AT&T Will Unlock Your iPhone... After 2 Years?

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A USA Today article discusses the practice of locking cell phones to providers. Apple's iPhone, for example, is "locked" to AT&T and can not easily be used with other cell phone providers.

AT&T's Jim Cicconi offers an interesting comment that AT&T will "gladly unlock" a customer's phone once the contract has been fulfilled. Apple's iPhone requires a 2 year contract with AT&T.



Article Link
 

Lord Blackadder

macrumors G5
May 7, 2004
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Sod off
Apple has probably planned to offer the iPhone with other providers all along...AT&T was the exclusive launch provider, but the success of the iPhone means (for Apple) that staying with one provider is a sales bottleneck.
 

daschor

macrumors newbie
Nov 5, 2006
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If true, this is good news, but nothing huge

https://www.macrumors.com/images/macrumorsthreadlogodarkd.png

AT&T's Jim Cicconi offers an interesting comment that AT&T will "gladly unlock" a customer's phone once the contract has been fulfilled. Apple's iPhone requires a 2 year contract with AT&T.

Article Link
Of course, since the iPhone is currently a GSM/EDGE phone, your only other significant choice of domestic U.S. carrier would be T-mobile. Not much of a threat from AT&T's perspective, especially since T-mobile will probably be unable to provide some of the services (e.g. visual voicemail) that AT&T provides for Apple's iPhone.

Wake me when the iPhone goes 3G.

:apple:
 

PlaceofDis

macrumors Core
Jan 6, 2004
19,238
5
Apple has probably planned to offer the iPhone with other providers all along...AT&T was the exclusive launch provider, but the success of the iPhone means (for Apple) that staying with one provider is a sales bottleneck.
its been reported that AT&T have a five year exclusive deal on it.
 

Snowy_River

macrumors 68030
Jul 17, 2002
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Of course, since the iPhone is currently a GSM/EDGE phone, your only other significant choice of domestic U.S. carrier would be T-mobile. Not much of a threat from AT&T's perspective, especially since T-mobile will probably be unable to provide some of the services (e.g. visual voicemail) that AT&T provides for Apple's iPhone.

Wake me when the iPhone goes 3G.

:apple:
There are some of us who are in a slightly different situation. I am currently an AT&T customer, and have been for several years. I signed up with AT&T, which was then bought by Cingular, which then (recently) became AT&T again. (Details of this process are being omitted.) I'm still using the same SIM card that I got several years ago. I'm still on the same plan (it's a better plan than I could get now). I don't want to change anything, except, maybe, my phone. But, unless I get an unlocked phone, I've been told that I have to get a new SIM card and a new plan, because current AT&T phones are not compatible with my old SIM card (being locked), and going to a new SIM card necessitates going to a new plan. I'm not happy about this. I don't want to switch providers. I want to continue to be an AT&T customer. I just want to be able to keep the service they've been giving me plus an iPhone. No deal. Not even making it a 2 year contract with the current service (plus data, of course).

So, the only way that I can keep my current service plan is to use an unlocked phone. (It's what I'm doing now. When the phone that I bought with the plan died, I bought a new, unlocked phone off of eBay.)
 

Nanaki

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Jan 28, 2007
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There are some of us who are in a slightly different situation. I am currently an AT&T customer, and have been for several years. I signed up with AT&T, which was then bought by Cingular, which then (recently) became AT&T again. (Details of this process are being omitted.) I'm still using the same SIM card that I got several years ago. I'm still on the same plan (it's a better plan than I could get now). I don't want to change anything, except, maybe, my phone. But, unless I get an unlocked phone, I've been told that I have to get a new SIM card and a new plan, because current AT&T phones are not compatible with my old SIM card (being locked), and going to a new SIM card necessitates going to a new plan. I'm not happy about this. I don't want to switch providers. I want to continue to be an AT&T customer. I just want to be able to keep the service they've been giving me plus an iPhone. No deal. Not even making it a 2 year contract with the current service (plus data, of course).

So, the only way that I can keep my current service plan is to use an unlocked phone. (It's what I'm doing now. When the phone that I bought with the plan died, I bought a new, unlocked phone off of eBay.)
If you've been with AT&T for so many years, why are you afraid of signing up for a 2 year contract? I've been with Cingular for four years now, and for as much trouble as they are, I didn't see any point in switching in the next 2 years, so I got an iPhone.

Also, they HAVE to unlock your phone after 2 years. Federal regulation. The cell companies just don't like to advertise it, but legally, once your 2 year contract is over with, they have to tell you (if you ask) either how to unlock your phone yourself or you have to send it in to them and let them unlock it.

M
 

Mydel

macrumors 6502a
Apr 8, 2006
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Sometimes here mostly there
So tin theory after you pay 170$ of early termination fee they should unlock your phone. But when I call AT&T no one was able to give me straight answer. And all I wanted was yes or no
 

TitoC

macrumors 6502
Jun 15, 2007
311
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Actually, if you guys read the sidebar article, you would realize that this is not true (which I guess makes this MacRumors article moot).

