Now that AT&T no longer has exclusivity, will AT&T offer official iPhone unlocks?

Mentor

Now that AT&T no longer has exclusivity, will AT&T offer official iPhone unlocks?

If I recall correctly, in the past, AT&T's excuse for not unlocking the iPhone was that their policy was to not unlock any phone for which they have an exclulsivity contract. I was hoping this would've changed when Verizon got the iPhone 4, but it didn't... I assume because technically the CDMA iPhone 4 isn't the same as the GSM model.

 

But now all 3 carriers are getting the exact same hardware.Sprint has even confirmed that the GSM side of their iPhone 4S will come unlocked, and Verizon confirmed that they'll unlock the GSM side of their 4S after 60 days of service. So will AT&T start offering unlocks to remain competitive? As it stands now, Sprint and Verizon have the competitive advantage for international users, since their customers won't be forced to sell a kidney to get service in other countries.I've always stuck with AT&T mostly because GSM is a world standard, but it seems like they're doing everything in their power to make that a disadvantage instead of a competitive edge.

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Message 1 of 40
Expert

Re: Now that AT&T no longer has exclusivity, will AT&T offer official iPhone unlocks?


OpenMinde wrote:
I like AT&T service. I want a win-win solution here. I want AT&T to unlock my iPhone after two years to have freedom to do whatever I want. Sprint/Verizon give me that freedom now. If I moved away from AT&T, I lose the features you mentioned. And AT&T lose a customer. Lose-lose. That is not what I want. I have iPhone 2G, 3GS, 4, all on AT&T. I want AT&T to unlock them after two years, not at the beginning of contract, but at tail end of contract.


At this time, nor in the forseeable future the feature is not available. I have a fully paid for Iphone 4 from verizon - I can;t take it to any other carrier, GSM or CDMA. Again there is no difference. Who knows maybe over the next two years it may change, but nothing has at the moment, nor is they any indication it will change.  Right now your win-win solution is another carrier.

 

 

 

Message 16 of 40
Teacher

Re: Now that AT&T no longer has exclusivity, will AT&T offer official iPhone unlocks?

Verizon iPhone 4 is limited by its hardware limitation. There is no GSM radio in CDMA iPhone 4. I don't want to defend Verizon here, but it is a hardware limitation. iPhone 4 is a either CDMA or GSM, not like iPhone 4S which is both CDMA and GSM.
Message 17 of 40
Expert

Re: Now that AT&T no longer has exclusivity, will AT&T offer official iPhone unlocks?


OpenMinde wrote:
Verizon iPhone 4 is limited by its hardware limitation. There is no GSM radio in CDMA iPhone 4. I don't want to defend Verizon here, but it is a hardware limitation. iPhone 4 is a either CDMA or GSM, not like iPhone 4S which is both CDMA and GSM.


And the only companies that have a "win-win" situation is Verizon and Sprint, they can unlock the GSM portion and still gather in the cash for the locked CDMA portion - so how does ATT get the win-win situation?

 

Bottom line - at this time there is zero indication that att will relent in their policy becasue, so as before this is a dead horse, maybe in the future, but maybe not. Please don;t assume this is defenindg ATT's polciy, but defending a copanies right to handle business the way that they feel is best for them - happens all the time in the real world

Message 18 of 40
Scholar

Re: Now that AT&T no longer has exclusivity, will AT&T offer official iPhone unlocks?


wingrider01 wrote:


And the only companies that have a "win-win" situation is Verizon and Sprint, they can unlock the GSM portion and still gather in the cash for the locked CDMA portion - so how does ATT get the win-win situation?

 

Bottom line - at this time there is zero indication that att will relent in their policy becasue, so as before this is a dead horse, maybe in the future, but maybe not. Please don;t assume this is defenindg ATT's polciy, but defending a copanies right to handle business the way that they feel is best for them - happens all the time in the real world


Yeah, they're locked for the CDMA portion. However, I do wonder if unlocking the GSM portion would allow users to use the Verizon/Sprint iPhones on AT&T or T-Mobile. If Verizon/Sprint can selectively block AT&T and T-Mobile, what's preventing AT&T from selectively blocking T-Mobile but allowing use in foreign countries (usually GSM 900/1800MHz band)? Granted, the fact that T-Mobile uses the same 850/1900MHz band at AT&T might be a reason.

