WHO really locks the phone, Carrier or Apple?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by GadgetGeek407, Nov 21, 2011.

  1. GadgetGeek407 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 26, 2009
    I have a situation where I have 5 new iphone 4s on Sprint from launch day and wnating to go to AT&T and I have been on the phone with Sprint and Apple all day and both keep saying the other is who is locking the phone, i mean seriously WTF??????

    I want them to either grant me an exchange for at&t phones or unlock my phone to use on AT&T considering I just bought these phones and not going to shell out more money considering sprint's coverage and data speeds are horrible in Orlando
  2. dfnj123, Nov 21, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2011

    dfnj123 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 29, 2007
    Your problem isn't who locks the phone... it the return policies from the retails stores that is...

    You have signed a contract saying that you agreed to commit to to service with Sprint for 2 years. Sprint has a 14 day trail period that lets customers try out their service, and most retailers have a 14-30 day return policy. If you got the iPhone on launch day then you are clearly passed these deadlines and your stuck with the phones...

    You could try paying an early cancellation fee to end your Spint service and get new AT&T iPhones, but you would easily have to pay $1000+ all together for 5 phones if you did that...

    You could also wait for a jailbreak to unlock the phones to run on AT&T, but even then you would still have to deal with Sprint...

    There is no clear cut easy solution to this problem... If you saw that your data speeds were slow and you were unsatisfied, why didn't you contact Sprint/Apple earlier?

    Hope you find some way to switch providers, but there's no simple way to do it...
  3. E4tH, Nov 21, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2011

    E4tH macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2008
    Apple locks the phones to specific carriers via baseband but they can't unlock your phone or unlock and re-lock them into AT&T iPhone because of their arrangements with the carriers. Sprint is able to fully unlock the phone with the imei numbers, but they will not unlock your phones. Mainly because if you bought those phones subsidized Sprint pretty much paid $450 for each phone you bought and you sign a contract with them which is also the reason apple can't just unlock and re-lock the iPhone as AT&T.

    So the only way to pretty much get AT&T iPhones is to return your Sprint iPhones and buy AT&T iPhone.
  4. GadgetGeek407 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 26, 2009
    Ok I actually did call sprint and apple the 2nd day both told me they are aware of the issue and update is in the works and when 5.0.1 came out it addressed nothing and in reality sprint coverage in 2 particular important areas to me, SUCKS!!!! I am now outside of all my return and exchange windows thanks to both apple and sprint.

    I called apple customer relations they don't want to do anything to help me refuse to even admit they are the ones locking the phones, I don't even care to buy new att phones only cause I liked that the Sprint version is unlocked internationally cause that is important to me, I like these phones just fine just not my service with Sprint. If I am going to fork out so much money on the phones PLUS pay 350 per line ETF to go to at&t than firkin they need to let me use the damn phone wherever I want at that point and both companies are playing games pointing the finger at each other for locking the phones


    btw what department at sprint do i need to talk to cause they are pretty much clueless and their answer to everything is "do you see anything sprint on the iPhone? they don't let us put anything on the phone we control nothing"
  5. nixforfun macrumors newbie

    Apr 10, 2010
  6. GadgetGeek407 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 26, 2009
    Sprint iphones on launch day were unlocked ONLY for international SIM cards, which is great for when i go overseas in January but doesn't help me with the fact that I want to use at&t or tmobile in orlando! Don't people read the post before posting a response anymore? seriously?
  7. dfnj123 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 29, 2007
    What exactly are you trying to achieve by calling them?
  8. jca24 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 28, 2010
    your sprint phones will never work on att. get ready to pay up or put up.

  9. bradl macrumors 68040


    Jun 16, 2008
    Okay.. so you bought an iPhone 4S to use with Sprint, and now you want to go to AT&T?

    To be honest, you're stuck with paying the ETF, buying an iPhone from AT&T, and porting your number to there, or getting a new number outright from AT&T. Those are your only options.

    Sprint being CDMA will not be able to unlock your phone to be used on a GSM network in the US. You're stuck there. For international GSM, they could, but not for in the US. In short, you bought the CDMA variant of the phone with GSM for outside of the US. You need the GSM version, which is only at the AT&T or Apple store.

    As the others said, you are outside of your trial/grace period, so Sprint nor Apple are no-where near obligated to help you on this one, especially with keeping your current iPhone. This is something you should have done a little bit of research on before deciding on a carrier. Just because there are the same phones on multiple carriers does not mean it will work on all carriers, at least here in the US. If this were Europe or Australia, or somewhere where GSM prevails, you could, as the network is standardized; not here, where the carriers and their network dictate the phone.

