Apple throws the brick at opportunists

28 Sep 2007

It has emerged that a threatened software update from Apple that would leave unlocked iPhone devices permanently disabled – known as iBricks – is actually doing the rounds right now and making the precious gadgets useless.

Earlier it was revealed that Apple was planning an update would leave the device “permanently inoperable”.

It is believed that thousands of iPhone owners in the US hacked their device in order to unlock it for use with other mobile carriers and to run a host of unsupported programs.

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

On Monday Apple said many of the unauthorised iPhone unlocking programs caused “irreparable damage” to the device’s software.

The company said this would “likely result in the modified iPhone becoming permanently inoperable when a future Apple-supplied iPhone software update is installed”.

That warning has now proved correct as many owners are reporting that 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.

Users on several websites, including Gizmodo ( and The Unofficial Apple Weblog ( are reporting that the update causes irreparable damage.

The iPhone offers an error message in some cases about an invalid SIM card, and users are unable to leave the error screen or revert the software. Inserting the original SIM card does not solve the problem.

The update also caused headaches for users who had performed a so-called ‘jail-break’ procedure to allow the iPhone to run custom applications. While the phones updated, most users reported that the installation locks were put back in place.

Many of the third-party applications were also removed from the phone.

By John Kennedy