 

Right now, AT&T GSM customers would have the option of switching to T-Mobile if their phone is unlocked. That's pretty much the only route. If the AT&T/T-Mobile merger goes through, you effectively have AT&T for GSM and no one else. When that happens, you'd only have AT&T, Verizon and Sprint (if it's still around) to choose from. Verizon and Sprint can lock you in due to device ID. AT&T will be able to lock you in because there's simply no other choice for GSM.

 

You mention a "win-win" situation but right now, it's a win for carriers and a lose for consumers (and no, it's not just AT&T that's at fault). Normally, service providers would try to compete against each other by giving customers better service at a lower price. Unfortunately, that's not what's happening here. Instead, carriers are trying to get exclusivity deals for devices so they can lock in consumers to their service and nickel and dime them to death.

Message 19 of 40
Voyager

Re: Now that AT&T no longer has exclusivity, will AT&T offer official iPhone unlocks?

I have mixed feelings on the sim lock. I believe they have the right to lock it when they sell it to you subsidized, but they should be willing to unlock it after the contract is up or if you are willing to pay a fee. If they unlock it and you leave you still have to pay them the early termination fee so why not unlock it. If their argument is that an unlocked phone can be purchased for full price, then I am willing to do that, but then I also deserve a cheaper rate for owning my own phone since they are not subsidizing my phone. T-mobile has been doing this for a while. I called Verizon today to verify if they will unlock the GSM portion of their phone and they confirmed that they will after 60-90 days of service. That alone is a good enough reason for me to leave ATT. Verizon will also give you $210 for your working ATT  iPhone 4. That should help with the early termination fee. Apple will give you $200 for the same. So most people can ditch ATT if ATT does not want to cooperate and unlock our phones.

Message 20 of 40
Tutor

Re: Now that AT&T no longer has exclusivity, will AT&T offer official iPhone unlocks?

I honestly don't understand why AT&T won't unlock the phone.  It has no financial justification other than customer lock-in.  Unlocking the phone does not release me from my contract and ETF.  And given that they unlock EVERY OTHER PHONE I'm really looking for a honest and realistic justifcation from AT&T.

 

Furthermore, AT&Ts support site says they "cannot" unlock it, which we know to be a lie.  I wish AT&T would be honest and fair.  

 

At this point the cost of the ETF + a VZW iPhone is less than the cost of an unlocked iPhone from Apple directly.  I may have to go that route.  It seems like AT&T really wants to drive customers away.

Message 21 of 40
Expert

Re: Now that AT&T no longer has exclusivity, will AT&T offer official iPhone unlocks?


Frylock wrote:

I honestly don't understand why AT&T won't unlock the phone.  It has no financial justification other than customer lock-in.  Unlocking the phone does not release me from my contract and ETF.  And given that they unlock EVERY OTHER PHONE I'm really looking for a honest and realistic justifcation from AT&T.

 

Furthermore, AT&Ts support site says they "cannot" unlock it, which we know to be a lie.  I wish AT&T would be honest and fair.  

 

At this point the cost of the ETF + a VZW iPhone is less than the cost of an unlocked iPhone from Apple directly.  I may have to go that route.  It seems like AT&T really wants to drive customers away.



The gsm iphone is still exclusive to ATT. What I would find interesting is that when and if ATTdecides to offer a unlock service for the iphone, that they would only offer it for the Iphone 4S and not any of the previous units or they just offer to unlock the CDMA portion of the phone, like the other carrier is supposed to do.

 

Have still not seen a statement from a Verizon Executive that they will truely unlock the Iphone 4S, just 5th estate statements and a comment from someone that said a tier 1 CSR said they will. This unlock rumor also included Sprint in the statement, that has since been debunked by a Sprint executive.  Would suggest that you actually try a CDMA iphone before you make a decision, abilities that you take for granted on the GSM version do not work the same way on the CDMA model.

Message 22 of 40
Scholar

Re: Now that AT&T no longer has exclusivity, will AT&T offer official iPhone unlocks?


wingrider01 wrote:


The gsm iphone is still exclusive to ATT. What I would find interesting is that when and if ATTdecides to offer a unlock service for the iphone, that they would only offer it for the Iphone 4S and not any of the previous units or they just offer to unlock the CDMA portion of the phone, like the other carrier is supposed to do.


I don't think AT&T can "unlock" the CDMA portion of the phone. Actually, I don't think it's even locked in the first place. If even the unlocked iPhone 4S is limited to GSM, I reckon the AT&T iPhone would be similarly limited. I know both Verizon and Sprint work by ID on the device itself. What device ID is actually used, I have no idea.

