One of the things I had to decide when planning this move is what on earth to do about a cell phone. In a first-world problem of the highest degree, I am unwilling to go without an iPhone.

Credit history doesn’t carry over to the UK from Canada, so getting one on a plan there could potentially be tricky. Also, the new iPhone should be coming out in a few months, and I didn’t want to spend $550 for the same phone, or $750  for the latest model of an unlocked phone here (or even more over there) on what will soon be an old iPhone.

That also didn’t solve the problem of being in a contract with Rogers that still had 18 months of service left owing. I could sell the phone and contract on Craigslist for $100 or so, but that still left me phone-less and with very little coin in my pocket for a new phone.

Enter: the Rogers Factory Unlock service.

I had heard this rumor swirling around, and after checking with and calling Rogers, it is real, and it is FABULOUS.

Rogers policy is that you may break your contract if you are moving out of any areas they service, but you do still need to pay off your phone subsidy. You can also just opt to have your phone unlocked by Rogers if you are traveling, etc. as long as you pay any remaining subsidy first. Once you’re subsidy-free, there is a $50 unlocking fee.

The unlock process is very simple (though I still managed to get confused):

  1. Call the Rogers Unlock Team (this is only available by phoning customer service – stores do not provide the service)
  2. Rogers will take payment for your remaining subsidy, the unlock fee and plus applicable taxes.
  3. You tell the agent from the unlock team your phone’s IMEI number (under settings/about), and they submit that to Apple. The Apple database now has your phone registered as permanently unlocked.
  4. (This is where I got confused) Sync your phone with iTunes (NOT iCloud) to create a backup, then reset your phone to factory defaults. This will cause a sync-up with the Apple databases and install the latest version of the unlocked firmware on your phone. The unlock team agent told me I had to set up my phone as a new device, or put in an active SIM from a different carrier and sync, to complete the unlock. It was mostly semantics, but I didn’t really understand a reset to factory is the same thing, and that I could restore my backup after that with the unlock intact.
  5. Restore to your backup, continue to use your shiny! new! unlocked! iPhone with whichever damn SIM you choose.

So what did all that cost? I paid $260 (-ish? am I remembering that right?) for a new iPhone4 on a Rogers 3-year term about 18 months ago. According to Rogers, I owed $280 on the subsidy. Then there was the $50 unlock fee. And my phone is now as good as the factory unlocked model people paid $749 for when it came out.

Overall, technical confusion notwithstanding, I’m pretty pleased with how that all worked out. And it’s one less thing for me to hyperventilate about as we tick ever closer to D-Day.

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