Apple Breaks Hardware Method to Unlock iPhone 3G with Firmware 2.2

BY Jason

Published 24 Nov 2008

iPhone firmware 2.0 hacked

Prior to the release of iPhone firmware 2.2, the iPhone Dev Team had warned iPhone 3G users to avoid upgrading to it when its available until they give an all clear.

They later confirmed that iPhone 3G users who were interested in unlocking their iPhones should NOT upgrade to the latest firmware.

But when Apple released iPhone firmware 2.2 on Thursday night quite a few
1st gen iPhone and iPhone 3G users ended up
accidentally upgrading their iPhones to the latest firmware as they reported that iPhone firmware 2.2 also included an update for iPhone 3G’s baseband firmware.

Based on reader comments here at iPhone Hacks and other discussion forum threads it appears that Apple has broken the hardware method to unlock iPhone 3G with firmware 2.2, as they are no longer able to use their iPhones 3Gs after upgrading.

Hackers in Brazil had unlocked iPhone 3G back in July and started shipping the Turbo SIM cards from August, 2008.

The Dev Team had immediately warned iPhone 3G users after iPhone firmware 2.2 was released:

"The 2.2 firmware for 3G contains a baseband update for the 3G iPhone.

We can confirm that this update SHOULD NOT be applied using iTunes if you want the chance of a soft-unlock in the near future."

They released PwnageTool 2.2, QuickPwn 2.2 for Mac & QuickPwn 2.2 for Windows for iPhone Firmware 2.2 the following day along with detailed instructions.

They had published the following instructions for the iPhone 3G users who wanted to preserve the baseband:

"Baseband 101

The ‘baseband’ is the generic name given to the internal components of the iPhone that handle the phone calls and Internet access. This ‘baseband’ is a tiny and unique independent computer system that runs inside your iPhone, it is separate to the main system that handles the applications (such as email and google maps) and it talks to the main part of the phone over an internal communications network. Think of it like a cable modem or other peripheral that is attached to your home PC that needs occasional updates. When a software update is released and presented to you within iTunes the baseband is sometimes updated (to fix bugs or add new features). The 2.2 update for the iPhone 3G contains such an update, so running the vanilla updater straight away with iTunes will reprogram and update the baseband. This could be bad for certain people, depending on your ultimate aim.

This applies if you have a locked iPhone 3G and you wish to update
to 2.2 but preserve the iPhone’s current baseband software. Preserving
the baseband will give you the maximum chance for any upcoming software
unlock. To upgrade your phone to 2.2 and preserve the state of the
baseband you need to create a custom .ipsw with PwnageTool. This custom
.ipsw will not contain the baseband update but of course will still
allow all the cool new stuff from 2.2.

We had also published a simple guide so that iPhone users who had
accidentally upgraded to iPhone firmware 2.2 could revert back to
iPhone firmware 2.1

But based on the comments here at iPhone Hacks and other discussion forums iPhone 3G users who had accidentally upgraded to firmware 2.2 are still facing problems as the firmware update resulted in also updating the baseband firmware as their iPhones are no longer working.

Mark wrote:

"I am one of those people who accidentally upgraded to 2.2 without
knowing I would no longer be able to use a Proxy-SIM with it after the

Greyhame confirmed the problem:

"I have a Rodgers 3G that was working with Tmobile just fine with a
Proxy SIM, but I upgraded to 2.2 and now it does not work and also I
could not downgrade (Error 1013 and then it goes no further)."

ganja also reported a similar issue:

"I accidentially updated to 2.2 and did the downgrade to 2.1 the first
time i got the error 1013. The second time I got it again but after a
restart of my iphone it worked pefectly in 2.1 then i just had to
jailbreak it and i thougt everything wold work normal again. I work
with turbosim and i entered the pin but now it gets strange it is not
possible to connect to my network no matter what it does noch connect
to my carriers network i hate this

We had only one reader, David, who seems to have managed to revert back to iPhone firmware 2.1 and get his iPhone 3G to work with Turbo SIM. He commented:

I accidentally upgraded my iPhone 3g to firmware 2.2 and the proxy
fix would not work. So I tried restoring per the instructions and I got
a "Error 1013" and I thought I was stuck.

Then I pondered a bit and tried something different. I downloaded
the latest version of Pwnage which 2.1 and I create a custom firmware
so I could jailbreak the iPhone.

After doing the steps in Pwnage I forced myself into DFU mode which
they walk you through. iTunes then started up and it recognized the
iPhone in "Recovery Mode" and I chose the custom 2.1 firmware that
Pwnage had create.

Voila! It worked and now I am back to 2.1 firmware on an iPhone 3.g hacked via proxySIM to work on the T-Mobile network.

However, he still seems to have some problems with his data connection. As he had one question:

"I have yet to figure out how to setup my Edge settings. Any ideas?"

iPhone 3G users who have used the custom iPhone firmware 2.2 using latest PwnageTool to update their iPhone 3Gs have reported that their iPhone is working with the hardware unlock method. Reader, Love my iPhone, had commented:

want to share this: if you use turbosim to unlock your iphone 3G, you
can update your phone to v2.2 using pwnagetool custom ipsw. By doing
this, you have preserved baseband version which will not effect the way
your trubosim works, otherwise you have either to update the firmware
of your turbosim (if it is available) or buy a new one which supports
v2.2 in the near future. I have personally tested it. I have updated my
iPhone 3G to v2.2 using pwnagetool and my turbosim is still working."

The 1st gen iPhone users who had also accidentally upgraded to the
latest firmware have not reported any issue as the baseband has not
been upgraded with the firmware update. They have also been able to successfully downgrade to iPhone firmware 2.1.

Reader mark had reported about another discussion thread here
on the same topic which further confirms that Apple has broken the
hardware method to unlock iPhone 3G with iPhone firmware 2.2.

This will also affect new iPhone 3G users who are planning to buy iPhone 3G to unlock it using the hardware method as they will soon come preloaded with iPhone firmware 2.2.

Incidentally, the iPhone Dev Team had also advised users to avoid using the hardware method to unlock iPhone 3G. They had raised the
following concern about the method in one of their blog posts:

a hack could in theory work under this scheme, the errors are recorded
by telecom companies, and may be considered tampering in a company’s
network. In countries like Germany, as a result, a person could
allegedly face up to three years in prison, and in the US, it may fall
under legislation designed to combat terrorism."

iPhone Dev team are currently working hard on their software method to unlock iPhone 3G and are very close to unlocking it.

Thanks to all the readers who gave their feedback on the problems they are facing post iPhone firmware 2.2.


yankii, one of our readers, has summarized the situation for iPhone 3G users that facing this issue in the comments:

"The sim proxies work for 2.1 and below… so theres nothing we can do for now.

We can only wait for 2 things… either they release a sim proxy
that is compatible with 2.2, or, iPhone dev team releases a way to
either downgrade the baseband, or, to unlock the phone.

Either way, we have to wait… and get used to my iphone being an ipod touch for the time being."

Do you use the hardware (Turbo SIM, Proxy SIM etc) method to unlock iPhone 3G? Are you facing a problem after upgrading to iPhone firmware 2.2?

Have you been able to fix the problem after the firmware update, so you can use your iPhone 3G again? Tell us in the comments.

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