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Apple now selling unlocked GSM iPhone 4 in US, starting at $649

post #1 of 91
Thread Starter 
Apple updated its online store on Tuesday to begin offering unlocked models of the iPhone 4, starting at $649.

Both the white and black versions of Apple's bestselling smartphone are available, with the 16GB and 32GB versions selling for $649 and $749, respectively, in the U.S. Apple online store. The device is not eligible for international shipping.

Currently, the black versions of the unlocked iPhone 4 are estimated to ship within 1-3 business days, while white versions are listed as shipping within 3-5 days.

"The unlocked iPhone 4 requires an active micro-SIM card that you obtain from a supported GSM wireless carrier," Apple notes on the product description page.

As with unlocked iPhones sold internationally, the device will work on all Apple-supported GSM networks around the world. Apple also takes care to note that an iPad 3G micro-SIM card will not work in the unlocked iPhone 4.

In the U.S., customers with unlocked GSM iPhones can choose from AT&T and T-Mobile, though data transmission on the T-Mobile network will occur over the slower EDGE protocol because the carrier's 3G network is incompatible with the iPhone.

Over the weekend, reports emerged that Apple would begin sales of the unlocked iPhone 4 in the U.S., though the device went on sale a day earlier than sources had suggested. On Monday, various outlets noted that unlocked iPhones had been shipped to Apple Stores with a price tag of $649 and $749.



The release of an unlocked iPhone 4 comes as a blow to AT&T, which held an exclusive on the iPhone in the U.S. for more than three years, up until the release of the iPhone 4 on the Verizon network in February.

The iPhone 4 has quickly become Apple's bestselling iPhone. iPhone sales grew 113 percent year over year in the second quarter of fiscal 2011, reaching a record high of 18.65 million units. According to Apple COO Tim Cook, iPhone sales were "off the charts in the U.S" with 155 percent year over year growth, driven in part by the addition of the Verizon iPhone 4.
post #2 of 91
Well well... hell froze over. Must go and put my jacket on!

This is a fantastic moment. Now one can actively take their phone anywhere in the world (GSM areas of course) and put in the SIM of your choice.

I'm happy with my 1-year old AT&T iPhone 4. When my 2-year contract is up, I see an unlocked 2012-2013 iPhone in my future!
post #3 of 91
So iPhone 4S/5 unlocked this Fall? Will AT&T sell unlocked iPhone from now on? Maybe this is a clue that T-Mobile will get the iPhone this fall.
post #4 of 91
I wonder if Apple will unlock already sold iPhones in the US.
post #5 of 91
It's almost HK price. Not bad... But wait. Forgot about state sales tax.
post #6 of 91
If they sell the 3GS unlocked we can actually have discussions on ow expensive iPhones are relative to other phones in the US. At the moment we are getting the "they are only $50" argument, as if that were the real price.
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post #7 of 91
I was told I was a total idiot for suggesting that if Apple ever sold an unlocked phone in the US, it would be about $600 or so, even if you could jailbreak them. In that respect, it's nice to see that I wasn't wrong about the price. I'm glad I don't need this. Maybe I would get one if I got a discount on the service, but I don't see that happening, especially now that the other major US GSM service is probably going to merge with AT&T.
post #8 of 91
Unlock is the only way to go. You can sell and update to your heart content.
post #9 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

Well well... hell froze over. Must go and put my jacket on!

This is a fantastic moment. Now one can actively take their phone anywhere in the world (GSM areas of course) and put in the SIM of your choice.

I'm happy with my 1-year old AT&T iPhone 4. When my 2-year contract is up, I see an unlocked 2012-2013 iPhone in my future!

Me and you both! I can't believe this day finally came! I don't think I'll be updating this year, but when I do upgrade next year it'll be perfect!

