Remote iPhone Unlocking Services Discontinued After Supplier Pulls Plug

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Last week, we reported that a number of remote iPhone unlocking services had sprung up, apparently working through a contact with access to the official Apple database of whitelisted IMEI numbers. The services were generally charging in the $170 range to unlock users' iPhones without requiring jailbreaking.

As noted by Cult of Mac, however, prominent vendor CutYourSim has discontinued the service and is refunding customers whose orders had yet to be processed. Several other vendors who had offered the service (1, 2) have also discontinued their offerings.

What happened? Even a representative of CutYourSim doesn't know.

"Unfortunately, we were not able to complete the rest of the unlocks waiting in our queue due to our suppliers being unable to offer the service anymore," CutYourSim told Cult of Mac. "Our suppliers have told us that there is a possibility that the service may return, but they do not know when, so we have decided to start processing refunds for any orders that we were not able to complete."

Notably, it appears that CutYourSim doesn't even know who its supplier was, bolstering our earlier theory that a single person with access to Apple's systems had shopped the service around to various vendors while taking a significant cut of the service fee and remaining hidden in the background.

In other words, CutYourSim's iPhone unlocking service was as much of a black box to them as it was to customers. They would throw an iPhone into one end, wait for the light to go on, then pull it out, carrier unlocked. No one knew how it worked, but it did.

The problem with black boxes, though, is that when they break, no one knows how to fix them... or even what's wrong with it in the first place.

Cult of Mac postulates that Apple may have cracked down on the issue after noticing the significant influx of IMEI numbers being added to the database. It is unknown, however, whether the discontinuation was due to specific actions on Apple's end to halt the practice or if the provider simply decided to call a halt to it due to concerns potential repercussions or other issues.

Top Rated Comments

utwarreng Avatar
129 months ago
If you would stay abreast of current events, you would know the Justice Department (DOJ) just ruled that it _is_ legal.

Ignorance does not serve you well.

Your own ignorance does not serve YOU well. The DOJ has said you are permitted to jailbreak your device. Through jailbreaking you can perform an unlock. This is perfectly legal.

This method of unlocking we are talking about here is completely different. They have NEVER said that people are permitted to hack into Apple's database in order to update their list of unlocked phones.

Don't berate others unless you actually know what you're talking about. It just makes you look ridiculous.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MacMan86 Avatar
129 months ago
If you would stay abreast of current events, you would know the Justice Department (DOJ) just ruled that it _is_ legal.

Ignorance does not serve you well.

Presumably you're the kind of person who believes the DOJ ruled that downloading pirate software from the Cydia store is legal too.

Nothing about how these companies/individual on the inside were operating is above board.

You would do well to read what the DOJ ruling actually means, because it's nothing like what you seem to think.

In the meantime, we can all be thankful for the new down-voting system.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
derkunstler Avatar
129 months ago
The Future of American Industry?

Not that crime and sleaze are exempt from the current corporate entities. However, they at least still try to hide their wrong doings. Whereas now we may be seeing the start of the new corporate american industry. One that deals in 'official' open black market operations. Where shadow persons may leak information or have access to protected materials to be sold in an official manner under the logo of a Brand. I guess those dealing in illegal dvd's may one day even jump on the bandwagon with 'bootlegs.com'. "Our secret studio bootleggers have access to everything" "Wanna see Spiderman 6? Our secret operator can score for you footage of the film even before it's even completed!" Only $9.99! =))
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HitchHykr Avatar
129 months ago
So is the used market in America pretty much dead for older iPhones? People must have collections of old phones that are no use to man nor beast :confused:

Phones are locked to the carriers, not the users, i.e. you can sell an AT&T iPhone to other AT&T customer.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GrahamPadruig Avatar
129 months ago
UK O2 Unlocks

My iPhone was unlocked for free by O2 just a few months after I got it. I'm on a 24 months. O2 don't care if I use a different SIM in my subsidised iPhone because I still have to pay them every month under my 24 month contract - that's why it's called a contract. In Europe being able to use different SIMs is virtually essential for business people as we need to use a different SIM in each country or face ridiculous roaming fees, especially for data. I can't see why AT&T won't unlock iPhones - their customers on subsidized contracts would still have to pay them every month, or face a court case for breach of contract.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Daveoc64 Avatar
129 months ago
If carriers couldn't put locks on the phones, they wouldn't subsidize the price... A significant portion of iPhone buyers are those who live paycheck to paycheck and would rather pay a monthly payment than buy something outright. As long as carriers need to subsidize the cost of the phone, they'll come carrier locked. I do think that the phone should be sold unlocked if I elect to buy it without subsidy though.
No, see below:

That doesn't make sense. There is a hefty ETF if you terminate your contract early, so the phone gets paid for regardless.

There is no reason, given that there are ETFs and contract terms, for phones to be locked anymore. It's purely all about control. They don't want you going to another carrier when your contract is up, or using your phone with prepaid SIMs in other countries.
Exactly. The contract terms require you to keep paying the carrier regardless of what happens to the phone.

The only contract phone I've bought in the UK that was locked is my iPhone 4 - and I was able to unlock that through my carrier for free.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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