Unlocking an iPhone Now a Crime: Can You Get Away with It?

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By Gilda Galang | January 30, 2013 3:57 PM EST

Bad news for new smartphone owners. This week, you can now be fined up to $500,000, be jailed for five years, or even both for unlocking your phones, reports The Atlantic. It gets worse for repeat offenders, where the penalty is double that of a first-time offender.

But Digital Trends points out that unlocking your new smartphone by yourself may absolve you of potential sues. According to reports, there are two levels by which penalties are enforced with regard to smartphones.

Under the civil category, you can be sued by your wireless carrier if you try to unlock the phone, even though you won't go to jail for the act. Part of this, however, would be potential fines for damages.

Benefits of unlocking according to Asian users

In Asia, there are various ways to jailbreak phones, from downloading and installing applications that enable users to unlock the device themselves to taking them to stalls and shops to have cheap unlocking services.

For instance, in the Philippines, TechLokal lists the famous Greenhills Shopping Center as a potential paradise for those who want to buy unlocked smartphones, with prices varying from anywhere between $900 to $1,000 for the entire unlocked unit.

The downside to unlocking

Some models, such as the Apple's iPhones, are currently selling unlocked units, so users can opt to choose which carrier they would like to avail of, reports The Examiner. Of course, this comes at a price, if you consider the lower cost of the handset when bought with an accompanying carrier.

Obtaining an unlocked phone

According to CNN, the ruling does have a solid basis. Nowadays, users have alternative ways to purchase an already unlocked phone, compared to the days when smartphones were just becoming a rage.

So what's the verdict for new smartphones? Will this new law affect the way smartphone users view their mobile use?

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