Apple to Offer Unlocked U.S. iPhone 4s Starting at $649?

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We're not sure the motivation behind it, but it appears that Apple will be launching unlocked version of the iPhone 4 to Apple Retail stores sometime this week. The rumors started with some confusion over the weekend when there was a claim that Apple would finally be releasing the new MacBook Airs this Wednesday.

iphone 4 side shot

As it turns out, there was a misinterpretation with the parts numbers that Apple sent to retail stores. The part numbers actually correspond to unlocked iPhone 4s, not new MacBook Airs. Apple has sold unlocked iPhone 4s internationally but never in the U.S. Unlocked mobile phones are simply less in demand in the U.S. due to the fragmentation in service amongst U.S. carriers.

"Unlocked" simply means that a mobile phone is not tied to any particular carrier. In Europe, customers can buy an Unlocked phone and easily switch between carriers by simply replacing the SIM card. In the U.S., users could theoretically switch between AT&T and T-Mobile in this manner for voice calls, but 3G service is not compatible between the two carriers. This is what makes the sale of unlocked iPhone 4s in the U.S. so strange.

But the word we've received is that they've shipped to Apple Stores this week and that they will be priced at $649 and $749 for 16GB and 32GBs, respectively. The higher price reflects the lack of long term contract that normally accompanies a mobile phone purchase as well as the unlocking.

Top Rated Comments

QuarterSwede Avatar
126 months ago
Honestly, I'd rather have at&t/Verizon offer an unlocking service when the contract is up (and they've more than recouped the subsidy).
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
striker33 Avatar
126 months ago

That price point is ridiculous. An iPad sells for 499 and I would expect AT&T to pay at most 100 for the phones in whole sale. It's another slap for US customers. Just came back from Germany and the iPhone sells there subsidized for 1 Euro. Flat fee for mobile and landlines + text + internet is 50 - 80 bucks.

600+ is just too high and a rip-off.

Just my 2 cent.
Dave

The US gets EVERYTHING dirt cheap compared to the rest of the world.

An unlocked iPhone in the UK goes for the equivalent of $820, and for substantially more in the rest of the EU and other areas of the world.

How anyone can complain about that price point when they'd be spending a fortune on a AT&T contract or a Verizon contract that gives you a crappy CDMA phone is beyond me.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pittpanthersfan Avatar
126 months ago
Great for international travelers...
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
guru_ck Avatar
126 months ago
They are probably just trying to unload the remaining inventory before the iPhone 5 hits.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
grapes911 Avatar
126 months ago

We're not sure the motivation behind it . . .

My thought exactly. Why now? For what purpose? Will it support T-Mobile 3G frequencies?
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SPEEDwithJJ Avatar
121 months ago

Its $702 (USD) for an 8gb iphone 4 in australia, your talking about a 16gb iphone 4S

Sorry about that. My bad. :( :o

For some odd reason, I missed that part where you mentioned 8GB.... :o Me => FAIL! :(
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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