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Communications Businesses Handhelds Toys Apple Hardware

Hacked iPhones Confirmed As Bricking With Latest Update 430 430

mhollis writes "Field experience has confirmed that if you have a hacked iPhone, it will become an iBrick if you use Software Update to install the latest update on your iPhone. The BBC reports: '[Apple's] warning has now proved correct as many owners are reporting their phones no longer work following installation of the update. Apple requires iPhone owners to take out a lengthy contract with AT&T in the United States but there are a number of programs on the net that unlock the device for use with other networks.' The only 'solution' is to unhack your iPhone."
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Hacked iPhones Confirmed As Bricking With Latest Update

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  • Imagine that (Score:3, Insightful)

    by photomonkey (987563) on Friday September 28, 2007 @03:27PM (#20786581)

    As much as I hate AT&T, Apple chose to partner with them to distribute and provide cellular service for the iPhone. Given all the nefarious and legally questionable stuff AT&T has done over the years, are we really that surprised that they/Apple are taking active measure to prevent people from taking their iPhone to other providers?

    I like a lot of Apple's products, but won't buy an iPhone until they are available through other providers. ATT& is pure, unadulterated evil.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2007 @03:29PM (#20786613)
    I've used a third-party firmware on a number of devices at home and at work. Each time, I was fully aware that I could brick the device, and that subsequent firmware updates (for another part of the device) could 'brick' the device.

    I would never expect the original manufacturer to support my hardware if it's running a third party firmware; although some savvy vendors will do this.

    If some of these iPhone owners didn't understand this, they will soon. Consider it a learning experience.
  • Re:Non-hacked too. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by OriginalArlen (726444) on Friday September 28, 2007 @03:37PM (#20786745)
    yeah, the BBC story [] has a link to this blog page with a lot of pissed-off posts in the comments [].

    Me - well, I guess it sucks if you've paid a lot of money, and now you're surprised or something. "Real owner of proprietary system in taking advantage of rights SHOCK!!" It's like people acting surprised that Microsoft installed a stealth update that's wrecked a few systems, even when they turned off automatic updates. Perhaps a few more people will now understand why closed proprietary is intrinsically evil, regardless of whether it's actually convenient for you right now or not.

  • No Problem (Score:1, Insightful)

    by bostons1337 (1025584) on Friday September 28, 2007 @03:39PM (#20786763)
    Not a problem. There will be a new hack out within a month that turns your iBrick back into an iPhone. Just because you put a hole in a wall and someone patches it doesn't mean you can't put another hole in the wall.
  • by heinousjay (683506) on Friday September 28, 2007 @03:41PM (#20786799) Journal
    Apple says "If you've modified your phone in an unsupported way, the next firmware update may brick it."

    The firmware is released, and only installed if you allow it to be.

    What is the problem here? Anyone who bricked their phone did it to themselves. Or are you just super-anti-corporate man?
  • Re:Imagine that (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Reality Master 101 (179095) <> on Friday September 28, 2007 @03:41PM (#20786815) Homepage Journal

    ATT& is pure, unadulterated evil.

    AT&T doesn't exist anymore, except in name only. They were purchased by SBC about six(?) months ago. SBC then changed their name to AT&T.

  • Re:Sue (Score:3, Insightful)

    by russ1337 (938915) on Friday September 28, 2007 @03:44PM (#20786839)
    >>> It won't be hard to prove this was deliberate destruction of private property.

    Yeah, but who's property did Apple destroy. It certainly wasn't yours. Apple just let you use their iPhone. They are the ones that 'own' it. *

    * (in this case, 'own' should be spelled with a 'p'.)
  • Re:Non-hacked too. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NDPTAL85 (260093) on Friday September 28, 2007 @03:45PM (#20786867)
    Intrinsically evil.... or possibly an erroneous fluke of a mess up best not to get upset about. Obviously the update wasn't meant to brick locked phones. If it did, it was an accident, not par for the course. My locked phone updated just fine. As with ANY software update, including open source ones, there will be a small number of systems adversely affected.

    With a proprietary vendor you can take it back for repairs or replacement. How exactly will the "l33t dudes" in #linux on IRC help you in your time of need if you don't know how to fix your free software problem yourself?
  • Re:Imagine that (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Friday September 28, 2007 @03:46PM (#20786887)
    I'm tired of this "Apple's the bad guy bricking phones on purpose." They sold you a product that did X. They released an update for X that does Y. In their test labs they tested the update Y with product X. It would be impossible to test the firmware update with every single method of unlocking. Jobs likes to sell the 'whole experience'. He sold you a product that you knew before hand that it was AT&T only. If you bought the phone for the purpose of unlocking, WHY? Why isn't the same crowd crying fowl that every bug fix and software update breaks OSx86. You have to do near the same amount of hacking/tweaking to get OS X on generic hardware. Whenever apple releases an update something usually breaks.

