Unlocking the iPhone 3G: is it worth it?

Unlock Me.  I dare you.
Unlock Me. I dare you.

I was going to write an article detailing how to unlock your iPhone 3G, but the process is commonplace now… videos on YouTube and blog instructions abound. I don’t have the guts to try it on my phone — I just don’t have time. Furthermore, I have seen the quirky behavior of my friends’ phones after unlocking them, and well… I’d rather not deal with that stuff. Some of the bad behavior that I’m aware of directly from friends includes the following:

Potential Problems with Unlocked iPhones

  • Phone does not ring unless it is active (i.e. you’re in an application or viewing apps on its “Desktop”). This is REALLY annoying if you’re hypothetically being held against your will in a foreign country and REALLY need to call your friend’s iPhone so she can translate for you.
  • Random loss or corruption of contact data (e.g. all names disappear from address book or showing only numbers)
  • No access to the 3G network (which can effectively kill some of the more useful apps like Google Maps, any Location Services, Safari, etc.)
  • Bricked phones with an Incorrect SIM message stuck on the screen

After some quick searches, I found horror stories of people who actually had to buy new phones after unsuccessfully attempting to unlock their phones. Ouch!

There are commercial software packages available for the task that theoretically are more reliable. At least you’d have someone to call for help after Apple gives you the finger (I mean “the finger” as in the rigid digit pointing towards the notice in the store that says “Don’t hack the phone”).

Commercial Software for Unlocking iPhones

Ultimately, I thought it would be more interesting to put the question to the readers: do you think it’s worth it to unlock your iPhone? What are the benefits? The savings? What things can’t you do with an unlocked phone? Did anything break? What are your stories?

We want to hear from you.