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How to make the iPhone work outside of the US July 3, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in iPhone.

Here’s a Mac-A-Doodle scoop:

A good friend of mine (whose identity will remain secret, but not for long by the way he’s flashing the thing around to everyone in sight), is a man who I’d like to throttle. In envy.

Because yesterday he got an iPhone, direct and hand-delivered from the US by a relative who came home with the phone as pasalubong. We should all be so blessed with such relatives.

What’s more, amazingly, he got it to work – well, after a fashion. Everything, except the telephone part, seems to work just fine. You’d think that with all the activation safeguards that Apple and AT&T put in, all you’d do is put through emergency calls. Well, if there’s a will…

Here’s how he managed it:

He wracked his brain the whole night trying to find a way to get past the activation screen. (He likens the situation to being given a Porsche without any keys.) In frustration he went through the iTunes routine just for the heck of it. At the identity check screen where they ask for the Social Security Number, he types in a series of 9s, which predictably gets him an error message.

But here’s the loophole: iTunes then asks if you wish to get a prepaid account. Ka-ching!

He promptly cajoles his US-based sister to let him use her US debit card to get the account and some pre-paid minutes (which cost him all of US$30), upon which the phone is, of course, activated.

Everything worked – internet surfing, email, photos and movies, ipod stuff – except the phone part (duh).

Great, but here is the complication: to maintain the account, the debit card will be charged a fixed amount every month – which is money down the drain because you can’t of course use an AT&T account in the Philippines. He tried to get the account canceled, but he finds out he’ll be charged US$175 as a penalty.

Sure. Since he got the phone for free, he’ll essentially be springing for a little over two hundred bucks for an iPhone. That’s about PHP9200. Good deal in any book. So he cancels it. But everything else still works, and now he has a fancy wifi-surfing multi-touch iPod with a great screen that I will kill him for. If you were a normal person not blessed by iPhone-bearing relatives, you can get the fanciest 4gb iPod in the world for about US$700. It’s possible. Hmm.

By the way, he says the hype didn’t even come close.



1. PWiT - Philippine Week in Tech » Possible: Using an iPhone in the Philippines - July 3, 2007

[…] a long story, and to save me the agony of reposting it here, let me direct you to my Mac-A-Doodle posting instead and save me the trouble. […]

2. naksd - July 4, 2007

the pre-paid approach of using a Gophone plan by deliberately failing the credit check and in the activation process, choosing a pre-paid plan. STILL HAS a cancellation fee? I thought it only applies to postpaid line? (or my mindset on US telcos is not corrected.)

The hackers really need to do something on the activation bit first before the Sim lock. That’s what Apple/At&T gets because they did not Open Line that Darn Phone!

3. Maddie - July 4, 2007

They say patience is a virtue.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaa! Pun#eta! Ang tagal pa nang 2008!

4. penmanila - July 4, 2007

if he paid P9,200, i’d gladly divest him of his toy for 10K 😉

5. reverseengineer - July 4, 2007

Mads, if you want, you can paw and poke at my friend’s unit. For me, ok lang. Time to save for an 8gb or better. I’m sure version two na ang dadating by then. With 3G? Heh.

6. reverseengineer - July 4, 2007

Butch, I’d give him twice that, but knowing our friend, we’d have to pry it from his cold dead fingers to get the damned thing. 🙂

7. mark - July 4, 2007

my only question is how much is at&t charging (or debited from your account) to keep the prepaid service. I have been looking around and could not find the information. i am thinking of getting an iphone but would not like to be on the contract. is it higher or the same as the 59.99 that they charge if your in the contract? Thanks!

8. Maddie - July 5, 2007

Agree, agree!

I don’t know why! I’ve never been interested in phones. My first phone was a Nokia 6180. Then a 5110. Now a 5300. Simple, eh! I’m of the “a phone is a phone is a phone” person. I don’t care much about all the bells and whistles that go with it. In the first place, if I can help it, I’d rather not have a cell phone. I miss those days when we didn’t have/need one. Walang distorbo. Less stress. More focused on what you are doing without the “Baka may ice cream ka makita diyan mamaya, paki bili nalang on your way home,” or “I’ve been calling but you’re not picking up.” Doh. I’m obviously busy or ignoring or your call. BUT, with this phone, I swear I don’t think I’ll wait for them to come out with a second gen of the Asian version. Bili agad pagdating sa Philippine shores. Anyway, as you said, by then 3rd gen na yan, at 3G! Even the iPod video wala ako since my “Tandang Sora” eyes can’t see the pics or video clearly anyway without bringing on those granny reading glasses! So when’s the next meet of the MUG, naka sakali I can make it para mahipo man lang ang iPhone na yan!

9. Joanne - July 6, 2007

well your friend can just ask AT&T to activate the roaming service so that he can use the phone in the Philippines. Di ba? that’s the easiest way!

man I can’t wait to have the IPHOnE!!! Tagal release dito sa NZ!


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