Source: CNet The obstacle in question: the iPhone 3G. Since its launch, it has proven a much tougher nut to crack than the original iPhone. Without a viable software-based unlock solution, the only way to make the phone work with any GSM carrier has been the use of a proxy SIM. Put this piece of very thin circuitboard in the iPhone 3G atop the carrier's SIM, and you can make calls and text on a new network. (I did experience some problems using the proxy SIM, including short battery life, instability, and, most seriously, incompatibility with iTunes.) Unfortunately, the recently released 2.2 software update, for now, has made the iPhone 3G impossible to unlock--unless you happen to be in Hanoi. Here, I met a man who takes the job quite seriously and gets it done the hard way, literally. His name is Tuan Anh Do, and he's a 29-year-old businessman who owns five cell phone repair shops. A big part of his business is servicing the iPhone and iPhone 3G, and that often involves getting those devices unlocked at the hardware level. One of his shops is on Nguyen Du street, a relatively small, quiet block in Hanoi. It's located in a typically narrow four-story house, with one floor serving as a reception area, and another holding the accounting department. The top floor is the workshop, where the magic happens. Here I witnessed a brand new iPhone 3G getting its hardware unlocked and was really impressed. This is how it happened. First, a technician opened up the phone and stripped it to the motherboard. In his skillful hands, the device seemed much easier to dismantle than I expected. The technician then extracted the baseband chip, the component that controls the connection between the phone and the mobile network, from the motherboard. (This is a painstaking task as the chip is strongly glued to the phone's motherboard. A mistake during this process could brick the phone completely.) Please Register or Log in to view images A technician opens up a brand new iPhone 3G in one of Tuan Anh's Hanoi shops. Please Register or Log in to view images The phone's motherboard with the baseband chip at the bottom and marked with a red X for viewing's sake. Once the chip was extracted, it was Tuan Anh's turn. He used a chip reader to read information into a file. He then used a Hex editor to remove the locking data from the file, and after that, the chip got reprogrammed with the newly altered file. Now it was no longer programmed to work with only a specific provider. The chip then got reassembled into the motherboard, another painstaking process. As a last step, the technician put the phone back together, and it looked like nothing had been done to it. However, the phone is now unlocked and can be used with any carrier's SIM. It can also be synced with iTunes and used with the original carrier and it can perform all other functions without any problem. But it's not yet jailbroken, which Tuan Anh will do for free. He'll even add lots of applications and utilities at no additional cost. Please Register or Log in to view images The baseband chip (which I marked with a red X to make it more visible) has been extracted from the motherboard. Each such unlocking job takes about an hour to complete and costs 1.2 million dong (about $80), a small fortune over here. Tuan Anh said that so far, his business has unlocked hundreds of iPhone 3Gs and thousands of first-generation iPhones. He also said that if an iPhone has been unlocked under the firmware version 2.1 or earlier, upgrading to version 2.2 will lock it again. This is because the 2.2 update is the first update that alters the baseband chip, a clear move by Apple to counter the software-based unlocking solution. In this case, Tuan Anh is willing to re-unlock it for a discount price of $50. In case of mishaps, Tuan Anh said he would give clients a new phone. Considering that an iPhone 3G goes for somewhere between $800 and $1,000 in Hanoi, this is a bold statement, but so far, he has yet to brick a customer's iPhone. He did, however, lose two iPhone 3Gs while mastering the unlocking process in the phone's early days, a $2,800 investment at that time. Please Register or Log in to view images The chip gets glued back onto the motherboard.