  10. dfnj123 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 29, 2007
    Pretty much this...

    It's the blunt truth. OP, your going to need to just deal with this. You're stuck and there really isn't anything you can do, except for paying ETF

    (source: I work in cellular retail)
  11. GadgetGeek407 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 26, 2009
    I found a guy tonight who is unlocking Sprint iPhone 4s to work in the US and i saw him do it successfully, so those of you saying its not possible are obviously wrong. I however updated ALL of mine to 5.0.1 and he can only do 5.0!!! AHHHHHHHHH
  12. heyloo macrumors 6502

    Nov 2, 2006
    Interesting, there are vendors that could do these unlocks? :confused:

    Regardless, wouldn't you have to pay ETF or 2 years of Sprint anyway? Were you able to get that sorted out?

    Sorry to hear about the problems :(
  13. macingman macrumors 68020


    Jan 2, 2011
    These means he has developed an jailbreak/unlock for the 4S. I won't believe it till I see it.
  14. thewitt macrumors 68020


    Sep 13, 2011
    The GSMA IMEI database is a global database that controls whether or not your phone is carrier locked, or even blacklisted.

    Apple can create entries in this database and assign them to a carrier.

    Once assigned, Apple can no longer manage these entries, the carrier must.

    Apple has activation servers that were overloaded on release of the phones this time, and communication with the GSMA database failed for a large number of units. These appear to be carrier unlocked, however the individual carriers can also create entries in this database, so if the initial Apple activation did not create an entry, the carrier can - thus locking your once unlocked phone.

    Whether or not this happens is up to Apple and the carriers to work through.

    All of the issues with the activation servers have been addressed, and today locking and activation are again working as designed.

    If your phone is carrier locked, the carrier is the only one who can update the GSMA database and unlock it. Apple can no longer do so, as that phones IMEI number has been assigned to that carrier.
  15. j4zb4 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 15, 2011
    Ok as far as I know if you pay the ETF your phones are completely unlocked.. You can then use them on any service you like... Even T-mobile or a regional carrier...
  16. imswimmin macrumors regular

    Apr 6, 2011
    Why did you buy *5* *Sprint* iPhones when you want to use AT&T/T-Mobile?

    I don't think you are going to find any simple solution to your question...
    Just gotta face the facts!
  17. dfnj123 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 29, 2007
    That's great, but you're still stuck with the Sprint accounts unless you pay the ETFs... and you'll need to get 5 AT&T sims, agree to an addition 2 year contact, and pay a $36 activation fee for each line... and thats all without the monthly plan itself...

    I mean, if you have the $$$ to spend then for all purposes go for it... but I think most people would agree that this investment is a little too much...

    Try to make the most out of the Sprint service. On the plus side you're on the only US carrier that still offers unlimited data... you're also will be one of the few people with international unlocked iPhones purchased at full discount price...

    Plus 2 years will fly by before you know it and you'll finally be able to switch carriers then if Sprint's service hasn't increased for you...
  18. goosnarrggh, Nov 22, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2011

    goosnarrggh macrumors 68000

    May 16, 2006
    The GSMA does maintain a database of IMEIs. Its primary purpose it to ensure that no manufacturer ever accidentally ships a handset with a duplicate IMEI that has already been assigned to any other handset from any other manufacturer anywhere else in the world at any point in the past.

    The GSMA also maintains, as part of that database, a blacklist. However, participation in the blacklist is totally voluntary, any carrier is totally permitted to ignore the blacklist status of any IMEI appearing in the database. The phones themselves have absolutely no knowledge whatsoever of whether or not their IMEI appears in the blacklist.

    So, even if a particular handset's IMEI is blacklisted in the GSMA's database, the phone will still work perfectly fine when used in conjunction with any carrier who chooses not to participate in the voluntary blacklist. For example, none of the major American GSM operators participate in the GSMA's blacklist program.

    I have never seen any evidence whatsoever suggesting that the GSMA's IMEI database plays any role whatsoever in determining a phone's SIM lock status. Indeed, most phones (other than the iPhone) have total internal control of their own unlock status, requiring a simple password to be entered to remove any locks that may have been imposed by the phone's own firmware.

    So, no database, be it maintained by the GSMA or by anybody else, has anything at all to do with enforcing the unlock status of the vast majority of GSM phones on the market. I see no reason to believe that the GSMA would go out of its way to enforce the SIM locking configuration of one particular make of phone (the iPhone) when they don't do it for any other make of phone on the market.