    Bad Car analogy:

    I buy a brand new Chevy. I go home tear out the Chevy engine and put in a Ford engine. A few month / weeks later there's a recall on some part OR I go in for warranty work. The Chevy dealer is going to refuse the work.
  • *NOT* bricked! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tibor the Hun (143056) on Friday September 28, 2007 @03:52PM (#20786989)
    Please people, let's quit talking like newbies.
    If you drop your iPhone in the toilet, or if you microwave it, it will become bricked.

    If you simply fudge it up, to the point where it needs to be restored, it is not bricked. Especially if all the other functions on it function.
    I know that there are a lot of Apple haters out here, but we don't need to be confusing tech terms.

    We all know what a brick is, and what a recoverable system is.

    That being said, why the fuck would they apply an update to a hacked and unlocked phone? Hmm, maybe I'll remove my catalyc converter and ask my certified mechanic to keep working on it. You think he'd agree to that? (just to use a car analogy.)

  • by Space cowboy (13680) * on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:02PM (#20787127) Journal
    It always asks.

    The warning was public. The update is manual. Any bad result is entirely the user's fault. This is speaking as someone who's written and installed his own apps - I obviously didn't install the update, because I have more than one brain cell. There's far too many people with a lack of personal responsibility - actions have consequences, and if you can't cope with the consequences, don't do the action.

  • by photomonkey (987563) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:04PM (#20787151)

    It's not at all a matter of law, nor is this particular case a matter of property ownership.

    The law: It's not illegal to sell or license someone a good or service with ridiculous terms attached, so long as the terms themselves are legal and in good faith and the buying party is aware (or can reasonably be made aware) of them. People are actually dumb enough to 'buy' stuff that they don't own or can't control. That's the uneducated market at work for you.

    But this isn't even a matter of ownership. It is pretty crystal clear that you OWN your iPhone. You paid money to buy the hardware, you paid money to license the software, and you pay money to use the cellular bandwidth for calls and data.

    If the software stops working (IE, Apple releases a new firmware/OS that breaks the core functionality of the original, unmodified device), you might be able to get Apple to fix/replace the phone. If AT&T/SBC decides they're not going to offer you cellular service anymore, they have to let you out of your contract without penalty. If you decide to take your $500 iPhone and hit it with a hammer to see what kind of noise it will make, well that's you're problem.

    It's not like if you hack your iPhone, Apple comes to your door and accuses you of destroying their property. You didn't. It's your phone to do with as you please. But the contract you signed probably said something to the effect that they will only support unhacked/unmodified/etc. phones.

    Bad car analogy: I own a Jeep. I bought it new and it is under warranty. If I drive it responsibly and follow the scheduled maintenance protocols, it will stay under warranty for another 2 years. I did put a suspension lift on it; and in doing so replaced and/or modified factory suspension components. I have no expectation that Chrysler will honor the factory warranty for any part of the suspension now, mine or theirs. And that's fine. If the engine throws a rod, you bet damn right I expect Chrysler to fix it under warranty, as it is completely unrelated to the suspension. If, while putting the lift on, I bent the frame or broke an axle, how is that Chrysler's fault? If the suspension modifications indeed were incompatible with the Jeep, how is that Chrysler's problem? They sold me a working product under very clear terms. I chose to make my own changes to it.

    You definitely own the phone. You license/lease the software and service, respectively.

  • by Vokkyt (739289) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:04PM (#20787153)
    You're being a little silly here. I don't think that anyone is going to argue that the AT&T service is pretty bad and also a little infuriating. But that is the contract entered into when you bought an iPhone. You knew this going into it. Honestly, I'm surprised that Apple had the decency to warn people in advance that the update would remove the unlocking. I'm not calling it bricking, because bricking would assume that a legitimately purchased phone that was still in contract is no longer working due to the update.

    Essentially, you're bitching because you made up your own rules to play with, and Apple is playing a whole different game. I'm not saying that you don't have a right to the technology you own. If Apple sent out an update on Macbooks which forced you to use Appleworks instead of any other office suite, you'd have a right to be angry. You didn't sign up for any contract which said you couldn't or that you had to use Apple's program.

