by Yale Holder

I’ve had a scary experience unlocking  iPhones that I hope no one else has to go through.

Having unlocked phones already, mainly BlackBerry phones, I thought that unlocking iPhones would be just as easy and not as complicated – boy was I wrong. Here is what I learnt…

The first iPhone I unlocked or “jail break” was the iPhone 3Gs 8 GB version. I was told to backup the phone before doing the unlocking procedure which we did. After the unlocking procedure the phone was wiped, no data and it had an earlier version. When we attempted to restore the data, the phone would lock again. So we had to unlock the phone again and lose the data again. There was no way we could find to restore the data we backed up without the phone re-locking, leaving us with a phone with no data.

The second iPhone was an iPhone 4, this procedure was much smoother but it kept losing the network settings, which had to be programmed into the phone twice. And to top it off we are restricted from upgrading the phone further for fair of it re-locking again. What a nightmare!

So here are the 3 things you should bear in mind when unlocking an iPhone:

1. Understand that if you have an iPhone 3Gs that you  you may not be able to restore any data to the phone – this depends on the version of your iPhone. But in most cases an unlock means a clean iPhone with no data. So be prepared for this.


2. Limited upgrades. If you have an iPhone 3Gs you will not be able to upgrade your OS or Firmware to later versions. For the iPhone 4, while you should be able to restore your data you may be limited to the current version of the phone. No upgrades to iOS5 or later versions.

3. Connectivity issues. This doesn’t always happen, but its a distinct possibility that you may lose your network settings during the process of the unlock, so you will need to learn how to re-enter the settings in the event that this does happen.


With the iPhone 4S now available in Canada, I hope that the unlocking procedures get better and these  issues can be addressed. In the meantime, be aware of the risks and do your research to ensure that you are getting the best cellphone  deal.


Yale Holder is co-founder of myCELLmyTERMS, a Toronto-based company that helps cell phone users negotiate wireless plans with independent dealers.


Share on LinkedIn Share with Google+
  • Don

    I wonder if this guy really knows what he’s talking about. He starts the article by using the terms Unlock and Jailbreak interchangeably when they are actually very different. If he doesn’t understand that, I’m guessing whatever issues he had were a result of user error.

  • Anthony

    I have been jailbreaking and unlocking (Yes, unlocking is different to jailbreaking) iPhones since the 3G release. I have never come across any of these issue in the time of jailbreaking over 100 iPhones.

    1. You are only limited if you wish to keep your jailbreak. That is if you want to jailbreak again on a newer version. There is always a tethered jailbreak a few hours after an OS release.

    2. No matter what OS you install on an iDevice, they all require clean installations. Not only do Jailbreakers reccomend backing up your device, Apple themselves advise you on this before installing a new OS

    • Thanks very much for your comments and advice Anthony. Backing up your device before jailbreaking is a must indeed.

  • Blake

    I’m in agreement, this article makes no sense. Jailbreaking is not equal to unlocking (removing the SIM carrier lock to use your device on another network). Unlocking the iphone is actually quite easy if you’re willing to pay for it. All north american carriers no unlock iphones, most for a fee ($50 Rogers or Bell). They send your iphone’s ID to apple and then you unlock using iTunes with the press of a button…

  • Jailbreaking and unlocking are two different things…we cant compare them together…