How I Got My (Almost) Free iPhone (for $20)

Someone asked me how I recently acquired my virtually free iPhone. Well, it’s not quite free. I paid $20 for it. Here’s how it worked.

Someone damaged their first generation iPhone. The bottom half of the screen didn’t work. Instead of taking it to the Apple Store to see what they could do, they decided to get a second generation iPhone 3G. They gave me their first gen iPhone and said, “If you can get it working — give me $20 for it…if not, then it’s free.”

Two weeks ago I went to and Apple Store and told them the story. I told them everything I knew about the phone. I held nothing back. The employee slide a brand new (probably refurbished) iPhone across the counter to me. Wow! I bet you the person who gave me his first generation iPhone would be ticked. So I called them — just to make sure they would be ticked.

Now comes the data plan work around. An iPhone doesn’t work, unless you use special software to jailbreak and unlock the phone. Jailbreaking a phone allows you to put 3rd party software on it. Unlocking the phone unlocked the radio of the phone to all it to be used by other sim cards (not just AT&T). I slid my current card in and — and BAM, it’s fully functional.

Is it legal to unlock an iPhone? The answer is yes and no. It is legal, if you are using it for personal benefit (like me, planning to use the phone with my family plan). However, it is not legal you to sell it on Ebay to someone else for profit (which I was going to do until I found out it was illegal). Check out this article for more information on the legality of unlocking an iPhone. How’s that for being cheap AND legal? OK, I almosted unknowingly sinned because I was going to sell it on Ebay. Is it sin if you didn’t know about it? That’s for a theological post for another time, but a great question. All I know is that I’m a sinner regardless (Romans 3:23).

Warning. I’ll need to be careful not to suck any data charges while I’m out of a free wifi zone. If I do, I’ll pay per KB download. Not good if I was a traveling guy. But for a guy who stays near the office wifi, Burger King wifi, and home wifi — I’ll be just fine. In other words, if I use AT&T’s EDGE network without a data plan — I’ll pay as I go (and probably through the nose).

And that’s the story of my virtually free iPhone.

By the way, if you get a new iPhone with a 2 year contract — that puppy will set you back over $2000 (phone, voice, data). No thanks. I handed my measly $20 over to the former iPhone user several days ago. He begrudgingly took it.

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2 Responses to How I Got My (Almost) Free iPhone (for $20)

  1. Hey Norton says:

    I was so curious by your teaser a few days ago, I started Google-ing and found this…

    http://www.tuaw.com/2008/05/12/finally-a-data-only-iphone-plan-for-20-month/

  2. Scott says:

    such ingenuity. i’m impressed.

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