Several new remote unlocking services from websites such as Cut Your Sim and Negri Electronics have appeared in the past few weeks, promising a permanent iPhone unlock without jailbreaking. These services claim the unlock will remain in place regardless of firmware or baseband version forever, with a 100 percent money back guarantee if the unlock fails.
Does this sound too good to be true? Many have already signed up for the services hoping to preserve their Apple warranty, even though the cost is a one-time fee of $170 or more. Negri Electronics has even temporarily discontinued the service due to overwhelming demand while the current list of devices is processed for unlocking. Once the current list of submissions is processed they plan to re-introduce the service.
Here's the catch: although iPhone jailbreaking has been declared legal by the US government, unlocking an iPhone to work with different carriers remains a grey area. Jailbreaking your iPhone to work with a different SIM card is one thing, but unlocking the handset using iTunes as these services describe is another.
According to iPhone Dev-Team member MuscleNerd on Twitter, "They're not using a hack. They're using actual access to the Apple database (which is why the unlock happens through iTunes)." Should this be true, you can be sure that Apple is keeping tabs on what devices have been unlocked after the fact. The process hinges on the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number, which uniquely identifies your iPhone and must be submitted to the unlocking service so they can work their magic. No doubt the Apple legal team already has these services in their sights.What's not clear is exactly how they're unlocking all of these iPhones, but if MuscleNerd is right, then it could be a security breach or someone working on the inside. You can be sure Apple will try even harder to stop unauthorized or fraudulent modifications to their databases and possibly even reverse the IMEI unlocks on individual iPhones via iTunes. Heads will roll. Beware these services unless you're not concerned over losing your money or incurring the wrath of Apple.