Off-Contract AT&T iPhone 4S May be Unlocked Through Restore

Posted by at 12:05 pm on October 16, 2011

While Apple has only said it would sell an unlocked iPhone 4S in the US for November, some buyers have found that AT&T might already be selling its version unlocked in certain circumstances.  A twitter post by developer Steve Troughton-Smith, a check by 9to5, and reports from the MacRumors forums have shown that the full price, off-contract iPhone 4S should work with any compatible GSM-based carrier, such as T-Mobile. While it’s not certain if any special steps need to be taken, restoring the phone produces the same “Congratulations! Your iPhone has been unlocked” message as for those who either had an after-sale unlock from the carrier or who bought one unlocked in Canada or some other countries outside of the US.

AT&T hasn’t had an opportunity to comment, although it does quietly sell the off-contract 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions for the same $649, $749, and $849 that Apple offers in Canada.

The unlock if upheld would be a break from AT&T’s habit of the past four years. Previously, AT&T had still locked down iPhones even if they had been bought contract-free. The decision to allow the unlocked iPhone 4 earlier in the year and the end to AT&T’s exclusivity in the US may have prompted the decision, though, as AT&T might be seen as acting unfairly if it kept devices locked after an exclusive.

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