Apple Begins Offering Unlocked iPhone 4S in U.S. Online Store

Alongside today's round of international iPhone 4S launches, Apple also began offering unlocked iPhone 4S models for sale in the United States. Orders placed through the company's online store are currently listed with estimated shipping of 1-2 weeks.


Pricing for the unlocked, contract-free iPhone 4S comes in at $649/$749/$849 for the 16/32/64 GB models respectively. The unlocked device is compatible only with supported GSM networks, and Apple offers some advice on which customers might benefit most by purchasing an unlocked iPhone.

The unlocked iPhone includes all the features of iPhone but without a contract commitment. You can activate and use it on the supported GSM wireless network of your choice, such as AT&T in the United States.* The unlocked iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S will not work with CDMA-based carriers such as Verizon Wireless or Sprint.

If you don’t want a multiyear service contract or if you prefer to use a local carrier when traveling abroad, the unlocked iPhone is the best choice. It arrives without a micro-SIM card, so you’ll need an active micro-SIM card from any supported GSM carrier worldwide. To start using it, simply insert the micro-SIM card into the slot on your iPhone and turn it on by pressing and holding the On/Off button for a few seconds. Then follow the onscreen instructions to set up your iPhone.

Apple had previously announced as pre-orders went live in the United States back in early October that unlocked models would become available in November. The company's retail stores, however, began selling off-contract phones immediately after launch, with customers discovering that those devices were also coming through unlocked.

Top Rated Comments

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117 months ago
As much as I love Apple, I think the off-contract prices are too high. Begin the down-voting.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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117 months ago

So it's $100 for a 16 GB memory difference and also $100 for a 32 GB difference? What kind of arbitrary pricing is that? If we assume they get a healthy margin on the 32 to 64 GB upsell, then the margin on the 16 to 32 one must be insane.


I'm not going to argue about the margins, but flash cost isn't geometric like you think it is.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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117 months ago

Too High! the UK Equivalent Pricing for the 64GB is £700 which is $1200!. You are getting it cheap!

We go through this every time there's a new product launch :rolleyes:

US prices don't have sales tax included (anywhere between 7 and 10%) so you have to add that onto the price of the phone. Plus the VAT which is included in the UK price is 20%. Do a little math and the pre-tax price of the iPhone in the UK is £583, or $928. Still a bit more expensive than the US, but a far cry from the $351 difference you claim it is.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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117 months ago

US Pricing of iPhone 4S 64GB Handset only is $849! Yet that is £530! it costs £500 to buy the 16GB Version here in the UK! I paid £700 for the 64GB iPhone 4S here. That is equivalent to $1,120.

Why so cheap over there? It's basically the same phone. Yet in the UK we pay £170/$270 more for exactly the same phone?

Couple of things to think about:

1/ We have better consumer protection laws which will allow you under certain circumstances to get repairs well beyond the manufacturers warrantee period (and the manufacturer therefore has to factor the cost of this into the phone).

2/ Americans get completely screwed on call plans and costs. We don't get charged when people call or text us (yay!), and in the US there's no way you'd get a deal like GiffGaff:
£10 / $16 per month for 250min talk, unlimited text, unlimited data
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
117 months ago

You're up six votes this morning so it seems at least some agree with you.

I don't understand why someone would pay $900 for a device they're likely to replace in a year or two. I don't even pay that much for a bicycle, which never becomes obsolete at all.

If you travel outside of the country 1-2 times per year, paying the extra $450 premium is a no-brainer. I purchased an unlocked iPhone 4 last year, and used it in 6 different countries:

1. In Canada, I spent $10, which included 125MB of data for a week, and unlimited evenings and weekend calls for 3 days. I live 30 miles from Canada and go there several times a year.

2. In Singapore, I spent about $20, which gave me unlimited incoming calls for 30 days and 50MB of data, which I used sparingly.

3. In Hong Kong, I spent about $12 and had unlimited data for about 3-4 days, including tethering.

4. In Macau, I spent about $12 and had unlimited data for about 4 days.

5. In Bali, Indonesia, I think I spent about $10, and I had plenty of data to use for the 3 days I was there.

6. In China, I think I paid $30 for 600MB and unlimited incoming calls that lasted me for almost a month.

With a locked iPhone, I would have had to subscribe to AT&T's international data roaming plan for $200 for 800MB (back then it was $200 for 100MB) and still pay $3 per minute for calls.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
117 months ago

I still don't get the advantage of unlocked phones here in the US unless you are a frequent traveller outside the country. You are gonna be paying same monthly recurring fees subsidized or not.

No, you don't have to.

There are tens of thousands of iPhones right now with AT&T GoPhone SIMs.

If your telephone usage is minimal, it's a very viable option, but you have to calculate your own usage habits and do the math.

I think I can live with 250MB of 3G data per month. With AT&T's cheapest postpaid iPhone data plan, you get 250MB of data at $15 per month. With GoPhone, you can buy a 500GB data package for $25 which will last thirty days. However, if you buy a new data package before the expiration date, the unused data will rollover for thirty days. Hence, you can purchase a 10MB data package for $5. Total two month cost: $30 for 510MB of data, which is actually cheaper than the postpaid plan.

Calls are ten cents a minute. I average about 30 minutes of talk time on my current dumb phone (on a T-Mobile Pay As You Go SIM). I use Google Voice for my light texting on an iPod touch.

Thus, my monthly telecom expenses would average to $18. Despite the higher initial handset cost ($849 for a 64GB model), my monthly expenses are lower and the break even point is at eleven months, after which I am saving money compared to the AT&T subscriber who pays $399 for the same subsidized (and locked) handset (and ~$30 activation fee) plus another $55 per month for the cheapest call/data combo (450 min/250GB).

Over a two year period, I will have saved something like $450 and I am using ever single penny I paid for.

I will have an unlocked phone that can be easily used abroad, plus I have something that has a higher resell value on the used market.

Many if not most iPhone users with GoPhone SIMs have done similar analyses on their own usage patterns and have reached similar conclusions.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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