Once, Twice, Three ways to Unlock an iPhone

from Business 2.0

With uncanny serendipity, three teams trying to unlock Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone so that it can work with carriers other than AT&T (T) have reached their goal within days of each other.

First out of the block was George Holtz, a 17-year-old student from New Jersey who posted a 10-step technique on his website Thursday that requires cracking open the iPhone and doing some tricky soldering.

His accomplishment was quickly overshadowed by a team from iPhoneSIMfree.com, which developed a software-only technique that does the same thing without having to void the iPhone’s warranty by opening it up. The group demonstrated its procedure today to Engadget’s Ryan Block, who vouches for its authenticity on the blog and in a video. (Note the “T-Mobile” in the upper left hand corner of his iPhone screen, pictured above.)

Now Infoworld is reporting that a third team, based in Belfast but drawing on the resources of programmers around world, has accomplished the same thing — a software-only hack that will allow iPhone owners to run the device on any GSM-based SIM card. According to John McLaughlin, founder of Uniquephones, the software will be available for download tomorrow afternoon at www.iphoneunlocking.com for $25 to $50.

The iPhoneSimFree team says per unit and bulk licenses for its software will be available next week; no price has been set. Holtz says he has no plans to sell his hardware solution, although he has offered his iPhone, modified and autographed, for sale on eBay.

Neither Apple nor AT&T has commented on these developments, which came just shy of two months from the day the iPhone went on sale. AT&T may take comfort in the fact that most users won’t bother trying to get around their 2-year service contract. Apple, for its part, could undo all these hacks with its next iPhone software upgrade.

[Photo courtesy of Engadget.]

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