The first free iPhone unlock software has been sold and successfully installed today by Mr Paul Taylor, from the UK. Giz was there as an exclusive witness, but when things went badly and the process failed repeatedly giving a "baseband communication error" I jumped in to help. Lucky me, I found the solution after some troubleshooting, and I am afraid that it means the software unlock doesn't work with all configurations. [Updated Sept. 11, 02:52AM EST: iPhone Sim Free has issued an application update to fix the problem we discovered during unlocking. Jump to see their statement.] Nobody has told you this yet, but as I discovered, not everyone could apply the iPhone Sim Free patch to unlock the iPhone. The key is the the SIM card's PIN. If you can disable it, you are ok to go. If you can't, forget about it for now.
As I was able to see today, the customer experience to unlock an iPhone is not pretty. In fact, it's awful because most final users don't know a thing about SSH, SFTP or the Terminal. At 3:25PM EST I watched as Sasha Vatoff, from the australian iPhone Sim Free reseller, tried to guide customers Paul Taylor and Philipp Meier through the whole installation process. They were going to be the first final customers ever to unlock the iPhone. No press. Just normal users. So early in the game, I had to jump in to help them install the software because iFuntastic wouldn't work with Phil's iTunes 7.4 and Paul iFuntastic didn't work at all.
When the application was finally in the iPhone, both Paul and Phil tried the unlock and failed. They restored their iPhones a couple of times because it simply didn't work and the thin iPhone Sim Free "documentation" recommended a restore after each baseband communication error.
Around 7PM EST the situation was pretty desperate. Sasha, the reseller, was clueless. He didn't know what to do and the iPhone Sim Free people told him they "weren't going to publish further information." Basically, they said they released the software but the "support" was the reseller responsibility. Without knowing what to do, he kept asking me for opinions. What to do? Should I send the program to people right away and let them figure it out? My only answer was to try it. Send it to his clients and see if anyone had more luck.
I was refusing to believe that it didn't work so I asked him if he wanted me to try it.
It worked. After a few minutes, I had my iPhone unlocked. I couldn't understand why. Jason didn't have any problems, just like me. There had to be something else and then, boom, the revelation: I asked Jason if he had a pin when he tried the unlock. "No, I don't think I had" he said. It was a good shot:
MSN conversation with Paul and Sasha [Timestamps are in Madrid GMT+1 time, so this is 7:40:22 PM EST]
Jesus says: (1:40:22 AM) dude Jesus says: (1:40:28 AM) does your sim card have a pin? (at the same time, I was asking Phil the same and he said "yes") Paul (r) says: (1:40:32 AM) yes Jesus says: (1:40:36 AM) take it off Paul (r) says: (1:41:12 AM) anything is worth a try Jesus says: (1:41:21 AM) Phil has a pin lock too Jesus says: (1:41:24 AM) I don't Jesus says: (1:41:26 AM) maybe that's the trick Paul (r) says: (1:42:45 AM) here goes nothing Jesus says: (1:44:06 AM) have you deactivated the pin? Paul (r) says: (1:44:13 AM) yep Paul (r) says: (1:44:31 AM) ran IPSF Paul (r) says: (1:44:39 AM) it said already unlocked (no error this time) Paul (r) says: (1:44:45 AM) now back at front screen Paul (r) says: (1:45:06 AM) "incorrect SIM connect to iTunes to activate" Paul (r) says: (1:45:09 AM) and no service Paul (r) says: (1:45:35 AM) Hold on a second... Paul (r) says: (1:45:41 AM) When I press the phone button Paul (r) says: (1:45:43 AM) and go to my contacts Paul (r) says: (1:45:49 AM) My number shows up at the top Jesus says: (1:45:55 AM) dude Jesus says: (1:45:57 AM) stop it Jesus says: (1:46:10 AM) you have to finish the process Jesus says: (1:46:14 AM) go to independence Jesus says: (1:46:20 AM) and activate again Paul (r) says: (1:46:20 AM) what process Jesus says: (1:46:28 AM) you have to activate Jesus says: (1:46:33 AM) like if it was AT&T Jesus says: (1:46:38 AM) but with the new sim Sasha says: (1:47:14 AM) so Paul (r) says: (1:47:17 AM) ok Sasha says: (1:47:19 AM) it works Paul (r) says: (1:47:39 AM) not yet Paul (r) says: (1:47:45 AM) have gone into independence Paul (r) says: (1:47:52 AM) activation suceeded Paul (r) says: (1:47:57 AM) rebooting Paul (r) says: (1:48:20 AM) incorrect sim please connect to itunes to reactivate phone Jesus says: (1:48:29 AM) activate with independence Jesus says: (1:48:53 AM) put pem file Paul (r) says: (1:50:19 AM) we're back to failed activation Jesus says: (1:50:29 AM) quit independence Jesus says: (1:50:33 AM) then put PEM file Jesus says: (1:50:39 AM) then activate Paul (r) says: (1:51:09 AM) IT FUCKING WORKED Jesus says: (1:51:14 AM) yep
After a few "Jesus I love you Jesus I love you You are a genius" from Paul and Sasha, obviously now breathing after thinking that he was going to have a heart attack, Paul did a test call and everything was fine. The photo you can see above is his phone, working on the Virgin network in the UK.
So as you can see, the secret is pretty easy: before unlocking the iPhone, you must disable the PIN in the SIM card using another phone.
The problem now is that some SIM cards don't have the option to disable PIN security. This was the case of Phil, whose German SIM's security can't be disabled. Now he was to wait for an update that may come soon or late or may not come at all. The fact is that we still don't know what are the technical problems that this may pose for the iPhone Sim Free people.
And until that fix comes, the iPhone Sim Free software solution works, but only works for certain people. Those whose SIM cards can have a disabled PIN. In other words: for now, the only universal solution keeps being the TurboSIM solution, which doesn't break your warranty. or the hardware unlock.
That or hopefuly the iPhone Dev Team will get it working in the free unlock. I know for a fact that they are frantically working on it and they now need your moral and economical support more than ever.
[UPDATE: If you were thinking about participating in our iPhone Sim Free licence give-away contest, make sure to check to see if your SIM card doesn't have obligatory PIN security.]
[Updated Sept. 11, 02:52 a.m. EDT: iPod Sim Free has issued an application update to fix the problem we discovered during unlocking. Good to see they react so quickly.]
iPhone Sim Free Statement It has been brought to our attention mainly through this article [the article you are reading now]that there was a small bug in our code. This bug has now been resolved we will be forwarding the new simfree.app to all our currently registered resellers. All new resellers will automatically receive the updated version. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Jesus Diaz for discovering this bug and reporting it through his site. As well as apologize to the select few who encountered this problem.
The bug has been confirmed to be related to whether or not the SIM card is pin locked or not, it has now been resolved. AND OUR SOLUTION IS UNIVERSAL.
Further to this, we will be updating our simple tutorial, to include the following:
PLEASE ENSURE YOUR PHONE IS FULLY CHARGED AND YOUR "Auto-Lock" SETTING (in Settings/General) is set to NEVER for the duration of the unlock process. You may change it back once the application is finished.