[UPDATE]: This was happening as Apple did not upgrade the baseband in 2.1, 2.2 or 2.2.1. So, if you update from an unlocked 2.0 to these versions, your iPhone will remain unlocked. If you are upgrading from previous versions (1.1.x), please follow woikr’s guide to upgrade and unlock using QuickPwn.
We have reasons to believe that the iPhone 2.1 firmware on an iPhone 2G does not need unlocking to work with the Airtel (and Vodafone) network in India. As a matter of fact, if you have a 2G device in India, you can reap in most of the benefits of a legal user (sans the warranty). We have verified that this is working with iPhone 2Gs here at woikr.
Note: If you have an iPhone 2G with < 2.0.2 firmware, it is recommended that you upgrade to 2.0.2 first. Our very handy guide to upgrade can be found here.
So, what do you need to do? The process described below will not erase any data (Contacts, Settings etc.) from your iPhone 2G. If you had jailbroken your iPhone and installed any apps from Cydia, they will be deleted. All your apps purchased from the App Store and their settings will be preserved.
Q. 2.1 firmware works with iPhone 3G in the same way. What’s the big deal?
A. It is actually a big deal. Firmwares for iPhone 2G and 3G are different. iPhone 2G was never officially launched in India. All the iPhone 2Gs here were bought in the US and unlocked using old unlocking methods and ziphone. There is no reason for Apple to release a firmware for 2G which works with Airtel or any other carrier in India.
Q. Hmm. Understood. What does this mean for us – iPhone 2G users in India?
A. If we assume that this was an intentional move on Apple’s part, this is great news for all iPhone 2G users in India. They can finally set themselves free from the hassle of upgrading and restoring every time a new firmware is released. However, there is a pretty good chance that this was a slip.
Q. Does this mean that if I bring an iPhone 3G from the US, it will work with Airtel in India?
A. Probably not. As mentioned above, firmwares for 2G and 3G are different. They will probably have that lock in place for handsets sold in the US. Also, unlike iPhone 2G, it is not possible to just buy and bring an iPhone 3G from US to India as it needs to be bought with a 2 year service agreement with AT&T. However, if you bump into anyone traveling to India from US with an iPhone 3G, do give it a try and let us know the outcome in comments.
Q. What does this mean for Airtel?
A. More embarrassment. For a company which makes idiotic bizarre claims, this will come as more LOL.
Psst: I heard that Airtel is offering free 500 MB of data usage over EDGE with every iPhone 3G. Will that plan work with this?
A. NO. You will have to purchase a separate data plan for this.
We’ve recently tested that this work with Vodafone in India too. Wonder if this will work with International carriers!
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