We told you there is a rumor going around that Apple might start selling factory unlocked iPhones in the US, starting this Wednesday. The rumor was started by @ChronicWire, a “side account” of fame jailbreak developer Chronic.

Today, PC Mag Editor in Chief Lance Ulanoff wrote a piece titled “Unlock iPhones: Why Apple Won’t Do It” where he explains his point of view on the rumor. And boy his point of view is screwed. Let’s dissect it and analyze…

Yes, fanboys, early adopters, and geeks with time on their hands will snap them up. Even if the phones cost almost $600, they will buy. Why? Because they probably have jailbroken every iPhone since the product launched in 2007. They want Apple’s lovely slab phone, but they want it their own way—even though toying around with the device to make it do things Apple doesn’t want it to does not include getting it to run on another carrier.

So, right off the bat Lance goes against his main idea and admits that people will buy unlocked iPhones. If you contradict yourself right from the beginning, it’s a pretty bad start.

I read that last sentence probably 10 times. I still don’t understand what Ulanoff is trying to say here. I think he got lost in his head somewhere. I’m French so maybe there is a barrier language here. If you figure out what that paragraph actually means, please let us and Ulanoff know.

The excitement around an unlocked iPhone would also make more sense if the radios inside the phones could be easily used on similar networks: they can’t. As our mobile expert Sascha Segan explained to me, not every carrier uses the same frequency, even when they are using the same network technology.

Dear Lance. In 2010, I traveled with my unlocked iPhone to Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and France, and guess what? I was able to use my unlocked iPhone with SIM cards from local carriers in each of these countries. Your mobile expert didn’t seem to fill you in completely on the matter. Back to the drawing board, please.

Sure there are frequencies that are not supported by the iPhone, but it’s in no way stopping carriers to still be able to have functioning SIMs on the iPhone. T-Mobile USA for example will work perfectly well on the iPhone, except you will not be able to get 3G. Edge will work fine though. So Lance is wrong. The iPhone can easily work on all GSM networks.

In China, the iPhone is considerably more expensive. I guess someone could buy a $600 unlocked iPhone here and sell it there for a hefty profit. Clearly Apple wouldn’t want to enable that kind of transaction.

Well Lance, I have bad news for you. If you had done 2 minutes of research prior to writing this thing, you would have realized that the iPhone is already available, factory unlocked, in many countries in the world, including from our Canadian friends. So don’t worry, the evil Chinese won’t come to your country to buy those iPhones away from your fellow American citizens. Chinese already buy unlocked iPhones directly from Canada.

Here’s what Apple and its on-medical-leave CEO Steve Jobs know […]

That sounds like an attack based on a health-related issue. How classy of you, Lance.

Consumers do not like the rigmarole of finding a carrier and working through what will likely be a more complicated activation process.

Anyone looking for an unlocked phone knows what to expect. Unlocked phones are not for everybody, they are for a certain target market, usually international business travelers. People that buy unlocked phones do it on purpose, and they know exactly what carriers they’re going to be using prior to making the purchase.

Besides, like I was able to verify during my international travels, it’s always pretty easy to go to a country, and get a local pay-as-you-go plan. There is no “complicated activation process”. You buy the SIM, you put it in your phone. Sounds simple enough to me.

Apple does not create niche products, devices that will sell to an excited few who can, perhaps, generate further interest in broader product offerings. Apple goes big or it goes home.

Once again, Lance seems to not have done his homework. Historically, Apple has been a company that sold niche products. Heck, they broke the 10% market share in the Personal Computer market just a few months ago. The iPhone and the iPad have proven hugely popular and have allowed Apple to reach a larger market, but until 2 years ago, Apple was still an outsider who focused on niches rather than wide segments.

In fact, most iPhone jailbreakers know that hacked iPhones can turn into useless “bricks” when reconnected to iTunes for an update.

This is not 2007 anymore. While you could have bricked the first generation iPhone, it is now virtually impossible to brick an iPhone 3G, 3GS, or iPhone 4. You just can’t. Try as hard as you can and worst case scenario, you’ll still be able to put your iPhone in DFU mode and restore it using iTunes. Lance clearly doesn’t know what he is talking about here.

Google has sold unlocked phones. The Nexus One was unlocked. It helped launch Google’s own online phone store. Now where is that today?

