Apple has sold around 34 million iPhones since 2007. In the US, most customers sign up with AT&T, the carrier that Apple partnered with, for their mobile phone service. A few users, however, have looked for ways to unlock iPhones so they could use them with other carriers. The legality of this was unclear for several years, until July 2010, when two rulings declared it legal to unlock the iPhone, freeing it from its automatic marriage to AT&T as a carrier.
Every three years, the US Library of Congress must review and revise the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and in July 2010 the Library of Congress ruled that you are allowed to unlock your mobile phone legally. At the same time, a ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the legality of unlocking mobile phones. The bottom line is that it is legal to unlock your iPhone and use it with carriers other than AT&T. The ruling applies to all smart phones, and means that you can unlock iPhone 4s as well.
People have been unlocking phones for years, even when the legal status of doing so was questionable, but the Library of Congress and Fifth Circuit rulings mean that you can unlock your phone legally, and that those who make software for doing this can openly offer their products to consumers.
It should be emphasized that the 2010 rulings in no way legalize piracy, or the stealing of apps for smart phones. That is still squarely against the law. But unlocking your phone so that you can use it with the carrier of your choice is legal. It must also be noted that in many, if not all cases, unlocking your phone will void the phone’s warranty. For many people, that is a risk they are willing to take.
Why would someone want to unlock their phone? One of the main reasons people unlock their phones is so that if they travel to other countries, they can use mobile providers in those countries simply by switching out the SIM card in their phones and avoid huge international roaming charges that could apply to their locked phone. A number of people who live in areas where AT&T coverage is inadequate or results in a lot of dropped calls want the option of choosing another 3G provider to minimize dropped call problems.
Many people feel that having a locked phone where they are tied to a certain carrier squelches competition in the industry, and they want to know that they have choices when it comes to who provides their mobile service, regardless of the make and model of the phone.
If you want to unlock your iPhone, all you need is software that does the job for you easily and quickly. Today, creators of such software are able to offer consumers exactly what they need: software that the non-tech-savvy smart phone user can use to unlock his or her phone easily, quickly, and inexpensively. If you’re not satisfied with your iPhone’s performance on the AT&T network, then perhaps you should explore your legal option of unlocking it with software.
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