Managed to jail break and SIM unlock my iPhone 3GS (iOS 5.0.1, FW=06.15.00)

After many hours of effort, I finally managed to get my iPhone 3GS SIM unlocked so that I could use it in Europe with a Lebara SIM. I am not reporting the detailed instructions here because there are so many good descriptions already on the web. I just want to report the overall experience in the hope that it might save someone else the trouble that I had.

I could not get redsn0w to work. I tried many different versions but it kept telling me that it could not find the device (even though iTunes was able to see it). I think that the problem had something to do with Mobiledevice.dll. It didn’t recognize it even though I copied it over from C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Apple\Mobile Device Support (on Windows 7) after installing the latest version of iTunes (10.6.1.7). In addition, I downloaded several (3?, 4?) versions from the web while trying to get it to work but never really had any success. In some cases it seemed to work but then it would hang or simply die. It would probably help if the developers told us which version worked best with and where to get it.

I found the error message telling me that I didn’t understand how to put the phone in DFU mode very annoying. Not only was it in DFU mode but iTunes was able to recognize it. It would be helpful if it gave more information that I could use to debug the problem like “can’t find device from such and such DLL function” or “please download <this> version of mobiledevice.dll”. Not all users of redsn0w are so inexperienced that they do not understand how to put an iPhone into DFU mode.

I could not get iOS 5.1 to work either untethered or tethered. The biggest problem was an error code 1600. I could not figure out how to work around it.

The key for me was installing the latest version of iTunes and using sn0wbreeze v2.9.3. I first had to downgrade my iPhone to iOS 5.0.1 (9A405) and install modem firmware version 06.15.00. Beware that you must have the old PROM which you can find if your serial number is older than **135 (35th week in 2011 or so). Mine was **928 (28th week in 2009).

I used the pre-defined downloads available through sn0wbreeze to get the 5.0.1 ipsw file I needed (iPhone2,1_5.0.1_9A405_Restore.ipsw). For the record, I tried 5.1 and various 4.x versions before I found that 5.0.1 worked.

I had to reboot to get it to recognize the cellular network. When I did it said “vodafone” instead of Lebara which is apparently ok.

After completing the unlock, GPS worked just fine for me although some folks have reported having problems.

Here are a few other tidbits: to get your number phone “*#100#”. To get your remaining minutes call 5588.

I must say that it was worth it! Once I got it working it was very cool to be able to use by iPhone rather than the Samsung E1080i that I bought for £5.

It was also nice to avoid paying $0.99 (or $1.29) a minute to AT&T for international roaming charges while having access to cellular networks. If they only charged something reasonable like $0.10 (or even $0.20) I wouldn’t have bothered.

Enjoy!

5 thoughts on “Managed to jail break and SIM unlock my iPhone 3GS (iOS 5.0.1, FW=06.15.00)”

  1. Joe, have you had any issues with dropped signal, both 3G and wifi with sn0wbreeze for unlock?

    I’m using pretty much exactly the same hardware/firmware/software as your iPhone 3GS, except the unlock was done by ultrasn0w 1.2.7 and I’m getting several signal drops a minute when using location services.

    I’m wondering if sn0wbreeze should be the way to go.

    1. I did not have any issues. I used it for two months in Europe with one of the local services.

      I have to say that setting it up was very finicky. I tried a number of variations of versions sn0wbreeze and IOS. None worked except for what I documented.

      Did you ever get it to work?

  2. First of all, thank you for taking the time to explain the process you went through – a selfless act only for the benefit of others. Much appreciated as I’m having a horrific time with my 3GS 6.1.3 (5.18.09, until it was wiped out after I downgraded the iPad modem while trying to unlock the phone).

    I would be very grateful if you could explain this a little further:

    “I first had to downgrade my iPhone to iOS 5.0.1 (9A405) and install modem firmware version 06.15.00.”

    How did you downgrade to 5.0.1? iTunes wouldn’t really work (I think) since it has the Apple validation. Was this what you selected as your IPSW in redsn0w?

    I presently have no modem firmware showing (not grayed out, just totally gone). How did you manager to install modem firmware version 06.15.00? My guess is it was part of the IPSW, but honestly have no idea. Without the modem firmware I can’t get wifi for Cydia to complete the rest of the unlock process.

    Any help you can offer would be much appreciated! (I realize this is an older post and you may not receive this message, but I’ve tried everything else, why not this?)
    John

    1. I don’t recall what I did in detail but I do recall that your iPhone model number was very important. This approach will not work on some 3GS phones.

      > Was this what you selected as your IPSW in redsn0w?

      Yes.

      Let me see if I can find my notes. I will post something in the next day or so but I can’t promise anything.

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