There is often little news on how to unlock your iPhone 4/4S, as few individuals (mostly business or leisure travelers) discuss the matter; however, there are times when vital news comes along. When iPhone 4/4S unlock news surfaces, we here at iunlock4s.com will be the first to let you know. This week’s unlock news involves US soldiers overseas, as well as Verizon’s new unlocked iPhone 5.
First in iPhone 4/4s unlock news involves unlocking contract iPhones for military soldiers. AT&T agreed earlier this month to unlock the contract iPhones of soldiers on military duty overseas. Prior to the announcement, soldiers could only get their iPhones unlocked through online tech support, retail stores, or by dialing “611” on their iPhones. When soldiers did get their iPhones unlocked, they needed to be in good standing with their monthly payments and were required to present a phone for unlocking that was not classified as “lost” or “stolen”. Now, soldiers will be able to apply for their unlocked iPhones by way of AT&T’s newest online application known as “Device Unlock Portal”. To apply for the unlocked iPhone, military soldiers must:
- Be active and serving on military duty at the time of deployment overseas
- Have an AT&T account that has a $0 balance
- Verification of deployment to a specific place overseas (provided through the military)
An unlocked iPhone is an ideal item for military men and women who fight the powers of terrorism and evil overseas. Their mission takes them on the road for months at a time (if not years, for some), and multiple deployments within a one-year time span are common in wartime (such as the War on Iraq). Not only will American military men and women have a smartphone that allows them to contact relatives on FaceTime; they will also have a more convenient way of receiving an unlocked iPhone without the obligation of getting their iPhones unlocked for themselves. When they deploy on a military mission for months, they can stop at a local store and pick up a European SIM card from any carrier to use in their iPhone. Unlocked iPhones ease the process by which businessmen and leisure travelers can pick up a Sprint SIM card and use it on an AT&T-locked iPhone in European countries.
Unlocked iPhones have always been said by iPhone researchers to be related only to local SIM cards in European countries and overseas. In the United States, iPhones have always been locked, meaning that you cannot take your Sprint iPhone and use it on an AT&T network or SIM card once you decide to switch to AT&T. Phone carriers once placed a carrier lock on unlocked iPhones, and “unlocked” once meant unlocked everywhere except the United States. However, the concept of unlocked as phone carriers have defined it is changing. Some phone carriers have decided to unlock their iPhones in the United States in the fullest sense – such that “unlocked” now means “fully unlocked”. Two cases of the new, transforming unlock smartphone definition are AT&T and Verizon Wireless.
Earlier this Spring (April 2012), AT&T decided to do something unprecedented for one of the nation’s largest phone carriers: the company decided to unlock your iPhone 4/4S (or any earlier model), provided that the iPhone is out of contract and the customer is in good standing with AT&T in a current contract (this includes non-military civilians). The following requirements are what AT&T expects of you if you are the owner of a new iPhone 5 and want your iPhone 4/4S unlocked:
- Have paid all past balances on your monthly bill
- Completed at least one full-length contract with AT&T (having been a customer of AT&T for the past two years)
- Pay an early termination fee for unfulfilled contract
- Eligible for a smartphone upgrade
First, any AT&T customer can get his or her iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S unlocked if he or she has paid all past balances on his or her monthly bill. If a customer has not paid up and is currently in debt with AT&T, the privilege will not be awarded because privileges with phone carriers have always been restricted to valued customers who pay each month. If you want AT&T to unlock your iPhone 4/4S, then you must pay all your debt to AT&T in the month in which you want to receive an iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S unlock. Next, the individual that wants his or her iPhone 4/4S unlock must be a second-term customer with the company and have completed a prior, two-year contract with AT&T. First-time customers do not get this privilege, but second-time customers do because of their prior two-year commitment. This is why AT&T only services out-of-contract iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S: the company allows out-of-contract iPhones to be unlocked because it presumes that you, the customer, are in a new contract with AT&T and are no longer using the old iPhone.
If you are an AT&T customer, however, you will become agitated with AT&T’s process by which customers can apply for an unlocked iPhone. Research surfaced today shows that out-of-contract, unlocked iPhone 4S is possible by way of an iTunes restore. The process by which an AT&T customer must apply for an unlocked iPhone 4S consists of filling out an application, faxing it to AT&T, then waiting for seven days to hear from the company. This process has been the norm for some time, but many customers will start to question AT&T’s actions; after all, who would go through the trouble of forms and faxes if the individual could unlock an iPhone 4S without AT&T assistance?
