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Hacked iPhones Confirmed As Bricking With Latest Update 430

Posted by Zonk
from the enjoy-our-new-service-plan dept.
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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  • iPhone (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2007 @02:24PM (#20786531)
    iDidn't buy one so iDon't care about iT.
    • Re:iPhone (Score:5, Informative)

      by evan2645 (1128827) * on Friday September 28, 2007 @02:35PM (#20786713)
      it doesnt brick the phones, it just re-locks them... doing this would make the phone unusable in the UK, but definitely not "bricked" in the classical sense.
      • Re:iPhone (Score:5, Informative)

        by davetd02 (212006) on Friday September 28, 2007 @02:39PM (#20786767)
        Engadget is reporting [engadget.com] that most phones are being re-locked, not bricked. Seems like that'd be the expected behavior: re-install the OS and it acts like a clean OS. Then if you want to hack it again you can hack it again.
        • Yeah. Let's be clear on what is happening exactly. A software update would obviously affect Hacks, since the executables would be overwritten and placed in the un-hacked state. But it would probably not brick the phone.

          An Unlock involves changing information on phones that would not be overwritten by a software update. This is more likely to be capable of bricking a phone since there is information involved that would persist across a software update.

          Another misleading sensationalist headline?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      iDidn't buy one so iDon't care about iT.

      I haven't bought one, but I would be curious to know whether you can get AT&T to unlock your iPhone 'legally'?
  • Non-hacked too. (Score:2, Informative)

    by AltGrendel (175092)
    I've read that it's also happening to non-hacked phones too.
    • Where'd you read that?
    • "citation needed"
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by OriginalArlen (726444)
      yeah, the BBC story [bbc.co.uk] has a link to this blog page with a lot of pissed-off posts in the comments [macworld.com].

      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,

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by NDPTAL85 (260093)
        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 n
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Slashcrap (869349)
          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?

          This may come as a shock but generally speaking, phones which run Linux are actually manufactured by, well, manufacturers. They're not assembled from dumpster dived components by bearded hippies and then sold to unsuspecting consumers. I believe that some of them even come with warranties!
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by GPL Apostate (1138631)
            Incompetence. Apple hasn't done anything really clever technically in a long, long time. They rely on 'creative design,' attractive appearances, and heavy heavy marketing.

            They weren't even able to turn MacOS into a modern pre-emptive multitasking OS. They ended up having to buy in a third party OS from NeXT, after spending many millions in failed attempts.

            One of the most difficult things to engineer into a portable device is a robust battery compartment that can use commercial off-the-shelf _standard_ ba
      • Re:Non-hacked too. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by drifterusa (987504) on Friday September 28, 2007 @03:37PM (#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.

    • I've read that it's also happening to non-hacked phones too.

      Yes, that was covered in the linked article. From TFA:

      1) There are also reports of the update causing issues with unaltered iPhones.

      2) Some owners are reporting on technology blogs and Apple's own forums that the update is deleting contacts information, as well as photos and music, on iPhones that have not been modified in any way.

    • Re:Non-hacked too. (Score:5, Informative)

      by venicebeach (702856) on Friday September 28, 2007 @02:44PM (#20786843) Homepage Journal
      First you have to make the distinction between "hacked" and "unlocked". Many of us have "hacked" our iPhones to add third party applications, customize the interface, etc., but have not unlocked it to use with a non-ATT SIM card. It's the unlocking that really screws you. I've been reading all the forums on this to decide what to do about mine, and the vast majority of people who have hacked but not unlocked are able to apply the update with no problems; however it does restore your iPhone to factory state and you lose all your third party apps. The new firmware has not been cracked yet, so you can't as of yet reinstall them.

      I have read isolated reports of people who have hacked/not unlocked phones being bricked and even nonhacked phones. In my reading it seems most of these folks had some sort of SIM issue prior to the update, e.g. replacing the SIM with a nonoriginal for some reason or another.

