Yesterday we told you about CutYourSIM, a website that offers permanent unlock for iPhone for the hefty price of $170. A lot of people have been speculating on how this service actually works. The most discussed potential way CutYourSIM works was that somehow, Apple’s database of unlocked iPhones had been hacked into, allowing hackers to add any iPhone to the list.

This is not how services like CutYourSIM work. We actually wrote about the way an official iPhone unlock works last year, but I guess it’s time to refresh everybody’s memory…

How can an iPhone be permanently unlocked?

First, in order to be officially and permanently unlocked, your iPhone IMEI (your iPhone fingerprints) has to be added to Apple’s database of unlocked iPhones. For example, if you live in France where you can buy an unlocked iPhone from one of the official carriers, this carrier will send your IMEI to Apple, which will add it to its database of whitelisted/unlocked iPhones.

Once added to the database, you need to sync your iPhone in iTunes. By communicating with Apple, iTunes will see that your device is whitelisted and will remove the lock on your iPhone, for good.

How can a site like CutYourSIM unlock your iPhone?

No, CutYourSIM and other similar sites didn’t hack into Apple’s database. They’re unlocking iPhones in almost complete legality. The way they are doing it is by having accomplices at major phone carriers that offer legit iPhone unlocks.

For example, the guys at CutYourSIM may know someone (and most likely pay him a lot of money) that works for T-Mobile Germany, a European carrier that offers unlocked iPhones. The accomplice is sent a few IMEIs to add to Apple’s database on behalf of T-Mobile and voila, a bunch of iPhones have been permanently unlocked.

I used T-Mobile Germany as an example, but it could very well be any other official iPhone carrier that offers permanent iPhone unlock. The fact is no one was hacked. Some smart people just found a not-so-legit way to legally unlock any iPhone.

I’m sure Apple will figure out soon enough who submitted these IMEIs to unlock and will act accordingly.

  • Daniel Courtney-Gregerson

    Just wondering, where did you get this information?

    • Burge

      It’s the only way it can work ..your carrier has to ask apple to do it..there is no other way to make a iPhone unlocked for good oter than this

  • dabe

    Yeah sounds more like an educated guess than facts, but really how else could it be done? I’m not so sure about Apple catching on though tons of unlocked iPhones out there a few 1,000 more might not throw up any red flags.

    • Jason Masters

      Yeah I agree I don’t think apple will do anything at all it doesn’t affect their bottom line, so what do they care for in fact it is free promotion for their product.

    • JustSomeGuy

      Nope, he’s absolutely correct. And red flags are already going up. If you’ve spent $170 bucks on this service, expect to be out that money within 45 days.

  • Roberto

    I know cutyoursim is not the only website offer this service but is there any other website can unlock your iphone the same way but charge less. $170 seem a little pricey to me. $100-120 is more reasonable.

  • azharhamzahya

    $170!!…:(

  • This is not a guess, this is the way it actually works.

  • Roli

    You should be on your honeymoon Seb ^_^

    • We leave on the 22nd of this month 🙂

      • Roli

        Nice 🙂

  • XepptizZ

    A locked phone is rediculous anyway.

  • That’s why they charge so much – if it was free / very cheap then loads of people would do it and Apple would spot this,

    but 1-10 extra people a day out of the perhaps 100s of requests Apple receives in a day is going to go unnoticed ;p

  • haha

    My brother in law from Seoul brought his iPhone 4 here so he can use. First week it didn’t work at all with any of the sims we’ve tried. Second week he called his korean company and asked them to make sure it’s unlocked(he had to pay a small fee). Within hours, his phone was picking up AT&T signal with the microsim we cut.

    Yes there is a whitelist. A lot of phone companies have access to it. How does this website gain access? that is very questionable.

  • mrbig2000

    So there are no unlocked iphones in your country? I was wondering why someone would actually buy a locked phone and why unlocks are so much important to many people.
    Here in Germany and any other european country we can just buy iphones like every other phone, carrier locks only come with prepaid contracts… Why don’t you just buy iphones from european ebay sellers? you even get 2 years of warranty, which is standard european warranty by law (not just the short apple warranty)…

    • dabe

      No one in the US is importing iPhones from the EU because they are so much more expensive there. Almost everyone pays the REAL full price for their iPhone in the EU, in the US most people value iPhones based on the heavily subsidized contract prices they see advertised on TV. This means many people are selling iPhones for much much less than their “actual” value. This all adds up to tons of US iPhones being exported worldwide (many to countries where factory unlocked are readily available! Lol). Many people are happy to jump through the jailbreak/unlock hoops to save the money. If you look at the numbers you can see why. iPhone 3GS routinely sell on eBay Germany for $400-500 USD, I’ve bought 3GS for as cheap as $160 in the US! 20 minutes of my time to jailbreak and unlock the iPhone is worth a lot less to me than that $100-300 price difference.

      • nomadbigcheese

        No we don’t pay mostly full price. Check your facts.

