question about unlocking iPhones (all models)

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by number1golfer, Apr 5, 2011.

  1. number1golfer, Apr 5, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2011

    number1golfer macrumors newbie

    May 24, 2010
    Colchester, Essex, UK
    Hi guys,

    This is my first post, so please forgive me if it's in the wrong place etc.

    I have a question about unlocking iPhones (all models). Maybe I'm being totally stupid, and the answer is obvious, but I'd just like to see if there is someone out there who knows FOR SURE what the correct information is.

    My current understanding of unlocking iPhones is that there are two methods. Firstly, there's jailbreaking and the consequential ability to unlock (well, hack) the software using this jailbreak. I have never jailbroken or unlocked an iPhone before, so I've got no idea how this works or what to do. The second method is the factory (or "official") unlock, where the iPhone's IMEI is sent to the main Apple database and the iPhone is then unlocked when next connected to iTunes.

    Now, as far as I was aware, the ONLY way you can factory unlock an iPhone is to contact your network provider (O2, Vodafone, Orange etc. in the UK, or AT&T in the US) and pay them a certain fee (about £25 from what I've heard) and they will contact the Apple database and get it unlocked for you. Obviously, you have to be a current customer of theirs, and be the owner of the iPhone, in order to register your iPhone's IMEI for unlocking.

    This is all well and good, BUT... I have seen on eBay recently sellers who are offering the ability to FACTORY unlock your iPhone JUST by sending THEM your IMEI. They then apparently "work their magic" and your iPhone will be unlocked in a few days after connecting it to iTunes. It appears to be the official method, from the screenshots they provide - it's unlocked by connecting it to iTunes once they've contacted the Apple database. But, hang on a minute, I thought the only people who had ACCESS to this database were the network operators, and Apple themselves!

    So, how is it that I am able to pay Joe Bloggs £25-£35 on eBay, who clearly can't have legitimate access to the Apple database by himself (surely?), and then have my iPhone unlocked in the seemingly official way? They say you don't even need to have a current contract with the network operator - as long as you have an iPhone and know it's IMEI number, you can unlock it officially using them! This totally contradicts my understanding of the two unlocking methods. And before you ask - it's NOT a scam. All these eBay sellers have 100% positive feedback and hundreds of people using them every month to factory unlock their iPhones.

    So HOW do they do it? Do they REALLY have access to the Apple IMEI database, and can they REALLY submit your IMEI for unlocking? If they do, just how did they gain that access? Is it legal? From what I can see on eBay, it's exactly the same process as you would use with a network operator, except you DON'T have to be a current customer of theirs to use the service. So who are these people? How do they factory unlock iPhones using ONLY the IMEI and nothing else, without being a customer of a network, to use that method? You don't need to give them any other details apart from your IMEI.

    Sorry for the long-winded post, but I though't I'd better explain everything so I can get an accurate answer. For reference, here's an example of such a listing...

    The reason I ask is because I am currently selling an iPhone 3G (on O2 in the UK) and would like to get it factory unlocked to be able to sell it for more, but the thing is it wasn't originally mine, and so I obviously can't call up O2 and ask them to unlock it, because I'm not a customer, let alone with this particular iPhone! This is exactly why I am so confused by the process.

    Any help would be really appreciated!

    Thanks a bunch,

  2. chestvrg macrumors 65816


    Dec 13, 2010
    Wao, this is the first time I hear this about an eBay seller having ability to factory unlock an iPhone. If so I want to definitely factory unlock my iPhone 4.
  3. Mlrollin91 macrumors G5


    Nov 20, 2008
    Ventura County
    I personally would not trust sending my IMEI to an unknown person/third party. You never know what someone can do with information like that.
  4. number1golfer thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 24, 2010
    Colchester, Essex, UK
    Me too! Although I technically still can factory unlock through my current carrier as I am a customer of theirs. I just have to pay their fee and voila!

    But this question is directed at people who have old iPhones that weren't originally theirs, or have been passed down through several hands. I would have thought this makes the ability to factory unlock through the carrier impossible, as ONLY the account holder that that iPhone's IMEI is linked to can use this service!

    I called up a carrier in the UK, and the guy on the line told me that if a customer has an iPhone, the IMEI of that iPhone is "linked" to their name for life, effectively. So they, and only, they can choose to unlock it through that carrier!

    The confusion never ends.
  5. number1golfer thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 24, 2010
    Colchester, Essex, UK
    I agree that there are plenty of scammers out there. But the sellers all have positive feedback relating to factory unlocking of iPhones, and I'm dubious as to the extent of the damage you could do with JUST an IMEI number. I just want to know how they have access to the Apple database and therefore the ability to factory unlock any iPhone!
  6. Alaerian Guest


    Jan 6, 2005
    A barstool, Innis & Gunn in hand
    Just for future reference, try to use a more descriptive title. You'll get more feedback.
  7. hsotnicam8002 macrumors 6502


    Mar 13, 2008
    United Kingdom
  8. SidBala, Apr 5, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2011

    SidBala macrumors 6502a

    Jun 27, 2010
    and non-descriptive title.

