We have all heard about unlocking your iPhone so that you can use a different SIM in it. This may be a good idea in certain situations. Many people want to unlock their iPhone to get around using AT&T as their cell phone service provider. Others just want to use the iPhone for internet and music capabilities and they do not want to use it as a phone at all. They hack the firmware so that they do not have to activate the phone on any network in order to use it. Here is the question before us. Unlocking your iPhone, is it a good idea?
If you are looking to unlock your iPhone to use it on another network such as T-Mobile then you are breaking the law. It is illegal and in violation of Apple's agreement with AT&T to use it on another network. Apple receives royalties from AT&T for every iPhone that is connected to their network. Apple loses money on every hacked iPhone. Many feel that it is ok to hack the iPhone's firmware so that it can be used on another network. It is the author's standpoint that this ethically wrong. Whether you agree with AT&T and Apple's agreement or not is up to you. If you do not agree with it then do not use the iPhone as a cell phone. In this case, I do not agree with the hacking of the firmware.
On the other hand if you do not want the high expense of AT&T's iPhone service and you are looking to use the iPhone for its music and internet capabilities then hacking into the firmware so that you do not have to activate the AT&T cell phone service is OK. You should be able to buy the iPhone and use it for the music, video and internet capabilities without having to connect to AT&T's cell phone network. You can use places that offer free WiFi to access the internet via your iPhone. The iPod does not give you internet capabilities. Therefore, if you want to have internet, combined with awesome content then you really do need an iPhone and you should not have to purchase expensive cell phone service in order to enjoy the reason most people buy an iPhone in the first place. Unlocking your iPhone, is it a good idea? In this case, yes it is.
Then there is a third reason to hack into the firmware. This is really in a grey area as it uses the full capabilities of the iPhone, including using it as a phone. You can add Skype VOIP service for about $10 a month and then you have a WiFi phone. If you are using the iPhone in this way and do not want to use AT&T's cell phone service you are still going to have to hack into the firmware so that you do not activate the phone with AT&T. Is this in violation of the AT&T, Apple agreement? No, it is not. That agreement is for AT&T to provide exclusive cell phone service for the iPhone. The VOIP service is not cell phone service. Therefore, if you are not using another cell phone service provider for your iPhone you are not violating any agreement. This is one way to get around the exclusive contract with AT&T and still be able to send and receive calls. The only drawback is that you need to be in an area where you can pickup a WiFi signal in order to use your Skype VOIP service.
Unlocking your iPhone, is it a good idea? It depends on your views. On one hand there are legal and ethical issues with hacking into the firmware in general. However, your intent on why you are doing this also comes into play. Apple and AT&T have an exclusive agreement as far as cell phone service goes. Apple does not recommend the use of any other SIM card other than the one that came with your phone but it does not specifically prohibit it either. If you bought the iPhone to use for content and internet only or even if you plan to use it as an expensive Skype VOIP phone, that is your business and you should be able to do this without signing up for expensive cell phone service you do not need. Unlocking your iPhone, is it a good idea? Perhaps.