Will cancelling your AT&T Contract net you an unlocked iPhone?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by SuitCase, Jun 30, 2007.

  1. SuitCase macrumors newbie


    Jun 30, 2007
    Sydney, Australia
    Simple question, right?

    I have been eagerly following the iPhone launch in NetNewsWire, IRC and all manner of forums like this, but I haven't seen a conclusive answer to the following question:

    If I buy an iPhone, sign up for a 2 year AT&T contract, then immediately notify them I want to pull out, will I then have the ability to use the iPhone with another provider?

    I would assume "no", however I have read that it is legally required for US providers to allow you to request an unlocked phone once it is out of contract. What else would that $175 fee be for anyway?

    Anyone who knows would really be a great help to me. Otherwise I'll call up AT&T and ask directly once the weekend is over and people have stopped freaking out ;)
  2. brbubba macrumors 6502


    May 20, 2006
    As far as I know the law was changed so that it was 100% legal to unlock your own phone, no actual requirement for companies to unlock it for you. Although I have read of plenty of people getting ATT stores to unlock phones for them, it seems very doubtful that they would do this for you, assuming they even have the capability. I would just give them a ring.

    So what is your purpose in doing this? You going over to Tmobile?
  3. Twinkie macrumors regular

    Feb 9, 2005
    Milford, MI
    The short answer: no.

    Oh, you can request all you want. That's always been legal. It doesn't mean the carrier has to do it for you.

    You either misunderstood what you read, or it was written by someone who misunderstood the recent ruling.

    All the ruling said was that the software that makes locking phones possible is not subject to copyright law. Put another way: breaking the lock is not a violation of the DMCA -- but only if there's a standalone application for the lock.

    In the case of the iPhone, if you happened to find "ATTLOCK.APP" in the embedded OS X, you could legally tinker with it to unlock your phone. However, you couldn't break anything in OS X to get to it, and you couldn't reverse-engineer any other part of the underlying OS without violating the DMCA (or license agreement with Apple).

    So, no, carriers have no obligation to unlock a phone for you. Traditionally, Cingular would unlock a phone for you if you had an account for 90 days, and said you were traveling overseas. Though, I would think that their contract with Apple prevents them from handing out unlock codes in September.
  4. babakd90 macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2006
    I'd really wanna do the same. I called ATT and they didn't have a clear response. They did tell me that the iPhone is locked onto their network (no really?) but would not say whether or not its unlockable. Maybe I just got an amateur rep? I'm going to call again.

    My reason for doing this is that I wanna take the phone to Canada and use it there...I'm here for the summer so I thought I might buy the iPhone now since it probably wont come out in Canada for at least a few months. Canadians are far behind the world in everything that goes on :(
  5. DeathChill macrumors 68000

    Jul 15, 2005
    Uh, I don't think we're far behind; generally we get everything at the exact same time.
  6. matthutch macrumors regular

    Jul 26, 2004
    Perth, Western Australia

    Any more on this? Did you happen to get a clear answer from AT&T yet?

    I am really interested in this too, as I will be in the US shortly and would like to buy one, unlock it and bring it back to AUS.
  7. feelthefire macrumors 6502a

    Jun 13, 2006
    well, if you activate and immediately cancel not only do you not get an unlocked phone, but you don't even get to keep the phone at all. You have to pay the ETF to get to keep the phone. And even then, it's still not unlocked, and if the OEM (apple) didn't provide AT&T with unlock codes not only will they not want to do it for you, they can't.
  8. matthutch macrumors regular

    Jul 26, 2004
    Perth, Western Australia
    Hi feelthefire,

    sorry i wasn't really clear. What i meant was buy one in the US, use it while I am there, which will be for about 3 months, and then when leaving pay the early termination fee etc and unlock the phone so I can use it in AUS upon my return.

    Obviously I wouldn't have access to the Visual voice mail etc, the main thing is I don't want to buy one there bring it back here and then have to buy a new one in 2008 so I can use it here.

    I know this has been asked a million times before, sorry, I'm just interested to hear what AT&T actually have to say about it. More specifically if Apple has given them the codes to unlock (as you mentioned).

  9. SpaceJello macrumors 6502

    Dec 2, 2006
    I am curious about this as well, as I am travel alot and change SIM cards in my phones when I am in different countries - one being Canada. Would the data part of the iphone still work in Canada (assuming its Rogers that's getting the iphone?) cause of EDGE chips/different data transfer etc.
  10. SuitCase thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jun 30, 2007
    Sydney, Australia
    Thank you so much for the clear and succint responses - I totally understand now, and can see where I got my misconceptions. I have bought an iPhone and will have it sent to me in Australia, but I have an American girlfriend who could potentially sign up and cancel to get the thing unlocked and usable.

    I suppose the question remaining is whether AT&T do provide unlock codes on requests. I'd love input from anyone who knows about this, otherwise I'll call up AT&T in a few days when I have the time\energy. I will update this thread if I get an answer.

    Here's hoping for an "ATTLOCK.APP" exploit, though! ;)
  11. padrino121 macrumors member

    Apr 5, 2004
    I'm using this post as an example but I am referring to all of them below.

    Although the thrust of most are correct, you can legally unlock your phone however the carrier is not obligated to help, the background and relation to the DMCA is misquoted frequently. If you want the real answer request a legal opinion from a qualified lawyer.

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