Apple now taking orders for unlocked, contract-free iPhone 4S

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
U.S. customers who were holding out for an unlocked iPhone 4S can now order their handset contract-free from Apple's online store.



The unlocked iPhone 4S starts at $649 for the 16GB model, while customers can also get a 32GB option for $749, or 64GB for $849. All three models are estimated to ship within one to two weeks when ordered from Apple's online store.



The unlocked iPhone 4S is only supported on GSM networks, like AT&T in the U.S. Users can also obtain a micro-SIM card to use on overseas carriers when traveling abroad.



Customers of CDMA networks, like Verizon and Sprint, should not buy the unlocked iPhone 4S, because it cannot be activated on their networks, even though the iPhone 4S is a "world phone" compatible with both GSM and CDMA networks.



"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," Apple's official product description reads.



"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."







The company warns that a credit check may be required for customers to buy the unlocked iPhone 4S, and the handset is only available to buy for customers who are 18 or older.



Apple first revealed that the new iPhone 4S would be sold unlocked and contract-free in October. The sale of the unlocked iPhone 4S at Apple's online store in the U.S. means the company met is previously promised deadline of November.



The unlocked iPhone 4S arrives five months after Apple began selling the GSM iPhone 4 unlocked in June. The contract-free iPhone 4 also carried a starting price of $649 for 16GB.



In addition, as of Friday U.S. carrier Sprint is now SIM-locking all iPhone 4S handsets to its network during the activation process, according to Sprintfeed (via MacRumors). Apple's online store has already been warning customers with the message: "Your iPhone will work only with the carrier you choose."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 59
    that's not an on/off button though.
  • Reply 2 of 59
    drdoppiodrdoppio Posts: 1,132member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    ...

    The company warns that a credit check may be required for customers to buy the unlocked iPhone 4S, and the handset is only available to buy for customers who are 18 or older.

    ...



    Why would a credit check be necessary upon upfront payment?
  • Reply 3 of 59
    Tempted to buy one. I'm moving back to Europe in January so don't want to sign up for another contract with at&t.
  • Reply 4 of 59
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,166member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DrDoppio View Post


    Why would a credit check be necessary upon upfront payment?



    I think this is just a required legal warning. If you try to buy one it is not going to ask you for your SSN.
  • Reply 5 of 59
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DrDoppio View Post


    Why would a credit check be necessary upon upfront payment?



    It's possible that it's would be part of a government-mandate consumer protection policy. Not the U.S. government, but someplace else on the planet.



    In any case, the language is such so that it isn't a given that there will be a credit check, just that the possibility exists.
  • Reply 6 of 59
    drdoppiodrdoppio Posts: 1,132member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post


    I think this is just a required legal warning. If you try to buy one it is not going to ask you for your SSN.



    Thanks, I thought that as well. I went through the order process and it seemed I can place it without anything extraordinary.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cvaldes1831 View Post


    It's possible that it's would be part of a government-mandate consumer protection policy. Not the U.S. government, but someplace else on the planet.



    This is a US-only option.
  • Reply 7 of 59
    lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member
    I guess I don't understand something.



    how is the "unlocked" phone different that taking my phone and sticking a different SIM card in there - say for example I give my old iPhone 4 to my sister who has a 3G phone - and service - and she plugs her SIM card into my old phone, will it not work?



    Also - I do not travel overseas - so I don't get all of that - but I have a hard time seeing what the benefit is to an unlocked phone - you still need to have service to use it - how do you get service without a contract? and if you are paying the same per month for a contract why not get the subsidized phone? unless you are doing some sort of pre-paid or pay-as-you go sim card or something.
  • Reply 8 of 59
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,166member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lilgto64 View Post


    I guess I don't understand something.



    how is the "unlocked" phone different that taking my phone and sticking a different SIM card in there - say for example I give my old iPhone 4 to my sister who has a 3G phone - and service - and she plugs her SIM card into my old phone, will it not work?