    • dabe

      The handfull of people in the US who really want the factory unlock and are willing to pay the premium price for it generally import from Canada as opposed to the EU because shipping is much cheaper (There is actually a pretty big group of Canadian eBayers doing this).

  • Gertgerman

    Guys, you make it sound so cloak and dagger lol! I work for a UK mobile provider and submit phone unlock requests, amongst them iPhones, on a daily basis. You’d be surprised how many iPhones are done a week. It is a very very simple procedure to trick and I’m surprised it’s not been done far earlier than now. The asking price of $170 is absolutely outrageous! Apple does it for free the fee is pocketed by the mobile provider so in this case I’d imagine $170 goes to the website in question!

    • Jason Masters

      Damn idb just got schooled!! maybe they should hire you to blog for them seems you know more about this then the staff at idb !!
      Sebastian hire this man!!!!

    • Polemicist

      @Gertgerman I’ll ask an obvious question.

      Can this only be done by a service provider? Is it an Apple login thing? I know from working for an Apple reseller that the access to be able to purchase Apple spare parts etc is not cheap.

      Also as I mentioned in another post the telephone providers in Australia do it all the time as well and if you purchased the iPhone from that provider they will do it for free or charge up to $75 for doing it for you.

      Just interested.

    • Odell

      Hey, I’m new here but do u think you can submit 2 iPhone4 imei numbers for me.

  • zvadi

    Sebastien! i notice you sponsored ads unlocktheiphone that they claim they can unlock any firmware for $29, is it scam or what? thanks

    • goofygreek

      he doesnt control the ads, they are automatically set. its which ever company he goes through that shows the ads. well, at least thats how i remember someone saying it works like that.

  • Xuxon

    so after an official unlock what happens when i do a fw restore and it reaches the activation stage? i wont need a sim to officially activate it?

  • Gertgerman

    You’ll still need a sim to activate it. It just won’t matter what sim you use. That’s been the case with mine. After having been unlocked if I’ve restored them they’ve activated using my giffgaff sim absolutely fine

  • Mephisto

    At T-mobile i pay 100€ and they do the unlock on their own. It’s a bit more complicated though, but less expensive.

  • Noflyzone

    Regreting to buy iPhone 4 LOCKED.
    Now I am suffering by searching daily to unlock.
    This really piss me off. aggghhh

  • Simpson

    So if an Apple iPhone 4 purchased from Europe can be legally unlocked for EUR50 from a carrier such as T-Mobile or Vodafone, can they also unlock a US version of iPhone 4 locked to AT&T????? If the method they used to whitelist an iPhone 4 is simply submitting an IMEI to Apple’s servers then Apple should not be capable of knowing where the iPhone was originally locked to, right?

    If European carriers can whitelist my iPhone 4 locked to AT&T I would better pay them EUR50 instead of $170.

    Any comments?

  • Gertgerman

    Technically yes it could be done. The info submitted to apple should first of all be checked and confirmed by the mobile provider. We can see using a tool provided by apple which mobile provider the handset is registered to. And whether an unlock code is accepted or declined is solely down to us really as it’s our responsibility as the unlock requestor to check this. A lot of people do try it on by having an iPhone registered to their account, request an unlock and give us the IMEI of a mates phone. Once we see the info is incorrect we decline the request and don’t forward the info to apple. What the customers don’t realise is that the operator on the phone just forwards the info to another dept so even if they accept everything it doesn’t mean you’ll succeed in getting the unlock. There is still a slim chance of the person at the other end just processing it without doing the relevant checks but that’d be damn slim!

    • Simpson

      Gertgerman, Thanks so much for your insider info on this unlocking process as it is done on your UK mobile service provider. Can you help me to unlock my iPhone 4 from AT&T? I wouldn’t mind paying for your service if it’s reasonable. Hope to hear back from you soon. You’re so helpful!

    • lov3som3

      Hey. Gertgerman
      I am soon to come to UK, and would like to come by your shop there. Is the shope in London? looking forward for you reply @ lov3som3@gmail.com
      Thx

      Btw which do you think is best for temporary unlock ? : gevey sim or rebel sim ?

  • DebTym

    i hope there is a trial first.hahaha

  • mrbig2000

    Well in this case (cheaper prices) I understand. for example a PS3 costs the same amount in Euro in Germany as in Dollar in the US. So we pay much more. Because of this, I buy my Blurays from amazon.com. Even with shipping this is much cheaper than the amazon.de 😀

  • Gertgerman

    @lov3som3 sorry mate I don’t work in a shop and also not in London. I work in the technical side of things. Don’t really know much about gevey or rebel sim. I had the rebel sim years ago in the iPhone 3G and it was dodgy at best but I’d imagine it’s come along way since then

  • Odell

    @Gertgerman: u think you an unlock my iPhone on Att for me. Pm me:

  • iraq9913@yahoo.com

    IMEI : 013965000631316
    ICCID: 8996405405000863087

    Hello I hope that you will solve the problem iCloud account type two Yvonne 5 S note that I had forgotten knowledge of the account and I am a poor man I do not have the money to suit this problem Thank you for your cooperation me my name is Ahmed from Iraq ….