Options for unlocking the iPhone
Posted: September 20, 2013
While I used to create unlocking tutorials for years, I have stopped doing so for a couple
of reasons. First, because the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) no longer protects
the right to unlock a cell phone purchased locked from a carrier beginning in January of
2013. Second, because the iPhone Dev Team hasn't released a software unlock since June
However, we don't have to worry about this since Apple has been selling factory unlocked
iPhones for some years now. You can purchase an iPhone 4S, 5C or 5S unlocked. They are
sold at a premium price.
If purchasing a factory unlocked iPhone isn't an option for you, then your only other
choices are listed below.
The iPhone Dev Team developed a software unlock called ultrasn0w. It's available on
Cydia and only unlocks the following modem firmwares (also known as basebands):
If you have one of these unlockable modem firmwares then simply install ultrasn0w and
you are on your way. Keep in mind when a new firmware is released you will need to update
using a custom firmware that does not install newer modem firmware, thereby maintaining
- iPhone 4 - 01.59.00 only.
- iPhone 3G S - 04.26.08, 05.11.07, 05.12.01, 05.13.04, 06.15.00
Redsn0w is able to create one of these custom firmware files to do this. I have an old
tutorial demonstrating this
TinyUmbrella does this also, see
this much older tutorial here.
Another option is to get your carrier to unlock your iPhone. AT&T has started doing this
for iPhones that have fulfilled their contract, or have had their ETF paid. You have to be
a current or former customer to receive an unlock. You can't just purchase an old iPhone
from someone and then call up AT&T to unlock it. This method costs nothing and is
permanent. When a new firmware comes out you can install it without any worries about
maintaining an unlock.
My wife just got her iPhone unlocked by AT&T. It took only minutes!
You can read about it here.
On a related note there are some websites out there that are able to provide carrier
sanctioned unlocks (they probably know someone who works at the carrier that has access
to the whitelist) for a fee. You can read about one of these such sites over at the
Your final option (and this is not an endorsement) is to use a product called the Gevey
SIM. It's known as a SIM interposer as it goes between your SIM card and the SIM reader
in the iPhone. It takes advantages of certain technological vulnerabilites in the way
the SIM is queried to fake the iPhone into thinking you have a legitimate SIM card
installed. The downside? Having to worry about creating custom firmware files that do
not update your modem firmware every time Apple releases a new firmware.
One of the most reliable sources for purchasing these SIMs is apparently from a company
called Apple n Berry.