Type ‘unlocking iPhone’ into Google and your resultant search will unleash a torrent of suggestions as to why you should have your device unlocked. For those outside the techno-sphere, unlocking basically enables phone users to insert SIM cards into various other mobile models, which had previously been locked to one network provider.
Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? Yet few websites actually tell users how they themselves can unlock their phones. Why? Well, actually unlocking a phone isn’t an easy task. Even tech minded geeks are left scratching their heads over the technicalities. But there’s also another reason, which concerns legality: is the process of unlocking an iPhone considered illegal?
It’s a contentious issue and one which needs some sort of clarification. The information below attempts to debunk some of the most popular rumours circulating about unlocking. But readers must bear-in-mind that laws will vary according to their country of residence, so it’s best to do some further research before deciding to have your phone unlocked.
1. Unlocking an iPhone is legal
Although this point is sure to raise eyebrows, it’s important to understand exactly what constitutes legal and illegal unlocking.
First, the legal bit. Apple’s ability to strike deals with multiple phone networks has been imperative to the products global success. Apple have partnered with many of the world’s largest networks to bolster the iPhones marketability. AT&T, Verizon, 3, O2… they’re just some of the networks which offer the handset to customers.
However iPhones are usually locked to specific networks, which means if you were to put a Vodafone SIM card into an Orange iPhone, it wouldn’t work. This is meant to stop users from switching to rival networks or opting for cheaper deals. Unlocking will remove these restrictions, allowing users to operate the phone using a SIM card from another network.
After unlocking the device you can use the iPhone to text, call and search the internet using a different network SIM. And as long as you abide by your pre-contractual agreement with your network, you will not get into any legal trouble for this.
The iffy bits concern practices called iPhone ‘box breaking’ and ‘jail breaking’, which are both 100% illegal in most countries. Jail breaking alters the iPhone’s technological capabilities. A jail broken phone allows users to download apps, games and data, which had previously been incompatible with the iPhone.
You can read about these illegal practices and more iPhone unlocking legal issues here.
Whilst the process of unlocking an iPhone in order to use another networks SIM card may not be considered illegal, it is important to realise that doing so will almost certainly affect your warranty.
There is currently no law in the UK, which says you can’t unlock your iPhone. But doing so could breach of your contractual agreement with your iPhone operator. Many networks candidly state in their terms and conditions that they will not service a faulty, unlocked, phone, so it may be best to check with your network beforehand.
3. Unlocking doesn’t have to be done underground.
A common myth suggests unlocking a device will in some way cause irreparable damage to your phone. This isn’t the case. Nowadays you can get your phone unlocked by reputed service providers, who have the knowhow and experience to get the job done well. Rest assured that getting your iPhone unlocked won’t involve you bartering with some shifty market trader, but equally it’s also important not to be tempted into doing the job yourself.
Although there are plenty of websites which will offer you advice and guidance on unlocking, the chances of making a mistake are still too high; especially if you have no clue what you’re doing. For those who can’t resist a technical challenge, it’s worth checking the sites reputability before taking their advice on board.