So after posting my video and a few blogs about unlocking an iPhone, I got a bunch of questions from readers and colleagues alike about various aspects how an unlocked iPhone works once it's unlocked. Here are a few Q's, A's, and tips based on my own experiences over the past few days:
A: Unlocking an iPhone - or any phone - allows you to use it on any compatible network. iPhone is a quad-band GSM phone, so it won't work on CDMA networks like Sprint or Verizon. An unlocked iPhone will work on T-Mobile, Rogers, O2, and other GSM networks around the world.
Depending on how your iPhone is unlocked and what other "hacks" have been made to it, you can get data services to work. The software unlock I did initially required a few settings changes to work with T-Mobile's Total Internet and BlackBerry plans. Further hacks have allowed the use of T-Mobile's TZones data plan, as well. My iPhone works over EDGE with Safari, Mail, and various other data applications (Stocks, Weather, Maps, etc.) but YouTube does not work. There are reports of successful "YouTube unlockings," however.
I should mention that if I switch SIM cards in my iPhone I have to "reactivate" the phone using a computer with the unlocking software I initially used. This isn't the case with all unlocking methods, and I believe that there's another hack that would "fix" this. I just haven't done it yet, as I only have one SIM card that I use for my personal phone.
Q: I have a quick question ? Do you have to upload the latest software from apple or can you just keep using the phone as usual?
A: Apple's updates come via iTunes and you have to click to download and install them (from your computer). So you can just keep using the phone and not install those updates. Odds are Apple will "fight" the unlockers by issuing an update with a must-have feature (like iTunes Music Store) that also breaks the unlock - so if you're worried about keeping your iPhone unlocked, don't install the latest Apple updates right away. Wait and see what PhoneDog.com and the other blogs say about how the new software affects unlocked iPhones.
Q: I understand I may be missing some new features with an unlocked iPhone, but will I still be able to connect my unlocked phone to iTunes?
A: Yup - That all works the same ... transferring music photos and video, syncing with contacts and mail accounts, etc etc. all still works with iTunes on an unlocked iPhone. Don't get me wrong - the process isn't 100% foolproof, and future versions of iTunes and the iPhone's own software could change this. But I'm currently using an unlocked iPhone with firmware version 1.0.2 and iTunes version 7.4 (for Mac OS X) and everything is working okay.
Apparently folks figured out the t-mobile proxy settings. I've yet to try it, but if it works I think I'm keeping the phone. Means I can get all of the email and Internet via EDGE for $6/month, which is great. The EDGE to WiFi transfer on iPhone is really, really slick. Very seamless, and if you leave WiFi on it automatically sniffs out available WiFi networks when you use a data-based program.
Q: Do I have to buy music for my iPhone from Apple's iTunes Store, or can I use music I've downloaded from other places or ripped from CDs?
No, you can use any music and videos so long as the file formats are compatible with iPhone - it's the same as using a locked or unlocked iPhone, and basically the same as using an iPod. I use iTunes on my Mac to manage/play my music but don't buy most of it from Apple. I have mp3 and AAC music I've downloaded from eMusic and other sources, and tracks I've ripped from my CD collection, and they all work fine on iPhone. I also have downloaded videos and converted videos from DVDs for use on the iPhone - there's no need to buy it from iTunes if you don't want to.
Video users should note that iPhone does not support video formats like AVI or DiVX. You'll have to use conversion software to reformat videos in those (and certain other) file formats.
One thing that's a drag is that i can't manually move individual tracks to the iPhone via iTunes; it only syncs via autosync or playlists. So i had to make an iTunes playlist with the music i wanted to put on the phone and then sync that playlist. This has nothing to do with unlocking the phone - it's how Apple designed the software. It's only a minor pain, but kind of silly.