General Question

Jellie's avatar

What is this issue of iPhones having to be factory unlocked?

Asked by Jellie (6474 points ) October 18th, 2011

If I buy a phone from here people keep telling me it has to be factory unlocked. My mom is in Dubai right now and I want her to get me the phone from there but someone told me it will be factory locked and so you won’t be able to use it here. Why would a phone you buy from any other country be locked. I understand in America they are probably locked because they used to be only with AT&T. I don’t even understand the whole deal! Help.

I don’t live in the States, if that info is relevant.

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16 Answers

XOIIO's avatar

Its all about profit. If you jailbreak it you can unlock it for free.

Lightlyseared's avatar

It depends where you buy the ipone from. If you buy an iphone in the UK from a carrier on a contract it is locked to that carrier (so for example an O2 phone will only work with O2 sims). This i because they have subsidised the cost of the handset and want to stop you from using it on a competitors network. Some carriers (O2 for example) will unlock the phone for free at any time so you can use any sim in it (but you have to still pay the monthly contract bills).

If you buy an iphone from an Apple shop in the UK without a contract the phone is unlocked and you can put any sim you like in it but you do have to pay the full price of the phone which for an iphone 4s starts at £499. If your mum buys an iphone from an Apple shop in the UAE it will be unlocked and accpet any sim.

Jellie's avatar

@Lightlyseared That’s how I understood it as well. A fresh phone from an apple store should be ready for use but someone was telling me that it would also be locked…

@XOIIO wait, what do you mean? I’d have to jailbreak it even if I buy it from Apple like @Lightlyseared says?

Lightlyseared's avatar

@Jellie jailbreaking and sim locking are different. Sim locking refers to locking the phone to only one carrier. Jail breaking involves bypassing the OS to run code that hasn’t been signed by Apple. If the phone your mum gets you is sim unlocked then you can use it on any network you like with out having to worry about jail breaking it. At the moment the only country where you can’t get unlocked iphones is the US (but thats probably gonna change soon).

Jellie's avatar

@Lightlyseared Thank you. Yea I hear you’re getting the iPhone on Verizon or Sprint soon too right? How did people put up with AT&T. I hear it’s not the best of the networks there.

Lightlyseared's avatar

@Jellie iphone 4 has been available on verizon since earlier this year but the network works differntly to AT&T (different frequnecy and no SIM card, the details are coded to the phone some how) so the phone wasnt compatible with other networks. The 4s is being sold on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint right now. The 4s is compatible with all networks so the hardware is the same where ever you buy it. Apple is going to start selling unlocked iphones directly from november.

and I live in the UK and have had unlocked iphones since 2007 :)

dappled_leaves's avatar

I have wondered the same thing as @Jellie: if you buy it from Apple Canada, is it locked? If so, to what?

XOIIO's avatar

To whichever service it’s using.

Lightlyseared's avatar

@dappled_leaves if you buy an iphone direct from apple in canada it comes unlocked and you can use it with which ever carrier you want.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Ok, that makes more sense to me…

Jellie's avatar

I’m tres excited for my phone now! BLARGH!

Dutchess_III's avatar

It’s provider locked, not so much factory locked. There are ways around it, but I wouldn’t know where to begin now. It’s been years.

Ask your carrier if they can “flash” your phone.

Lightlyseared's avatar

@Dutchess_III phones bought direct from Apple (outside the US at least) are not provider locked.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Hell, I don’t know any more! It’s all changed so drastically, so just never mind me! Just go get diggy without me now! : )

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