Ash Nallawalla's blog

Unlocked iPhone in India?

Ash Nallawalla

20 January 2008

Hardware

Recently, while I was in the US, an Indian friend asked me to buy him an iPhone because they can be unlocked in India (or elsewhere, if you know how). I did some hunting and found out that this is quite a hot topic. There is a lot of speculation online and quite a few Made-for-Adsense sites with nothing other than the iPhone name in an article, but there are some gems in there.

iPhone India Edition – Hidden Features is quite a funny read. It has a PhotoShopped picture of an iPhone with features such as “GPMS – Gutter and Pothole Management System”.

There are some posts that allege to show how to unlock an iPhone – take them all with a pinch of salt, as you could end up with an expensive paperweight if something goes wrong:

Buying an Unlocked iPhone

If I were lusting after an unlocked iPhone, I’d be looking at Apple Germany or France, where Apple has been forced to sell unlocked units. T-Mobile has them for €399 on a plan, and unlocked units were selling for about $1480 for a while until the courts gave T-Mobile the right to sell only locked ones. In France, you can still get unlocked models for €749. But if you are in India, your current options are:

  • Palika Bazaar or Sarojini Nagar in Delhi
  • Heera Panna in Mumbai

The going grey-market price is about $650 (Rs 30,000).

Will an iPhone Work in India?

Locked or unlocked, the iPhone will work in India because it has four GSM bands, two of which work in India (900 and 1800 MHz). All you have to do is ensure that your carrier supports roaming in India. Unlocking also depends on the firmware supplied with the phone – the latest version apparently cannot be unlocked, so don’t upgrade an unlocked phone. Here is someone who got his phone working in India:

iPhone Unlocking Jargon

  • iPhone Elite = A set of tools that can brick your iPhone if you don’t know what you are doing.
  • iPhone SimFree = A GUI-based unlocking tool that worked with firmware 1.1.2 but the site hasn’t been updated since November 20.
  • iBrickr = A ringtone management tool for older firmware – don’t try it on 1.1.1 or later.
  • Unlocking = Allowing the phone to use a SIM from any carrier, not just the one that sold you the phone on a contract.
  • Jailbreaking = Allowing you to access all parts of the SIM’s file system.
  • Activating = Conversely, this means bypassing the activation step via iTunes.
  • Re-virginizing = Restoring the iPhone’s lock table if damaged by an anySIM 1.0x unlocker.
  • Turbo SIM = Czech company Bladox sells this SIM-sized chip that slips in with your SIM and does amazing things, including unlocking the iPhone (acc to Wikipedia, but contradicted by the website). Their site says that as of 17 December 2007, a tsunami hit their shop, so they are closed. This probably means that most of Western Europe is under water by now… 😕

Unlocking Just Got Harder

Firmware 1.1.3 was confirmed at Macworld 2008. It can’t be unlocked with AnySIM, so life for users of unlocked iPhones just got harder.

Ash Nallawalla

Search strategist experienced in large, complex websites. Ash's Google+ profile

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1 Comment

  • Deepak on 29 January 2008

    Hi,
    We are Ample Technologies, Apple’s biggest partners in India.We have a few customers who have brought their unlocked iPhone to us and showed us its working in Bangalore.We are waitin for the launch to start to sell & service iPhone.


    Regards,
    Deepak

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