The original iPhone was released with limited availability; the iPhone 3G was released with a wide distribution that has expanded since the rollout. The iPhone 3G can now be bought from a sanctioned carrier in most major world markets.
Given the device’s broad availability, are baseband unlocks still important? The iphone-Dev Team seems to think so, having recently announced via video that the crack of the iPhone 3G baseband is close.
In the U.S., the iPhone 3G is tied to AT&T’s network. According to activation terms you have to return your iPhone 3G within a certain period of time to get out of your two year contract. That’s hardly an opportunity for you to buy, crack and start using your iPhone 3G on T-Mobile’s network in the U.S. As such, the viability of hardware unlocks is mitigated.
In addition, the iPhone 3G is being legally sold as an unlocked device by 3 Hutchnison Telecommunications in Hong Kong and TIM in Italy. This means that users can insert any carrier’s SIM card into the device and access the attached network. However, both carriers are still requiring users to sign a two-year contract before they purchase the unlocked iPhones.
Of course, an iPhone 3G that can readily accept SIM cards from various international carriers, and does not have to be purchased in Hong Kong or Italy would be a boon for world travelers. As such, we’ll be watching the iPhone Dev Team’s progress closely.
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