Apple says unlocked iPhones likely to become inoperable after update

Apple's response to iPhone unlocking tools has been to release a statement that unlocking an iPhone may make it "permanently inoperable" if future iPhone software updates are installed on it. The news comes as little surprise after Steve Jobs referred to dealing with iPhone unlock hacks as a "constant cat and mouse game" in which Apple will continually attempt to thwart users who want to use the device with a carrier other than those it has signed partnerships with (currently AT&T in the US, O2 in the UK, T-Mobile in Germany, and Orange in France). The company has also been reported to be refusing warranty service to iPhones that have been unlocked or hacked. To back up this policy, Apple's statement included the following: "Users who make unauthorized modifications to the software on their iPhone violate their iPhone software license agreement and void their warranty." It isn't clear whether the next software update, which Apple claims to be on the way this week, will affect only unlocked iPhones or all iPhones that have been jail-broken to allow the install of non-Apple applications (jail-broken iPhones can typically be returned to Apple-approved conditions by simply restoring the device using iTunes). It seems clear that any users who have modified their iPhones at all should restore them to remove all applications and hacks before applying the next update. Most likely those behind the most common iPhone hacks will be hard at work jail-breaking the iPhone again after the update. Users who have unlocked their iPhone's for use with other networks face a less rosy future. Restoring their iPhone will likely not re-lock it. Erica Sadun at The Unofficial Apple Weblog has published some information on how to re-lock an iPhone, but cannot guarantee that it will be sufficient to ensure the iPhone will operate post-update. There is also no guarantee that unlocking solutions will be available for the updated iPhone software in the near future. Perhaps the best option that unlocked iPhone owners have is to put off installing the update for the foreseeable future.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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