At last. I've been moaning for months about locked iPhones and the iniquities suffered by contracted users who cannot use foreign SIM cards when abroad. Now, according to Macworld UK, O2 are to unlock phones from today at no charge to contract holders. Pay-as-you-go users will be charged a reasonable £15. Now this makes eminent sense; I have never understood Apple's policy of locking the iPhone. If you get a discount when taking out a long contract, you're committed to the monthly payment for the duration. So it really doesn't matter whether the phone is locked or unlocked: Until you want to take it abroad, that is.
According to Macworld UK, O2 will start unlocking customers' phones from now, irrespective of the period left on the contract. PAYG users will have to wait until 12 months after the purchase of the phone.
Apparently, the unlocking process takes up to 14 days (why, I wonder?). You just fill in a request form, wait the fourteen days and, on receipt of a text message, you insert a non-O2 SIM card and connect to iTunes. This is certainly something everyone should do before collecting a stack of overseas SIM cards from every visited country. I just file them away and top up on the day of arrival.
It appears that this change of heart on the part of O2 follows the introduction of iPhone by Orange and, next January, by Vodafone. Orange claim to have sold 30,000 iPhones in the first few hours of availability. O2's move, which will surely be emulated by the other service providers, is welcome and, at last, breaks the infamous locking rules. Perhaps, now, we will finally see an end to locking of phones.