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iPhone unlocking hacks possibly cause irreparable damage

Today Apple released a statement in regards to the various hacks that unlock the iPhone from being tied to AT&T.

Apple has discovered that many of the unauthorized iPhone unlocking programs available on the Internet cause irreparable damage to the iPhone’s software, which will likely result in the modified iPhone becoming permanently inoperable when a future Apple-supplied iPhone software update is installed.

They specifically mention the “unlocking” programs which leads us to believe they are only referring to the hacks that unlock your phone and not the hacks for things like ringtones.

Could this just be a scare tactic? Or could Apple be making some changes to the iPhone software that actually will cause the iPhone to be irreparable if it finds hacks were used? Both of those options seem a bit bullish, but Apple hasn’t exactly played nice the past few weeks.

13 Responses to “iPhone unlocking hacks possibly cause irreparable damage”

  1. @ Brandon — Good point. I know of very non-technical people who have hacked their iPhones. That’s probably more what Apple is trying to curb, and I would imagine they’re also feeling the heat of the FCC too.

    Allowing people to continue hacking telecommunications devices is not something that the feds (or AT&T) would be very happy about: masquerading ESNs, altering the outgoing caller ID, who knows what else. These things are already possible, but unabated hacking on the iPhone makes them not only possible but trivial.

    @ Lordmike — I don’t own a phone either, but typically, when you purchase a phone on a service plan, you receive a reduced purchase price. You do own the phone, but if you cancel your service before the end of your contract, some service providers will require you to pay them back the amount the phone was discounted. For the iPhone, that could be several hundred dollars, in addition to the cost of breaking the contract.

  2. I haven’t got an iphone myself so I haven’t read what you agree to when you buy it.
    But my guess is that apple can lock the phone completely if they want to and there is nothing you can do about it. If you violate a contract you won’t have anything to say about it in any court. It could be that you don’t own the phone to do what you want with it until the end of the contract which is 2-3 years?!
    This is just a guess.
    Anyone who can confirm or deny this?

  3. I don’t think Apple has any problem with the hackers that are putting ringtones or other applications on the phone. Apple doesn’t allow “official” development because of stability issues. By allowing the “underground” hacks, it’s effectively limited to the people who REALLY want those applications anyway, and will expect and be fine with bugs and instabilities due to hacks and poorly written applications.

    I’ve hacked my iPhone (and my wife’s) and don’t think there will be any problems at all. I’m still a Cingular customer and have no intentions or desires to switch carriers or unlock the iPhone at all.

    The only thing I care to do is install and maybe develop some cool applications for my handheld Mac :)

  4. What a mess. I was considering buying one but there is no chance I will now. My almost obsolete V3i can do things that the current iPhone can only do when hacked, so Apple is effectively driving me to get an HTC, which I know will not become a brick when I try to use it as a phone where I live.