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iPhone Unlocking Illegal Starting Saturday, Won’t Stop Users

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On Saturday it will be illegal for consumers to unlock their iPhone to use on another carrier without going through official carrier channels.

The change to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, commonly known as the DMCA, was made back in October, but allowed a 90 day window for consumers to buy and unlock their iPhone or other smartphone without involving their carrier.

On Saturday January 26th, the law changes, making it illegal to unlock your iPhone or other smartphone without carrier approval. This change is not beneficial to most consumers, but it doesn’t look like the law will prevent users from using an unlock service to free their iPhone from a carrier’s grip.

The primary reason to unlock an iPhone is to use it on another carrier. This is handy for users who travel to a foreign country and want to use a local cellular provider without buying a new phone. With an unlocked iPhone it’s possible to put a SIM from a local carrier in and avoid high charges from the U.S. carrier. Right now the only way to get a T-Mobile iPhone 5 is with an unlocked iPhone 5.

Consumers shouldn’t confuse the iPhone 5 unlock with an iPhone 5 jailbreak, which will still be legal after Saturday, even though an iOS 6 jailbreak for the iPad 4 won’t be legal.

Not the End of iPhone Unlocking

Despite the legal change, it doesn’t look like the DMCA will put an end to iPhone unlocking for users who are willing to go against the DMCA.

iPhone unlocking

iPhone unlocking wont stop because of the DMCA.

Chronic Unlocks offers iPhone 5 unlocks as well as unlocking of any iPhone model running any iOS version. The company is in the process of launching a web portal to unlock iPhones, and currently offers iPhone unlocks via email.

In a Tweet this morning Will Strafach, aka @chronic, said that his service should continue working.

An AT&T iPhone unlock is just $25 from Chronic Unlocks and takes place in less than 12 hours. A Verizon Unlock for International SIM only is $120, and a Sprint iPhone 5 unlock is in testing for $175. Chronic Unlocks also supports many international carriers.

Users can Still Buy Unlocked iPhones

The Verizon iPhone 5 is already unlocked, so users should not need to pay for an unlock in most cases. Apple also sells an unlocked iPhone 5 direct to consumers, but many users may be turned off by the $649 starting price.

The Nexus 4 is a new flagship smartphone from Google that is sold unlocked starting at $300, which offers a more attractive price for consumers.

AT&T will unlock an iPhone that users buy from AT&T under certain conditions, but this option is not enough for every user.

Josh Smith is Editor of GottaBeMobile and Notebooks.com. He's always looking for ways to help you get the most of your gear and loves to talk about tech on radio and TV. Josh uses an iOS and Android devices as well as Mac and Windows Computers. Josh Smith on Google+ Email: [email protected]

20 Comments

  1. Pizik Spaeth

    01/25/2013 at 2:43 pm

    Crazy idea. If you buy a contract then pay off the contract period. If you want to unlock to use another carrier during the period that you are paying another carrier then who are they to judge; so long as you pay both carriers.
    Buy contract-free or pay full contract balance. If not you are stealing the subsidy. Unlocking is not the issue here, it is people stealing phones or breaching contracts. If those situations are not actionable in the USA then you guys are changing the wrong laws.

    • helena

      03/29/2013 at 7:27 am

      Well, many people are not customer of ATT but have a ATT phone some how, for these people, just go search ATT iphone unlocking in google, you will have tons of “pros” doing it, I think I picked the first one and payed 30 dollars, after about 3 hours, my 5 is unlocked.

      • david

        04/24/2013 at 7:42 am

        I have used unlockallcellular.com for unlocking my 4s, but it took them more than 5 weeks to do it, such a waste of time.

      • rowen

        04/25/2013 at 7:17 am

        I tried to unlock my 4s by using att-iphone-unlockcom, but it took them 5 weeks to do it, and after I restart my phone, it’s locked again. Just so you folks know, be careful while picking unlocking sites.

        • flo

          05/17/2013 at 6:01 am

          The actual site is attiphoneunlocking, did 2 phones so far, guess the one you use is a SCAM using similar address

    • carolina

      05/01/2013 at 7:29 am

      there are those 5 dollar sites doing unlocks, but they are scams, people do NOT buy them, once you paid, they will never reply

  2. 24Hour Unlock

    02/03/2013 at 7:35 am

    It hasn’t stopped our sales, We offer unlocks cheaper at $17 per unlock and we haven’t noticed unlocks dropping since the bill was passed, To be honest it was ridiculous that it was at all, as anyone has a right to unlock their iPhone or iDevice, if they paid for it then it should be theirs to do as they wish!!

  3. flo

    02/07/2013 at 3:57 am

    As we can see, ATT is the cheapest, I google att iphone unlocking and those “pro” sites provide me similar prices, picked one and it’s done

  4. Steven FArr

    02/15/2013 at 11:56 am

    There are many sites out there that our offering unlock services. One thing I have lookied into is that ATT is not the cheapest way to unlock your phone. ATT Takes up to 6 days to process your unlock. Sites like http://www.stevensiphoneservice.com offer a factory unlock for cheap and usually process takes around 4 hours

  5. John Smith

    02/24/2013 at 9:32 am

    Laws regarding unlocking of cell phones have changed for individuals in the USA. As of January 26th, 2013, it will be illegal to unlock devices that are manufactured AFTER this date for USA phones, phones made BEFORE this date are still 100% legal to unlock. This law can be completely ignored by clients outside of the USA in foreign countries. I just factory unlocked my SmartPhone at http://iUnlockSmartPhones.com for JUST $4.75

  6. John Smith

    02/26/2013 at 7:07 pm

    Factory Unlock your iPhone 3Gs 4 4S 5 for Just $4.75 At http://iUnlockSmartPhones.com

  7. iphone unlock

    03/08/2013 at 2:50 am

    Ive unlocked my iphone a few months ago trough http://www.attiphoneunlocking.com – They provide quite professional unlock services they were also pretty fast with the unlock they done it in less than an hour

  8. patrick

    03/25/2013 at 8:49 am

    Have actually tried attiphoneunlocking site, it unlocked my phone pretty fast, 4 hours, and i only had to send the imei

  9. Patti

    04/30/2013 at 8:36 pm

    You can legally unlock any iPhone that was manufactured after 1/26/1013. The law only applies to phones made after that date. Got my phone UNLOCKED at Unlocktec.com for 5.99 in a few hours and it works great! I highly recommend those guys!

  10. Jennifer

    05/29/2013 at 8:43 pm

    Sorry, this may be a stupid questions, but how do you know when your iPhone was manufactured?

  11. jailbreakhome01

    06/25/2013 at 1:21 pm

    .

  12. jailbreakhome01

    06/25/2013 at 1:22 pm

    Actually, it won’t affect you if you bought your iPhone before January this year. Glad I bought mine last December. Did an iPhone Factory Unlock by getting a service at http://jailbreakhome.com/iphone-factory-unlock

  13. Hogyhogy

    08/01/2013 at 5:37 am

    I know a good site for ATT users who is having trouble unlocking their phone, it’s attiphoneunlocking, the most reliable unlocking site I have ever use.

  14. Hogyhogy

    08/01/2013 at 5:44 am

    I know a good site for ATT users who is having trouble unlocking their phone, it’s attiphoneunlocking, the most reiable unlocking site I have ever use.

  15. Andy Sinclair-Hall (@andrewsh)

    02/26/2014 at 7:13 am

    STAY AWAY from Chronic Unlocks !! It might have been different before, but he appears to now be scamming! It’s been 45 days and can’t get an email response. Opened up a Paypal dispute…

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