Apple: Unlocked iPhones may break when updated

The company issues a strong warning for customers contemplating freeing their phones from AT&T.

By Farhad Manjoo
Published September 25, 2007 1:01AM (UTC)
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Uh oh. You freedom-loving geeks who unlocked your iPhone from AT&T thought you were so smart, but has Apple got a surprise for you. In a statement, the firm warns that unlocked phones may become "permanently inoperable" when the phone is updated with new Apple software (which the company is putting out later this week). Moreover, it says, people whose phones are rendered useless as a result of unlocking aren't covered under warranty. Ouch!

Is this just bluster meant to discourage people from unlocking? And if it's true, was the permanent breakage of the iPhone an unavoidable thing, or did Apple specifically engineer its updates to ruin unlocked phones? At the moment we've only questions, no answers.


But if you're the owner of an AT&T-free iPhone and you dare to update it, let me know what happens, kay?

Here's Apple's statement in full:

CUPERTINO, Calif., Sept. 24 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- 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. Apple plans to release the next iPhone software update, containing many new features including the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store (, later this week. Apple strongly discourages users from installing unauthorized unlocking programs on their iPhones. Users who make unauthorized modifications to the software on their iPhone violate their iPhone software license agreement and void their warranty. The permanent inability to use an iPhone due to installing unlocking software is not covered under the iPhone's warranty.

Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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