      The unofficial apple weblog [tuaw.com] is reporting that despite warnings posted all over the apple store genius bar employees have been quietly swapping out bricked phones.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DurendalMac (736637)
      Ars is saying that iPhones really aren't bricked by this update, so I'd chalk this up to sensationalism.
  • Not permanant then? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Retron (577778) on Friday September 28, 2007 @02:27PM (#20786575)

    The only 'solution' is to unhack your iPhone."
    Interesting, so much for the "permanant damage" bit then that Apple was spouting!

    It reminds me very much of the hacks that went on with the PSP a while back, whereby you could "brick" your shiny new console if you didn't know what you were doing with firmware updates. That one was finally solves by a hack involving accessing the service mode via a modified battery of all things!

    • I think the OP means to unhack your iphone before the update. The danger is that a bricked iphone cannot be accessed, and therefore un-bricked. There are ways to unbrick phones, but they are not always successful. I'm not familiar with most of them as I've never bricked my TyTN (nor would I want to).
  • Imagine that (Score:3, Insightful)

    by photomonkey (987563) on Friday September 28, 2007 @02:27PM (#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 Xtravar (725372)

      Given all the nefarious and legally questionable stuff AT&T has done over the years,
      "SBC is the new AT&T"...

      That's not to say that SBC didn't do evil.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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.

      • by walt-sjc (145127)
        If you eat E. Coli contaminated lettuce, you can get sick too. SBC bought AT&T and assumed the name. The E. Coli is still in there...
      • by James_G (71902)
        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.

        Well, it's not quite that simple.. AT&T Wireless was bought by Cingular which then renamed to AT&T.. and then.. Well, let Stephen Colbert explain it [google.com].
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Martin Blank (154261)
          AT&T Wireless was bought by Cingular, which was then bought out by AT&T after the SBC buyout, and renamed AT&T Wireless.

          AT&T: Same familiar name, but now with new, enhanced crappiness from SBC and Cingular.
    • It's not a question of Apple taking action, it's a question of what action it takes. Moral and legal issues aside, I'm wondering if they could have minimized the PR hit they are going to take or even spun it as a positive:

      I'm wondering if the upgrade could have included re-flashing the firmware. Then, Apple could say, "Though unlocking voids the warranty, we want to provide you with the best and seamless iPhone experience--that includes incorporating the new features included with the upgrade. To take ad
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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 t
  • So now (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    it's iCan't ;)
  • by CheeseburgerBrown (553703) on Friday September 28, 2007 @02:28PM (#20786591) Homepage Journal
    I suggest attaching a nasty note and lobbing them through Apple's iWindows.
  • by Evets (629327) * on Friday September 28, 2007 @02:28PM (#20786597) Homepage Journal
    This is reminiscent of DirecTV's Black Sunday - if I remember right, they put out an update on Superbowl Sunday that killed hacked receivers, and a good portion of unhacked receivers in the process.
  • My two cents: (Score:2, Informative)

    by Upaut (670171)
    A bricked iPhone can be returned for a full switch... Correct me if I am wrong, but its not like they can tell the phone has been "unlocked", as I have not opened this phone in any way, and as such have not voided any warrenty on the hardware.

    In fact I think I will install this update, I have a small scratch on my iPhone driving me insane, which is not enough to warrent an exchange. A bricked iPhone on the other hand from a corrupt firmware, would...

    I will have to explain to my family that they should
    • 3 degrees of separation from Vladimir Putin

      Count yourself lucky. I'm 3 degrees of separation from Steve Guttenberg. Although it's 2 for Lee Majors, so I guess it evens out.
    • By unlocking the phone, you void the warranty, according to Apple.
    • by crow (16139)
      You mention an application that uses cellphone triangulation to calculate your location on the map. I haven't run into those before. Where can I find them?
      • by Upaut (670171)
        A walkthrough on this great little app: http://navizon.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/09/a-version-of-na.html

        Hope this helps.
    • A bricked iPhone can be returned for a full switch... Correct me if I am wrong, but its not like they can tell the phone has been "unlocked", as I have not opened this phone in any way, and as such have not voided any warrenty on the hardware.

