iPhone Carrier Update: Should you Download the Update?

BY Jason

Published 7 Feb 2009

iPhone users in the US might have got the following message after connecting their iPhone to iTunes in the last day or two.

If you have a jailbroken iPhone and/or an unlocked iPhone then you might have asked yourself the question: Should I download the update or ignore it?

Before I answer that question, lets find out what's in the update.

As per Apple's knowledge base article:

"iTunes 7.7 and later has the ability to update the carrier specific settings on iPhone with iPhone 2.0 software or later. Carrier settings updates are small files (about 10k) that are downloaded from iTunes to be installed on your iPhone. The carrier settings can include updates to the default APN (how iPhone accesses the carrier's cellular data network), special dialing codes at Settings > Phone > [Carrier] Services, default settings for Stocks, Maps, Weather, and other items."

So what's actually in the update?

As per MobileCrunch the update consists of 2 images, light and dark versions of the image on the top left corner, apparently, for AT&T's upcoming MicroCell service as seen below:

One of The iPhone blog reader who compared the older and updated carrier.plist has also confirmed the content of the update. As per a TUAW reader, Apple has also added settings for the Mobily network (Saudi Arabia) and Etisalat (United Arab Emirates) which might be true based on the news we had reported earlier in the week that Etisalat was to launch Apple's iPhone 3G in two largest Arab economies from Feb 15.

So what does it mean for iPhone users who have jailbroken and/or unlocked their iPhone?

After the problem iPhone users faced after accidentally updating their iPhone with firmware 2.2.1, an update for the iPhone message might have given you the creeps.

However, here is some information that might help calm some nerves. As per comments from few TUAW readers, they did not observe any issue downloading and updating the carrier settings, which makes sense based on the contents of the update, it is not a firmware update.

Jimbean, one of the their reader points out:

"All this does is update the carier bundles, logos and apn's, nothing at all that would effect a jailbroken or unlocked phone."

It looks like the Carrier update is in preparation for AT&T's upcoming MicroCell service. In case you are not aware of this service, here is AT&T's explanation of the service:

"AT&T 3G MicroCell acts like a mini cellular tower in your home or small business environment. It connects to AT&T's network via your existing broadband internet service (such as DSL or cable) and is designed to support up to 10 3G capable wireless phones in a home or small business setting. With AT&T 3G MicroCell, you receive improved cellular signal performance for both voice calls and cellular data applications, like picture messaging and surfing the web for up to 4 simultaneous users."

Unfortunately, there's still no word on price or availability but it could be an answer to improve your iPhone's 3G reception at your home or office.

Have you downloaded and updated the carrier settings on your iPhone? As always let us know how it goes. Please also drop us a line to tell us what do you think about AT&T's upcoming MicroCell service.