Since the iPhone became the hot item of the 21st century, AT&T customers have been locked down to using their devices exclusively on their network. True, Verizon did get the iPhone eventually, followed then by Sprint. However, AT&T iPhone’s have always been locked down without a hack from the hacking community, or from a variety of third-parties.

Using various techniques in the past, iPhone owners have been opened up to using their iPhones on T-Mobile, and even on the prepaid carrier StraightTalk.

AT&T has officially begun allowing out-of-contract iPhone owners to unlock their phones, and thankfully the process of doing so is extremely simple. Unlocking an iPhone expands the device’s ability to communicate, and allows users to have their phones for usage on other GSM carriers, such as T-Mobile.

The process is extremely easy, and takes place directly in iTunes. If you are US customer who is out of contract, you can do this today.

Simply dial 611 from your iPhone, and speak with AT&T customer service about unlocking your iPhone. There is a bit of a process on the phone, but once it’s all over with, you should receive the message in the photo below.

The unlock code actually comes through Apple. AT&T’s instructions tell customers to simply open iTunes on their computers, connect the iPhone via USB, backup the device, and restore their handsets to factory settings (normal firmware restore is required for this unlock process). Once restored, the iPhone will become unlocked, and fully eligible to be used on other carriers as you wish.

If you have concerns, or have questions about the process, AT&T has provided a support document that is available on Apple’s website. These instructions include information to reset the SIM card, restoring iPhones, and if needed, steps for contacting the carrier about problems with the process.

You’ll know the process was successful with a message being sent to your device:

“Unlock Complete. Congratulations, your iPhone has been unlocked. To set up and sync this iPhone, click Continue.”

How do you like that? Now that you’ve got an unlocked iPhone, do you believe you’ll take to moving to a different carrier? Personally, I’m just doing it for traveling flexibility, and of course the slight increase in resale value.

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