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'Hacked' iPhones Thrive in China

Over 400,000 'unlocked' iPhones are using China Mobile's network

The Apple iPhone isn’t for sale in China, but don’t tell the over 400,000 users of “unlocked” phones over there.

China Mobile says that’s the number of unlocked iPhones in use on its wireless network in the country as of the end of 2007, according to a published report. That means one out of 10 iPhone shipments went to China, according to market research firm In-Stat.

More than one fourth of Apple iPhones have been unlocked to run on wireless networks other than AT&T’s. And despite warnings from Apple that these hacked phone could be damaged or no longer operate with updates, unlocked iPhones are all the rage. (See Apple: Bypassing AT&T Can Break Your iPhone.)

The Chinese iPhone connection could account for some of the 1.45 million iPhones "missing in action" at the end of last year, according to the report. A Bernstein Research analyst last month said about 1 million of these lost phones were likely unlocked, and the other 480,000 in AT&T’s inventory. (See One-Fourth of iPhones Hacked to Bypass AT&T.)

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

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  • AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)
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