Is this carrier unlock on the level?
March 29, 2011 7:08 AM   Subscribe

There's a phone accessory booth in my local mall that claims that they can unlock my iPhone. Are they on the level?

I have an iPhone 3GS that is carrier-locked to Rogers (a Canadian carrier). I'm going to be moving to the United States soon, and so I'll need to either get it unlocked or replace it.

The phone is running iOS 4.2.1, with a baseband that is not amenable to unlock, and is still under warranty, so I've been trying to avoid the baseband + ultrasn0w upgrade trick.

The kiosk operator claimed that I had to give him my phone for 24 hours, and when I got it back it'd be unlocked. This seems a bit odd, so I declined at the time, but if it would work it'd save me loads of money during the move.

Alternate unlock methods would also be welcome. If you can suggest a way I can get Rogers to do it instead, that'd be optimal.
posted by ChrisR to Technology (14 answers total)
I have to agree with Odinsdream. I've never unlocked an iPhone, but I can't imagine it would take a whole day to do. Plus, I would never leave my phone with someone I didn't know.
posted by Telpethoron at 7:13 AM on March 29, 2011

I'd ask for the same, the only reason I can think they'd ask for 24 hours is because they don't actually do it, but know "a guy" who does.
posted by Brian Puccio at 7:14 AM on March 29, 2011

I just have visions of you coming back the next day and not being able to find the kiosk.
posted by staggernation at 7:16 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I might be wrong, but it sounds a little skeevy.

If you were going to try the kiosk guy, I'd encourage you to wipe all your data from the phone before you give it to him. And I'd say don't do it unless you're ready for the possibility that you'll never get your phone back at all.
posted by box at 7:17 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's unlikely, I think, that this kiosk guy, or the guy he knows, is privy to some super-secret unlocking method.

And since you toss around phrases like 'baseband + ultrasn0w upgrade trick,' I have a feeling that you know as much, or more, about this stuff as he does.
posted by box at 7:19 AM on March 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

Read up on unlocking it yourself and figure out if you can do it without having to trust someone else. Check out this and this for information on unlocking.
posted by mewohu at 7:22 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

yeah my expectation would be the same as box's -- if you're on a baseband that cannot be unlocked, he's going to come back and say 'sorry we couldn't do it'.. the unlocking services are just using the same tools that the avg hobbyist mucking about with ultrasnow etc is...

the kiosk thing in and of itself is not shady -- i am assuming you are referring to one of the kiosks in the eaton centre or another mall.. those are legit businesses; if they made a habit of stealing people's phones they wouldn't be in business for very long.
posted by modernnomad at 7:23 AM on March 29, 2011

Apparently Rogers will unlock your phone for $50, but there are conditions. Might be worth checking out though.
posted by cgg at 7:54 AM on March 29, 2011

Yeah, the kiosk people are unlikely to have special tricks that you can't find online. See Can I Unlock My iPhone? — for "My device is an iPhone 3G or 3GS on iOS 4.1 or 4.2," it says "Yes, but very complicated" (which you seem to know already).
posted by dreamyshade at 8:19 AM on March 29, 2011

You might want to try going to Rogers and explaining to them that you're travelling abroad and need to use a local SIM card. When I got my phone from Rogers in an area mostly frequented by international travellers they asked me on the spot if I wanted to unlock it.
posted by btfreek at 8:28 AM on March 29, 2011

I second asking Rogers, as you will get a legit unlock, and you will not have to worry about future upgrades / jailbreaking / etc.
posted by defcom1 at 3:19 PM on March 29, 2011

I don't know about "loads of money." A 3GS is $50 on contract with AT&T and it sounds like you're going to need a new contract, sooooo...
posted by Patbon at 4:27 PM on March 29, 2011

I'd be worried you wouldn't get YOUR phone back, just one that looks like it. Maybe they'd try to snow you by giving you a 3G instead of a 3GS or something. That might be why they'd want to keep it... take the time to clone your apps. Or tell you they had to wipe your phone to get the unlock to work.
posted by IndigoRain at 4:28 PM on March 29, 2011

Response by poster: Hm.

The fact that I'm running a jailbreak right now on 4.2.1, with no SHSH signature -- so I can't downgrade -- is a pain in the ass. Even Rogers' own legit unlock requires a restore, meaning a forced upgrade to 4.3.1.

Okay, this all matches my intuition about the place. Thanks!
posted by ChrisR at 8:34 PM on March 29, 2011

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