Got my AT&T iPhone 5S Unlocked :)
As a long-time AT&T customerómy account dates back to my first Razr, at a time when the company was still known as CingularóI was thrilled when they announced a major change in their unlocking policy earlier this year. After years of refusing to let even out-of-contract iPhones to be used on other carriers, AT&T had relented: if you had fulfilled your two-year deal, the company would unlock your iPhone, allowing you to use the device on another (and likely cheaper) plan from a different provider. It also meant you could use a local SIM card when traveling abroad, which would offer huge savings over AT&Tís international roaming plans. which I found out how expense they were when I was in the UK/Europe in 2011
Fast forward a years, and I an iPhone 5 out of contract so I didn't have to worry about these issues and while it came unlocked it still left a dent in my wallet for the 64GB at $849 plus tax. So this year I bought an 5S with an upgrade. Itís a great device, but it came with a drawback: itís locked, again, to AT&T. Thatís not normally a surprise, but this time it came with a twist, because Verizon is selling the same phone with an unlocked GSM band (the type of radio used by AT&T and many other carriers). So for someone like me who would like to use their phone abroad for a few days every other year, Verizon would charge nothing (because I could use a SIM bought abroad), while AT&T would force me to use a ridiculously expensive roaming plan.
Let me be clear: I happily pay over two thousand dollars a year to AT&T for the family plan my family and I use. And Iím not trying to get out of that new two-year contract; Iíll still be paying almost two hundred dollars a month whether or not Iím using the planóor whether Iím even in the country. Yet if I go to Canada for a few days, using our iPhones (like most smartphones, they suck in a lot of data pretty quickly) on AT&T will cost hundreds on top of our existing plan. If I had ditched AT&T for Verizon, it would cost as much as a Canadian SIM card. A call to AT&T customer service fell on deaf earsódespite the fact that their competitor offered the same phone unlocked, and despite the fact that I chose to stay with AT&T anyway, I was told that there was nothing they could do until 2015.
Enter UnlockStreak: Unlock Dell Streak or AT&T iPhone
Originally developed for use with the Dell Streak, UnlockStreak Activations for iTunes is a separate version of the software that works on Appleís devices. To use it, users simply visit the website and select their device, then place an order for the unlock ($49 for an iPhone 5/5S, all other iPhones $29; UnlockStreak provided an unlock at no charge for purposes of this review). Once UnlockStreak confirms that the IMEI can be unlocked, they begin the process and then send an email with the unlocking instructions once theyíve processed your IMEI (the hardest part of all was waiting for that email; it took four days to process my unlock, but UnlockStreak mentioned that my IMEI took a particularly long while to unlock for some reason). The actual unlock is done on the userís own computer. For iPhones, itís all done through iTunes, making it a familiar process for most users. It takes only a few minutes from start to finish: backing up and restoring your iPhone is more or less all it takes. In all, it took me about three or four clicks to make it happen:
One important note: although UnlockStreak performs a permanent unlock, the service only works if the device is tied to AT&T. If you have a Sprint iPhone, or a phone from another provider, you wonít be able to use the service. For AT&T users, however, itís a great alternative to pricey roaming plans. The company also points out that because there is no jailbreak involved in their unlock service, your iPhoneís warranty will remain intact. And because itís a ďfactoryĒ unlock, devices should stay unlocked permanently regardless of software updates or restores, something that greatly increases the resale value of a used iPhone.
For the vast majority of people using AT&T, an unlock will probably never matter. But if youíre someone who does need an unlockóand for whatever reason doesnít want to make the jump to Verizonóthen UnlockStreak is a bargain, and one that doesnít require you to navigate the shadier portions of ebay, where many iPhone unlock offers come across as something less than legitimate. There are certainly cheaper unlocking offers out there, but for many users ease of use and peace of mind are worth a few extra dollars. (The company is also giving away an unlock every few days in this iMore Forum Thread here : Free AT&T iPhone Carrier Unlock + Lock Status Check Everyday On iMore Forum ) If youíre planning a trip abroad, or just need to use your iPhone on a different carrier here at home, UnlockStreak is worth a look.