@mgl323

I don't think AT&T will ever sell an unlocked iPhone even when they become widely available. The most I'd expect them to do is still offer to sell you a SIM-locked one at contract-free pricing. In that case, I'd just get it straight from Apple.
post #10 of 91
Is there a special way of activating your unlocked iPhone 4 overseas?
post #11 of 91
I don't understand, are they special plans for not having a phone subsidy here? Because at the moment I can't see any reason to offer this at all. The tmobile comment is the most ridiculous of all.... "come buy you $600-700 PHONE, not only will we not have 4g speeds waiting for you, but we're going back in time (cue Huey Lewis) to 2006 and the edge network!"
post #12 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jcoz View Post

I don't understand, are they special plans for not having a phone subsidy here? Because at the moment I can't see any reason to offer this at all. The tmobile comment is the most ridiculous of all.... "come buy you $600-700 PHONE, not only will we not have 4g speeds waiting for you, but we're going back in time (cue Huey Lewis) to 2006 and the edge network!"

If you need to travel regularly, this is the best way to use your own phone at realistic rates, you just buy a SIM locally and pop it in.
post #13 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jcoz View Post

I don't understand, are they special plans for not having a phone subsidy here? Because at the moment I can't see any reason to offer this at all. The tmobile comment is the most ridiculous of all.... "come buy you $600-700 PHONE, not only will we not have 4g speeds waiting for you, but we're going back in time (cue Huey Lewis) to 2006 and the edge network!"

No, unfortunately there aren't any plans that I'm aware of that gives you a discount for bringing your own phone. Apple offering an unlocked phone over here is still a big coup for consumers because this opens up the door for future iPhones being offered unlocked at launch. Just because Apple now offers factory-unlocked iPhones doesn't mean it's going to be ideal for everyone. There are some, like me, who prefer it for different reasons and frequent international travel being one of the most popular. And finally, who's to say future models won't be compatible with T-Mobile's AWS bands?

On another note, I wonder if this opens up the door for either AT&T or Apple to finally unlock devices that are close to contract completion or whose contracts have already been satisfied.
post #14 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

If you need to travel regularly, this is the best way to use your own phone at realistic rates, you just buy a SIM locally and pop it in.

You mean overseas? This is for us customers who travel outside the country a lot? Can't anyone unlock their phone anyways now?
post #15 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jcoz View Post

You mean overseas? This is for us customers who travel outside the country a lot? Can't anyone unlock their phone anyways now?

AT&T doesn't currently unlock iPhones like it does Blackberries for international travel. Also, there is no officially sanctioned way to unlock an iPhone.*

*At least in the US. In Europe (and the rest of the civilized world), your carrier does it for you.
post #16 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jcoz View Post

You mean overseas? This is for us customers who travel outside the country a lot? Can't anyone unlock their phone anyways now?

Yes. Anyone can unlock their iPhones using means of possibly questionable provenance, but you also lose your warranty and support. And you don't know if the unlock does things you don't want done to your phone, because it's largely an underground activity.
post #17 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple also takes care to note that an iPad 3G micro-SIM card will not work in the unlocked iPhone 4.

Is this because the iPad SIM is a data-only SIM (is there such a thing?). Could I get a SIM that would work for both? If not, that seems to defeat the whole purpose for SIMs in the first place for "swapability".

Quote:
Originally Posted by asdasd View Post

If they sell the 3GS unlocked we can actually have discussions on ow expensive iPhones are relative to other phones in the US. At the moment we are getting the "they are only $50" argument, as if that were the real price.

Of course, even though you aren't getting a subsidy from the carrier, you'll still pay the full price for the service plan, a portion of which was justified by the carriers because they needed to recoup the subsidy they provided when you bought your phone. Theoretically your service plan price should drop by $10-15/month if you paid full-price for your phone. But it won't.

Hm, and now if they sell a world phone this Fall with CDMA and unlocked GSM...
post #18 of 91
This could be a way for Apple to clear out inventory in preparation for a new model. No better way really..
post #19 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jcoz View Post

I don't understand, are they special plans for not having a phone subsidy here? Because at the moment I can't see any reason to offer this at all. The tmobile comment is the most ridiculous of all.... "come buy you $600-700 PHONE, not only will we not have 4g speeds waiting for you, but we're going back in time (cue Huey Lewis) to 2006 and the edge network!"

Yeah. If you stay in the states, this is a pretty terrible deal. You pay the same prices, you get basically the same choices in providers since most of the handful of regional carriers use T-mobile's AWS spectrum, and you don't get the $400 discount on the phone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by matrix07 View Post

Unlock is the only way to go. You can sell and update to your heart content.