    That isn't the case with the iPhone. You entered into a contract knowingly (it was most definitely during the purchase), so what is the point of bitching when you've already broken the rules. Technically, Apple didn't have to tell you, or even hint that a phone would be reverted to an unlocked state. They've been polite; you're the one being a bit unreasonable, in my opinion.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:06PM (#20787171)
    Come on, the company builds a few phones and now it could be a carrier? You really(!) underestimate the infrastructure of a cellular network service. Do you even know what is inside a cellular switch, ok so maybe you don't know whats inside a switch. Ok, how about outside the towers, you have backbone lines to the the actual network, nameless easements, government regulations, FCC bands, billing, claims center, call centers, network centers, support centers.

    UGH, donut spew that kind of nonsense. There's few companies that have the pockets to startup their own cellular network and those companies are already doing it or know that it is better someone else does it.
  • by davetd02 (212006) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:09PM (#20787209)
    No -- Apple offers a firmware upgrade and users choose whether to install it. There's no requirement to install the firmware upgrade. It's entirely optional. It's not being forced on the phone nor automatically installed. If you prefer to run your own software on the iPhone then don't install the new Apple software.

    Apple doesn't have a duty to make sure its software is compatible with every other piece of software that could conceivably be run on the iPhone. If you want to use Apple software then use Apple software. If you want to use other software then use other software. But there's no way to get the best of both worlds -- to modify the OS and then expect Apple to support it.
  • Re:Imagine that (Score:5, Insightful)

    by T-Bone-T (1048702) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:15PM (#20787301)
    Actually, it be more like: they work on the engine like it is the original engine and the incompatible Chevy parts in the Ford engine cause it to break down.

    Apple isn't actively trying to break modded iPhones. They are doing updates to the unaltered software and it the mods break, too bad.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:26PM (#20787467)
    The iPhone is a device which includes a user-accessible function to upgrade the firmware and requires updates to be in a condition where it does not expose the user to known security bugs. A device like that must not be irreparably damaged by a firmware upgrade, no matter what settings the user changed or what software the user installed.
  • Re:Non-hacked too. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drifterusa (987504) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:37PM (#20787629)
    "It's like people acting surprised that Microsoft installed a stealth update that's wrecked a few systems, even when they turned off automatic updates."

    Actually, it's not like that at all. The imminent arrival of the iPhone update was well-publicized, the possible negative consequences (for those who actively chose to circumvent the warranted use of the device) were well-publicized, and the update procedure itself includes a warning and the option not to install the update.

    "Perhaps a few more people will now understand why closed proprietary is intrinsically evil, regardless of whether it's actually convenient for you right now or not."

    I don't see anything in this story to support your questionable definition of evil. Perhaps a few more people will now understand why heeding warnings (as in waiting to update later or not updating at all -- or even, God forbid, purchasing a device that does what you want it to instead of hoping to make it something it isn't and getting enraged when your experiment hits a bump in the road) is a good idea.
  • Re:*NOT* bricked! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Panaflex (13191) * <<convivialdingo> <at> <>> on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:48PM (#20787773)
    Still not a brick...

    A brick would be you turn it on, and it flashes the screen in bright colors hysterically all the while playing the modem version of Jimi Hendrix.. well, Ok, it just turns back off usually.

    No - there's no real issue there other than something is mysteriously blocking the phone from recognizing the SIM card. I'm sure it'll be fixable somehow.
  • They Deserve it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JamesRose (1062530) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:54PM (#20787883)
    They spent $600 + $1440 (contract) on a product, and then had to get someone to specially reverse engineer code to get it how they wanted the product. If this isn't blind, dumb fanboi behaviour, i don't know what is. Have your phone bricked/relocked whatever, and next time learn to buy a good product based on it's feauters not "ooh shiny apple!". Because for the next 2 years you are going to be fighting a battle for ownership of your own phone.

    Mod me down if you will, but it was perfectly clear this was going to happen from the day apple and ATT's love child was conceived.
  • by drifterusa (987504) on Friday September 28, 2007 @05:03PM (#20787983)
    I don't lack a sense of humor -- your comment is amusing -- but why is it Apple's responsibility to be all things to all people? How many different cell phones would you say are on the market? How is Apple restricting user choice by offering one model of cell phone in the way they see fit?

    If Apple wanted to offer an SDK, they would. If they wanted to offer unlocked phones, they would. They don't, and why should they? Yes, they might make more money with these things, but they might not.

    In any event, Apple has decided what product they want to offer. Part of that offering is the ability to update the software periodically to add new features. From what I understand, this is unusual in the cell phone industry. It's fine if people want to hack their phones -- as is said repeatedly, you bought it, you own it, you can do what you want with it -- but why should Apple have to support the changes you make on your own? This is the part of the disgruntled hackers' argument that I don't understand. (N.B. I'm not saying all hackers are disgruntled.)

