Vendors yesterday started taking orders for the first commercial software to unlock the Apple iPhone (reviewed here).

iPhoneSIMFree's unlock lets iPhone owners swap out SIM cards so that the device can make calls on cellular networks other than AT&T's. One US dealer, Wireless Imports, listed the hack for $99. The reseller is waiting on iPhoneSIMFree to deliver licences, but preorders taken yesterday are supposed be filled within 48 hours.

Although Wireless Imports' price is nearly three times more than the highest wholesale per-license cost quoted in an email sent last week by iPhoneSIMFree to resellers, others have quoted lower prices. An Australian website, iPhone Worldwide Unlock, listed the hack for $50 and claimed that it had already received 1,000 orders. A German reseller has also priced the unlock hack at $50 (£25).

In the UK, a site called is selling the hack for £39. At the time of writing the site was down, due excessive bandwidth demand.

Like Wireless Imports, the Australian and German dealers are currently taking preorders only.

All three resellers made it a point to stress on their websites that they do not guarantee the unlock will survive the next iPhone update from Apple, echoing caveats from the still-unknown developers behind iPhoneSIMFree. Some iPhone owners interested in the unlock may decide that the risk isn't worth it, if only because they will be charged for any future unlock.

"In the event Apple comes out with a new firmware upgrade which will lock your phone again you hereby agree that Wireless Imports nor its vendor will be held liable or responcible [sic] for unlocking your handset again," the company's site states. "If your handset becomes locked you will be charged to unlock it again."

Apple's iPhone updates have required users who installed hacks or work-arounds to restore their devices from scratch, a process that erases the modifications. However, unlike the first firmware update, the 1.0.2 update did not cripple most hacks and allowed them to work once they were reinstalled.

An Irish company that announced its own software-only unlock has been silent on the subject since late last month. UniquePhones last mentioned its iPhone unlock on August 28, when it posted video of an unlock in progress.

Apple did not respond to questions, including whether it will relock the iPhone in a future firmware update or whether it's considering taking legal action against the resellers.

Computerworld (US online)