      If you check the comments here, [macworld.com] you see one particular comment of interest:

      Check you IMEI number on the back against the one on the activation svreen (behind the "i"). If you see 004999010640000 on screen you are screwed (for now).

      You see, they can tell, [digg.com]

      This is t

      • by Epsillon (608775) on Friday September 28, 2007 @05:44PM (#20789103) Homepage Journal

        This is the problem. THe free sim unlock changed everyone's IMEI to 004999010640000 - so they are now checking the IMEI to when it was first activated to the SIM to ensure a match, and if you look on the back of your box, you'll notice your original IMEI #.
        If this is true, you're doubly iScrewed. It is quite legal to unlock a 'phone, but it is very, very illegal, at least here in the UK, to change the IMEI. There's some stiff penalties, including time inside, for changing IMEIs or even producing software that is able to change an IMEI on a GSM handset.

        That is, if this quote is accurate. Anyone with a hacked iPhone in the UK had better ensure it isn't (*#06# is the standard GSM code for display IMEI on most handsets). The other angle, if US law is so very different to ours, is what stops AT&T from putting 004999010640000 on the stolen handset blocklist, thereby denying service to anyone on any network nationwide? The IMEI and IMSI (the phone and SIM serial respectively - IMEI is International Mobile Equipment Identity and IMSI is International Mobile Subscriber Identity) are transmitted to the BTS (cellular Base Transceiver Station) when logging on to the network. There's no way you could hide the IMEI from a network operator.

        Gut feeling tells me this report of IMEI cloning is mistaken. If it isn't it's a very crude kludge, not a true simlock release, and is easily defeated without resorting to nasty surprises in firmware.
  • by gozu (541069) on Friday September 28, 2007 @02:31PM (#20786647) Journal
    I'm sick and tired of all the Apple bashing that hasn't yet taken place.

    Look, Bricking hacked iPhones is the ONLY way to protect the AT&T network from collapsing under the weight of millions of replicating parasites and virii introduced into the carefully nurtured and fragile telecommunication ecosystem.

    Also, if Apple does NOT brick the hacked iPhones, it will go bankrupt and we will all be condemned to using old 386 pcs with DOS 5.0 for our computing needs.

    Also, the police might follow their example and stop investigation child abuse allegations too. WON'T YOU THINK OF THE ABUSED CHILDREN?

    Thank you and death to hackers.
  • by mattgreen (701203) on Friday September 28, 2007 @02:34PM (#20786695)
    I want to see a thorough defense of restricting user choice on the net by this time tomorrow. Your essay must have no less than 1,000 words, at least three Zune references, and at least one reference to Ballmer throwing chairs. Bonus points if you make a reference to the Borg.

    Also, don't forget the graphs and sound bites.
    • and at least one reference to Ballmer throwing chairs. Bonus points if you make a reference to the Borg.

      Doesn't one reference cover both?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drifterusa (987504)
      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 h
  • Sell it and buy a different phone. Like a Palm Centro or Neo1973?
  • Or are the owners shipping them in for replacement or hanging on for a fix?
  • Explain this to me (Score:2, Interesting)

    by svendsen (1029716)
    Let's say I have an iPhone. I've hacked it so it now is using t-mobiles network. How is the update being applied then if it is no longer on the AT&T network? Is it because a person gets it from iTunes or something?
  • *NOT* bricked! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tibor the Hun (143056) on Friday September 28, 2007 @02:52PM (#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.)

    • Re:*NOT* bricked! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by venicebeach (702856) on Friday September 28, 2007 @03:08PM (#20787201) Homepage Journal

      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 term
      You're missing the point. These phones *are* actually bricked. If you get the invalid SIM card error you can't restore the phone and replacing the original SIM doesn't clear things up. It reverts to the state its in before it is activated -- you cannot access any of the functions: ipod, wifi, etc. -- you can't get past the splash screen.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Panaflex (13191) *
        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.
  • I hate to ask a stupid question, but I've had many cell phones and cannot remember ever updating the software on them. Even my blackberry hasn't ever updated. Why the iPhone? Are they trying to add right-click functionality?
  • 1) Apple won concessions from AT&T that were unprecedented. Some of these were really good for users, like a cheap plan with unlimited internet access.

