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Although smartphones are useful to some and essential to many, the way devices are still treated like a monopoly by carriers makes using any given smartphone with a SIM of your choice an often difficult task.

As such, the process of unlocking is big business, and whenever a new firmware is updated, thousands of iPhone users wait on tenterhooks for a method to surface. As time has gone on, the methods have dried up somewhat, with Apple taking the upper hand in the never-ending cat and mouse game.

A few days back, AT&T announced that it would begin offering to unlock off-contract iPhones as of Sunday – free of charge. Today, it has been revealed that the process can be done at home through iTunes – saving your precious time, energy and gas in making that trip to your local Store.

So, how does it work? Here’s a little step-by-step:

Step 1: On your iPhone, open Settings > General > About, and note down you IMEI number, or remember it, depends.

Step 2: Log into AT&T’s website, tap in your account credentials, and proceed to AT&T’s Wireless Support Chat.

Step 3: Give them your IMEI which you made a note of in Step 1.

Step 4: Within 72 hours, you’ll be sent an e-mail notification stating your unlock is ready.

Step 5: Finally, you’ll need to follow the remaining instructions in the e-mail, which consist of syncing and restoring to complete the process.

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Image credit @aedillor

And that’s it – your hassle-free method to unlock your out of contract iPhone and that too from the comfort of your favorite sofa.

Some customers have been informed they’ll need to wait a little longer than the allotted three days, although this issue is said to only affect a small minority of inquiries. AT&T has set maximum of five unlocks per account, per year, and will be making sure the device meets the criteria before agreeing to the unlock.

iPhone 4S (2)

The lengths people are willing to go (and indeed, the amount they are willing to pay) to have their device work with any carrier is not something to be underestimated. First introduced in 2011, CutYourSim has returned for a second round this year. The legality of the service seems dubious, but the fact the company is back even after being halted by Apple the first time around suggest the customers are still being reeled in.

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