Fast forward to Vietnam, and meet Tuan Anh Do, a 29 year old businessman who owns five cell phone repair shops. Not only does he work on the beloved device, he has found a way to unlock the unit via hardware modifications. CNET's Dong Ngo is visiting Vietnam, and was able to view the process firsthand. To begin, the technician dismantled the device and removed the motherboard. From there, he removed the baseband chip, which controls the connection between the mobile network and the device. The chip was then placed in a reader to gather data, and the locking information was removed. From there, the phone was reassembled, and the process was finished.
The work isn't easy - each unlocking project takes about an hour to complete and will set the user back 1.2 million dong (about $80). Of note for 2.1 users, however: should a user upgrade to the 2.2 software update, it will re-lock the iPhone, since the new version is the first to alter the baseband chip. Those that are anxious about such a risky undertaking can rest easy; should Tuan Anh damage a phone in the process, he offers to purchase the customer a new one.