updated 08:55 pm EST, Tue December 14, 2010
Rogers and Fido iPhone unlocks rumored in works
Canadian carrier Rogers and its sub-brand Fido have brought back a system that would let customers more officially unlock iPhones after the sale, a possible leak of its strategy has uncovered. As part of a broader move that would let any subscriber out when out of contract, Rogers has let users get an unlock by calling its help line and having them contact Apple. Once greenlit, the phone needs only to be restored in iTunes to remove the restrictions, iPhone in Canada was told by Fido user Argun Tekant.
AT&T and Wind Mobile SIMs worked immediately for Tekant, although an O2 SIM needed a reboot before it would roam on the Rogers network.
The policy requires $50 plus taxes on top of the contract restrictions and periodically has technical limits. Phones sent in to the carrier for a fix might come back locked and would need to be unlocked again, Rogers said. Branded phones running on another carrier also wouldn't qualify under Fido's loaner service, though unbranded ones like the iPhone would qualify for warranty service as long as the buyer could prove it was purchased for that carrier.
Other phones, modems, tablets and other devices also fit into the new policy, which should be active today.
Rogers hasn't commented on the change. Bell, its Virgin Mobile brand and Telus haven't said whether they would follow suit.
The approach could be a major change in attitudes towards unlocking at Apple. Customers can buy iPhones unlocked from the factory in a number of countries, including Canada, France and the UK, but any phone locked to a provider often can't be unlocked even when the contract expires or bought at full price. Apple had to briefly offer unlocks for original German iPhones in 2007, but the method was withdrawn after T-Mobile overcame a legal challenge to its then-exclusive deal. It was also easier to use as it only required a sync, not a restore, to change the carrier profile.
Such steps would be necessary in the US if Apple ever decides to offer the iPhone to T-Mobile. A CDMA model for Verizon wouldn't have this option unless it was a truly universal phone with both GSM and CDMA onboard and could switch network standards.