Apparent block on mass-unlocking of AT&T iPhones hits resale industry

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Companies that specialise in buying and selling used iPhones are reporting that the methods they use to unlock handsets to allow them to be used on any compatible network are no longer working for AT&T models.

AT&T models are in greatest demand for companies reselling iPhones overseas, as the frequencies used are compatible with many foreign networks. But the WSJ says that something changed early in October, and no solution has been found since then. One reseller, run by Louis Ashner, says it is being forced to close.

“The market is gone,” Mr. Ashner said, who said he was on track for $1 million in revenue this year. “We are closing up.”

Business owners throughout the U.S. used-smartphone market are reporting the same problem, and like Mr. Ashner none of them knows exactly what went wrong. Whatever changed, AT&T appears to be at the center of it …  Read more

Apple now offering unlocked iPhone 5 online on US store, starting at $649 for 16GB

Following our report from this morning, Apple made the much-awaited unlocked iPhone 5 available in the United States on its online store this evening. The unlocked device’s price range is set at $649, $749, and $849 for 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of storage, respectively. Apple has offered an unlocked version of the iPhone 5 in several countries around the world since the device first launched in late September —including Canada and in Europe. However, as it has done in the past, Apple delayed the U.S. unlocked launch.

Additionally, we learned from several retail sources Apple will sell the unlocked iPhone 5 in its chain of retail stores in the coming days—perhaps as soon as tomorrow. The devices have begun arriving in large quantities to Apple stores over the past couple of days.

The unlocked version is GSM only, which supports AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S., and will not work on CDMA bands. If you hate contracts, like swapping the nano SIM, and taking the device abroad is your thing, this is the version of the iPhone 5 for you. To avoid scalpers, Apple is limiting two per customer.

From Apple:

 “The unlocked iPhone includes all the features of iPhone but without a wireless contract commitment. You can activate and use iPhone on the supported GSM wireless network of your choice, such as AT&T in the United States. The unlocked iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 will not work with CDMA-based carriers such as Verizon Wireless or Sprint. If you don’t want a multiyear service contract, or if you prefer to use a local carrier when traveling abroad, the unlocked iPhone is the best choice. It does not come with a micro-SIM card for iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, or a nano-SIM card for iPhone 5, so you’ll need to get one from any supported GSM carrier worldwide. To start using it, simply insert the card into the slot on your iPhone and turn it on by pressing and holding the On/Off button for a few seconds. Then follow the onscreen instructions to set up your iPhone.”

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