically break open and install the Installer software on your phone ; I did so with my iPod touch, and it was done in minutes with no faffing around.

    @ John

    Nobody's claiming the iPhone's the first smart phone, so nice strawman there. Of course one could buy a competing device, and nobody's forcing anybody to buy an iPhone, but some of us have used all of the devices you've named and have found the iPhone the nicest. All you "features beat everything else" nerdlingers forget that user experience is paramount, so whilst you bleat on about the lack of GPS or 3G or whatnot, the rest of us prefer a device that's easy to use, nice on the eye, doesn't bulge our pockets, and doesn't drop wireless connections / freeze on videos / require constant restarting.

    Horses for courses ; don't make the mistake of assuming everybody is a nobend who doesn't know what they're missing out on. A lot of us know exactly what we're missing out on.

  6. Jared Earle

    Hacker spirit

    What about the other phones? They're not running UNIX and aren't as fun to discuss.

    Have we lost our geekish inquisitiveness? Why the vitriol and venom whenever something does something fun with an iPhone?

    It's fun, damnit!

    ps. No, I don't need to unlock my UK iPhone as the dev kit is just around the corner and I can get my vicarious hacker kicks from reading about it on El Reg.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A couple questions

    1) You mentioned that the GUI only works on OS/X 1.5; does the command line version work with earlier OS/X versions?

    2) I've read reports that jailbreaking firmware 1.1.3 results in the Google Maps faux-GPS failing. What was your experience with this?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Trevor Watt

    Actually, it's iPhone :)

  9. /\/\j17

    RE: And what about all the other phones?

    Here's my quick article for the Register...

    'Unlocking the Nokia E90 for pleasure and profit'

    1) Call Vodafone and ask them to unlock it.

    2) Pay Vodafone the £20 (or whatever it is) admin fee if you are still under contact.

    3) Insert a new SIM.

    Amazing how a piece of technology is so shit it get's articles on the Reg. telling you how to make it almost as good (still no 3G) as anyone elses phone!

  10. Stu

    Does it work on a jailbreaked iPod Touch 1.1.1?

    I saw no sense in paying Apple + O2 £900+ for a phone, iPod Touch is the way to go.

    If you want phone-like functionality on it, see -

    Albeit u need to be 'tethered' to a wireless network. But theyve even made a nifty little amplified microphone for sale.

  11. Danny Thompson

    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear

    Here we go again. The iPhone costs $1,000,000 (or £500,000 in proper money), blah blah blah. It does not. The iPhone, ladies and gentlemen, costs precisely £269 in the UK for the 8GB model. Thats it. Done. Not a penny more.

    What you then do is pay O2 £35 per month for an 18-month contract which delivers you 600 voice minutes, 500 texts, unlimited EDGE across O2's network and unlimited WiFi across The Cloud, bundled Visual Voicemail. Thats it.

    Now, if you compare any other £35 per month contract you will find that the minutes and texts are roughly the same. But you will not, for £35pm, get bundled data and (these days) voicemail. So the O2 contract is pretty good value compared to what else there is around in the UK now.

    That Apple may get a revenue share of the £35 does not mean that you are paying anything more for the iPhone. Remember, it still cost you £269, not a penny more. If O2 are daft enough to revenue share with Apple that is their lookout. What would all you naysayers like? O2 to give you the contract with all that stuff in it for £25? Why should they? No other UK mobile network operator delivers that value for money proposition.

    Why unlock the iPhone? With today's O2 contract tariff for the iPhone one has to wonder why indeed. It does not make sense to even bother anymore.

    Jailbreak? Again, why bother? With the release of the SDK we can expect as much ISV apps as on any other PDA, Smartphone WHY.

    Stopsign because I wish that those that peddle the misinformation about the iPhone cost of ownership would give it up. They're wrong and they know it.

  12. Law
    Jobs Horns


    So should I tell you how amazing it was that I was able to take my T-Mobile branded N95, change the product code by some "amazing hacking software" and finally run the official update to v20 - all because tmobile haven't approved the firmware upgrade yet.

    Let me just check the article list:-

    - I got new features (and bug fixes - yey!)

    - the upgrade was free (unlike poor little iPod Touch owners)

    - It involves some auto-config GUI based software

    - Its about an annoying company (T-Mobile tho)

    OK - I have ticked all the boxes the article did, including making people go to sleep. Can I publish on El-Reg now?? :)

    Oh, wait, what do you mean it's not about the Jesus phone so go whistle.... I didn't see anything about the new N95 v20 upgrade, and it's more newsworthy than "armchair hacking" an iPhone. :(

    Having said that - tonight I'm installing osXpc onto my pc to see what all the fuss is about, if its not as good as my Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon running enhanced graphics I'm gonna be pissed! Expect to see an article on it next week! ;)

  13. Chad H.
    Thumb Down

    @ john

    as a former windows mobile user, any effort to unlock an iPhone, which you have to do rarely is a minor inconvienence to the eternal struggle of getting a HTC windows mobile 5 device to do what its advertised its capable of every day.

  14. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)


    First, unlocking isn't the same thing as allowing the iPhone to run third-party apps. That, in the terminology, is 'jailbreaking'. You can jailbreak an iPhone without unlocking it. You only need to unlock and iPhone - or any other handset for that matter - if you want to use it with an alternative network.

