iPhone overseas

I just got an iPhone for Christmas! Yea! However, I’m about to go live in Viet Nam for a year or so. My friends over there say the iPhone can be easily cracked to work in Viet Nam, however I’m worried.

  1. Is this legal?
  2. Is it going to destroy the iPhone? I’ve heard about “bricking”.
  3. When I come back to the U.S., will I still be able to sign up for service?

Thanks for any info!


I can only answer 2) definitively but it may. You can crack the iPhone to work on a local network with a local SIM but you cannot install any updates or let it synch with any apple iWhatever software that connects back to the iServers or it will brick.

If you’re not going to be living in Viet Nam permanently, I’d say hazard on the side of caution and don’t try to hack it. Just get a cheap prepaid phone to use over there, then get back into using your iPhone when you get back to the US.

As I recall in regards to 1, if you tell AT&T that you are leaving the country, they will give you an unlock code for the phone. At least that’s what I read when I was trying to figure out how to unlock my old Blackjack.

Not for the iPhone, they won’t. If you want an iPhone and aren’t willing to risk doing a hack, the only place you can get an unlocked iPhone is France. More details can be found here. They advise against hacking your iPhone, but do mention sources of information on how to do it.

If you’re single, taking an unlocked iPhone to 'Nam will do two things: Make you extremely sexy to the locals, and well as make you a prime target for mugging (since iPhones are probably *not * common there).


Legality: DCMA would normally be a problem here, right, but hasn’t The Library of Congress (of all people, why do they have the power?) somehow sided with the unlockers here? I’m not totally sure what the precedent is.

Realistically, it’s not something you should worry about from a legal standpoint.

Will it brick your iPhone: There’s a couple of things here. AnySIM is the common unlocker. It does something to the Baseband which is apparently kinda bad in some cases. I’m not totally clear about that. What I do know is that Apple bricked several iPhones when it went over to the first patch. It pissed a lot of people off. No physical damage, just software problems.

Three: That’s a definite yes, as far as I can tell. ATT or Tmobile (or any GSM carrier that provides EDGE data) should gladly provide a SIM for you no questions asked. Getting one without a contract might be dicey, but if they can get you on a contract without subsidizing a phone it seems to make all the sense in the world.
If I were you? Yeah go ahead and try. The unlocking tech seems to be pretty stable these days. There’s nothing ATT or anyone else can do to break your iPhone. The only risk is in applying Apple updates via iTunes. The only reason you should consider doing that is if Apple offers some cool tech that you just have to upgrade for.

However, I am now reading that the phones that are out now that come with 1.1.2 on them preloaded are problematic to unlock, so I’m not sure if it’s even possible at this moment.

If I were you I’d pay close attention to the unlocking scene so you can get a feel for what is and isn’t possible at the moment.

Hmm, yeah, I guess I’ll go for it. Apparently if I get AT&T’s Global plan I can get service in Viet Nam for $5.00 per minute, not to mention the cost of the plan itself. The iPhone is only $400 so I might as well risk not being able to use it after a year.

Unlocking the iPhone is extremely easy, bricking is a myth (the phones can always be restored to factory defaults thru iTunes. To unlock my phone I just loaded a special website from the browser and it did all the work for me.

I am writing this message on my unlocked iPhone from the beach in Aruba. I have a local simcard so calls are very cheap. Just make sure to install the iworld app which fixes a weird bug that causes the phone to crash when in certain countries.

There’s a couple points I don’t understand here. First, how can you load a site from the browser to unlock the phone, if you need it unlocked before you can use the browser. Second, how does unlocking enable you to use a local simcard? You would have to open the phone up to manage that.

BTW, Tuckerfan, you’re a very cynical person. Generally speaking, I have no trouble in Viet Nam either with avoiding muggings or with appearing sexy to the natives. :stuck_out_tongue:

Having used the Vietnamese GSM network, I’d say forget about it. It’s the suckiest network I’ve ever used. I highly doubt that it can handle decent data transfer rates, if at all. The best you could hope for with your plan is to turn a fine piece of technology into a fancy (and desirably thievable - though via pickpocketing or pilfering rather than mugging) bog-standard cellphone.

I wouldn’t bother with AT&T’s deal either: they will be piggybacking on the sucky Vietnamese networks anyway, so save yourself a bomb and just buy a cheapy handset and a pay-as-you-go SIM with an international calling card.

Hmm, interesting. Did you use MobiPhone or VinaPhone? I remember the last time I was there, one of them (I think Mobi) being much better than the other. I’m not sure about now though, and I never did use data.

Damn, I can’t remember. They both ring a bell. I had a Nokia handset I brought from Thailand and bought a SIM in Hanoi. Maybe I used the crap network, which has colored my impression.