Here’s how a subsidy on your smartphone is supposed to work: in exchange for a shorter upfront price, you agree to a two year contract for cellular services. Baked into your mobile bill is a certain amount of surcharge that helps pay off the full price of your phone, but after twenty four months, you own that phone entirely, and should be able to bring it to any network you care to, because after 24 months, you’ve paid it off.
As you probably know, though, this is not a position on mobile phone subsidies that is likely to get you a lot of sympathy at AT&T. In fact, there’s no official way to unlock an AT&T iPhone once your 24 month contract is over: even though you now own that smartphone, it’s still locked to AT&T’s service.
Honestly, that’s crap, and has driven a lot of American iPhone owners down the road to jailbreak. Canadians, though, seem to have it a lot easier: if you’ve gotten your iPhone from Rogers, a $50 fee at the end of your contract is enough to have the network unlock your phone to work on a competitors’ network.
Sure, it should technically be free, and sure, it’s a bit different in Canada, where there is no exclusive carrier. Still, it’s better than what Americans have to deal with now when their AT&T contracts end: sign right back up, jailbreak or throw your phone away. I imagine, though, that when AT&T’s exclusivity finally lapses, an official unlocking procedure will open itself up.