    You bought it, you own it, you did what you wanted with it, and -- as Apple made abundantly clear in advance and at the time of installation -- it's now incompatible with Apple's latest update. Deal (by not updating and/or by waiting for the hacker community to resolve all the issues).
  • Re:HACK vs. UNLOCK (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mabhatter654 (561290) on Friday September 28, 2007 @05:14PM (#20788107)
    they're doing something to check for "tampered" phones, but still running the update anyway. There's a bunch of things Apple could have done differently, from simply not running the update to requesting that the user put the correct data in then load the new improved lock software. Like you said, the phone is not "bricked" but they deliberately leave an error they refuse to correct at the shop.
    In my opinion that is "malicious prosecution" of the contract terms. Because the phone still physically works it is obvious that the phone COULD be fixed, Apple is refusing. Also, the update does not stop if it will fail.. To use a car analogy, this would be like having an unwarranted mod, nox, stereo equipment on your ride. When you take the car in for a routine oil change they say you're out of warranty.. and cut the offending parts off your car with a chainsaw rendering it undriveable.. when you drove it into the shop just fine. Then telling you that it's "your problem" it's not under warranty.
    Apple is clearly self destructing at an alarming rate. Products with half-implemented features, then locked down to ridiculous levels (with out any features) releasing new versions without looking after current customers (I had the 20G photo they stopped updating after 3 months when 30GB video came out... very poor service after the purchase) The iPhone and Touch seem to be the top though. The pricing, and service locks, lack of development platform even after it was cracked... the $200 price drop at 60 days, dud screens on Touch, now disabling the devices. Somebody is getting high off those fumes from the freshly printed money they're raking in. Not to mention they sacrificed their core OS Leopard to make this "innovation" happen? I like Tiger better than Win XP but Leopard is way late... should have been out in the spring and it's holding up development for the core group of Apple fanbois that just want to do cool stuff.
  • Re:Imagine that (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NickFitz (5849) <slashdot.nickfitz@co@uk> on Friday September 28, 2007 @05:19PM (#20788157) Homepage


    Currently it is not suitable for users. The state of the software at the moment is pre-alpha. If you order a Neo1973, DO NOT expect to be able to use it as an everyday phone until October 2007 at the soonest, and probably later.

    Not exactly an alternative if you want to be able to make phone calls, is it?

  • Re:HACK vs. UNLOCK (Score:5, Insightful)

    by andreyw (798182) on Friday September 28, 2007 @05:27PM (#20788241) Homepage
    Why should they make sure their software does something special in the presence of third-party hacks they don't support? Supporting means endorsing, and endorsing means violating their contract with AT&T.

    As to your antique iPod - the only updates are going to be bugfixes. Actually, MOST firmware updates are bugfixes. No updates = no bugs to fix, plus they (and neither do most companies) owe their customers anything to increase the value of OLD products when they could release new instead.
  • Re:HACK vs. UNLOCK (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lane.exe (672783) on Friday September 28, 2007 @05:58PM (#20788571) Homepage
    Malicious prosecution has nothing to do with contract law. You want Apple to release new software to run on a phone that you have either (1) intentionally tampered with the software on or (2) actively changed the hardware on. Why should Apple be forced to support the changes you made? Because you want to use it on a network that is not the one they are under a contract with? No way. Apple is well within their legal and moral rights to release an update that breaks compatibility with these hard and soft hacks. To better analogize to a car, this is like a manufacturer sending you a new drive shaft, and you complain when this driveshaft does not fit the custom engine you installed.
  • by blantonl (784786) on Friday September 28, 2007 @06:58PM (#20789231) Homepage
    This is the biggest rant piece of crap I've ever read in my life.

    Let me make this clear: If you don't agree with the T&C's for the iPhone, then don't purchase one

    It is that simple. Don't like it. Vote with your $$ !!

    Why is this so difficult for some people? Are some people born to rage against a machine that they have a choice to not pay money to?
  • Re:HACK vs. UNLOCK (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2007 @07:40PM (#20789655)

    To better analogize to a car, this is like a manufacturer sending you a new drive shaft, and you complain when this driveshaft does not fit the custom engine you installed.

    Yeah, you're right, that would be dumb.

    It would be something else altogether when I would come back only to discover my car was rendered full unusable (far below the state it was in when I brought it in for maintainance) because some dipsh*t thought my modification gave him the right to molest my car any way he saw fit.

    That is something quite different than returning the car unchanged, because preliminary checking showed an incompatibility with the requested maintanance.