Google failure with the Nexus S has nothing to do with the fact you could unlock it. What’s Lance’s point here? I can’t understand.

They even let you unlock the regular Nexus S after 45 days so you can hook up with a different carrier (even a foreign one). Please, how many consumers in the U.S. are actually doing this?

Yes Lance, please tell us how many consumers are actually doing this? I’m listening. If you don’t have any data to backup your non-sense, then avoid the non-sense. Besides, as I said above, unlocking is definitely not for the larger part of the population. We know that. Apple knows that. There is no need to reiterate.

How has Google become the number one mobile phone platform in the U.S.? (IDC puts it at 39% worldwide) It’s done so by offering a steady stream of carrier-locked Android devices. Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T: They all have them.

First, Google is not a platform. Android is. Now for the clarification, Android didn’t become #1 mobile platform because it offered a steady stream of carrier-locked devices to all US carriers. It became #1 by flooding the market with cheap, or let’s call them affordable, devices. Just like Windows has been outselling Mac for years, there is actually no merit in throwing a bunch of crap against the wall to see what sticks.

While rooting Android devices to access an Android OS build your carrier has yet to supply does happen, I haven’t noticed Android consumers expressing much interest in unlocked Android devices.

Data? Survey? Study? Or is it just your “gut feeling” that makes you claim that not many Android users have interest in unlocked devices? But again, we know that unlocking is not for everyone so what do you expect? People rioting in the streets begging for an unlock?

Unlocked phones get a lot of media attention, but they just aren’t that interesting to consumers. Ramon Llamas, IDC’s Senior Research Analyst, Mobile Devices Technology and Trends, estimates that “less than 1% of all mobile phones were sold unlocked in the United States”. Ooh, that sure does sound like a scintillating market for Apple.

What are we going to do with you, Lance? Don’t you understand that we all know that unlocked phones are not for everyone? You finally backup your claims with some data but unfortunately this data doesn’t make much sense. The reason why less than 1% of all phones sold in the US were unlocked is because carriers don’t offer this option easily. They want to lock you in a 2-year contract, so of course they’re not going to brag about their unlocked phones. They keep this on the down low for their own good.

Besides, Apple is not scared about going after the small markets because even if they don’t sell may, they make loads of money on each device sold. Don’t believe me? Maybe you should check out this study that showed that although Apple represented only 5% of phone sales in the first quarter of 2011, these 5% actually represented 55% of the profits of the whole industry. Apple doesn’t want to sell a lot. They want to make a lot of the few units they sell. It seems to work pretty well for them so far.

And who is this Chronic Wire, anyway? He’s a guy who’s posted a grand total of 12 tweets since June 6 (of this year). He may be working the stock room at the local Best Buy (this is how Boy Genius Report gets most of its “scoops”—from well-placed blabbers at your garden-variety brick and mortar consumer electronic store).

When PC Mag has the influence that BGR enjoys, maybe Lance will be able to talk smack about them. For the time being, it’d be wise to keep quiet and not try to discredit publications that are far more influential and respected than PC Mag is.

Now for the story, @ChronicWire is an account maintained by fame iOS hacker Chronic, one of the founding members of the Chronic Dev Team who was responsible for GreenPois0n, the first iOS 4.1 jailbreak last year. The guys is legit.

What has Lance done lately besides talking shit about highly regarded people in the iOS world?

If Chronic Wire is right, he will have succeeded. He won’t be, though. As I said before: Apple isn’t stupid.

Apple might not be stupid but Lance just proved he was. Whether he’s right or wrong about unlocked iPhones coming out this Wednesday, his poorly researched article and his attacks at Apple, Chronic, and BGR are the sheer evidence that he doesn’t have the shoulders big enough to be the Editor in Chief of a somewhat popular publication like PC Mag.


UPDATE: The iPhone 4 is now available unlocked from the Online Apple Store. It’s official, Lance Ulanoff is the wrong tool for the job.

  • John Wilson

    You summed it up pretty well. I’d add there’s nothing but upside for Apple selling iPhone 4’s at this point, especially for $300 higher than you can get it on Craigslist. Fact is iPhone 5 will be out in like 3 months. Carriers don’t care. They’ve made the money they expected to make off the iPhone 4 and are gearing up for 5.