(from OVERSEAS, CELLPHONES MOSTLY 'UNLOCKED' on same USA Today page)
"AT&T will unlock phones for customers once they have fulfilled their contracts, which typically run one to two years. One big exception: Apple's iPhone, distributed exclusively in the USA by AT&T. "That's different," says AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel."

Oh well, it was nice while it lasted . . . . .
 

Snowy_River

macrumors 68030
Jul 17, 2002
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Corvallis, OR
If you've been with AT&T for so many years, why are you afraid of signing up for a 2 year contract? I've been with Cingular for four years now, and for as much trouble as they are, I didn't see any point in switching in the next 2 years, so I got an iPhone.

Also, they HAVE to unlock your phone after 2 years. Federal regulation. The cell companies just don't like to advertise it, but legally, once your 2 year contract is over with, they have to tell you (if you ask) either how to unlock your phone yourself or you have to send it in to them and let them unlock it.

M
If you read what I wrote, you'd have seen that I have no problem agreeing to a 2 year contract with my current service plan. The problem is that they won't do that. If I want a new phone, I have to change plans, whether it's for an iPhone or any other phone that is locked to AT&T. That's what I don't want. I want to keep my plan, adding a data plan if I got an iPhone, of course. The currently available plans are much worse deals than my plan which I've had for several years.

Contract? I've got no problem with that. Change plans to one that costs more and gives me less? Now we've got a problem.
 

4God

macrumors 68020
Apr 5, 2005
2,125
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My Mac
Actually, if you guys read the sidebar article, you would realize that this is not true (which I guess makes this MacRumors article mute).

(from OVERSEAS, CELLPHONES MOSTLY 'UNLOCKED' on same USA Today page)
"AT&T will unlock phones for customers once they have fulfilled their contracts, which typically run one to two years. One big exception: Apple's iPhone, distributed exclusively in the USA by AT&T. "That's different," says AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel."

Oh well, it was nice while it lasted . . . . .
*Homer Sompson style* DOH!
 

840quadra

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 1, 2005
8,193
3,461
Twin Cities Minnesota
This entire AT&T Only thing is really sad in my opinion. I would love an iPhone but I am not leaving my provider and going back to AT&T which treated me like crap when I was a customer.

If an unlocked version becomes available 3rd Party I "may" be interested, however I am sure you will be locked out of getting upgrades and other things easily.

It's too bad, but it is part of life, and I really don't need an exotic phone.
 

TitoC

macrumors 6502
Jun 15, 2007
311
26
Did you mean "moot?"
Anyway, back on topic. That sucks that iPhone is the exception. Sure wish it would work with my Tmobile service.
Oops . . . I guess I was speaking as Joey, from Friends ("I guess that the point is Moo.").

Thanks for the typo info.
Fixing it now.
 

Rocketman

macrumors 603
This entire AT&T Only thing is really sad in my opinion.
I am going to disagree with supporting evidence.

1. ATT agreed to an agressive marketing campaign non-typical of Apple and paid for it (mostly).

2. ATT has the most widely deployed data network in the USA, albiet only 2.5G, but with massively improved bandwidth to the cells in advance of iPhone deployment.

3. ATT and Cingular merged and together they have massive traditional phone market share and retail presence. Both also have excellent consumer mindshare and phone and internet market presence.

4. EDGE is a compromise as compared to 3G or 4G, or as deployed in China, 5G. Yep. But we do in fact, live in the USA with all its limitatons. That said, EDGE is WIDELY deployed mainly in support of DoD operations in the past 10 years, including in Europe :) :)

Rocketman
 

Lord Blackadder

macrumors G5
May 7, 2004
13,942
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Sod off
I have had bad experiences with AT&T, and will not be buying anything from them. Then again, I'm not interested in buying an iPhone - simply too expensive.

I have to think that once the newness factor of the iPhone wears off, it will be a tougher sell, since it's relatively expensive and only available with AT&T. I don't think Apple is planning to leave the iPhone AT&T-only for the long term, but who knows?
 

Spyky

macrumors newbie
Nov 17, 2003
7
0
If you read what I wrote, you'd have seen that I have no problem agreeing to a 2 year contract with my current service plan. The problem is that they won't do that. If I want a new phone, I have to change plans, whether it's for an iPhone or any other phone that is locked to AT&T. That's what I don't want. I want to keep my plan, adding a data plan if I got an iPhone, of course. The currently available plans are much worse deals than my plan which I've had for several years.

Contract? I've got no problem with that. Change plans to one that costs more and gives me less? Now we've got a problem.
You are allowed to add the iPhone data service to an existing plan. It's something like 19.99 or so per month in addition to your existing voice plan. This is an option in the iTunes setup and activation of the iPhone. The plan doesn't have anything to do with the SIM card. You will need to use the SIM card that comes with the iPhone of course. But as long as AT&T is currently billing you based on whatever plan you have, it should be any problem to append the iPhone data plan too it. I kept my existing plan when I activated my iPhone, although in my case it wasn't really any different than existing options.

