From Saturday, January 26, you’ll have to ask your carrier to unlock your smartphone if you wish to use it on another network. It will become illegal to do so yourself using unauthorized unlocking methods — even if your contract has run its course and you no longer have a commitment with the original provider.
The iPhone 5 is now available for purchase unlocked at an unsubsidized price on Apple’s U.S. online store. Customers should also be able to pick up an unlocked iPhone 5 in U.S. Apple Retail stores as well. Pricing starts at $649 for the 16GB model.
It typically takes Apple a couple months before it starts selling a new iPhone model unlocked. Today a new option has appeared in the online store for selecting an unlocked model without a two-year carrier contract.
Two iPhone users claim Apple has violated the Sherman Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by locking their handsets to the AT&T network without their permission. They’re now suing the Cupertino company in an effort to get their iPhones unlocked, and for monetary damages. They also want a restraining order that will prevent Apple from locking its smartphone to carriers completely.
Verizon sells the iPhone 5 unlocked out of the box, but what about AT&T? If you buy into a two-year contract for the subsidized starting price of $200, you’re usually not able to get an unlock until you’ve fulfilled your contract.
Buying off-contract for the full starting price of $649 is another story, however. AT&T customers in good standing should be able to get a fully priced iPhone 5 unlocked for free, but the process requires filling out a web form, sending a fax, and possibly waiting more than a week.
As it turns out, unlocking an unsubsidized iPhone 5 is as simple as restoring the device in iTunes.
It’s been confirmed that Verizon is actually selling the iPhone 5 factory unlocked out of the box, and you can pop in another SIM card to use the device on even a GSM network like AT&T. Jeff Benjamin of iDownloadBlog has already tried inserting an AT&T SIM card into his CDMA Verizon iPhone 5, and it worked!