Companies who make their money buying used iPhones, unlocking them, and then reselling them, are finding that the methods that allowed them to unlock handsets for use on any compatible network aren’t working any more on AT&T handsets.
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.
Louis Ashner runs a reseller who he says will be forced to close. “The market is gone,” Mr. Ashner said. “We are closing up.” His firm had been on track to make $1 million in revenue this year.
While those in the used smartphone market aren’t exactly sure what happened, whatever it is, AT&T seems to be at the epicenter.
AT&T would only state that their policy for unlocking phones for individual customers remains unchanged. Resellers can also unlock iPhones, but at a cost of upwards of $100 per phone, not the $1-2 they formerly paid for mass-unlocks.
“AT&T was very lax for a long time in regards to mobile phone unlocking. If they said no, a third-party unlocker would be happy to unlock any AT&T iPhone or other device for a very decent price,” said Will Strafach, who runs a Connecticut-based unlocking company called ChronicUnlocks. “AT&T is really taking action and coming down hard.”
9to5Mac’s sources report that AT&T may no longer be accepting bulk unlock requests on the grounds that there isn’t a practical way to verify the legitimacy of the handsets.