-Spyky
 

Klososky

macrumors member
Jun 24, 2007
39
51
Oklahoma City, OK
You are allowed to add the iPhone data service to an existing plan. It's something like 19.99 or so per month in addition to your existing voice plan. This is an option in the iTunes setup and activation of the iPhone. The plan doesn't have anything to do with the SIM card. You will need to use the SIM card that comes with the iPhone of course. But as long as AT&T is currently billing you based on whatever plan you have, it should be any problem to append the iPhone data plan too it. I kept my existing plan when I activated my iPhone, although in my case it wasn't really any different than existing options.

-Spyky
I don't think you guys understand, he has a Former AT&T Wireless (aka "Cingular Blue") plan, which means unless he wants to get a new plan he can absolutely not touch his plan. That's just the way it is unfortunately, because the Former had some plans that are much better than current ones.
 

question fear

macrumors 68020
Apr 10, 2003
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The "Garden" state
There are some of us who are in a slightly different situation. I am currently an AT&T customer, and have been for several years. I signed up with AT&T, which was then bought by Cingular, which then (recently) became AT&T again. (Details of this process are being omitted.) I'm still using the same SIM card that I got several years ago. I'm still on the same plan (it's a better plan than I could get now). I don't want to change anything, except, maybe, my phone. But, unless I get an unlocked phone, I've been told that I have to get a new SIM card and a new plan, because current AT&T phones are not compatible with my old SIM card (being locked), and going to a new SIM card necessitates going to a new plan. I'm not happy about this. I don't want to switch providers. I want to continue to be an AT&T customer. I just want to be able to keep the service they've been giving me plus an iPhone. No deal. Not even making it a 2 year contract with the current service (plus data, of course).

So, the only way that I can keep my current service plan is to use an unlocked phone. (It's what I'm doing now. When the phone that I bought with the plan died, I bought a new, unlocked phone off of eBay.)
Also, be prepared for ATT to eventually just boot you off your plan if they can. They are cracking down HARD on TDMA holdovers and making their lives miserable so they can shut down the TDMA network. Next step is probably legacy plans.

Here's a question though: could your current plan even be duplicated on another carrier, or is it that good? Just curious.
 

madmaxmedia

macrumors 68030
Dec 17, 2003
2,922
33
Los Angeles, CA
Thanks for the info. I currently have a Cingular/ATT family plan (2 lines.) If I buy a refurb iPhone from Apple.com, I can activate it and simply pay an extra $19.95 a month and thus continue my existing plan?

You are allowed to add the iPhone data service to an existing plan. It's something like 19.99 or so per month in addition to your existing voice plan. This is an option in the iTunes setup and activation of the iPhone. The plan doesn't have anything to do with the SIM card. You will need to use the SIM card that comes with the iPhone of course. But as long as AT&T is currently billing you based on whatever plan you have, it should be any problem to append the iPhone data plan too it. I kept my existing plan when I activated my iPhone, although in my case it wasn't really any different than existing options.

-Spyky
 

mautal

macrumors member
Sep 30, 2006
98
0
California
old plan pricing with a newer phone

Also, be prepared for ATT to eventually just boot you off your plan if they can. They are cracking down HARD on TDMA holdovers and making their lives miserable so they can shut down the TDMA network. Next step is probably legacy plans.

Here's a question though: could your current plan even be duplicated on another carrier, or is it that good? Just curious.
I too am curious... I had a decent plan with cingular from way back when, and 2 years ago when i needed a new phone... i went into the Cingular store.. told them I need a new phone... and got to keep my plan (same monthly pricing).. I only signed a contract for 2 more years, and only had to pay 50$ for a v3 RAZR... are they not allowing this with the iphone? the same monthly plan (from however long ago) only paying the additional 20$ for data?
 

Snowy_River

macrumors 68030
Jul 17, 2002
2,519
0
Corvallis, OR
I don't think you guys understand, he has a Former AT&T Wireless (aka "Cingular Blue") plan, which means unless he wants to get a new plan he can absolutely not touch his plan. That's just the way it is unfortunately, because the Former had some plans that are much better than current ones.
Right. Although my plan is from the former AT&T, even before Cingular bought the AT&T wireless division.

As far as whether I could duplicate it with another carrier, I don't think that I can, though I haven't really looked into it very deep. For the most part I'm fairly satisfied with AT&T.
 

smoovie

macrumors newbie
Aug 23, 2007
1
0
Thanks for the info. I currently have a Cingular/ATT family plan (2 lines.) If I buy a refurb iPhone from Apple.com, I can activate it and simply pay an extra $19.95 a month and thus continue my existing plan?
yes, as long as it's not the primary number. I'm on a family plan with four phones, mine being the third line. The only aditional cost was the service plan.
 
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