iOS 5 Bug Lets You Unlock Your AT&T iPhone 4S For Free, No Jailbreak Required [Update]

iOS 5 Bug Lets You Unlock Your AT&T iPhone 4S For Free, No Jailbreak Required [Update]

A method has been uncovered that unlocks the GSM iPhone 4S for T-Mobile. By taking advantage of an alleged bug in iOS 5, you can supposedly unlock your iPhone 4S on AT&T without jailbreaking.

To perform the hack, you’ll need a T-Mobile Micro SIM and your AT&T SIM from your iPhone 4S.

The method was tweeted by the famous hacker known as Chronic:

  1. Insert original carrier AT&T SIM card
  2. Dial 611 for AT&T customer service hotline and drop the call
  3. Turn on Airplane Mode
  4. Take out AT&T SIM card
  5. Insert T-Mobile SIM card
  6. Make sure WiFi is off ( also tap on ‘Forget this Network” to make sure it doesn’t connect automatically later)
  7. Switch off Airplane Mode and iPhone will search for network. This is followed by the Apple splash screen appearing.
  8. Activation Required will be displayed on the screen
  9. EDGE network will activate automatically – notice the ‘E’ on the top left corner of the screen
  10. Wait for about 20-30 seconds and turn off the phone
  11. Turn on iPhone and the same Activation Required screen will be displayed
  12. When you see one signal bar, tap on Use Cellular Connection
  13. Eject SIM card
  14. Activation Required screen will be displayed the second time
  15. Insert SIM card
  16. Unlocked!

While this workaround has not been definitively proven to work, many seem to think that following these steps will actually unlock the 4S.

Here’s danielscaleb’s success story:

After a little playing around, I confirmed that a certain iOS 5 bug leads to an unlock.  Note, this will only work on GSM models.  I’m going to figure out CDMA models next.  Basically, you’ll need a GSM iPhone 4S, an AT&T SIM card, and a T-Mobile Micro SIM.  Also, you could actually mess up your cellular radio doing this, though its very unlikely.

While this workaround seems like a hit or miss, it also seems to have worked for many people.

Apple sells the GSM iPhone 4S unlocked in the US for the full retail starting price of $649. Keep in mind that, although unlocking does free you from AT&T’s clutches, the iPhone can only use T-Mobile’s slower EDGE network in the US.

Update: It appears that this unlock may only be temporary. According to MuscleNerd, unlock expert for the iPhone Dev Team: “Unfortunately it’ll just relock again once a new TMSI is required (various normal network operations require TMSI refresh)”

Related
  • BrandonSLM

    do you need a working T Mobile Microsim? or just any tmobile micro sim?

  • Ralphchops

    Will this work for the uk networks

  • Jdsonice

    Does this work with iPhone4 on iOS 5.0.1?

  • David Sangwell

    How on earth did someone stumble upon this!

  • Drewstone

    well, given ONLY a micro sim will fit in a iphone 4s, ill let u make that determination

  • Punkxinxdrublic

    Here’s danielscaleb’s success story:”After a little playing around, I confirmed that a certain iOS 5 bug leads to an unlock.  Note, this will only work on GSM models.  I’m going to figure out CDMA models next.  Basically, you’ll need a GSMiPhone 4S, an AT&T SIM card, and a T-Mobile Micro SIM.  Also, you could actually mess up your cellular radio doing this, though its very unlikely.”ummmm, Daniel Caleb dude, iPhone 4S’s are all the same, GSM and CDMA. So if this works for the “GSM” model then it works for the “CDMA” model. Don’t need to make pointless extra work for yourself.

  • Punkxinxdrublic

    “ummmm, Daniel Caleb dude, iPhone 4S’s are all the same, GSM and CDMA. So if this works for the “GSM” model then it works for the “CDMA” model. Don’t need to make pointless extra work for yourself.

  • freighttrain2126

    will it stay unlocked, or will a restore or upgrade relock the phone?

  • Treyzeinert1984

    Never hurts trying

  • Jmaliz

    Does it work for canadian carriers?

  • Doug Dolde

    Now that you’ve published this, how long do you think it will take for Apple to exterminate that bug ?

  • Fcs132

    Give it a few weeks, iOS 5.0.2

  • Redmanxi

    I would like to say that reading these comments makes me think this community is very unaware of the current iPhone 4s and jb’ing/unlocking all together. All iPhone 4s’s are the same. Now technically the i4s will work on any 3G network in the world but no one has figured this out for the unlocked tmo ones in the states yet (that I have found).

  • cadsii

    This dosnt work u obviously didn’t try it yourself before posting this guide

    It makes no sense

    Step 13 eject sim
    Step 14 u will get a activation screen

    U don’t get that screen unless u put IN a sim I’ve been trying for 2 hours don’t waste ur time guys

  • Phill Pafford

    iPhone 4?

  • malik4life

    i have been trying for the past 2 hours as well…… as soon as i put my tmobile sim card in it the apple logo flashes, it says “activation required” and that is it i get no service, my sim card has data and is active. is there something im missing here?

  • jayoen

    I think he means one that is activated/has an account on it or even ones which aren’t activated.

  • bored

    Not entirely true. The iPhone 4S does not have the frequencies to work on TMobile USA’s 3G or “4G”. TMobile USA’s 3G and “4G” has unique frequencies that are used virtually no where else in the world. ATT uses frequencies that are standard throughout the world. This is why it has been such a struggle to get the iPhone on TMobile USA; it needs an additional antenna to work with TMobile USA only, and would otherwise be a useless part/space to all other users worldwide. 
    What I’m curious about – is how difficult it would be to dissect an iPhone, and replace the current antenna with, say, one from a TMobile USA smartphone. It’d be a lot of work, it it’s questionable on whether it would work.. but if anyone knows HOW to do this, it would be an interesting test.

  • mwrice2011

    so….. i bought an iphone 4s from at&t (not unlocked) tried the whole new hacker thing to unlock the phone (calling 611 hanging up etc) and its not unlocking.  Do I need the unlocked full price version from at&t??  I need to figure this out before my “trial period” ends ! I want to go back to tmobile and I have a tmobile microsim card

  • Morris

    Didn’t work for me, After ejecting the sim card in step 13, it goes into the home page desktop, not the “Activation Required” screen, when reinserting the sim as in step 15 it goes to “Activation Required” and continues the process again. Tried many times, no good!

  • Smokey

    Oh really? And what sim card would You use if you weren’t activated with AT&T?

  • tradesteady

    Dealmelody.com has released the latest iPhone 4S iOS 5 unlock sim card with no dail 112, and mentioned compatible all the network worldwide, just check the details here:
    http://www.dealmelody.com/no-1

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath has been a staff writer at Cult of Mac for over two years. He is also a co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by places like the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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