The State of the AT&T iPhone Unlock: One week later, more long delays

About a week has passed since the meltdown or “AT&T iPhone unlocking shutdown“. It turns out that the AT&T iPhone can still be unlocked after all. But, why does it feel like we’re flashing back to a little over a year ago when prices were considerably higher? What’s with all the delays? How can a website like go from unlocking the AT&T USA iPhone for $2 USD to well over $20 USD in just a matter of days? Why are the prices constantly changing?

To get some answers, we decided to browse some of the forums out there to see what the unlocking community is talking about since the iPhone unlock shutdown or suspension and post it here. We’ll also include some quotes from some of the “direct” suppliers, doing their best to explain just what’s going on.

The Word on the Street

It was interesting to observe some of the conversations taking place between the consumer, the seller, and the “know it all”. For example, someone asked the following, after a claim that AT&T is now charging for unlocks, as if they were “free” before all of this confusion:

“All of this talk about AT&T charging…
Who is actually being charged here? I’m obviously not understanding something.

Here’s the reply:

“At this point it’s not clear, but I would think that the unlock process is being more tightly controlled, and whoever is letting those access the database for whitelisting the phones will be allowing access through a fee based system. I spoke with a friend last night that works in upper management at an AT&T collection center and he confirmed that AT&T is revamping their system to more tightly control access.

Interesting, to say the least.

A Word from your Supplier

Since we’ve registered with multiple suppliers to get a better idea about what’s going on, we’ve received lots of communication. Most of them just would state a generic message like:

Supplier inform us not accept new orders since have too many orders in hand now. After he finish these orders price will goes up but only can know the price after he finish this.
I will update you as soon as i get any news from him.

Or something like:

“AT&T USA iPhone – 3GS, 4G, 4s, 5, 5c, 5s ( NEW SERVICE) PRICE UP

Yeah, “price up”. Tell us something we don’t know.

What are the “Big Boys” are doing?

You know who we really respect though? One of, if not, THE largest direct source suppliers out there for AT&T iPhone unlocking. You would think that with this great opportunity to cash in, this large supplier would be all over it. Nope. Here’s what they posted:


Why would they suspend their ATT iPhone unlocking services? Before the above message was posted, out of curiosity, we Skyped them with this question:

“Is it ok to submit a couple of orders a day to the AT&T iPhone unlock? I have quite a few and don’t want to further frustrate you, thanks.”

We were interested in testing their processing – how they compared to others regarding their posted time frame and actual delivery. Here’s their reply:

“ill let u know when to take new orders
tis really backed up”

That brief exchange proved very revealing: What in the world were those other suppliers doing with our orders?? Resellers generally pay into an account that’s held with a supplier. When an unlocking order is submitted, the account is debited until you have to “top it off” again.

The funds placed into these accounts are non-refundable. So, once the money is there, it has to be used for something.

Now, imagine this scenario when a supplier sends out the following message:

“AT&T iPhone unlocking up and running at 100%, 1-24 hour turn around!!! Log in and credit your account ASAP!!!”

With everyone hitting your website with cash, despite the price hike and seeming unlocking shutdown, you do the natural thing … top it up! Credit your account to handle at least several days of orders, right? Right. Then you’re told after a couple of days and after watching your orders sit there … and sit there:

“The price is not stable for ‘AT&T iPhone Unlock service’, please don’t use the API to connect.
There will be no refund if you submit with different price. Please login and check your orders with price. Any “Waiting action” orders you need to cancel please let us know.”

What the … Yup. Now you can’t order any AT&T iPhone unlocks from that supplier until they get their act together. But, you’ll have to order something from them since your money is stuck in that account.

Nice, for them. Normally, that’s not such a big deal. You can always find a decent service they offer and just deplete your funds over time. But now you’re scrambling, moving your AT&T iPhone unlock orders from one supplier to another.

We learned from our past mistakes. This time around, we decided only to test these suppliers and oh, how glad we were that we were only testing!

What REALLY happened this week?

To be truthful, we did get many AT&T iPhones unlocked this past week, even though the “biggest boy” decided to suspend these services, not taking any orders at all. But you know what? Everything has been grinding to a halt again. This was highlighted with this message from one supplier:

“Issue of why EVERY order is slow worldwide for iPhones: The prices skyrocketed because AT&T has become stricter. Since the release of the 5c & 5s, they want to make sure people aren’t unlocking these type of devices. Because of this, any type of large quantity of AT&T iPhone or non-iPhones unlocking is red flags and they make sure they’re not completed. What this means? Backlog of unlocks occur so that makes one days worth of 1000 orders not done pushed to the next day and eventually to a point where you are taking in more orders than completing.

The cheap iPhone services if u have seen right now are getting overwhelmed, does not matter if you ordered from ******** Unlocks or any other company. Anywhere if you see $22 and less at this moment for slow iPhones is working terrible. We have added an option on the website that is working as of this moment. You can take a look. Please keep in mind prices are fluctuating because NOTHING is stable for iPhones. If you trust us in the past with our services, you will believe what we say.”

We have to say that there is some truth to what’s said about the cheaper services “working terribly”. We tested one supplier who’s offering two AT&T iPhone unlocking services, “regular/standard” and “express”. Of course, the “express” service costs more.

Standard orders vs. Express orders

We had around 40 “regular” orders “In Process”, meaning that they had already been submitted to the main supplier for unlocking. We submitted a test order for “express” unlocking and it was unlocked in under 12 hours while the others just sat there.

This might just be a matter of the majority not wanting to pay so much, leaving the “express” lane less congested. It also might be a matter of time before the “express” joins the crowd of the “depressed”, in our opinion.

Great, what about my order?

What about our existing orders that are approaching the 72 hour or 3 day limit? Well, they’re all “In Process”. Our supplier informs us that they can’t even cancel these. These particular orders will be returned as “Unlocked” or “Rejected”, eventually. If “Rejected” and if locked to AT&T, refunds will be issued.

So, that’s the state of the AT&T iPhone unlocking situation from our point of view.

Despite all that’s going on, we have to stay professional, courteous and show empathy towards the customer that asks, “What’s going on with my order? Can you guys speed this up? I need my iPhone unlocked by tomorrow morning!” 😀

We hear you and we feel for you too. Some of us have quite a few iPhones to be unlocked by tomorrow! 😉

… and this just in from the forums:

“Things are moving but I for one keep hearing mixed reports from suppliers.
Hearing some changes may be coming this weekend and that prices may also change (go up) possibly….I would call it all rumors and have no clue which ones are true and only time will tell.”

Yes, indeed. Time will tell everything.   

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