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Communications Hardware Hacking Wireless Networking Apple Build

Upcoming Firmware Will Brick Unlocked iPhones 605

Posted by kdawson
from the slim-and-elegant-bricks dept.
iCry writes "It was rumored last week, and Apple has now confirmed it: 'Apple said today that a firmware update to the iPhone due to be released later this week "will likely result" in SIM-unlocked iPhones turning into very expensive bricks... So what are users of SIM-unlocked iPhones to do? Not run the latest software update, that's for sure. Users can instead pray to the hacking deities — the famed iPhone Dev Team that released the free software unlock, and iPhoneSIMfree, which released a commercial software unlock — to write applications that will undo the unlocks, as it were, if those users want to run the latest iPhone software.'"
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Upcoming Firmware Will Brick Unlocked iPhones

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  • by EvilSpudBoy (1159091) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:14AM (#20741291)

    There are instructions on how to relock an iPhone here [tuaw.com]

    It seems a bit involved

  • Undo the hack (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dark_Nova (27836) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:27AM (#20741459)
    While the jury's out on whether the bricking is intentional or not, it's clear that something in the update process is incompatible with the changes made by unlocking.

    The solution is to reverse the changes before updating. There is a preliminary guide to doing this at:

    http://www.tuaw.com/2007/09/24/how-to-relock-your-iphone-before-the-firmware-update/ [tuaw.com]

    Of course, this means that your phone is no longer unlocked.

    The other option is to just not upgrade.
  • by dominux (731134) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:48AM (#20741665) Homepage
    in fact, if I may reply to my own post, there is another bit worth quoting from that page where they discuss the reasons why they didn't initially have wifi:

    We can't find a WiFi Chipset with GPL'ed drivers -- We know this has been discussed (to death) on this list, but as we're beginning work on the next summer hardware refresh we still can't seem to find a vendor that meets our strict requirements: Namely, we refuse to put anything binary in the kernel.
    so until they found the Atheros AR6K 802.11 b/g. they were willing to compromise the spec in order not to compromise their principals. I like that.
  • Thank gods... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Upaut (670171) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:58AM (#20741769) Homepage Journal
    A bricked iPhone can be returned for a full switch...
    I have a small scratch on my iPhone driving me insane, which is not enough to warrent an exchange.

    I will have to explain to my family that they should *not* update the firmware if they want to keep using t-moble, at least until someone else figures out how to unlock the phone. Or I will simply install my backup copy of the current firmware, no harm done and all.

    I mean, being able to play a few games while in airplane mode, having free personal ringtones ripped from our own media, using t-mobile, an ebay tracker, an application that uses cellphone triangulation to calculate your location on the map, an AIM client, a digital recorder for lectures and meetings, a quickbooks app, an ebook reader, and a NES emulator; are all worth more to us then having an itunes store on the phone that lets us know what songs are playing in our local starbucks... I mean with the tmobile 'total internet' package (for $19.95 a month), I can use the tmobile hotspot in my local starbucks, for speeds faster then EDGE.... A greater convinence in my mind.
  • by asdfghjklqwertyuiop (649296) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:25AM (#20742083)

    And Microsoft *has* retaliated against OS hacks with service packs.


    Which service pack was it that caused windows installations with invalid keys to stop working?
  • by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:27AM (#20742115)
    You can do a chargeback against a charge on your card up to 90-120 days back, even if you've paid the balance (your mileage may vary, but this is my experience with American Express personal/business cards).

    FYI, I'm the GPP.

  • Sort of. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Midnight Ryder (116189) <`midryder' `at' `midnightryder.com'> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:28AM (#20742121) Homepage
    They didn't brick XBox 360's that were modded, but, they did ban 'em from XBox Live. While not the same as bricking it, it definitely rendered it less valuable to people who were playing online games or enjoyed downloading games, videos, etc. from XBox Live.
  • by frdmfghtr (603968) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:38AM (#20742263)

    Poor Apple - people are buying things from them and then using them in ways that Apple hadn't intended! That's so totally unfair to Apple I can't believe it!
    Sarcasm aside, that is exactly the same reason why unlockers shouldn't bitch if their iPhones become iBricks. They are using them in a way the manufacturer hadn't intended them to be used.

