A while ago a sim-free iPhone came my way. I had been using it for a while through a combination of PAYG O2 sim card and Wi-Fi. After a while I tired of topping up another account and began flirting with the idea of unlocking it and using my normal contract account.
Well today was the day I acted on my temptation. There are half a dozen stores on the Oxford Street near Mobile’s offices and I wandered in to A-Mazing Mobile during the lunch hour. I didn’t intend to do anything. I just wanted to talk. How long would it take? Would I lose my data? Would they guarantee it would work? But as always talking soon led to other things.
The easy going owner offered to unlock me for £25 and set up my internet for nothing.. I could do it now, it would take 20 minutes … Before I knew it I was handing over my iPhone and preparing to bin my O2 sim.
He checked my OS and offered to update it from 3.0 to 3.1, telling me I should make the most of any improvements before cutting myself adrift (once a phone is unlocked, the operating system can’t be updated). I was impressed that he had all the tools to hand behind the counter for any type of phone. ‘The software to do this is expensive,’ he advised, ‘it means we can unlock any phone and do a proper job’. While the iPhone offer was what caught the eye on the street, he was unlocking ten times as many Blackberrys. ‘They are very easy. It takes about ten minutes.’
The upgrade of my OS required a backup (nothing sinister, it’s how iTunes works). But I wondered about the security risks of letting a complete stranger take a copy of your phone book. (If you want to avoid this, do your own back up first). Not a problem for me, however, as I only had about half a dozen numbers, a few apps and a bunch of web favourites.
I noticed he had about 20 Blackberry’s he was unlocking at the same time. ‘Very simple and quick,’ he told me. I gauged from the pile of devices that this was his real stock in trade – and there was obviously a big demand. Two more people came in and handed over devices while my upgrade was chugging through.
At long last he smiled at me ‘All done.’ A quick call to his wife who knows the data settings for all the networks had me up and running. I left the shop with a grin on my face and pulled out my iPhone to make my first call.
Where upon… I dropped it on the path.