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Unlock an AT&T iPhone - what is the "downside"?

1250 Views 8 Replies Latest reply: Jul 4, 2013 4:38 PM by FelipeV RSS
ticedoff8 Calculating status...
Currently Being Moderated
Jul 4, 2013 12:50 PM

I have 2 iPhone 4S purchased on a 2 year contract with AT&T about 1 year ago. These are running the latest IOS - 6.1.3.


We are traveling to the Philippines and want to buy local SIM cards for Globe of Smart while we are there.


Can they actually be unlocked from AT&T's network for use with local SIM cards?


Assuming I can actually unlock the phones from AT&T's network, what is the downside?


Does it mess up iTunes?

Does it break any of the iPhone backups stored on my PC?

Does AT&T "know" I unlocked them when I return to the US and plug in the AT&T SIM?


Or, can I plug in my AT&T SIM card when I return and everything works perfectly?


In the past, I could take my various AT&T supplied phones (Motorola Razr V3 and Ericsson) to any cell phone store in the Philippines and unlock them from the AT&T network stranglehold. Then use the Globe and Smart SIM cards. When I returned to the US, I swapped the SIM card when we landed and everything was perfect.


But, these "smartphones" worry me. I am concerned that I will lose all the content / contacts or erase the phone or the phone will "brick" itself. Or worse, AT&T "finds out" and they will charge me a penalty to rejoin their network.

iPhone 4S, iOS 6.1.3, 3 Phones
  • FelipeV Level 5 Level 5 (4,335 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 4, 2013 2:19 PM (in response to ticedoff8)

    You cannot unlock an iPhone legitimately at a Phillipine shop. If you go down that route, they will hack/jailbreak your phone and you will void the warranty and will forefit any post warranty service from Apple. Hacks bring headaches, such as bricking your phone, etc etc.


    So the only way to get a legitimate unlocked phone is through ATT. Contact them and ask what their unlocking policies are. Since you are in the middle of your contract, you might have to pay the balance of your commitment. If that's too expensive, you might for the same money be able to buy a new unlocked phone from the Apple store.

  • deggie Level 8 Level 8 (44,805 points)
  • Keith Doherty3 Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 4, 2013 2:58 PM (in response to ticedoff8)

    The process is contact your network supplier (AT & T) before leaving the USA
    You request the unlock and pay any fees requested.
    Your network supplier then contacts Apple to request the White listing (Unlocking) of your phone on the iTunes servers.
    Apple do this -It takes anything from 3 days to several weeks to complete.
    On completion Apple confirms this back to your Network supplier (NOT YOU)
    Your network supplier contacts you via SMS inviting you to connect your iPhone with your computer via the supplied USB cable and launch iTunes and follow on screen prompts through to the "Congratulations your iPhone is now unlocked" screen.
    All these steps need to be carried out with the ORIGINAL SIM and by REGISTERED account holder used when setting up the phone.
    Once the Congats...... screen has been reached you can swap out the REGISTERED SIM and replace with a compatable SIM on another network.
    Only the original SIM and Account holder can initiate an unlock- If you bought the phone used/second hand you CAN NOT UNLOCK through official routes
    Once unlocked use of a Mobile Virtual Network SIM may result in difficulties sending SMS messages.
    You may have to go into Setting /Network/Cellular/Cellular Data Network and enter the correct settings manually.
    Further caveat Cellular Data Network menu is SIM card dependant if its not supported you CAN NOT change the settings manually then you may need to contact the SIM card company - They can send a setup SMS if they support this process.
    PRESEE -

  • deggie Level 8 Level 8 (44,805 points)

    AT&T does not charge any fees (the link I provided is what is used to request the unlock.


    It does not need to be the original SIM or registered account holder.


    For AT&T it is no restricted to just the original SIM and account holder.


    The unlock has nothing to do with wheter SMS/MMS etc. will work. Same for settings. All that is true even if you buy an unlocked iPhone from Apple directly, i.e. if it is not an officially supported iPhone cell carrier you may have to enter APN information directly. Authorized carriers will install the information via carrier settings when the phone is activated.


    Again, AT&T has exceptions that will allow someone is is not the registerd account and sim card holdder to officially unlock the iPhone.

  • deggie Level 8 Level 8 (44,805 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 4, 2013 3:37 PM (in response to ticedoff8)

    A) There is NO unlock fee.

    B) Can take up to 5 days, is usually shorter.

    C) If you have not paid off your subsidy you may have to do so to unlock it. AT&T will advise you of this when they respond to your iPhone unlock request.

    D) If you are able to do an official unlock you will have no trouble rejoining AT&Ts network. Have you jailbroken your iPhone?

  • KiltedTim Level 8 Level 8 (35,855 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 4, 2013 3:59 PM (in response to ticedoff8)

    There is no fee to unlock it from AT&T, however, before the phone becomes eligible to be unlocked you will have to pay the Early Termination Fee to terminate the 2 year contract you signed with them. You can continue service with AT&T after that, but will not longer be under any obligation to do so.


    As for your assumptions regarding having the phone "unlocked" in the Philippines,

    A) This can not be discussed here.

    B) This can not be discussed here.

    C) This can not be discussed here.

    D) This can not be discussed here.

  • FelipeV Level 5 Level 5 (4,335 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 4, 2013 4:38 PM (in response to ticedoff8)


    What "warrantee" do I have now? I got the phone from AT&T, not Apple.


    It is irrrelevant whether you got via Apple or ATT. Apple will offer service. If you hack your phone, neither Apple nor ATT will touch the phone after a hack for ANY service, warranty or no warranty.


    You came for advice  and you have been told not to hack your phone. Since you seem to be hellbent on hacking your phone anyways, good luck to you.


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