    Funny : when I only dare to shorthen an URL and thereby retrieve a webpage that was not intended for my eyes I can get send to jail for hacking, but when some company intentionally subverts or disables software running on anything I own its allways rightfully. Did I say "funny" ? I actually ment "strange" :-)

  • Unsurprised (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TechnicalFool (719087) on Friday September 28, 2007 @08:46PM (#20790143)
    If you're running hacked software, don't be surprised if an update breaks it. That the shop won't help you fix it doesn't surprise me either. Apple may have marketed themselves as the "cool" option, but if you ever want a taste of what having a Macintosh in every home could be like, look no further than this.

    And people call Microsoft the Borg...

    PS: I'm aware the Apple Mac is a fine machine. I'm aware it works in various ways that Windows doesn't. I'm aware people are very happy with their iMacs and get very defensive about them. However I'm also aware that the amount of lock-in that Apple have on the Mac makes Microsoft look like the Last Bastion of Freedom in comparison.
  • by GPL Apostate (1138631) on Friday September 28, 2007 @09:24PM (#20790409)
    That's right. If you don't like us lynching, er... people different from us, er... don't move into our town!!
  • by the_bard17 (626642) <> on Friday September 28, 2007 @10:30PM (#20790761)
    "Your computer was locked to Windows when you made the purchase. You knew that. You still bought it. You didn't like that, so you install Linux. Then you applied the BIOS update and broke your computer. This is not the manufacturer's fault. It is not Microsoft's fault. It is your fault. The issue is yours, not Microsoft's."

    Funny when you swap a few words around, isn't it? Kinda puts things in perspective.

    When I buy a phone, I ought to be able to put it on any carrier I choose. When I buy a car, I don't have to go to a single branded garage, nor drive on a single type of road, or even put a certain brand gas in it. When I buy a TV, I don't have to plug it into only one company's cable service.

    So would you mind explaining why some big corporation should be able to lock me into their service when I buy a certain phone?

    And don't tell me to exercise my right not to buy it... I'm already doing that.
  • In any case (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BrokenHalo (565198) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @01:22AM (#20791487)
    It should have been obvious to anybody with half a brain that Apple would wipe any code that doesn't suit them with the first firmware update. And they are, as you say, legitimately entitled to do so.

    The real idiocy here is where so many people have been sucked in by the marketroids into paying big bucks for a bloody phone with all its caveats. I too have an antique iPod (just a Mini) which is a squeeze for storage space but still works far too well to justify replacing it, and probably will for years to come. Same goes for my current phone. And I get to choose my own mobile service provider, without having to resort to stupid hacks.

    Jumping on the bandwagon of the New Big Thing is wasteful and doomed to eternal disappointment as soon as the Next Big Thing appears on the horizon.
  • by jeko (179919) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @02:55PM (#20795079)
    I'm sorry to interrupt your Ayn Rand fantasy that you are in control of your world, but the problem is that businesses shamelessly copy each others tactics, and occasionally outright collude. Let me make this clear -- you don't get to "vote with your wallet."

    When companies first began drug-testing employees, a radically unpopular proposal, the public was assured this was only for "sensitive" positions like public safety workers. "You don't like it, work for somebody else," was the reply. "Public safety" was expanded to include truck drivers. Then waiters. Now, you cannot find legal employment in America without submitting to a drug test.

    Searching customers at the door. This was first done at large "warehouse" stores where the store layout meant you could conceivably bypass the cash registers. "You don't like it, shop somewhere else." Now, my local Wal-Mart, Target, and grocery stores have begun to search. When every store does it, you can't "vote with your wallet."

    Wal-Mart used to trumpet "Made in America." When China began selling goods in America, a huge number of people asked why we're doing business with those murderous thugs after Tienanmen Square. "You don't like it, buy from other manufacturers." As a story on Slashdot pointed out a couple days ago, there's no longer any way to boycott Chinese goods. They're so pervasive that even if you wanted to, even a conscientious person can no longer ensure that a large chunk of their business does not go to China.

    Insurance companies used to swear "We would never come between you and your doctor. We wouldn't want to." Once deregulation came along, they all fell in lock-step, and now doctors have to call and ask some minimum wage clerk if they're allowed to treat their patients. It doesn't matter which insurance you carry.

    Companies do not get to pull nearly as much crap in Europe and Japan as they do here, because in those two places government regulation almost works. I know because I've lived there. No one in America gets to "vote with their wallet" any more because there's no longer any meaningful competition. Through our own stupidity, we've not only returned to the "Bad Old Days" of 1890-1930, we've done them several steps better.

In 1750 Issac Newton became discouraged when he fell up a flight of stairs.