AT&T, bowing to increasing pressure from its customers, finally began offering hardware unlocks for iPhones that are outside of their initial 2-year contract. Unlocking allows you to use your iPhone with SIM cards from other companies, such as T-Mobile, and is especially handy if you plan to travel outside of the country with your trusty iPhone at your side.
Speaking of T-Mobile, they are welcoming AT&T iPhone refugees with open arms. Here’s part of their statement:
Today we have more than one million unlocked iPhones running on our network. T-Mobile currently offers microSIMs for customers who already have a GSM phone they want to use on the T-Mobile network, including an iPhone. In order to set up an unlocked iPhone on T-Mobile’s network, customers simply need to purchase a microSIM card and select a T-Mobile Value plan that suits their needs.
According to this post over at ZDNet, the best way to go about obtaining your unlock is to either go in to an AT&T retail store or contact them through Online Chat. People calling AT&T Support were met with several Customer Service Reps who didn’t know about the new Unlocking policy or just plain refused to do it. (Now THAT sounds like the AT&T we all know and loathe!)
Again, the Unlock is available to people who are outside of the 2-year contract they signed when they purchased their iPhone or to people who pay their Early Termination Fee.
UPDATE: It appears AT&T is also Unlocking phones for Active Duty Military personnel who are deploying overseas, regardless of contract status, according to TUAW.