iPhones in the UK

Ben's most excellent iphoneWell it seems the iPhone is a resounding success. Loads of them have shipped and with the new development opportunities opening up from apple (see iPhone developer site) things can only get better.

I was sceptical at first and I wouldn't have got my iPhone except a colleague, (thanks Gavin) was over in New York and managed to get me a 4GB one for what ended up being about £160. Now I'm totally hooked. Not only does it do phone calls, but I can browse, play podcasts and you know the rest. If not have a look here.

So with an American phone supplied with an AT&T SIM card how have I got it working over here?

Well since the launch, folks have been hard at work hacking the way the phone works. Those clever l33t people have consistently managed to break away at Apple's locking techniques, most notably is ziphone.org. They provide a free tool to unlock a phone for use on any network in any country.

This tool has been nicely wrapped up and is distributed in the UK for £30 from iphoneunlockuk.com. Hang on I hear you say, wasn't it free a moment ago? Well yes, it is free from ziphone.org, but comes with no support or help if you get stuck in the process. iphoneunlock has email and phone support, as well as stores in London and Warwick where you can take your iPhone in for engineer supported hacking.

You can of course go the legitimate route and purchase an iPhone from a store then activate through iTunes. This will tie you into an 18 month contract with O2 starting from £35 per month. To be fair this price plan is comparable to other networks, it just hurts when you've paid £269 for the phone as well.

So if you already have a phone and contract, go get yourself and iPhone, get the ziphone software (either free or via iphoneunlockuk) and you're off.

´╗┐Thumbnail of apps installed on Ben's iPhoneAdding Applications

With version 2 of the iPhone software Apple is to start supporting additional applications. The iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK) is available now so independent developers can start making their apps. However how these apps are distributed and their associated costs have yet to be confirmed.

For now though, there is already a thriving developer community making applications for hacked iPhones. I should mentioned here that these apps don't require a completely hacked iPhone, just one that has been 'jail broken'. This means that the bits of software Apple have put in place to stop you loading third party applications have been removed. In other words your iPhone is release from Apple prison! The most popular application to install is 'Installer'. This is mainly because it makes it easy to install other applications, the name makes sense! The Installer application is automatically installed when you use ziphone or the iphoneunlockuk software.

Once you have installer... err installed you can browse its library of applications, and there are may to choose from. Applications are grouped into several sections with Recent additions up top. Installing is simple, just browse through the sections till you find what you want then tap Install. The app is downloaded then installed, when you tap the Home button spring board reloads and the new app is ready to use.

Some of my favourite apps are:

  • ScreenShot, used to take the pics in this review.
  • Convertor, a conversion tool which seems to convert anything to anything. Did you know that one coffee spoon = 2.46 millilitres? Well I do!
  • Thumbnail Image of Drummer application for iPhone - click for larger viewDrummer, a multi touch aware app with 5 pre loaded drum kits and you can load in your own! (click on thumbnail to the right)
  • iRadio, an MP3 streaming tool which connects to online radio stations (although this is broken in firmware 1.1.4, update on the way)

So you can see there is a cross section of tools and fun stuff you can do with your phone, beyond the applications the Apple provides. Its worth remembering that most of this applies to the iPod Touch as well, so if you think you might have the need for a drum kit on the go, get yourself an iPod touch and get Installing.

Related links

iPhone Unlock in the UK
AppTapp Installer application
Apple iPhone
Apple iPod Touch

Average: 4.8 (4 votes)