If you have an unlimited budget.
post #20 of 91
The US is an unusual market for smart phones and carriers. It seems like there is a cartel - which is nobody offering a PAYG voice and data plan, for instance. Common here (UK).

Can be refilled in most shops.
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post #21 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post

Hm, and now if they sell a world phone this Fall with CDMA and unlocked GSM...

That would be nice, and if that were the case I'd up and take my business to Sprint! Although, the flashable imbedded SIM sounds fantastic if Apple can ever get it off the ground.
post #22 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post

Is this because the iPad SIM is a data-only SIM (is there such a thing?). Could I get a SIM that would work for both? If not, that seems to defeat the whole purpose for SIMs in the first place for "swapability".

The iPad SIM will work fine in your unlocked iPhone until the carrier 'notices' it and claims that the fine print in your iPad SIM contract (even if it is only a one-month 'contract') excludes the use in different device.

There is a very simple argument: If the free market does lead to 'device-free' SIM cards being offered despite obvious demand, regulators could step in and require that all SIM cards are device agnostic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by peter236 View Post

Is there a special way of activating your unlocked iPhone 4 overseas?

Yes, you put in your SIM card and type the SIM code.

I recently bought an unlocked MiFi from the UK and put in a German SIM card (obtained together with USB modem). I only had to configure the MiFi to use the German provider's network. I also put a German prepaid SIM card into a 'Swiss' iPhone 3G (which the carrier had unlocked after the two-year contract period), and I just had to enter the PIN code.
post #23 of 91
Personally I don't see what the big deal is. So you buy an unlocked iPhone and you can now choose between at&t and T-Mobile for VOICE service. There is no choice when it comes to data. As has been pointed out you would be restricted to the abominably slow Edge network with T-Mobile. And "unlocked" doesn't mean "jailbroken" either. So some idiots will spend $700 just for bragging rights it would appear. I doubt there are large numbers of international travelers who need to take advantage of an unlocked iPhone. In the U.S. this looks pretty stupid to me. After at&t and T-Mobile merge you will have paid full price for an iPhone that works only with, wait for it, at&t. I think this is a purely political move, just like some have theorized. Apple won't actually sell very many of these things.
post #24 of 91
Interesting price. Nexus S is only $499 unlocked.
post #25 of 91
One less thing for the Fandroid trolls to complain about.
post #26 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by neiltc13 View Post

Interesting price. Nexus S is only $499 unlocked.

yes. Apple have room to bring their prices down.

( That would probably be the 3GS price unlocked - judging by the UK prices).
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post #27 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

I wonder if Apple will unlock already sold iPhones in the US.

Apple generally doesn't unlock phones, as per their agreement with the carriers. In countries where Apple does sell unlocked phones, it is not uncommon for the carriers to offer unlocking for a fee. They have to go through Apple's servers, but it is not Apple that initiates it. Hopefully, AT&T will now include iPhones in their unlock policy, whereas now they are explicitly exempt.

Quote:
Originally Posted by peter236 View Post

Is there a special way of activating your unlocked iPhone 4 overseas?

Stick in your SIM.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BenRoethig View Post

Yeah. If you stay in the states, this is a pretty terrible deal. You pay the same prices, you get basically the same choices in providers since most of the handful of regional carriers use T-mobile's AWS spectrum, and you don't get the $400 discount on the phone.

My hope is that the next iPhone will have AWS and CMDA support included. Selling that unlock would give you a true world phone and allow you to choose between AT&T or Verizon in the US (and the AWS vs the HSPA/UTMS carriers here in Canada, and eventually LTE).

Quote:
Originally Posted by neiltc13 View Post

Interesting price. Nexus S is only $499 unlocked.

I have wondered for a while why Apple has not required all iPhones to be sold unlocked. Apple and their original iPhone and the deal the worked out with AT&T was the most disruptive event in the cell market in years. But, it seems to me that google being able to get every carrier to agree to sell the Nexus unlocked, yet still available on subsidy could have been even more disruptive. Imagine if Apple had been the one to force the carriers to accept that? That would have been disruptive.

