If you’ve been itching for an unlock on your iPhone, then you may be able to score a free factory unlock from AT&T. The way it typically works is that a U.S. carrier will unlock an iPhone after its two-year contract is up, but it looks like AT&T is offering unlocks for free to certain on-contract iPhones.
Requesting an unlock through AT&T’s web form has produced good results for multiple iPhone owners. If you’d like an unlock to use your iPhone on any GSM carrier worldwide, then it’s worth a shot.
Ars Technica is hearing from AT&T customers who have received free clean, factory unlocks while on contract:
“I got this even though I’m 10 months into my 2 year contract,” Ars poster lunarobverse wrote. “When I upgrade to the iPhone 5 next week, I’ll still have to pay the ETF but it’ll make selling my old iPhone (or handing it down to an iPhone-less friend) much easier.”
I called AT&T a few days ago to see about a factory unlock for my iPhone 4S (still a year left on my contract) and I was told that the service could not be offered until I had paid my subsidy. It looks like potential unlockers will have more luck getting through to AT&T on the web.
AT&T’s Seth Bloom told Ars that “The only requirements are that a customer’s account must be in good standing, their device cannot be associated with a current and active term commitment on an AT&T customer account, and they need to have fulfilled their contract term, upgraded under one of our upgrade policies or paid an early termination fee.”
If your application to receive an unlock is granted, AT&T will send a confirmation number requesting that you restore your iPhone in iTunes. During the restore process, you’ll see a message that your iPhone has been successfully unlocked on AT&T’s end.
Short of securing a factory unlock under the table, it’s typically pretty difficult to make a carrier unlock your iPhone before your contract has expired. Apple and AT&T will gladly unlock an iPhone when it’s off-contract, but on-contract phones are another matter. If you do manage to get your iPhone unlocked the aforementioned way on AT&T, let us know in the comments.