I just bought a second iPhone for my sister on the net for almost no money. When I got the iPhone today, I saw why.

It's a German iPhone on iOS 5.1. It's locked and it only accepts the SIM provided by the carrier. It's still on the setup screen (where you have to set the language, locations, etc...)

Since jailbreaking/unlocking iPhone isn't new for me, I tried already a lot.

  • I tried downgrading it to 4.3, but according to RedSn0w I can't get him into DFU modus.
  • Restoring using iTunes didn't work out either because iTunes is asking for a valid SIM card.
  • Selecting a custom ipsw using iTunes didn't work out either. I guess the baseband to high.

I also know it's next to impossible to unlock such a device. But I'm sure someone in this community knows a way around.

I'm prepared to give 50 reputation (whenever I can) to whom can guide me to install the iPhone (so I actually can use it and see the SpringBoard) and another 50 to whom can tell me how to unlock this device.

So any suggestions at all are most welcome!

Here is a picture of the lock-screen:
enter image description here

  • Does this happen when you boot into a jailbroken ROM or firmware?
    – Moshe
    Mar 18, 2012 at 15:41
  • The phone isn't jailbroken so I guess it's a custom firmware
    – Michiel
    Mar 18, 2012 at 15:44

3 Answers 3


Edit 2012-04-22:

As of today you can unlock any jailbroken iPhone:


What do you need: A jailbroken iPhone that can be activated in iTunes (that is, not officially blacklisted), a computer with the latest iTunes installed and working internet connection. You will also need to know the carrier that your iPhone is locked to.

Your phone will work normally with your SIM card and that SIM card ONLY since we have tricked iTunes to think that ICCID is one of the intended carrier's. The phone can be rebooted and connected to iTunes freely without losing the "unlock", at least for now.

Since it does not involve emergency numbers or IMSI spoofing it will not have any of the issues associated with SIM interposers. Tested working on iOS 5.01 but should work with tethered 5.1 too.

You could check on the official German T-mobile site at what date you can legally unlock your iPhone. When beyond that date you can perform the whole process online on their site. Then you would restore the iPhone via iTunes and have the SIM-lock removed.


To install the phone you could get a German T-mobile prepaid SIM-card; e.g. from ebay.de - current offers - I think even a de-activated one should work for the installation as only the country-/provider-code is checked.

  • This is a great answer!! Thanks! Unfortunately, I can't unlock him yet. I have to wait until 02/19/2013...
    – Michiel
    Mar 16, 2012 at 12:23
  • And as promised, I'll award you the bounty! (Unless someone else comes up with an even better answer of course ;-)
    – Michiel
    Mar 16, 2012 at 14:00
  • As a software-unlock for iOS 5.1 baseband is unlikely to happen in foreseeable time you may wanna have an eye on these special SIM-cards, as GEVEY Ultra for iPhone 4 or R-SIM Rgknse Unlock Sim Card - although this is definitely a grey area
    – iolsmit
    Mar 16, 2012 at 19:21
  • You have to call 112 for this sim cards, right? And in our country, that number is equel to 911 and by so it's prohibited to call them with nothing to say :)
    – Michiel
    Mar 17, 2012 at 11:13
  • 1
    There was a short time frame where you could activate/unlock using SAM - But, unfortunately, Apple closed that possibility: It looks as if the SAM iPhone Unlock no longer works
    – iolsmit
    Apr 30, 2012 at 10:27

In response to the 'sites' unlocking the iPhone- the places that offer it as a service who aren't Apple do it via jailbreaking - the only way to unlock an iPhone that has been classified as locked by Apple servers is by stopping the iPhone 'calling home'.

In terms of unlocking your iPhone, as legally unlocking it isn't an option (above), you may as well jailbreak it yourself, for free.

This website seems to have good instructions - I've followed them before when I jailbroke my old iPhone, but its worth bearing in mind that a) jailbroken phones seem slower and b) the 5.1 jailbreak is tethered.

Last point (in a somewhat disjointed answer) if you want to restore the iPhone sans-SIM, use XCode's device manager.

  • Hi, thanks for your answer. But I'm afraid I can't jailbreak the iPhone since it's locked in the welcome screen of iOS 5... So I can configure the iPhone and when he's activating, he tells me only registered SIM's can use this iPhone. Is their a way to jailbreak it even with this limitation?
    – Michiel
    Mar 17, 2012 at 11:12
  • What network was it locked to? You could buy a pay and go (or equiv) SIM card and activate the phone with that, then jailbreak it? You can probably pick up the SIM card on eBay, won't be the fastest solution but it'll definitely do the job. Mar 17, 2012 at 12:00
  • It was T-Mobile Germany. So if I buy a Pay&Go card from T-Mobile Germany, I should be able to use the iPhone, and unlock it using a jailbreak?
    – Michiel
    Mar 17, 2012 at 12:07
  • 1
    That's what I would think - the card will activate the phone and then you should be able to successfully jailbreak it using the instructions above. :) Mar 17, 2012 at 12:10
  • What network are you trying to unlock to, by the way/ Mar 17, 2012 at 19:54

Their are different sites who can unlock your iPhone for a (little) amout of money. But I'm not sure if it's legal so I don't really dare to talk about it here...

Maybe someone can tell if those actions are (il)legal?

  • Do happen to have some addresses or links? (only if it's legal ofcourse)
    – Michiel
    Mar 16, 2012 at 11:59
  • Without meaning to rain on your parade, there are no legal ways (and as far as I'm aware, no illegal ones) that can unlock an iPhone without jailbreaking it. When an iPhone activates, it sends its UDID to Apple and gets a response back about what network it is locked to. I suppose it may be possible to spoof the Apple server to the iPhone, but I've not heard of anyone doing this. Mar 17, 2012 at 19:49

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