    • William

      Apple is NOT selling iPhone 4 at this point, Apple is selling unlocked iPhone 4 without contract commitment. Huge difference there.
      The ones you can buy on Craigslist for $300 less is Ultrasn0w unlocked at best, and by no mean factory unlocked.

      • Wrong. They are unlocked. You can use them on any carrier

  • Eric

    Excellent article.

  • tonkatuph

    Apple is anal, but they’re not stupid.

  • 877

    Wow Sebastian, lance really pissed you off 🙂

  • alextheguy

    apple always unexpected u! Surprise u!

  • ddr

    A 9th grader could’ve done better on that article. Seriously.


    apple already started to sell unlock iphone 4 in US.

  • PPDeluXe

    Wicked article. Lance is a massive wanker. The end.

  • msxy

    comon i bet u didn’t understand what this article is about
    exellent article keep going

    • Ddr

      I was talking about Lance’s article, lol! Sebastian did great.

  • It seems like lately it’s trendy to create a post of why something wont work. Everyone one wants to go against the grain without any real reason why, but just to do it.

    • Agreed, it’s usually for traffic reasons.

  • anibal

    this guy Lance clearly has NO CLUE what he is talking about….

  • eTHEc

    Wow, Lance. What a tool. Now that it has become official a day later that Apple is selling unlocked iPhones, what do you have to say for yourself?

    BTW, I’m writing this on an unlocked iPhone.

  • mudman

    Nice work Seb!

  • TBone

    Epic fail. What a dork. They are on the Apple Store as rumoured

  • DomPerignon

    Both, Mr. Lance and Mr. Segan should be fired from the magazine. The first one for being stupid and ignoring what he is writing about and the second one for the same reasons and misleading the staff.

  • Yea looks like apple has alrdy started to sell them on their online store

  • STK10

    Irony, its “language barrier” not “barrier language” lol

    But on point, this lance guy actually tries to make apple sound good while trying to make the chronic wire guy sound dumb. A whole article for no reason really, because if this all does happen hes going to look like a complete tool.

  • chronic


  • First of all great article. Second of all I’m going make a trip to Japan in the near future and softbank is the carrier over their and they sell iPhones. So my question is…. Will I be okay with an a regular iPhone or should I try to unlock it?

  • This article makes me happy inside.

  • Paul Zammit

    Why is there such a big hype when, as stated in the article, that the REST of the world is already selling factory unlocked iPhone 4s. I know because I got mine from Apple.com/uk/iPhone.

    They can’t seem to find the proper reasons to bash Apple anymore.

    Moving on.

  • Looks like someone t-bagged him in that pic, anywho… That dude is high on BS because ipad/ipod cost cheaper in us so doesnt that mean they could be sold elsewhr for profits??apple has clearly thought this one through… They need to make as many iP4 sales as they can before announcing iP5/iP4s

    • Fabio Rodrigues

      Agreed “They need to make as many iP4 sales as they can before announcing iP5/iP4s”


  • It’s Me

    This Lance guy is a douche, I hope he buys an unlocked iPhone & bricks it !!

  • Fabio Rodrigues

    around U$600 for an factory unlocked iPhone is not that bad for those who really need an unlocked phone, I would pay that much, I know a lot of brazilians, and they are crazy to get unlocked iPhones, because in Brazil the iphone is like U$1200 dollars or more in some places (R$2400 brazilian reais), and everybody there wants an iPhone, even if they dont have any idea how the phone works 🙁

    and what is wrong with this guy in the article??? seriously, I dont know ‘the magazine, but for what I see here, I will never have an interest in this magazine.

    and the expert in mobile phones is an expert in what phone??? motorola startac from 1995??
    diferent radios inside the phone, for what I know, there are 4 band (thats why iphone is quadriband/ fourband) because it can switch betwen these radio frequencies that are used for most of carries worldwide, right??

    att and t-mobile uses diferent frequencies, but the iphone is compatible with both, except that it does not support 3g from t-mobile 🙁

  • jm

    “Apple might not be stupid but Lance just proved he was.”


  • Hello! They are already selling them unlocked in the US store http://store.apple.com/us/product/MC603LL/A

    Whats the point of this debate?

