iPhone 4S though disappointing for many, has been a huge success in the international market selling almost 4 millions phones worldwide in the first weekend itself. The 4S launched in US is locked to carriers like AT&T, Sprint & Verizon. However, there came in a rumour on 9to5 mac that Apple had already started selling factory unlocked iPhones in selected stores in the US though the official unlocked iPhone 4S launch was supposedly somewhere in the month of November. Several people reported online on blogs through comments and posts that they were actually able to run T-mobile carrier onto their locked iPhones purchased from the retail stores.
What we understand from this is rather astonishing. After reading in comments from various people online, we came to the conclusion that the iPhone 4S is locked to the carriers only when you activate it first with an new AT&T or Sprint SIM-card. Due to huge ques for the iPhone 4S, retail store employees would not have the time to activate the phones with the respective carriers at the time of purchase. This would also be valid for people who bought their phones online.
When people connected their 4S to iTunes, it would then lock the phone onto their respective carriers. However, if you activated the phone with a UK sim or any other country SIM where phones are unlocked, iTunes would recognise the phone as unlocked stopping the locking process (Update: A T-Mobile SIM from US also work, see comments below). We hear that this unlocking feature only works for two US carriers AT&T and Sprint.
iPhone 4S factory unlocked version due this November would sell for 650 dollars. So it does not make sense for people to buy locked phones with AT&T or Sprint as they have to pay the price for the contract anyways which turns out to be an expensive deal overall. However, activating the SIM with another SIM card does give an added advantage to users as they can then switch onto other carriers in emergency situations or while travelling abroad.
Have you tried this hack to get a unlocked iPhone 4S?
Update: We have at least one confirmation in comments below that this works.