There is a huge race to become the first person to unlock the iPhone. With that honor goes a lot of tech street cred.
Phones that are locked can only be used with cell service from one particular carrier. That was designed to guarantee carriers get back the cost of subsidizing a phone through monthly service charges. The Apple iPhone is not subsidized by AT&T therefor the price remains high at $499 and $599. People have to pay full price for the phone and also sign a 2 year contract for cellular service.
Unlocking the iPhone will enable it to be used with any cellular service provider with a GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) or EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) network, not just the required AT&T’s network. That’s great for people who already have a contract with another carrier.
The iPhone uses a SIM card, a removable smart card that contains a user’s phone number and also has limited storage space for contacts and messages. The cards were designed to be used for switching between phones and swapping information. The use of a SIM card means the iPhones locking protection is in the firmware and likely hackable.
Hackers must first circumvent the iPhone’s activation process. iPhone users are required to activate their handset using the new version of iTunes before they can use the phone. Without activation none of the iPhone’s functions, including the music player camera and , can be accessed.
Hackers have made progress towards circumventing the iPhone activation process. They have gaining access to key system files and have found two passwords used with the phone.