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Jun 072011

iPhone Unlock Pros and Cons you need to know

iPhone unlocking has been a controversial action ever since the first generation of the product became available in the market back in June of 2007 but people still try to do it anyway. It is a given: there are benefits in store for those who unlock their iPhones but there are also some potential problems.

Despite the many pros and cons associated with unlocking an iPhone, why do some people still try to do it? Should a happy iPhone user even consider trying it? Are the benefits worth the risks? Read on to help you make up your mind.

Advantages of unlocking your iPhone

Unlocking the iPhone simply means altering its system software in some way so that the phone can be allowed to do something that it normally could not. In the United States, the iPhone is only sold on the AT&T and Verizon networks. Unlocking the iPhone is primarily done to allow the user to use the phone with a carrier other that AT&T or Verizon (or another country’s contracted carrier).

Unlocking is primarily done because would-be users do not like switching to these contracted carriers. A user may also have his iPhone unlocked because he would rather use his iPhone on another carrier that offers more competitive pricing plans compared to expensive monthly fees of AT&T and Verizon.

This is one of the advantages of unlocking your iPhone. Doing so allows a person with a current contract on another network to use their iPhone on that network without switching carriers. In short, by being able to switch to any carrier of your choice, you can take advantage of cheaper rates.

This is also very helpful when travelling. For example, if you take your unlocked iPhone to Europe, you can simply switch the SIM card and enjoy low prices for whatever country you happen to be in. You will be able to avoid expensive international roaming charges with an unlocked iPhone.

One of the biggest advantages to unlocking your iPhone is that there are no consequences to doing so. Unlocking your iPhone does not inhibit the performance of your phone. The unlocking process does not result in any loss of functionality to your iPhone. An unlocked iPhone will still have the same features as a locked one.

iPhone 3

Disadvantages of unlocking your iPhone

After reading about the advantages outlined above, a user may be tempted to have his iPhone unlocked. That is normal. However, not everything about the unlock process is safe and necessary though we say it is very beneficial.

Like two sides of a coin, there are also disadvantages that a user needs to be aware of should he be thinking of having his iPhone unlocked.

First and foremost, unlocking an iPhone automatically voids the warranty of the device. In short, your warranty is toast if you have your iPhone unlocked.
Most iPhone unlockings go pretty well and in the end, the user is left with a usable, fully-functional unlocked iPhone. However, there is always the possibility that you will do irreparable damage to the phone in the attempt to unlock it.

If that is the case, Apple will not give the user any technical support nor will they fix the device if the unlocking process goes horribly wrong and turns the iPhone to an expensive paperweight. Simply put, unlocking the iPhone is done without the permission of Apple or the contracted carrier and is done using software written by a hacker. If you brick your iPhone, it’s totally on you and you are on your own.

Another disadvantage of unlocking your iPhone is that Apple firmware upgrades are not as easily installed compared to a locked iPhone. If you have an unlocked iPhone and you want the firmware upgraded, you would need to put the phone back to its original firmware condition before it got unlocked before you can have the firmware upgrades installed which tends to be problematic and complicated most of the time.

In short, if you unlock your iPhone, you may as well consider yourself stuck at whatever firmware version you were running before the unlocking process. Though not categorically true, there is also some chance that the upgrade process would work flawlessly but in most cases, it will not. Simply put, unlockers, beware of official upgrades.

iPhone 2 iPhone 4

Is unlocking your iPhone illegal?

In the United States, the legality of unlocking the iPhone has been somewhat hazy because the law is pretty complicated in terms of firmware ownership. This is actually tackled in the fine print of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act or the DMCA. The firmware of the iPhone is covered by the DMCA and you have to alter the firmware of the phone in order to unlock it.
However, the US Copyrights Office issued a number of exceptions to the DMCA last year. One of these exemptions allows users to unlock their phones for the sole purpose of connecting to a wireless telephone communication network.

In short, unlocking is legal as long as the user is unlocking the phone strictly to connect to a cellular network of his choice as opposed to doing it for profit. What would be illegal though is to unlock an iPhone and then sell the unlocked iPhone at a profit because it has been unlocked.

Be reminded however that although it is not illegal under federal law to unlock your iPhone, it does not mean that you could not be sued for doing so. In the case of AT&T, the company has the legal right to do so because unlocking an iPhone is in violation of any agreement you have with their company. In short, there is a huge difference between ‘legal’ and ‘bulletproof from legal action’.

iPhone 5 iPhone 6

Final words

In the end, unlocking the iPhone will always boil down to the preference of the user. Unlocking the iPhone opens up many possibilities for new uses for the iPhone and allows you to choose which carrier you want to use. It’s legal, easy, and you don’t have to be a technology wizard to do it.

However, the disadvantages should also be taken into consideration. Users should consider the risks against any perceived benefits before attempting to unlock their iPhones.

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  3 Responses to “The Advantages and Disadvantages of Unlocking The iPhone”

  1. I would really hate to have someone that can trace me through my iPhone but I cannot change that to have more applications and features on my iPhone thats why I choose to jailbreak my iphone and let 3rd party get in to it.

  2. I found this extremely helpful. I’ve got an old iPhone 3g. I live in England and have now bought a sim card that gives cheap calls from the US and elsewhere. I’ll get the 3g unlocked. I won’t upgrade the firmware. And if the warranty’s voided – well, phone’s due to fail sometime soon anyway.

  3. Cheers!

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