How A Permanent iPhone Unlock Works

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.