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post #28 of 91
So once again, Sprint customers get screwed? FFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!
post #29 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

Personally I don't see what the big deal is. So you buy an unlocked iPhone and you can now choose between at&t and T-Mobile for VOICE service. There is no choice when it comes to data. As has been pointed out you would be restricted to the abominably slow Edge network with T-Mobile. And "unlocked" doesn't mean "jailbroken" either. So some idiots will spend $700 just for bragging rights it would appear. I doubt there are large numbers of international travelers who need to take advantage of an unlocked iPhone. In the U.S. this looks pretty stupid to me. After at&t and T-Mobile merge you will have paid full price for an iPhone that works only with, wait for it, at&t. I think this is a purely political move, just like some have theorized. Apple won't actually sell very many of these things.

It would only take a few trips overseas to make up for the price difference by using local SIM cards instead of paying ATT's horrid international 3G roaming rates. And if you have locals who want to call you when you are visiting their country, they can dial a local number to reach you. With a locked phone they would have to pay for an international phone call to reach your ATT phone number on top of what you pay to receive the call on international roaming. That's a pretty expensive call to reach someone who might be across the street. And we haven't even gotten into the cost of text messages or data for when you aren't near a wi-fi hotspot when traveling overseas.
post #30 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulkas View Post

I have wondered for a while why Apple has not required all iPhones to be sold unlocked. Apple and their original iPhone and the deal the worked out with AT&T was the most disruptive event in the cell market in years. But, it seems to me that google being able to get every carrier to agree to sell the Nexus unlocked, yet still available on subsidy could have been even more disruptive. Imagine if Apple had been the one to force the carriers to accept that? That would have been disruptive.

Google and Apple have different aims though neither really cares about being disruptive except as a means to an end. Google wants to maximize the smartphone segment and ensure that as many phones as possible are locked into using google for search and web services. Apple wants to profitably sell handsets.

Apple were able to get higher profits by going with carrier exclusives, supposedly they even got a revenue share from AT&T. Google were able to build market share faster by going with all carriers and allowing unlocked purchases at full price. If Google had tried to strong-arm carriers into subsidizing unlocked phones in the US then they would have lost some carriers and hence some share. If Apple had they would have lost huge profits.
post #31 of 91
Question. If you buy unlock iPhone, put in T-Mobile SIM card you have now, because that is who you are with currently on a month to month, contract ended long ago. Decide you want to try ATT. Can you go over to ATT sign up for "dumb phone" plan of just minutes and use free wifi to access data, and take out that SIM card from the dumb phone and put into your unlocked iPhone? Can carrier see smart phone on dumb phone plan and do anything about that like stop service?

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post #32 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post

Question. If you buy unlock iPhone, put in T-Mobile SIM card you have now, because that is who you are with currently on a month to month, contract ended long ago. Decide you want to try ATT. Can you go over to ATT sign up for "dumb phone" plan of just minutes and use free wifi to access data, and take out that SIM card from the dumb phone and put into your unlocked iPhone? Can carrier see smart phone on dumb phone plan and do anything about that like stop service?

Not exactly but remember your iPhone uses a different formfactor sim than a dumbphone so you may find it hard to get a compatible sim on a cheap voice plan. This is mostly useful to people who wish to travel abroad and can pick up an iphone compatible pay as you go sim for each country they travel to.
post #33 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

Well well... hell froze over. Must go and put my jacket on!

This is a fantastic moment. Now one can actively take their phone anywhere in the world (GSM areas of course) and put in the SIM of your choice.

I'm happy with my 1-year old AT&T iPhone 4. When my 2-year contract is up, I see an unlocked 2012-2013 iPhone in my future!

The rest of the world humbly congratulates the USA-ians for joining us.
post #34 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by asdasd View Post

If they sell the 3GS unlocked we can actually have discussions on ow expensive iPhones are relative to other phones in the US. At the moment we are getting the "they are only $50" argument, as if that were the real price.

Just because they are sold unlocked doesn't mean that the majority of the buyers won't still be buying subsidised phones.

