iPhone unlocker trades phone for 'sweet' car

A hacker who figured out how to unlock the iPhone traded an unlocked phone for a car.

A hacker who figured out how to unlock the iPhone has traded an unlocked phone for a new car.

After facing problems trying to auction the phone on eBay, George Hotz received a call from CertiCell, a company that refurbishes mobile phones. "Terry Daidone, the founder of CertiCell, contacted me this morning, and offered to make a trade for the iPhone," Hotz wrote on his blog. "I traded it for a sweet Nissan 350Z and 3 8GB iPhones."

Hotz shared the method he discovered for unlocking the phone on his blog, so the phone he traded doesn't hold any secrets. But he put the phone up for auction because he thought someone might want the phone, the second one that he unlocked, for its historical value. "If you are only bidding on this to get an unlocked iPhone, don't. There are much cheaper and easier ways to get one. This is a piece of cell phone history," he wrote on his blog.

Hotz, who arrived at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York for his first days of college on Sunday, closed the eBay auction after receiving too many fraudulent bids. He then invited legitimately interested buyers to contact him directly.

He plans to give the three iPhones from CertiCell to people who helped him as he worked on unlocking the phone.

Besides accepting the gifts, Hotz agreed to do some consulting work for CertiCell, according to a statement from the company. While the statement says that CertiCell doesn't plan to commercialize Hotz's unlocking method, it also says that part of Hotz's consulting work will include training CertiCell staff on the unlocking process. CertiCell also hopes that Hotz will help its engineers develop new methods for updating software and reflashing refurbished phones.

Since the iPhone went on sale at the end of June, hackers have been working on ways to unlock it. The phones are built to work only on AT&T's wireless network. Unlocking the phone means that a customer can use it on another network and avoid signing a long contract with AT&T.

The process is controversial, however. One company, Uniquephones, says that it has developed a way to unlock the phones, but has delayed the release because of concerns of legal action from AT&T.

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Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service
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