    The iPhone's unlock database is linked to a connection with Apple's servers through iTunes. The simplest explanation which fits the publicly available facts, which thanks to Occam is most likely to be the best explanation, is that Apple maintains the database, and therefore Apple is ultimately in control of the process. However, Apple has contractually obliged itself to obey the wishes of the carrier through whom the phone was sold, and therefore if Sprint sold the phone, then it would be up to Sprint to give Apple permission to remove the lock. In the absence of any such permission, Apple will refuse any request to unlock the phone.

    If you have evidence to the contrary, by all means I'd love to be proven wrong.
  19. aziatiklover, Nov 22, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2011

    aziatiklover macrumors 68030


    Jul 12, 2011
    Location: and
    op why don't you just cancel the contract and return the iphones? If you do that you won't have to pay etf fees then you will be able to repurchase att Iphones with contracts.
  20. Jason black macrumors regular

    Oct 12, 2011
    Why are you even calling apple? Who's fault is it that you bought a sprint iPhone without checking sprint coverage in your area? You shouldn't be calling sprint for nothing else but coverage issues man. Hell, you shouldn't be calling anyone at all. I hope you get it all sorted out but, this is actually your fault. The companies have policies.14 day return ( might be different for other carriers) while you pick any carrier you like...
  21. PinkyMacGodess macrumors 601


    Mar 7, 2007
    Midwest America.
    AT&T doesn't unlock them after you pay the ETF, or so I was told at the AT&T local store. They do not unlock them. Ever... Which sucks...

    Anyone having issues after purchasing an 'official unlocked phone' on their AT&T account? Are they going to get ballistic over me swapping their locked phone with an unlocked model? I figure that if I have to pay an early upgrade fee to get the 4S I might as well get the official unlocked one...

    The cellphone industry sucks (you dry)...
  22. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040


    Sep 8, 2011
    Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    Absolutely not. None of the USA carriers offers official unlocking service. Thanks to this policy, once you buy a carrier-locked phone it is stuck to that carrier forever (unless you jailbreak). Some international carriers will unlock after your contract, this site has a list:

  23. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Mar 26, 2008
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    The OP bought FIVE iPhones without checking to see if there was coverage? Sheesh.
  24. PinkyMacGodess macrumors 601


    Mar 7, 2007
    Midwest America.
    AT&T's stance on unlocking runs counter to my experience with my Windows phone based Treo, and many other 'non-Apple' phones. My Treo, I was able to get AT&T to unlock it after about 6-months in my contract. I just called their customer service number, told them I wanted them to unlock my phone, and I got an email with the code. Simple. The code worked and all was well.

    Now, apparently AT&T just does not unlock iPhones at all which, taking in to account my experience with the Treo, makes less than zero sense. Something made them decide that treating Apple owners as a separate class of customers was defensible and made legal sense.

    One would think that if they will still unlock any phone except iPhones, that there is a very good chance of getting the courts to thwack AT&T with a rolled up newspaper again and get them to stop penalizing iPhone owners. Given the 'logic' that AT&T uses, they will probably decide to lock all devices for eternity rather than start unlocking iPhones. (If left up to congress then, we would be lucky to be able to swap phones ever again)

    The whole industry sucks. Executive pay is out of sight and locking people into exorbitant contracts and holding them to them is just so much like rape that it's not funny. If there were a cheap pay-as-you-go service that used the iPhone, I'd really seriously consider dumping AT&T and their executive compensation class phone plans and throttling is BS. AND they turn over all of our communication to the feds AND get kickbacks and their tummy rubbed in the process... People need to occupy AT&T too...


    How are you to 'check coverage'? Using their 'coverage maps'?

    I lived in a valley with huge hills on three sides. Their 'coverage map' showed a huge solid red 'Covered' blob for miles over my location. The 'signal', if that's what they called it, was nearly non-existent. I don't remember a 'trial period' back then either. I was stuck trying to get my messages when I climbed out of the valley, and getting occasional phone calls in certain areas. Sprint would do nothing about it. After my plan expired, I tossed them like a bad apple...

    My point is that you never really know what you are going to get. Still, there was no indication of an issue with service within the 14 day trial period?

    I wish this person luck. Maybe ebaying the iPhones will help absorb some of the cost but a bad decision is a lesson learned... I stay away from Sprint just based on my experience.

    Funny thing was that the push-to-talk worked better in my location than their cell service. :confused:

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