Why can’t we turn off the iPhone’s phone? (legitimately, that is)
Faithful Macenstein reader Kevin O’Neil writes:
I had an interesting experience that I’d like to alert Apple to regarding the iPhone and I thought perhaps I’d share it with you.
I just returned from Jamaica where I comfortably kept my iPhone on “Airplane” mode so as to avoid the types of experiences that have generated nightmare overseas+iPhone roaming bill stories across the web. Well, at the lobby of my resort, free WiFi was available. Trouble was, I couldn’t take the phone off of “airplane” mode to log on to the WiFi without it also connecting to the local GSM carrier. I tried to go to settings and turn off the connection but the iPhone only allowed me to select a carrier manually or automatically. In other words, there is no option to just turn off the phone service while still using the WiFi.
Since the iPhone is arguably a greatly enhanced iPod Touch, shouldn’t the user be allowed to use the iPhone just for WiFi similar to how one could with the iPod Touch? It seems this feature is greatly needed for the international traveler. In my case, I received a stream of text messages when I turned my phone off “airplane” mode and no doubt will incur the wrath of those data roaming charges on next month’s bill.
Thought you might be interested in this topic. Nice new layout, BTW.
Thanks Kevin. And yes, you are absolutely right. After reading the horror stories of iPhone users who went overseas only to return to find $3000+ phone bills for roaming charges and internet usage, it seems like the next big “feature” ‘we should be asking Apple to add to the iPhone is actually the ability to take something away â€“ namely, the phone service. It seems only right to add an “iPod touch”-mode to the iPhone in addition to its Airplane mode. iPod touch mode would enable the iPhone to log on to free Wi-Fi networks without simultaneously searching for a GSM network (and racking up unnecessary charges in the process).
There were reports months ago that if you activated the iPhone on AT&T’s little known month-to-month plan, then canceled your contract, your iPhone would still work, essentially becoming a Wi-Fi iPod (this was of course pre-iPod touch). Now, after a small group of sites have begun offering to unlock the iPhone, there could potentially become a small but still sizeable market of AT&T iPhone users like Kevin who might consider paying to unlock their iPhone, and still stick with AT&T as their provider.
I am not sure if any of the current hacking solutions allow your iPhone to function without ANY carrier (hopefully one of our faithful readers can clarify this for me), but if they do, it might be just the thing to encourage more mainstream iPhone users to plunk down money for the hack. Personally, I do not want to switch from AT&T, but it would be worth maybe $50 to me to be able to hack the iPhone so that I could remove the SIM card if I wanted, and travel outside the US.
What are your thoughts?