You've been able to buy them unlocked in Canada since day one for instance, but most still buy the $200 subsidised one from the carrier.
post #35 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post

It would only take a few trips overseas to make up for the price difference by using local SIM cards instead of paying ATT's horrid international 3G roaming rates. And if you have locals who want to call you when you are visiting their country, they can dial a local number to reach you. With a locked phone they would have to pay for an international phone call to reach your ATT phone number on top of what you pay to receive the call on international roaming. That's a pretty expensive call to reach someone who might be across the street. And we haven't even gotten into the cost of text messages or data for when you aren't near a wi-fi hotspot when traveling overseas.

I'm definitely getting one. The cost is a drop in the bucket compared to all the other expenses of traveling overseas. I have suitcases that cost more than that. Like you say it is more of the convenience.

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post #36 of 91
I believe this is far more profound than its being given credit. While the FCC waffles and sits on its hands ignoring the fact that the current state of wireless networks in the USA is a clear violation of the CarterPhone decision, Apple makes a pre-emptive move.

Before the AT&T GSM 800 Pound Gorilla becomes simply THE GSM Gorilla able to tell all hardware vendors, “If you want to sell a GSM phone in the USA, here’s what it’s gonna look like…,” Apple has given the consumer a choice.

I see this as a continuation of a very long view on the part of Apple to shape the market without waiting for the FCC.

When a World Phone arrives from Apple will THE GSM Gorilla simply decide “Not on My Network you won’t!” I don’t know. With a phone in your hand that will work on multiple networks which will be the first network to start offering incentives for you to choose them?

The European networks revolted at the idea of a firmware SIM card. It seems this is another step toward separation of the manufacturers from the dictates of the networks.

I believe this is a natural progression from the ability to purchase an iPhone directly from Apple. Unlike the mall kiosks and strip center vendors, Apple is a manufacturer not an authorized reseller or an independent store.

But this sets a stage never set before in the USA. Good Luck.

Also, any idea why the Nokia announcement and the Unlock announcement came within hours of each other? Seems a strange coincidence.

*
post #37 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

Personally I don't see what the big deal is. So you buy an unlocked iPhone and you can now choose between at&t and T-Mobile for VOICE service. There is no choice when it comes to data. As has been pointed out you would be restricted to the abominably slow Edge network with T-Mobile. And "unlocked" doesn't mean "jailbroken" either. So some idiots will spend $700 just for bragging rights it would appear. I doubt there are large numbers of international travelers who need to take advantage of an unlocked iPhone. In the U.S. this looks pretty stupid to me. After at&t and T-Mobile merge you will have paid full price for an iPhone that works only with, wait for it, at&t. I think this is a purely political move, just like some have theorized. Apple won't actually sell very many of these things.


60 + 25 = 85 bucks that gets me 900 minutes and 2 GB of data with ATT iPhone plan. I have 40 + 30 = 70 bucks, that gets me 1000 t-mo minutes and unlimited ATT data for iPad that I currently have. Both would be under no contract. AND I'm mainly interested in VOICE. So take price difference 15 and times that by two year contract and that is 360.00 in my pocket. Add subsidized iPhone of 200.00 and get 560.00... So I'd be paying 90 bucks more or over two year if contracted, a whopping 3.75 a month more if went this route. So, for someone that doesn't need data all that much and would like to ditch their 6 year old dumb phone and utilize Apple's phone without getting locked in to a two year contract, one can conceivably talk themselves into thinking this is not all that bad, huh?...

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post #38 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by guch20 View Post

So once again, Sprint customers get screwed? FFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!

??? Um, this is a GSM phone, so Verizon customers as well as Sprint customers have no use for this. Even T-Mobile here in the States is kind of pointless, unless your okay dealing with slow data everywhere.
post #39 of 91
It's a shame that the USA doesn't have more GSM-based service providers. If they did, you'd see some awfully nice deals, both in terms of extended contracts and rolling month to month and even PAYG deals.

Here in the UK, O2 and 3 have terrific sim-only deals for iPhone.
post #40 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by hittrj01 View Post

??? Um, this is a GSM phone, so Verizon customers as well as Sprint customers have no use for this. Even T-Mobile here in the States is kind of pointless, unless your okay dealing with slow data everywhere.

The point is you can now technically use an iPhone on three of the four major carriers in the US...all except Sprint.
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