AT&T has begun its iPhone 4/4S unlock process with iPhones that are out-of-contract. Verizon Wireless, on the other hand, is nudging the competition up a bit with its new unlocked iPhone 5s. While the unlocked iPhone 5 model will cost $649 base price for a 16GB, $749 for 32GB, and $849 for a 64GB model, it will not be available for some time for consumers who do not want to commit two a two-year contract with a phone carrier. While the locked iPhone 5 model went on sale at Apple Stores across the United States and world on September 21, 2012 (one week ago), the unlocked iPhone 5 will not come to retail stores and phone carriers until three or four weeks from now, if then. The unlocked iPhone 5 will allow Verizon customers the opportunity to use GSM network SIM cards such as those of AT&T and T-Mobile in their unlocked iPhones to place calls on other networks. Verizon customers, however, would still pay their monthly bills to Verizon Wireless; the new unlocked iPhone 5 would allow Verizon customers to have access to other networks. The idea seems to be a risky one for Verizon, but the company trusts in its reputation over the years as well as the number of new customers who come because the company sells the iPhone 5.
Can it be true? Has Verizon turned a new leaf with its unlocked iPhone 5 model? I believe so. Last week, tech writers confirmed Verizon’s new unlocked iPhone 5 with a tinge of hesitancy, and many presumed that the unlocked iPhone 5 was “for a limited time only”; nevertheless, Verizon (in a response that sent shocks through the tech world) announced that the company would stick with its unlocked iPhone 5 model and has no future plans to relock the iPhone 5 for its customers. According to Yahoo News:
“The Verizon version of the iPhone 5, which went on sale Friday, came with an unexpected feature: it works on the network of AT&T and many other phone companies, as well as on Verizon’s.
It’s the first time Verizon, the country’s largest cellphone company, has sold a phone that works on competing US networks with no complicated hacking, or ‘unlocking’ procedures.
Last year, the first shipments of the Sprint iPhone 4S were unlocked and worked on AT&T, but Sprint later issued software updates that turned off that capability.
Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Brenda Raney said Monday that Verizon does not plan to relock the iPhone 5” (Peter Svensson, “Verizon Says IPhone 5 Won’t Be ‘Relocked’”, Yahoo).
If you are a Verizon customer, however, you can pick up your unlocked iPhone 5 at your local Verizon Wireless store or any retail store such as Walmart, Target, or Best Buy. One week ago, one of the nation’s top phone carriers said that Verizon customers (even those on contract) would be able to purchase the unlocked iPhone 5. How does the unlocked iPhone 5 benefit the consumer? Normally, unlocked iPhones allow you to use any SIM card overseas when making calls and surfing the web; in the case of Verizon, the Verizon unlocked iPhone 5 will not only allow you to substitute any SIM card in Europe, but also allow the same concept here. That is, you can be a Verizon customer here but use an AT&T SIM card in your Verizon iPhone 5, access AT&T’s network, and yet, still pay Verizon each month for your monthly bill. This is a new concept of the unlocked iPhone 5 that Verizon is the very first to consider. One downside to Verizon’s new unlocked iPhone 5 is that it will not allow you to access AT&T’s LTE network, which is said to be the best in the United States. AT&T allows both voice and data operations on its 4G LTE network simultaneously, while carriers Sprint and Verizon Wireless force you to choose one of two operations to perform each time. Verizon, however, has a broader and more consistent network than AT&T.
After all this talk of the unlocked iPhone 5 model, you want to see the unlocked iPhone 5 in action, right? Well, look no further. The following demonstration video will prove it. As a last tip, you should remember that the iPhone 5 requires a nano-SIM card as opposed to the iPhone 4S that used a micro-SIM card (and earlier versions, that used an original SIM). AT&T offers its SIM cards with your two-year contract renewal of the iPhone 5; T-Mobile, on the other hand, looks to offer nano-SIMs for sale this coming mid-October 2012. The problem with T-Mobile, however, is that its 3G network is not compatible with the sixth-generation iPhone; if you plan to take your unlocked iPhone 5 to T-Mobile for a off-contract agreement, know that 2G EDGE is the only kind of cellular network available. While this may place a damper upon the excitement surrounding T-Mobile’s latest move, it shows you that unlocked and locked smartphone agreements come with advantages and disadvantages. Eventually, you must pick the smartphone and plan that works best for you.