    ) Do do this, they had to make a deal with AT&T that included AT&T being the sole US service provider for 2 years. Unless AT&T has no lawyers (ha ha), you can be assured that the contract includes an obligation by Apple to shut down any hackers and keep them from opening the phone. Thus, Apple has not choice and will be forced to continue
    • by bluemonq (812827) *
      Incorecct. The upgraded phone fails to recognize even valid AT&T SIM cards. In other words, for many people, if you previously unlocked your phone (and in some cases DIDN'T unlock your phone), it refuses to activate.
  • Intent? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by reptilicus (605251)
    Is Apple deliberately bricking the phones, deliberately disabling the hacks, or are they just updating their own product the way they best see fit, which coincidentally mucks up phones that have been hacked? I've seen a lot of rhetoric assuming Apple is doing this on purpose for nefarious business reasons, but not much evidence to support it (would love to see some if anyone can provide it).

    Does Apple have an obligation to keep your phone working after you've hacked it and violated your warranty? Should t
    • by mark-t (151149)
      My understanding is that the update only installs "unhacked" firmware, so if it was hacked before, you will have to do so again to get unrestricted carrier usage back. However, the techniques for hacking the original firmware will not work on this updated firmware, so new methods will have to be discovered.
  • ...and.. of course it's completely coincidental and not a single directive was given Apple's programmers to ensure the new software bricks hacked iPhones, right?
  • once you hack your phone and can do pretty much whatever you want... what's the point of getting updates from Apple? Hope that they're going to give you something great that the OpenSource community can't? Why not just disable updates to prevent accidental iBricking and then call it a day?
  • How can Apple possibly consider this as a wise business move? Other phones can be unlocked, eventually (not soon, though) the US will have to migrate away from locked phones. This move will smear shit all over Apples image as a progressive, good faith company associated with coolness. It shouts out "We are First Class Assholes."

  • I sure as hell wouldn't voluntarily install a trojan horse "update" from any hostile party, and in this case, were I a (modified) iPhone owner, that would include Apple.
  • Typical (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pravuil (975319)

    Over the past several years, Apple has done this with the iPod, iTunes, and now the iPhone. Their best interest is to keep their products under their control. Whenever there is a method to utilize iTunes through wine they include updates in order to interfere with installation and operation. It used to be that you could download previous versions of their binaries from their website that would work in wine but once there was a capable way of installing them through wine they were altered to impair such acti

  • First off I'm not a lawyer ... but ... A long time ago I worked in E-911, and if I recall it is not legal to utterly render a wireless phone useless all calls, as it will violate the 'emergency use only' clause that the FCC requires. Does anyone have an iBrick that can test this out?

    -b
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ubernostrum (219442)

      it is not legal to utterly render a wireless phone useless all calls, as it will violate the 'emergency use only' clause that the FCC requires

      That's not what's happening. If you actually read reports from people who actually have iPhones and who actually unlocked them and then actually applied the update, you'll find that the "bricking" effect simply means that the SIM is locked again, and turning on the phone yields the activation screen which asks you to purchase cellular service from AT&T. It d

  • by TrentC (11023) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:48PM (#20788463) Homepage
    All of this talk of being "required" to sign a contract is bogus. You can activate an iPhone without signing up for a 2-year contract.

    I have a co-worker who did exactly this; he was told how to do it by a sales associate at the store he purchased it from. This is not illegal in any way; AT&T lets you do month-to-month on all of their plans in this manner, if you buy the phone first. Given that the iPhone price is not subsidized by the contract in any way, shape or form, why tie yourself into a contract?

    When you activate the iPhone in iTunes, enter all 9's for your Social Security number. You'll fail the credit check (duh!) and you will be told you can either go to an AT&T store to talk to a representative or you can go month-to-month.

    Given how much whining people have done about being "forced" to sign a with AT&T contract in order to use an iPhone, you would think that month-to-month thing would be being shouted from the rooftops. Are iPhone-bashers just ignoring inconvenient facts?

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