    Jailbreaking's worth doing, I'd say, if you want to extend what your iPhone can do. There are hundreds of utilities and apps available via Installer. You can try them and remove them easily enough if you don't like/need them.

    Alas, future iPhone updates may break these apps, so they can't be considered entirely permanent, but the upcoming release of Apple's Software Development Kit (SDK) will make it possible for developers to create iPhone apps that'll run on future firmware updates.

    For tinkerers like me, it's fun enough just to get into the thing and do what we want to do with it rather than what Apple thinks we should.

  15. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  16. Richard Potts

    @ Law - N95 V20

    Sorry Law, but I remember El-Reg covering a positive review of the V20 upgrade last year.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    re. A couple of questions

    Am using the 1.1.3 iPhone in Oz on Optus and it still works so I'd be fairly confident that more mainstream locations like the UK will be fine no matter what provider you're with.

    If you unlock and change provider you might need to configure your EDGE/GPRS settings for internet access, but that should be all.

    You can technically only really brick and iPhone if you mess up the bootloader - much like making a mistake when flashing your motherboard's BIOS.

    You can't possibly brick an iPhone by jailbreaking it as neither the baseband nor the bootloader are touched. The only thing that will happen is post-upgrade all your custom apps disappear.

    Personally i *heart* my iPhone so much more than any other phone I've owned before it. No that doesn't mean it's right for everyone, or that i think you're stupid for not having one or having chosen something else, it just means that for my needs it fits PERFECTLY and thus am happy! :)

  18. Roger Brown

    iPhone in Canada

    I am looking forward to having an iPhone, and I'll have to hack it 'cos I'm in Vancouver, Canada and Apple hasn't made any deals with the extortionist mobile-carriers here yet.

    I want an iPhone mostly 'cos it's running OS X; half the features are useless to me as I won't be watching movies, sending many texts or even using the phone that often. I also have a digital camera that I rarely use.

    I could do with the sat-nav system for work, though that's secondary.

    Having this information about how to hack the latest is very I have to find the dosh to buy one.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why you don't see stories about N95's

    Because no-one would care, that's why.

  20. Neural9

    danny and ian are right

    My £45 1200mins/660 texts(free bundle offer thing)/unlimited (fair use) data O2 mobile contract on the iphone is a bloody good contract compared to most out there. Apart from 3. But then I wouldn't need to brick my phone as I'd have got one included in the contract.

    Love your iPhone, just don't LOVE your iPhone.

  21. Scott Mckenzie


    The phone that's an unreliable, clumsy functioning, ugly device that doesn't really do a lot useful... hmm, hold me back, where do i sign!?

    This is great news, i just need some way of getting Exchange Push Email sorted... hopefully this will be by way of someone writing an SDK tool to do it, then my little old SPV can be retired.

    I'd be perfectly happy on the O2 contract also, however my phone is a company one, and we're with Orange.... so i can't, hence needing to unlock/SIM free it to enable me to use it with Orange!

    Tony - I'm assuming that Visual Voicemail is still an app that doesn't work after this hack, and certainly not with anyone other than O2?

  22. Jon Farina

    Wow - You fruit haters really get your knickers in a knot

    It's a free country, if you don't want to read about the iPhone then don't click on the damn link. Go and read the Windows SuperSite or something.

    Its amazing that the minute there is an entry about Apple you "fanbois" scream that el Reg is a fruit lover. Then when there is an article slamming the iPhone the Apple "fanbois" scream that el Reg is a fruit hater.

    Perhaps you pimple nosed greasy 13 year olds can go and read something else and leave the reg to do its thing with the humor and bias as it sees fit!

  23. Anonymous Coward

    re: N95

    Hey again, Mr I *hearts* my iPhone here once more.

    Visual voicemail won't work as it relies on the carrier to make your recorded voicemail messages available on a server along with the caller-id, etc...

    And the N95 may be somewhat fugly but it's not unreliable or crap... that moniker is more deserving of the (ironically) O2 XDA Atom HTC clone rubbish that i had the pleasure of wasting 400 pounds on..

    Let me tell you, i'd rather have a non-removable battery than one that removes itself automatically just when shifting around in the pocket thanks to a crappy case design...

  24. Law

    RE: N95

    "The phone that's an unreliable, clumsy functioning, ugly device that doesn't really do a lot useful... hmm, hold me back, where do i sign!?"

    That would be at any good Apple/O2/Carphone warehouse store my good man!! :)

    I don't hate the iPhone - I actually like playing with my mates, but I don't think its any better than the N95, and by no stretch of the imagination can the N95 can be described as clumsy-functioning, unreliable or useless. It's REAL gps gets me from a-to-b, its 3g means I can stream video, download new applications, and anything else I want to do. It can text and make calls like any other phone, I can listen to music, add extra memory (im using a 16GB card), add hundreds of symbian native applications to it (anything from emTube, streaming internet radio, to flipping the phone upside down to hang up) - which in turn enhances the usefulness of the phone. The camera side of it is respectable, and yeah - it was slow, but since v20 its alot quicker.

    Considering that a big story a week ago was a symbian app that turned N95's into 3g->wifi hotspots it makes me laugh you would say it's useless, as one Apple fanatic friend commanded me "You have to install this so I can browse the web on the train!!"....

    Pretty much sums it up! :)

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