AT&T begins unlocking qualified, off-contract iPhones

AT&T begins unlocking qualified, off-contract iPhones

As promised, AT&T has begun unlocking qualified, off-contract iPhones. iMore forum member iPhonejunkie3 reports that the process wasn't swift, but it was effective:

Today, 4/8/12, I called AT&T to unlock my contract free 3GS. Took 30 minutes on T's end to get the unlock code, and only 5 minutes to perform a backup and restore via iTunes. Interestingly enough, the phone number shows as NA in the iTunes screen. Same IMEI and ICCID if you click on the same spot.

According to AT&T, the requirements to receive an official unlock are:

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 enters to iPhone's IMEI number into Apple's database and the next time the iPhone is connected to iTunes, Apple will authorize and perform the unlock. It's an unusual but fairly straightforward process.

Again, kudos to AT&T for seeing the light and providing this service to their customers.

If you're calling AT&T today to request your official iPhone unlock, jump into our forums and let us know how it goes for you.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

AT&T begins unlocking qualified, off-contract iPhones


I still don't understand why they won't unlock phones that are still on contract. If you take it to another carrier, you would have to pay an ETF anyway.
I'm still on contract with my iPhone 4. I would have to pay an ETF to unlock so I can use it in the UK but still want to stay on AT&T while home in the U.S. Now tell me that makes sense.

They actually will do that. If you are willing to pay the ETF, then they will unlock the phone for you.

What he's saying is: He's still on contract, but may want to use his phone overseas with a different, local provider. He doesn't want to leave AT&T and will still be paying his monthly premium. So the question remains: Why can't we just have our phones unlocked upon request?

They don't want you to do this, and they don't want to give you an upper hand when reselling the phone.
I buy a new iPhone every year, and sell mine as soon as I'm sure a new one's release date is within a month. I wish I could get them to unlock my iPhone, but I doubt they'll be willing.

I understand, but it doesn't make sense that I have to pay an ETF even when I will continue to be a customer.

Now, I have checked with AT&T, recently, (2 months ago) about paying my ETF on one of my lines (just because. . .) and I was told by two different operators that I could not do this and keep my current service/status with AT&T Wireless. I was told that if I did this, then It would terminate that line. (And I would have 30-days to pick my number up, again)

OK, so I was on the phone for ~15-20 minutes. I have an iPhone 4 for which I paid my ETF last year when I had to cancel my contract as I was moving to Spain, and an iPhone 3G prior to that (which I upgraded to the 4). I requested the unlock for both.
First for the iPhone 4, they asked for the IMEI and they checked my eligibility. Then they submitted a case, saying that they need to get approval to issue the unlock code, and that I should expect the resolution of the case by April 16th!!!! So I guess I'll have to wait... well, I've waited this long I guess I don't mind another week...
Then they asked for the iPhone 3G IMEI and checked my eligibility again, and submitted another case with the same resolution date.
Let's see how this pans out...

This makes me think I will be staying with AT&T. I had all but decided I didn't like them anymore because of all the stuff they have been pulling lately.

Just got off the phone from AT&T and yes it's true, as long as you are eligible, they will unlock your iPhone. They text me my case and will wait for my unlock code thru my email and instructions for unlocking my iPhone-4.

license suspended. gienttg into auto accidents are serious situations. you need to follow these steps if you have been in one. car insurance companies work by a specific formula which calculates quotes based on factors such as age, type of vehicle, driving record, credit scores and myriad risk

Today I went to my local AT&T store to look at some new phones and inquire about this new unlocking policy, and the AT&T staff were totally clueless and unaware of it. They said it was news to them. So I showed them this article, and a few other articles relevant to it. They were actually pretty happy about it too, as several of them had iPhones off contract, but still SIM-locked to AT&T. So I made their day. LOL

Hi, I would like to unlock my iPhone the problem is that I'm not in the US and I bought it from someone here so I don't have an AT&T account.
Do you know if I may be able to do it?

When I called, they did ask for my account but I haven't used any service from AT&T so they couldn't find my account. All that really matters is that you have you IMEI.

Would you mind trying with my IMEI? I'm afraid my accent will prevent them from trying to unlock my iPhone (I'm from Uruguay, South America)

Well, I wish it went that well for me. Sadly, at&t wants me to fax a receipt to them before they will issue the unlock code. Sadly I don't have a fax machine at home so hopefully one of the free online fax services will do the trick. Lucky for me I have the receipt!!

Ok so I know this is about AT&T& but I had a question about canadian company's like bell do they unlock there phones in Canada I had call them about this befor and they told me to take it to the apple store and they will unlock it for me is this true?

Does anyone think that this new development will in any way help the iPhone hackers and jailbreakers figure out a way to unlock the notorious Modem Baseband 4.11.08? Just wondering.

I called att and they said that in order to unlock my iPhone 3G, the customer who owned the phone would have to call att and have it unlocked. Plus, the account has to be in good standing and the phone off-contract. I bought the phone on ebay so I can't do anything about it.
This story is not true because it seems as if anyone could unlock their phones. I think somebody needs to check their sources.

How is this story not true? It says "AT&T begins unlocking qualified, off-contract iPhones" which is exactly what they're doing. Note it says "qualified" and "off-contract". It also outlines AT&T's conditions pretty clearly: "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."

I wonder what it means maximum Five unlocks in a year? Just how many unlocks does one IPhone need? What happens if one decides that T Mobile has a pay as you go plan at 100.00 good for a year and one switches from the AT&T's current best fort two IPhones for 104.00 or so per month we are paying now and hardly use the service.
Wonder if the change can go seamlessly to the T Mobile for 8.50 per month?
I really do not want to leave AT&T but if it had not been for the love of the I Phone they would have made it easy to leave them in the dust. We have been their customer for the past 40+ years except fora while when we had no choice about it. We really do not mind paying for a service we can use well, but it just so happens the reception where we live really sucks, but We have put up with it for the past 6 + years. We will wait and see how this unlock will help us to save some Dollars.
We sure could have used this unlock a couple of years back when we had lots of consulting work overseas and bought a phone for every country we worked in due to the very high price for use of theIPhone. Before I leave I will still try to make a better deal than we have right now. I gave them enough feedback and they just might come up with something to match the competition.

Can a prepaid sim card work on the 1st gen Iphone? My frenid's about to upgrade and he said he was gonna give me his 1st gen. I have t-mobile prepaid service so should I bother trying this, or is this a waste of time? I am sticking with prepaid btw.