How do I get my phone unlocked from abroad?
April 23, 2012 1:32 AM   Subscribe

iPhone 3gs filter: I've tried to get my iphone unlocked with AT&T, but they've closed the account on me without my knowledge, but sent me an instruction to unlock it anyway based on my previous submission. I can't tell if the phone is unlocked, what are my options here?

I've had my iPhone 3gs with 4.2.1 version for 3 years now, purchased in the U.S. I am abroad now and wanted to be able to use my iPhone here and tried to get it unlocked through AT&T. I made the request through their online livechat and they asked me to wait a week for the phone to be unlocked. Since then, I've received an email saying there's no phone number associated to the account and that the account has been closed during my stay abroad.

Then yesterday, I received an email with the procedure to backup and restore via iTunes. When I tried restoring with backup a few times, I've had messages popping up that said 'the phone could not be restored because of an error'. So I clicked the restore button under 'check for update' icon on iTunes, then clicked restore from backup. At the end, I didn't see the 'Congratulations your iPhone is unlocked' message that, according to other sites, should've appeared.

Now when I go to settings on my phone, the phone category is grayed out. In addition, the phone still does not recognize wifi, and hasn't been for a while, even before the restoring. Even though wifi recognition issue existed before, the phone recognized it for a few weeks after I arrived in this country, so I am not sure what made it change. I am in a fairly well wi-fi'd country in Asia.

Sorry if my message is all over the place. Apparently the phone cannot be unlocked here as the phone originated in the states.

The second restoring process (restoring, then restoring from backup), ended without an error. But now, everything's erased excluding my contact info.

Is my option for this iPhone just to use as a paper weight? I am thinking of replacing the battery here so I can at least use it as a media player, but I'd like to be able to use it as a phone here.

What are my options, please? I'd appreciate any insight.
posted by icollectpurses to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm sure you've already done this, so sorry if I'm just stating the obvious here, but have you tried to put a cheap pre-paid account sim card in it?
posted by lalala1234 at 6:29 AM on April 23, 2012

I am not sure if that's doable...I'll look into it here, thanks.
posted by icollectpurses at 7:44 AM on April 23, 2012

I'm not sure you can unlock the older OS versions; you may need to upgrade to 5.1. In either case this article says you should see a "congratulations" message.
posted by chairface at 11:06 PM on April 23, 2012

Is there an Apple Store near you?

I recently took my mother's iPhone 3gs to get a new battery here in Sydney, and for the price of the battery replacement, they gave me an entirely new 3gs (presumably refurbished) . When I expressed my surprise, I was told "it's easier than having you wait around". I have no idea if this is policy everywhere, but it could be worth looking into, as it'd solve both your problems.

Either way, an Apple Store could advise you what the options are. As an owner of a bunch of Apple gear, I've always had good experiences there.
posted by Georgina at 1:50 AM on April 24, 2012

There isn't an Apple store here. Only repair shops and they charge approximately $180 to replace batteries. I was able to get it replaced for much less tho. I guess I just have a paper weight in my hand.
posted by icollectpurses at 12:23 AM on April 25, 2012

That's a pity.

One last thing you could try: Apple has support numbers in many Asian countries. They might be able to give you some suggestions as to how to get the phone unlocked, and also on your wi-fi issue.

It seems ridiculous that you cannot use a phone you've paid for.
posted by Georgina at 3:53 AM on April 25, 2012

I was able to get the battery replaced from an independent service provider at a much cheaper price, but no luck on getting the phone unlocked. I'll be using it as an itouch.
posted by icollectpurses at 8:11 PM on May 26, 2012

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