Understand iPhone Sim Lock Status, Jailbreak, Baseband and Factory Unlock
Locked and Factory Unlocked iPhone
Apple iPhones sell in two states:
- iPhone locked to Apple's carrier partners, or
- Factory Unlocked iPhone.
A locked iPhone means that it can only function with one sim from a telecom company like AT & T or Verizon in USA. The idea is that the user enters into agreement with the network of choice to pay for the iPhone in a period of up to two years. The starting price for a new locked iPhone is as low as $99.00.
The factory unlocked iPhone comes open to all networks and is rather pricey. A fully unlocked or lock-free iPhone 5 - 16 GB model goes for $699.00.
iPhone Sim Lock Status
iPhone unlock is the process of modifying the iPhone Operating System (IOS) so that it accepts sim cards from carrier networks other than where it was acquired.
Unlocking then allows you to place the sim card of your choice in the iPhone, thereby by-passing sim card restrictions. This is important when you travel overseas and still want to carry your iPhone along. Your network carrier at home is not normally supported overseas.
An iPhone can be unlocked using hardware or software hacks. Most hardware solutions rotate around the popular tool called Gevey Sim, whereas most software unlock solutions are achieved through Ultrasnow.
If you want to unlock your carrier locked iPhone, you normally have to first jailbreak it or have it unlocked officially by your network carrier: AT&T and other online stores offer IMEI based iPhone unlock solutions with or without contract agreements.
You can save yourself lots of headache by purchasing an unlocked iPhone from Apple stores.
Jailbreaking is the installation of third party modification codes onto the iPhone Operating System firmware. This modification allows iPhone users to customize the phone to your liking without the restrictions that come with the factory operating system installed by Apple.
Apple allows installation of vetted software only through iTunes. Jailbreaking on the other hand allows you to install other software through Cydia, which boasts of collections of third party repositories. These repositories host many themes and tweaks apps.
If you seriously want to jailbreak your iPhone you should first ensure that you know what you are doing. Before you do anything crazy, find out if your iPhone is factory unlocked or not.
The process of jailbreaking is always smooth, save for headache here and there, but accidental update of the baseband may breed even more headache.
iPhone Baseband and Baseband Hacks
Baseband is iPhone modem hardware which runs a special type of software (or firmware) and is commonly identified as 04.12.01 or 04.10.01. iPhone baseband is found in iPhone 4S and older versions of Apple smartphones.
Baseband version is very important when it comes to a successful jailbreak and unlock. Before digging into jailbreaking make sure that the baseband in your iPhone is unlockable.
You should find out the unlock option and procedure that are possible with your handset. To find out your baseband tap Settings, General, About, and when you scroll to the bottom you will see the digits after Modem Firmware.
Below is a list of some of the more popular iphone basebands:
Why Jailbreak or Sim Unlock iPhone?
Every new iPhone from Apple carrier partners comes ready to halt new iPhone jailbreak and iPhone unlock exploits and therefore make all existing exploits useless.
Apple does this by upgrading signatures in the new IOS and iPhone baseband firmware. But over time new exploits come to the surface as iPhone Dev Team and Chronic Dev Team, always just manage to hatch out new exploits.
Consequently, iPhone jailbreak and iPhone unlock will for the foreseeable future remain a battle ground between Apple and the ever expanding network of jailbreakers and unlockers.
The purpose of jailbreaking and unlocking the iPhone is to allow third party apps and sim cards from other network carriers to work in iPhones. The two concepts have been around since the first iPhone was launched in 2007.
Much as iPhone jailbreak and unlock features have been with us for quite some time, many users are still confused about the little details regarding the two terms and the steps taken to implement them.
iPhone unlock is still unclear to many especially after jailbreak users lose network status following an update of the IOS firmware.
By updating the IOS, Apple's intention is to add new patches, new features and of course update the baseband. An unprotected baseband in a jailbroken iPhone throws it back to a locked status. This can make your iPhone unlockable for some good months, depending on what baseband your phone has been upgraded to. Notorious basebands in the market today include: 04.11.08 and 04.12.01. These remain unlock-able until today.
Before unlocking and/or jailbreaking you need to know the lock status of your iPhone. If you bought your phone formally and have a receipt, you probably know its state. But if you bought your phone used, you probably do not know its status.
The simplest way to find out the lock status is by calling Apple and giving them your iPhone IMEI. To find out your IMEI, simply type *#06# in your iPhone phone app. Apple should help you identify your satus. Other sites include, IMEI.info, www.dev.mk.
When you have found out your status you are know good to go. Continue reading...
If your iPhone is locked, you must first find out its baseband (BB) and firmware status.
Firmware is more like hard software. It is the software that sits between hardware and software and monitors basic operations. Apple releases periodic firmware updates to patch bugs and security breaches. Firmware is referred to as Version and is identified by strings like: 5.1. (see image)
Baseband is like a nickname given to the firmware code that handles voice and data. It is referred to as Modem Version identified by strings like: 04.10.01. (see image)
An extensive list of basebands available here.
In the list above, BB 01.59.00 can be unlocked via software called Ultrasnow. This baseband initially shipped with iPhone 4 (GSM) The rest of the basebands and especially 04.11.08 cannot be unlocked via Ultrasnow.
Unlocking New iPhone Baseband
Below are the options mentioned above and other unlocking solutions for the iPhone:
1. Gevey Sim:
Gevey sim is hardware based unlock solution. The Gevey sim sits between your new sim card and baseband hardware on your iPhone. Gevey unlocks 02.10.04 & 03.10.01 basebands.
Ultrasnow works with 01.59.00 and older basebands: 04.26.08, 05.11.07, 05.13.01, 05.12.01, 06.15.00, to unlock iPhone.
3. IMEI: A number of websites claim they will unlock your iPhone at a modest fee. All you have to do is give them your IMEI number and the rest will be done for you. A word of caution here is that scummers are everywhere and be very cautious and sure before letting go your money.
AT&T customer who has completed the two year contract can get his/her iPhone unlocked officially.
SAM unlock became available in the last week of April 2012, but it has since ceased to work.
Read about SAM unlock here.
Do not Upgrade iPhone Baseband
If you unlock your iPhone always take care whenever updating to newer firmware. New firmware installations always upgrade your baseband. This is okay if your iPhone is factory unlocked or you are still on the original network carrier. If not and you upgrade without insight, your jailbroken iPhone will lose network after the update.
To avoid this nightmare, always use your jailbreaking software to update, and always ensure you preserve the baseband in the process.Redsnow can help preserve baseband during updating and jailbreaking.