Message 23 of 40
Expert

Re: Now that AT&T no longer has exclusivity, will AT&T offer official iPhone unlocks?


hnzw_rui wrote:

wingrider01 wrote:


The gsm iphone is still exclusive to ATT. What I would find interesting is that when and if ATTdecides to offer a unlock service for the iphone, that they would only offer it for the Iphone 4S and not any of the previous units or they just offer to unlock the CDMA portion of the phone, like the other carrier is supposed to do.


I don't think AT&T can "unlock" the CDMA portion of the phone. Actually, I don't think it's even locked in the first place. If even the unlocked iPhone 4S is limited to GSM, I reckon the AT&T iPhone would be similarly limited. I know both Verizon and Sprint work by ID on the device itself. What device ID is actually used, I have no idea.



No idea either, although the apple site has a interesting note that the unlocked Iphone 4S that they are selling will NOT go on Sprint or Verizon services.. I linked the policy in one of the other threads on this

Message 24 of 40
Mentor

Re: Now that AT&T no longer has exclusivity, will AT&T offer official iPhone unlocks?

CDMA is different than GSM in that regard. From what I understand, there is no subsidy lock per se, but Sprint and Verizon have the discretion to only activate phones that were sold by them. Unlike with GSM, there's no FCC regulation requiring CDMA carriers to allow unlocked devices to be used on their network. If you can find a carrier that's willing to activate any MEID, you could probably even use an AT&T iPhone 4S on a CDMA carrier... unless Apple artificially limits that capability

 

Those who are saying that AT&T will be the only one with a GSM iPhone are wrong. The hardware is identical between all 3 carriers. If Verizon and Sprint fully unlock their phones (which seems to be what they'll do) there's no reason those phones can't work on AT&Ts network. 

Message 25 of 40

Re: Now that AT&T no longer has exclusivity, will AT&T offer official iPhone unlocks?

Right, but at that point you'd pay whatever you paid for the phone + a likely $325-$350 termination fee to take the phone from Verizon or Sprint to AT&T or any other GSM carrier. If you absolutely, positively have to have a SIM-unlocked phone, why not wait for Apple to release 1 in November? Then you're not beholden to anyone.

 

And while I think AT&T should unlock out-of-contract iPhones, I don't make the rules.

 


TerraPhantm wrote:

CDMA is different than GSM in that regard. From what I understand, there is no subsidy lock per se, but Sprint and Verizon have the discretion to only activate phones that were sold by them. Unlike with GSM, there's no FCC regulation requiring CDMA carriers to allow unlocked devices to be used on their network. If you can find a carrier that's willing to activate any MEID, you could probably even use an AT&T iPhone 4S on a CDMA carrier... unless Apple artificially limits that capability

 

Those who are saying that AT&T will be the only one with a GSM iPhone are wrong. The hardware is identical between all 3 carriers. If Verizon and Sprint fully unlock their phones (which seems to be what they'll do) there's no reason those phones can't work on AT&Ts network. 




Message 26 of 40
Mentor

Re: Now that AT&T no longer has exclusivity, will AT&T offer official iPhone unlocks?


dww0311 wrote:

Did a little research and I stand corrected. They will allow you to purchase a local micro-SIM. Not bad ...

 

You still lose your home number while it's switched though, which can be annoying. I've always just used my prepaid cell (got it from Orange in London) when in Europe.


I've traveled internationally before, I'm well aware of losing my local number - I am perfectly fine with that. It's not much different than my current situation (jailbroken iPhone 4... I don't give a crap about warranty before anyone says anything). It'd just be nice not to have to worry about finding an exploit in the baseband, hoping an update doesn't break it, etc....

Message 27 of 40
Mentor

Re: Now that AT&T no longer has exclusivity, will AT&T offer official iPhone unlocks?


BadBadLeroyBrown wrote:

Right, but at that point you'd pay whatever you paid for the phone + a likely $325-$350 termination fee to take the phone from Verizon or Sprint to AT&T or any other GSM carrier. If you absolutely, positively have to have a SIM-unlocked phone, why not wait for Apple to release 1 in November? Then you're not beholden to anyone.

 

And while I think AT&T should unlock out-of-contract iPhones, I don't make the rules.