    I did start reading the post. But then I read the part about how you only wanted the correct answer or no answer at all. Yeah, then I stopped reading.
  9. number1golfer, Apr 5, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 5, 2011

    number1golfer thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 24, 2010
    Colchester, Essex, UK
    Yeah... decided to take that bit out now. Probably not a such good idea ;)

    Thanks for the input. However, the iPhone I've got has been passed down several hands, and only the original owner is able to use that service (I've already phoned O2 and checked). I was wondering how these eBay sellers can factory unlock when they clearly aren't the original owner of the iPhone, nor are they a network operator. It just baffles me!
  10. ClutchThese macrumors 65816


    Jun 25, 2010
    Alexandria, VA
    To sum up the post;

    There are apparently ebay auctions up that say they will factory unlock your phone. all you have to do is send them your IMEI, along with $50 USDish.

    He says it CAN'T be a scam because they have hundreds of feedback 100% postitive saying its legit.

    Honestly, id say it's a scam until i can see them work the magic in front of my eyes. :)
  11. number1golfer thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 24, 2010
    Colchester, Essex, UK
    My thoughts exactly, tbh!
  12. Applejuiced macrumors Westmere


    Apr 16, 2008
    At the iPhone hacks section.
    Sounds like a bunch of bs to me.
    There's a whole process that has to be done from the carrier submited to Apple for official unlock. Some random dude on eBay to provide something pike that don't make sense.
  13. McGiord macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2003
    Dark Castle
    AT&T in the US simply does not unlock the iPhone. Even you try to pay them. Apple doesn't do anything either in the US.
    THe closest thing is buying an unlocked one in Canada.

    The fact that the seller has positive feedback doesn't exclude them from being scammers.

    They can generate other user profiles and sell/buy between them, or they are friends-partners. Even they actually sold many different items, with this one I don't believe it.

    Or their services only apply for certain markets, and they call the carrier with the IMEI and all your details and do the request with the carrier for you, and they chip in some dough?
  14. eastercat macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    Apple maintains a database of all their phones, probably via serial number. If there is an account associated with it, they might have that too. The main thing is that these factory/carrier unlocked phones stay unlocked no matter who owns it.
    Stay away from the scammer asking for your IMEI. Buy a factory unlocked phone--used or new--instead. Tell the seller that you will be testing your phone for the unlock. If it doesn't pass, you expect a refund or you're reporting them to ebay and your cc/paypal. You might be able to buy an unlocked phone at your Apple store. Call if it's too far of a trip.
  15. iFactoryUnlock macrumors newbie


    Jan 7, 2012
    NY, NY
    It's legal to unlock your iPhone just like its legal to jailbreak your phone. Not much a person can do with an IMEI (maybe clone it in another country) but if they wanted to get your IMEI they could just setup a small "tower" in a briefcase and pull every IMEI in the area.

    For some reason people trust jailbreak software which could easily compromise their device. A reputable company has no interest in damaging their business by doing anything with a customer's information.
  16. iFactoryUnlock macrumors newbie


    Jan 7, 2012
    NY, NY
    Entering an IMEI into my computer at work is not really that much magic. No more so than unlocking an HTC Desire or Samsung Galaxy. The difference is the code is delivered via iTunes. No magic no smoke and mirrors but there are a TON of scammers and stolen accounts on Ebay. Recently someone with 2000+ positive auctions scammed about 12 people out of nearly 150 bucks. Some are legitimate normal people who resell primary providers like ourselves. Anyway, follow your gut. If you do not trust a business don't use it. Why live with the worry?

    I wish I could answer the user's question fully but its this: If you had the exact recipe and ingredients for Pepsi or Coca-Cola would you buy it ever? That's why they have kept their recipes secret for over a century. We feel the same. AT&T was unlock-able until the recipe got out to the wrong people.
  17. JeffreyBlack macrumors newbie

    Apr 25, 2011
    London, UK
    I unlocked a 3 Hutchinson UK iPhone 4S recently without a hitch. It took 5 or 6 days but works great. Used a company called (Swedish girlfriend, site's in Swedish) but no problems. The 3rd party factory unlocks are not cheap in the least but I did not want to wait out the contract. One day of roaming in Italy for instance can reach double the cost of an unlock. Never saw ifactory so cannot vouch for you guys but my girlfriend had unlocked her Telia with frimobil. Did I say really hot blonde? Oh...guess that's not relevant. But it's always relevant!
  18. ste1164 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 4, 2009
  19. nicholasss, Jun 16, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2012

    nicholasss macrumors regular

    Apr 18, 2012

    This is a vague answer to your unlocking question, but it is the answer. All "sellers" of the factory unlock pay someone to get accounts or pay their "supplier" who has accounts which they turn around and use to unlock any iPhone.

    It's very easy. Ask iFactoryUnlock.

    But looking at his prices, he's not direct. Looks as if he is getting raped by his "supplier." Anyone that claims (not implying that i.F.U. is claiming) to be direct, but has a price that high, is not direct. Customer's IMEI's are being passed on at least 2-3 times before it hits the person who actually does the unlock.

    So, anyone selling on eBay has "sources." The higher the price, the more times your IMEI is being passed on to someone else.

    One more thing, just because you see a low price, doesn't mean it's fake/scam. It means this person is either the direct person doing the unlock, or there is only 1 more person to pass the imei on to. I for example can sell for more than half of "iFactoryUnlock" price. But, I'm not here to advertise so please don't bother.
  20. PharmDoc macrumors 6502

    Oct 10, 2010
    I bought a tmobile uk iPhone here in CA from CL. The phone was still locked to them and the imei was clean. I paid for an unlock on eBay and my phone was unlocked. I'm running it on AT&T now and I took it to the uk a few months ago and used 3 there. Look at the feedback before you bid or buy. Not everybody on EBay is a scammer. I took a chance because I needed a unlocked phone.

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