AT&T Agrees to Unlock Off-Contract iPhones

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Apple CEO Tim Cook’s office might become a little less busy this weekend, as AT&T has just announced that it will begin to offer iPhone unlocks to month-to-month customers starting this Sunday, April 8. This move will give millions of AT&T customers the option to use alternative GSM carriers at home and abroad with minimal hassle.

AT&T issued the following statement Friday:

Beginning Sunday, April 8, we will offer qualifying customers the ability to unlock their AT&T iPhones. The only requirements are that a customer’s account must be in good standing, their device cannot be associated with a current and active term commitment on an AT&T customer account, and they need to have fulfilled their contract term, upgraded under one of our upgrade policies or paid an early termination fee.

AT&T iPhone UnlockImage via Shutterstock.

Once unlocked, customers will be able to use their iPhones on any compatible network both domestically and abroad, provided they have the correct SIM card.

iPhone owners should note, however, that even though phones such as the iPhone 4S are technically capable of connecting to CDMA networks, such as Verizon, an unlocked AT&T iPhone will only be able to connect to GSM networks.

Also of note, while an unlocked iPhone will work fine with U.S. carrier T-Mobile’s voice network, it will only be able to connect to the carrier’s 3G data network in selected areas. Most of T-Mobile’s 3G network coverage uses frequencies not supported by the iPhone.

The ability to unlock an iPhone has been possible for several years, but was until now unofficial and unsupported by Apple and major carriers. Today’s announcement means that millions of AT&T iPhone customers who have fulfilled their contract agreements are now free to switch carriers based on price, convenience, and travel, all by simply swapping a SIM card.

Today’s news follows the addition of the iPhone to several regional carriers throughout the U.S., and results in the iPhone becoming more accessible to more users throughout the nation.

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Comments

Scott

What about us folks who recently bought factory unlocked iPhone 4s’s that we use on AT&T? I had considered buying a contract model and then paying an early termination fee so i can use another carrier only to discover that even after that, that AT&T would never unlock it.  Now it appears that it would have been cheaper for me to buy a contract model and pay the early termination fee and then have it unlocked. What gives?

Venus5522

Posted this on another forum.  This is nonsense. 

I have a long out of contract 3gs. I tried today to unlock the phone but was told by AT&T that since the phone was purchased at the apple store and not through them they could not provide the instructions to unlock the phone. I have filed a case with them and will wait for 5 days to hear something but was told by the AT&T rep that it is unlikely they will provide the info.

Outrageous.

Called Apple and the apple rep sent me to the AT&T web page that details their policy not to unlock iPhones.

It is all very confusing. I think i may have to write my congressional representatives and the FCC. Enough is enough. After three years the phone has long been paid off and now that is MY phone.

sm77

I have been customer of AT&T for 15 years. I travel to India frequently and stay there for weeks. AT&T has always unlocked in-contract/out of contract phones for me on request (out of contract ones make nice gifts for folks back home) until iPhone. They always said Apple would not let them do it!! I am disappointed that it was AT&T bsing its customers.

Anyway, no need to jailbreak anymore for me.

Tik Tok

I am concerned about the meaning of, “their device cannot be associated with a current and active term commitment on an AT&T customer account”, as quoted above.  We have a family plan on ATT, and the oldest Iphone is out of contract.  Does that language mean that, because, via the family plan, the out-of-contract phone is “associated” with the newer iPhones on the plan, and thus cannot be unlocked?  If so, it’s just another snow job by ATT for an awful lot of us.  Get the family plan and save money—and also get tied into forever contracts.

juicemstr

Just got off the phone w/ att and they opened up a case file and were very polite about it… I should receive my unlock code in about 7-10 days.. can’t wait…

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