iPhone unlock goes on sale

iPhoneSIMFree hack costs $50 to $99; preorders to be filled within 48 hours

Several resellers started taking orders today for software that unlocks Apple Inc.'s iPhone.

The one U.S. dealer handling iPhoneSIMFree's unlock -- which lets iPhone owners swap out SIM cards so that the device can make calls on cellular networks other than AT&T's -- listed the hack for $99. According to a sales representative who answered the phone at New York-based Wireless Imports, the reseller is waiting on iPhoneSIMFree to deliver the licenses. Preorders taken today are supposed be filled within 48 hours.

Although Wireless Imports' price is nearly three times more than the highest wholesale per-license cost quoted in an e-mail reportedly sent by iPhoneSIMFree to resellers last week, others have quoted lower prices. An Australian Web site, iPhone Worldwide Unlock, listed the hack for $50 and claimed that it had already received 1,000 orders. A German reseller has also priced the unlock hack at $50.

Like Wireless Imports, the Australian and German dealers are currently taking preorders only.

All three resellers made it a point to stress on their Web sites that they do not guarantee the unlock will survive the next iPhone update from Apple, echoing caveats from the still-unknown developers behind iPhoneSIMFree. Some iPhone owners interested in the unlock may decide that the risk isn't worth it, if only because they will be charged for any future unlock.

"In the event Apple comes out with a new firmware upgrade which will lock your phone again you hereby agree that Wireless Imports nor its vendor will be held liable or responcible [sic] for unlocking your handset again," the company's site states. "If your handset becomes locked you will be charged to unlock it again."

Apple's iPhone updates have required users who installed hacks or work-arounds to restore their devices from scratch, a process that erases the modifications. However, unlike the first firmware update, the 1.0.2 update did not cripple most hacks and allowed them to work once they were reinstalled.

An Irish company that announced its own software-only unlock has been silent on the subject since late last month. UniquePhones last mentioned its iPhone unlock on Aug. 28, when it posted video of an unlock in progress.

Apple did not respond to questions, including whether it will relock the iPhone in a future firmware update or whether it's considering taking legal action against the resellers.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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