 


TerraPhantm wrote:

CDMA is different than GSM in that regard. From what I understand, there is no subsidy lock per se, but Sprint and Verizon have the discretion to only activate phones that were sold by them. Unlike with GSM, there's no FCC regulation requiring CDMA carriers to allow unlocked devices to be used on their network. If you can find a carrier that's willing to activate any MEID, you could probably even use an AT&T iPhone 4S on a CDMA carrier... unless Apple artificially limits that capability

 

Those who are saying that AT&T will be the only one with a GSM iPhone are wrong. The hardware is identical between all 3 carriers. If Verizon and Sprint fully unlock their phones (which seems to be what they'll do) there's no reason those phones can't work on AT&Ts network. 





I don't have any particular attachment to AT&T - I want an unlock so I can travel internationally without having to spend my life savings to make phone calls. If Verizon offers me that, then I'll gladly switch over. They have better coverage here anyway. 

 

I'll give AT&T a couple months, but if they want to keep me as a customer long term, they're going to have to change their unlock policy.

Message 28 of 40

Re: Now that AT&T no longer has exclusivity, will AT&T offer official iPhone unlocks?

I'd wait and see how Verizon comes to define customers "in good standing". AT&T used to require that customers have 6 months of on-time payments before being considered for phone unlocks, international roaming, etc.

 

So you're saying essentially that you're too cheap to buy a SIM-unlocked phone at the full retail price? You want AT&T to subsidize it, but then don't want to use AT&T's network when traveling internationally. I think AT&T may come around on eventually unlocking out-of-contract phones, but I wouldn't hold my breath on them unlocking still in-contract phones. They don't really want to make it easier for grey market salesmen to port these to countries where the iPhone hasn't officially been launched.

 


TerraPhantm wrote:

BadBadLeroyBrown wrote:

Right, but at that point you'd pay whatever you paid for the phone + a likely $325-$350 termination fee to take the phone from Verizon or Sprint to AT&T or any other GSM carrier. If you absolutely, positively have to have a SIM-unlocked phone, why not wait for Apple to release 1 in November? Then you're not beholden to anyone.

 

And while I think AT&T should unlock out-of-contract iPhones, I don't make the rules.

 


TerraPhantm wrote:

CDMA is different than GSM in that regard. From what I understand, there is no subsidy lock per se, but Sprint and Verizon have the discretion to only activate phones that were sold by them. Unlike with GSM, there's no FCC regulation requiring CDMA carriers to allow unlocked devices to be used on their network. If you can find a carrier that's willing to activate any MEID, you could probably even use an AT&T iPhone 4S on a CDMA carrier... unless Apple artificially limits that capability

 

Those who are saying that AT&T will be the only one with a GSM iPhone are wrong. The hardware is identical between all 3 carriers. If Verizon and Sprint fully unlock their phones (which seems to be what they'll do) there's no reason those phones can't work on AT&Ts network. 





I don't have any particular attachment to AT&T - I want an unlock so I can travel internationally without having to spend my life savings to make phone calls. If Verizon offers me that, then I'll gladly switch over. They have better coverage here anyway. 

 

I'll give AT&T a couple months, but if they want to keep me as a customer long term, they're going to have to change their unlock policy.




Message 29 of 40
Scholar

Re: Now that AT&T no longer has exclusivity, will AT&T offer official iPhone unlocks?


hnzw_rui wrote:

wingrider01 wrote:


The gsm iphone is still exclusive to ATT. What I would find interesting is that when and if ATTdecides to offer a unlock service for the iphone, that they would only offer it for the Iphone 4S and not any of the previous units or they just offer to unlock the CDMA portion of the phone, like the other carrier is supposed to do.


I don't think AT&T can "unlock" the CDMA portion of the phone. Actually, I don't think it's even locked in the first place. If even the unlocked iPhone 4S is limited to GSM, I reckon the AT&T iPhone would be similarly limited. I know both Verizon and Sprint work by ID on the device itself. What device ID is actually used, I have no idea.


CDMA carriers like Verizon and Sprint use what is called an ESN (electronic serial number) which is hardcoded into the phone and has nothing to do with the SIM. That ESN gets locked to a carrier's database when the phone is activated, and all the other CDMA carriers know about it. This is why you can't take a CDMA phone that is registered on one carrier's database and activate it on another carrier. The ESN comes back as locked when they check.It's a function of the carrier's data systems, in which the phone is just a passive participant.

 

Contrast that to GSM carriers like AT&T, in which the software in the phone itself prevents use. A GSM phone is an active participant in the registration process. In order to change that, the software in the phone itself has to be changed.

 

For CDMA carriers, it's just a matter of some keystrokes to delete the ESN record from their database. Very diffferent animals.

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