Diplonaut: Tech and iOS

It’s been a while since I did my original “iPhone in Nepal” entry, and it’s time to update it.

There is still no official carrier in Nepal for iPhones, so it’s still necessary to have an unlocked handset here in order to use NCell or NTC. And jailbreakers and unlockers are still hard at work enabling people with locked iPhones to use these networks.

One key difference between last August and this year is that Apple is now selling factory-unlocked iPhones, great for those of us in the field not willing to jump through the hoops of jailbreaking, unlocking, and possibly bricking our iPhones. If you’ve ponied up the cash and bought a handset (my iPhone 4S is coming soon, oh Christmas for me!), congratulations. Some of this will be useful for you still, as whatever country in which you find your self will undoubtedly still require you to punch your SIM, possibly in such a way to require it to still be used in a device that requires a full sized SIM!

A quick primer:
Jailbreak: in layman’s terms, getting Cydia on the phone. See Wikipedia for a better definition. Cydia is the non-Apple appstore that lets you download free apps and pay for other apps. Jailbreaking does not prevent you from continuing to sync with your Apple ID/itunes account and using your regular apps.
Unlock: in laymen’s terms, allowing your phone to see other networks than AT&T (in the U.S., TMobile for instance). Easily unlock supported baseband phones with Ultrasn0w in Cydia. As soon as you unlock stay away from letting iTunes update your device automatically!
BaseBand/Firmware: the low-level code that tells your Phone how to use it’s 3G and Edge networking radios. No I didn’t even look for a real definition, but then again, I’m not writing a thesis am I?
iOS: The operating system formerly know as Prince iPhone OS. It runs on the Apple ? TV, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, etc. The currently shipping version as of 7 Dec 2011 is iOS 5.0.1 (iOS 5.0.2 and 5.1 expected RealSoonNow™).
SIM: Subscriber Information Module. The little chip in your GSM phone.
GSM: the type of radio in many iPhone 4’s, all iPhone 3GS,3G,first gen units. “Global System for Mobile Communications” per Wikipedia.
CDMA: the type of radio in iPhone 4 (Verizon) and iPhone 4S (which is a world phone, so has both CDMA and GSM). “Code Division Multiple Access” per Wikipedia.
Carrier: the companies that charge you money for using your phone. Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em.
Frequency: the reason T-Mobile tells you that 3G won’t work on your phone. What’s the frequency, Kenneth?

  • AT&T: 850MHz/1900MHz (in the U.S. for which the iPhone 4 and prior are designed)
  • T-Mobile: 1700MHz/2100MHz (in the U.S.)

First things first for those of us who have devices that require jailbreaking. I highly recommend Redmond Pie as a site for jailbreaking ALL iOS devices. I won’t attempt to replicate what they do here. That said, using their advice I’ve jailbroken:

  • iPhone (first gen)
  • iPhone 3G
  • iPhone 4

I’ve used jailbreakme.com for iOS devices running 4.3.3 and prior (best, easiest experience EVER) as well as Pwnage tool for the same (older versions of pwnage tool support the original iPhone). For unlocking I typically stick with Ultrasn0w, though recently some users whom I’ve helped have been unfortunate enough to have updated with iTunes, thus updating their baseband or firmware, rendering Ultrasn0w useless (for now).

If you find yourself in a spot, and have a jailbroken device, but your baseband is still too new for ultrasn0w to work, don’t despair. Gevey SIM may be able to help. I recently helped a fellow expat with iPhone4+iOS4.3.3+baseband 4.10.01, using the Gevey Pro, and it worked great. That said, the same handset running iOS 5.0.1 with 6.15.10 did not work. Not that Gevey said it would.
The Gevey SIM is a very thin layer of metal with a few contact points, comes complete with a modified SIM sled, allowing you to press your SIM against the interface layer put both in your new sled, and slide it into your phone. Wow, that’s some hack!

So once you’ve unlocked your handset, you’re good to go! MacWorld actually has a great article on this. FYI, you don’t have to hack at your SIM, I advise using a SIM punch tool, as this not only does a great job, but also preserves the surrounding plastic in case you need to use your punched SIM with a *device that requires a full-sized SIM from time to time.
*For instance, a USB data card modem, a different phone (Blackberry, iPhone 3Gs/3G/first gen, etc)

Browse the gallery of pics below, feel free to comment if you have any questions or corrections.

NOTE: iPads are unlocked by default, so you can just pop in a SIM and go.

NOTE: Expats traveling abroad, KEEP YOUR AT&T SIM. Tape it to your U.S. driver’s license or something. I keep mine in my SD card wallet with my SIM removal tool. You will need this to activate the phone unless the jailbreak method you’re using “hacktivates” the phone. Even with a cancelled contract, your iPhone will recognize the SIM and at least get you to the point where you can try to jailbreak the phone.

UPDATE 28 Dec 2011
Working with a factory unlocked iPhone 4S:

  • Contacts: numbers show up with the full country code, necessitating adding them to existing contacts. Existing contact numbers w/o the full country code still work. Seriously confusing with texting and calling.
  • Tethering: Since this handset is not jailbroken, no Cydia, no MiWi. No problem. Settings>General>Cellular data network>Internet Tethering>APN (for NCell specifically)> (no user or pass)
  • Initially the phone did not recognize I even inserted a SIM; AT&T, NCell, nothing. Had to force reboot the device to get it to work.
  • iOS 5.0.1 now has an untethered jailbreak, and ultrasn0w has been updated! Go, man, go! Folks who have certain basebands ONLY


Noosy SIM cutter tool with two included adapters..


Cutting my NCell full sized SIM to a micro SIM. Seriously easy.


Hey, it fits in my iPad now! See the leftovers to the right?


You can’t even tell it’s punched! Put the micro SIM back into the discarded husk of a full-sized SIM for re-use in your “full sized SIM device.”


You can also use the included full-sized SIM adapters if you lose your leftover cuttings.


Use the good ‘ol paper clip or SIM removal tool.

4 Replies to “Diplonaut: Tech and iOS”

  1. I was looking for Internet tethering or personal hotspot, and this solved my problem: thanks very much!

    In OS 6.1.3 the menu is slightly different, so it’s: Settings->General->Mobile Data -> (scroll down) -> Mobile Data Network -> (scroll down) -> Internet Tethering -> APN ->

  2. my itunes automatically updated my iphone and now it isn’t getting activated what should i do! P.S> i live in nepal!

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