  • jay

    Sasha Segan declared ‘Android already dead’ in 2009 LOL
    PCmag are desperate with mobile tech. The twitfight between bgr and segan on twitter last night was hilarious

  • Manuel

    Damn, you just killed him lol. At least I know not to read pc mag, although I never did any ways. Someone ate their breakfast before writing this article lol 🙂

  • Lawrence

    Thank you for reaming him an additional asshole 🙂

  • “frequency” seriously, where did he get this expert? Sears? I supp he could be talking about Two technologies used by most mobile providers are GSM and CDMA.no unlock for CDMA. GSM network phones should be unlockable.otherwise the only limit u have is the sim.

  • Fabio Rodrigues

    If they are already selling unlocked iPhones, can you tell me where??? PLZZZZ??? 😀

    I live in Connecticut, and some of the promotions or other things that are said sometimes seems to not be applied i here, like the promotions from

  • Anonymous

    Yeah for once a GREAT article!

  • zEz

    This why I have not read a single PC Mag for the last decade and a half!

  • kadz

    did this guy get his job through a raffle ?

  • Btw ignorance is a universal language. You are on point Sweets! 😉

  • Read todays update:
    Editor’s Note: Sometimes we get it wrong. Obviously, by now you know that Apple is selling unlocked phones. PCMag will examine the why in future stories. Two other clarifications of note: The Twitter account @ChronicWire is actually a sub-account of a significantly more popular and active account: @Chronic. @Chronic has no direct relation to Boy Genius Report, which was simply reporting on Chronic’s scoop. My characterization of how Boy Genius acquires its tips/stories, though based on information from industry sources, is still only an opinion, and should not have been characterized as fact.

  • Braulio

    Apple is going to rule the world someday in electronics… oh my what a dream 🙂

  • Frankie

    Sebastien, you bitch slap that assh0le the right way!!

  • Mallouk Malek

    This man for sure is someone who wants to buy a factory unlcoked iPhone and cant’s afford it LOOOOL

  • i think what he meant by not working, he meant the data side. 3G will be on a different frequency. Like with ATT I can unlock and use with t-mobile but i will only get the edge network!

  • astig

    funny how a wannabe wants to be somebody…. in the end … sounds more like a newbie after all these years …. maybe been sleeping on the job and got smacked for not doing his homework before posting, won’t be suprised if his position will be posted on monster.com lol

  • astig

    funny how a wannabe wants to be somebody…. in the end … sounds more like a newbie after all these years …. maybe been sleeping on the job and got smacked for not doing his homework before posting, won’t be suprised if his position will be posted on monster lol

  • 999

    Yikes! As someone who knows both Lance and Sascha, I would like to come to Sacha’s defense at least. It’s not too much to assume that your boss and the editor-in-chief of PCMag would know a *little* something about mobile phones, carriers, and frequencies.

  • Michael

    This Lance guy is a classic asshole. He’s writing about PCs, so he’s hating on everything that’s non-PC related, aka Mac and iOS.

  • Coco

    You blew that article out the water! Well Done Well Done!!

  • J.Johnson

    “T-Mobile USA for example will work perfectly well on the iPhone, except you will not be able to get 3G. Edge will work fine though. So Lance is wrong. The iPhone can easily work on all GSM networks.”

    So you say it “works perfectly” then say except you cant use 3G. That doesn’t sound “perfect”.

    Buying a unlocked phone here in the USA doesn’t have a lot of upside for me. I don’t cruise the world to Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and France so i would just use it here in the good ole USA. Seeing as T-Mobile is the only other GSM provider and the phone doesn’t even work over 3G it seems the cost is a bit too high for me without much reward.

  • Raymond

    re the China part, factory unlocked iPhones are available in Hong Kong (which is part of China, so to speak, and about an hour drive from Shenzhen) since Day 1. The “evil” Chinese don’t need to go as far as the States, or even Canada, to stock unlocked iPhones. There are plenty in Hong Kong and Singapore (3 hour flight from Shenzhen) already….

    • Raymond

      Any if anyone has done a little bit of homework, you will know the Apple GSM iPhone works on the spectrum of UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA (in short, 3G) on 850, 900, 1900 & 2100 MHz and GSM/EDGE on 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz. http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html and such wide range of spectrum are generally adopted in A LOT of countries (ironically not including the States). See this summary, for example, http://www.worldtimezone.com/gsm.html.