TELECOMS & MOBILE
Apple warns users of unlocked iPhones
Users of Apple's iPhone who hack their phone to make it work on other networks are in danger of permanently damaging the device, Apple has warned.
The company said that the iPhone's next official software update, which is due later this week, will conflict with any unlocking software installed on the phone and render it unusable. However, users can choose not to download any new software updates, indicating that Apple appears to be taking a soft approach for the time being.
The new software update will add Wi-Fi functionality to the iTunes Music Store, allowing music to be downloaded wirelessly directly on to the iPhone. Users who have unlocked their phone may have to forgo this and any other subsequent additions to the iPhone's features if they want their phone to keep working.
Hacking into the iPhone's software to unlock it is a violation of the device's software license agreement and voids the warranty offered by Apple. This has not stopped widespread attempts to get the smartphone to work on networks other than official US carrier AT&T since the product was launched last June though. The first confirmed hack was done by a New Jersey teenager in August, but it involved the use of a soldering iron and took many hours of work. Since then, simpler software solutions have been developed by hackers and unlocked iPhones have begun appearing on eBay, fetching prices up to USD1,000.
Apple has to be seen to be taking action on iPhone unlocking or risk threatening the viability of the phone's network-exclusive business model in the future. The company recently announced deals with O2 in the UK, T-Mobile in Germany and Orange in France to carry the phone in Europe. The iPhone will hit shelves in these countries in early November.