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TLDR: When downgrading from iOS6 to 5.1.1, even with a standard .ipsw file and modified .hosts file (or TinyUmbrella), I get the error 3194 in iTunes. Help?


I recently purchased a used iPhone 4S which is locked to Verizon. This is a problem, as I'm in Canada, and the international Verizon plans are expensive. I need to unlock.

The second problem is that the phone came with iOS6 installed on it. Although I was told that it was a beta, I was also told it was official (Grand Master build), and in any case, I managed to (somehow) wipe out and reinstall the official iOS 6 from iTunes.

Since I don't have the original OS, I downloaded 5.1.1 4S from Redmond Pie. Unsure if this was the stock iOS, I downloaded it (again) from another source, and the two binaries are the same -- leading me to believe that this is an original iOS 5.1.1 image.

Steps I took to install iOS 5.1.1:

  • Close iTunes
  • Turn off the phone
  • Edit the .hosts file (to add the Cydia IP, or remove it, or launch TinyUmbrella)
  • Save changes (if applicable)
  • Open up iTunes
  • Boot my phone in recovery mode (shows a "plug in to iTunes" graphic)
  • Let iTunes figure out my phone is in recovery mode
  • Shift-Click "recover" and select the image
  • Watch until it reaches the step about verifying the ipsw file is from Apple
  • Observe an error 3194

To spell out my permutations explicitly, for step #4, I have tried:

  • Adding the IP for Cydia
  • Commenting out the IP for Cydia
  • Removing the IP for Cydia
  • Running Umbrella 6.00.0000 and 6.00.0001

I'm not sure what to do next to downgrade.

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Are you needing iOS 5.1.1 on the device as a way to unlock it or would you be open to ways to get an official factory unlock so you could run iOS 6? (It's not clear whether the unlock is peripheral to the main issue of wanting the older OS or the older OS is in service of avoiding the steps needed to get an official unlock on that device.) FYI - AT&T will unlock devices even if you are not a current customer so you might just need to contact Verizon support to see what they want from you to unlock this specific phone. –  bmike Sep 25 '12 at 21:37
    
@bmike I'm in Canada, so there is no AT&T here. I am open to other issues. The primary issue is unlocking, and the secondary issue is the OS -- although I don't personally benefit much from the improvements in iOS 6 over iOS 5. I did find a local company that claims they can factory unlock for $150. –  ashes999 Sep 26 '12 at 10:13
    
Clearly - you're in the group where a technical solution to reverse engineer it would make sense (once someone has published how to do that exactly). I should have been more clear - both AT&T and Verizon will unlock customer's iPhone and AT&T will even for past customers. You might contact Verizon and see what could be done to get that model unlocked legitimately - whether it's establishing service for two months or paying a bit or having the prior owner contact them for the unlock. Basically, you need to convince someone to enter that IMEI into the common database for unlocked devices. –  bmike Sep 26 '12 at 15:05
    
@bmike working on it -- reached out already. Please add this as an answer, as it may be really the answer. –  ashes999 Sep 26 '12 at 18:10
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2 Answers

Clearly, there will be a technical solution to bypass the carrier locking, but things are loosening up on the carrier end in the USA with respect to unlocking and it might just be worth the effort to work on the social end of getting your device unlocked in the authorized manner.

Currently, both AT&T and Verizon will unlock customer's iPhone and AT&T will even for past customers. Verizon seems to be willing to unlock an US only phone after a month of two of paying the bill on time and AT&T is not as flexible.

You might contact Verizon and see what could be done to get that specific device unlocked legitimately - whether it's establishing service for two months or paying a bit or having the prior owner contact them for the unlock. Basically, you need to convince someone to enter that IMEI into the common database for unlocked devices and you'll not need to mess with jailbreaking to get an unlock.

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Unfortunately, iOS 5.1.1 is no longer being signed by Apple.
Basically, Apple provides a digital signature to iTunes when you try to restore a firmware. If the signature isn't provided, you're unable to restore because Apple only signs the most current version of the firmware for the device you're using.

The Dev-Team Blog says this about downgrading an iPhone 4S to 5.x:

iPad3, i4S owners will always be able to RE-restore the current 5.x OS that's already on their device. So if you're at 5.1.1 when the window closes (and you've saved your blobs), you'll always be able to RE-restore to 5.1.1 again. This makes the 5.1.1 jailbreak a lot less fragile - you don't have to worry about messing up your install with funky extensions or getting into a boot loop, because you can always RE-restore from 5.1.1 to 5.1.1 again (or from 5.0.1 to 5.0.1 again, etc). But once you fall off the 5.x train by restoring to 6.x, you'll be stuck there until the next jailbreak.

So it looks like you're stuck on iOS 6 for now.

Regarding unlocking, your best bet is to contact Verizon. There may be a fee required before they'll unlock your phone, if they do.

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