    From the iPhone warranty: [apple.com]

    This warranty does not apply: (a) to damage caused by use with non-Apple products; (b) to damage caused by accident, abuse, misuse, flood, fire,
    earthquake or other external causes; (c) to damage caused by operating the product outside the permitted or intended uses described by Apple; (d)
    to damage caused by service (including upgrades and expansions) performed by anyone who is not a representative of Apple or an Apple Authorized
    Service Provider ("AASP"); (e) to a product or part that has been modified to alter functionality or capability without the written permission of Apple;
    (f)
    to consumable parts, such as batteries, unless damage has occurred due to a defect in materials or workmanship; (g) to cosmetic damage, including but
    not limited to scratches, dents and broken plastic on ports; or (h) if any Apple serial number has been removed or defaced.
    In other words, swim at your own risk, but don't bitch to us if you get eaten by an alligator; you were told to stay out of the water.

    The other option is to simply forgo the update, or re-lock it.
  • by Dog-Cow (21281) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:53AM (#20742497)
    You need not ever pay AT&T a dime to own an iPhone.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @10:28AM (#20742983)
    How so? They bought the phones free and clear. They're under no contract to use their phones with AT&T.

    Also, under US law we're allowed to unlock our phones. So where's the not playing fair in that? I think Apple isn't playing fair. Sure go and ahead and lock them, that's one thing. But to go and brick people's phones because they didn't play by Apple's rules, how does that make Apple any better than Microsoft?

    They've also been trying to lock down the iPods too. Apple fanboys are going to have to wake up and smell the coffee! Apple isn't this nice and friendly giant, they're as underhanded as Microsoft. It's all about making them money, they don't care about their customers, especially if their customers aren't willing to play their game.

    You don't think Apple wouldn't have its own version of WGA if they sold MacOS for generic PCs? They would... They would be just as bad as Microsoft.

    The funny thing about Apple is, every time they screw their customers, you find them apologizing for Apple. LOL At least most Microsoft customers can't stand Microsoft. ;)
  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @10:49AM (#20743329) Homepage
    In the US, it is illegal to put arbitrary terms in a warranty. [slashdot.org] The manufacturer must prove that using the iPhone with another carrier damages the device. This same point came-up in a discussion about HP refusing to repair a broken keyboard because Linux was installed. [slashdot.org]
  • by Lepton68 (116619) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @11:00AM (#20743533) Homepage
    I believe the problem is this: The phone OSX operating system can be completely rewritten with a fresh copy by doing a restore in iTunes at any time. So any hacks that were done to that huge chunk of code can be completely undone and restored to factory fresh conditions. BUT the SIM-unlocking hacks, and I'm talking only about the hacks that let you use a SIM card other than ATT, change a chunk of code that is deeper in the hardware of the phone, outside the OSX operating system. It is changing some firmware that is outside the restored code. Note that the unlocking survives a restore. That's because it is hacked outside the OSX system.

    Thus, the Restore in iTunes won't restore those particular hacks. And it is very possible that the hacked code won't run with new updates to OSX.

    Apple isn't doing it on purpose. They are just doing what they planned to do - update OSX with new stuff. Apple is being NICE in warning people about this. Now, yes, I think with some EXTRA, EXPENSIVE WORK Apple could probably release a standalone program that might be able to restore that other code that is being hacked up. But darn it, do they have to? They warned you in advance, they are warning you now, and why do they have to support these hacks, even by undoing them?

    Out of the goodness of their hearts, I do believe if this is actually a significant problem that Apple WILL take the time and spend the money to fix this deep hacking to make things back to factory fresh. But it is above and beyond what they need to do , and if they do it, they will do it because Apple is GOOD.
  • by asuffield (111848) <asuffield@suffields.me.uk> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @03:53PM (#20747657)
    You appear to be under the mistaken impression that this document affects the statutory warranty on every commercial product. It doesn't. If any product fails because of the actions of the vendor (usually manufacturing defects, but idiotic 'updates' also count), they have to repair, replace, or refund. It doesn't matter what words they put in the box with it. It doesn't matter what you sign. It doesn't matter what click-wrap licenses they throw at you. It doesn't matter what the vendor intended. The statutory warranty is immutable - courts all around the world have upheld that so many times that it just isn't funny any more.

    Anybody who sells any new (not after-market) item has a duty to make sure it is fit for sale and a legal responsibility to make good on any faults.

    Any warranties you may find in the box are additions to this, which cover failures due to your actions, third parties, or wear and tear (or nothing, in some of the more disreputable cases).

    People are sometimes misled by those "no warranty; not even the implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose" labels on free software. The only reason those work at all is because the software is given away, rather than sold; there's no statutory warranty on a gift.

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