Unlocked iPhone + iPhone firmware 1.1.1 = “iBrick”

iPhone icon

The highly anticipated version 1.1.1 iPhone firmware update was finally released yesterday. As expected, installing this firmware renders an unlocked iPhone completely unusable, partially bricking the iPhone. There are unconfirmed reports that iPhones unlocked using the paid iPhoneSimFree method could be re-activated with the original AT&T SIM card but the unlocked iPhones are re-locked. So this firmware update basically makes everything back to square one. The iPhone Dev team will have to start everything from scratch: decrypting the 1.1.1 firmware, get write access, activate, enable third-party apps and unlocking.

I am not here to argue whether Apple is intentionally bricking unlocked iPhone in this firmware, though everything that i have read certainly points to that conclusion. I am here to explain that there is absolutely no reason to update to this firmware based on the known new features/fixes. So what are the “new” features and fixes in this update:

  • iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store: Lame. I don’t really buy much of my music from the iTunes store anyway and making it possible for me to buy it directly from my iPhone is not going to change that one bit.
  • Louder speakerphone and receiver volume: It would be nice if the speakerphone volume is actually quite a bit louder than it is now but according to some on Apple’s support forum, the speaker phone is no louder than before.
  • Home Button double-click shortcut to phone favorites or music controls: It’s nice to have this but i can live without it.
  • Space bar double-tap shortcut to intelligently insert period and space: It’s nice to have this convenient feature but again, i can live without it.
  • Mail attachments are viewable in portrait and landscape: Ok, but i still cannot compose an email in landscape mode.
  • Stocks and cities in Stocks and Waether can be re-ordered: Super lame. If someone is actually touting these as new features, i am going to bitch-slap the hell out of him.
  • Apple Bluetooth Headset battery status in the Status Bar: Nice, but i don’t have Apple’s Bluetooth headset so this is useless to me.
  • Support for TV Out: Yet another scheme to get people to cough up money for something that they don’t need.
  • Preference to turn off EDGE/GPRS when roaming internationally: I don’t even have to worry about this since my iPhone is completely unlocked. All i have to do when i am “roaming” internationally is to get a local pre-paid SIM card, without worrying about incurring a $3000-phone bill.
  • New Passcode lock time intervals: Yet another lame “new” feature.
  • Adjustable alert volume: Good thing to have but can i use another sound for the alert tone, which can be quite easily accomplished with my unlocked iPhone?

So of all the missing required/desired functions on iPhone, the iPhone firmware 1.1.1 update only barely addresses the speaker phone softness issue, and even that is inconclusive among those who have installed this update. So why risk bricking your unlocked iPhone by installing this update when your unlocked iPhone already has access to hundreds of cools native third-party apps like the Installer, Finder, Terminal, weDict, VNotes, TextEdit, Summerboard, VNsea, Chat and ApolloIM? Oh, did i mention that i can ssh to my unlocked iPhone too ?

Other than the security fixes in this firmware, the iPhone firmware update does not really “add some amazing new things to iPhone”, as touted by the iPhone guy. As i am writing this, members of the iPhone Dev team are working hard to repeat their success on the previous two iPhone firmware updates. My suggestion is: why bother wasting time on hacking this firmware update with pathetically minimal number of new features? Wait till Apple has added most, if not all, of the required/desired features, then start hacking.

In the meantime, i am going to be quite occupied with the newly released Halo 3 πŸ™‚

1 Comment

ktulaSeptember 28th, 2007 at 13:40

Machinist at salon.com has a good article against buying an iPhone. In referring to Apple’s intentional bricking of unlocked iPhones,

It’s only in the cellphone business that anyone would tolerate such behavior. If a company tried this in any other industry, people would howl to the heavens. Imagine the outrage if Apple or Microsoft sold desktop PCs that allowed you to connect to the Internet only through Comcast — and then, if you tried to use Earthlink instead, the company would shut down your machine. Or what if Ford allowed you to drive your new Explorer only to Wal-Mart to buy your groceries; if you went instead to Whole Foods, a company official would come by and slash your tires.

These scenarios sound bizarre. But how is Apple’s iPhone policy any different? I understand that it has signed a deal with AT&T — and, now, several carriers in Europe — to deliver the iPhone exclusively. I understand it has obligations under those deals. What I’m disappointed by is how far Apple intends to take those contracts — all the way to breaking people’s phones is too, too far.

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