We’re back to our Customizing your smartphone series, this is part 2. This chapter will talk about step 1 in customizing your pda phone – the unlocking of your smart phone device.
Basically, there are two kinds of unlocking. One, called hard unlock (also known as HardSPL or Hard Second Program Loader), will give you total control over your phone, you will be able to replace anything and everything in regards to software. The drawback is that it will get obsolete with time, so newer software may not work or give you trouble if you have an outdated unlock. Additionally, your cell phone company will most likely give you a hard time if you bring the device for repair.
What this method does could be compared to updating your computer BIOS or upgrading the transmission in your car. It would still be the same hood and engine, but the driving experience will be different. You will most likely see a different flavor of programs that perform hard unlock depending on your phone’s model. However, the nature of each should be the same – they replace a firmware that is flashed into your phone’s memory to start on phone’s boot (thus the BIOS analogy). Once you replace that part – you’re good to go with updating other parts of you smart phone software.
Another one, called soft unlock (SoftSPL or Software Second Program Loader), is a temporary solution of sort. It is essentially a stand-alone .exe program that will go away once you reset your phone, but it still allows you to update certain parts of your smart phone software. Though not as good as previous and more cumbersome to perform, the soft unlock doesn’t leave its footprint embedded in phone’s persistent memory so you will see less red tape from cell phone provider. Additionally, if you ever need to replace your old HardSPL with an updated one, you can only do it with SoftSPL. So both are needed and both have their uses and disadvantages.
So far, most of the upgrades worth noting required installation of HardSPL, but you might be able to get away with SoftSPL if you try hard enough (and read a lot!). Getting your smart phone device a SIM-unlocked is a part of the deal and just a minor benefit. One of the major issues with SPL provided by your cell phone company is preventing you, the user, from flashing (i.e. writing to the persistent memory of your smart phone) the software you want and preserve the stuff your cell phone company wants you to have. Another – binding you to that specific provider, also known as SIM lock. Both HardSPL and SoftSPL take care of each part of it – either permanently or temporarily.