Unlocked iPhones have the ability to run on other carrierís SIMs.
If youíve 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&Tís web form has produced good results for multiple iPhone owners. If youíd like an unlock to use your iPhone on any GSM carrier worldwide, then itís worth a shot.
Ars Technica is hearing from AT&T customers who have received free clean, factory unlocks while on contract:
ďI got this even though Iím 10 months into my 2 year contract,Ē Ars poster lunarobverse wrote. ďWhen I upgrade to the iPhone 5 next week, Iíll still have to pay the ETF but itíll make selling my old iPhone (or handing it down to an iPhone-less friend) much easier.Ē
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&Tís Seth Bloom told Ars that ďThe only requirements are that a customerís 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.Ē
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, youíll see a message that your iPhone has been successfully unlocked on AT&Tís end.
Short of securing a factory unlock under the table, itís 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 itís off-contract, but on-contract phones are another matter.