    Also - I do not travel overseas - so I don't get all of that - but I have a hard time seeing what the benefit is to an unlocked phone - you still need to have service to use it - how do you get service without a contract? and if you are paying the same per month for a contract why not get the subsidized phone? unless you are doing some sort of pre-paid or pay-as-you go sim card or something.



    I know many people who bought unlocked iPhone to use on T-Mobile because AT&T requires them to have $500 safety deposit (international students, no credit.. etc). last year I bought my iPhone 4 unlocked mainly because I was going on a long overseas trip and needed to use my iPhone.
  • Reply 9 of 59
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lilgto64 View Post


    how is the "unlocked" phone different that taking my phone and sticking a different SIM card in there - say for example I give my old iPhone 4 to my sister who has a 3G phone - and service - and she plugs her SIM card into my old phone, will it not work?



    If your sister is on T-Mobile, your AT&T iPhone won't accept the SIM card. If you're both on AT&T then it'll work fine.



    Quote:

    Also - I do not travel overseas - so I don't get all of that - but I have a hard time seeing what the benefit is to an unlocked phone - you still need to have service to use it - how do you get service without a contract? and if you are paying the same per month for a contract why not get the subsidized phone? unless you are doing some sort of pre-paid or pay-as-you go sim card or something.



    To be honest, an unlocked iPhone has limited use in the states because of the dearth of GSM carriers.



    It's a much more appealing proposition to Europe users who enjoy a very competitive and well regulated GSM market.
  • Reply 10 of 59
    Strangely enough, the tech specs for the 4S: http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html

    do not show a SIM card slot.
  • Reply 11 of 59
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by RichL View Post


    If your sister is on T-Mobile, your AT&T iPhone won't accept the SIM card. If you're both on AT&T then it'll work fine.







    To be honest, an unlocked iPhone has limited use in the states because of the dearth of GSM carriers.



    It's a much more appealing proposition to Europe users who enjoy a very competitive and well regulated GSM market.



    A hardware unlock is also very appealing to those of us that travel out of country often. It is much cheaper to use a local carrier (sim card) network than be tied to say AT&T's international plan which costs a monthly fee on top of a much higher voice/data rate than a local carrier in that specific country would charge. You can get cheap local plans with sim cards at certain airports in other countries. Where as in the US it is a major headache to change carriers and plans.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdcat View Post


    Strangely enough, the tech specs for the 4S: http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html

    do not show a SIM card slot.



    The sim card slot is on the opposite side of the silent switch and volume up and down buttons. The iPhone 4S unlocked is the same hardware being sold on AT&T/Verizon/Sprint with the difference being it is hardware unlocked and not tied to any GSM carrier out of the box.
  • Reply 12 of 59
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by akf2000 View Post


    that's not an on/off button though.



    Sure it is. You press and hold it will ask you to turn off your device. You press it again it will then turn on your device. The button also turns on/off the display and lets you ignore calls, but you don't have to reference every feature a button has every time it's stated.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdcat View Post


    Strangely enough, the tech specs for the 4S: http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html

    do not show a SIM card slot.



    Did they mention that in previous iPhones under specs?
  • Reply 13 of 59
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdcat View Post


    Strangely enough, the tech specs for the 4S: http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html

    do not show a SIM card slot.



    That's because it's on the other side of the phone, not the side being shown on the page.
  • Reply 14 of 59
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdcat View Post


    Strangely enough, the tech specs for the 4S: http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html

    do not show a SIM card slot.



    There is one phone. One hardware for all three carriers. This (somewhat surprising, I agree) omission can be clearly seen in the iFixit teardown of the iPhone 4S.
  • Reply 15 of 59
    Am I being overly cheap by thinking that's way to expensive for a phone I'll use for maybe 2 years tops before I upgrade to the next best thing that they put out? I think they could make a good amount of money if they sell them at price points that are more aligned with their cost plus a price point, not a (guessing) 300 - 400% markup.
  • Reply 16 of 59
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by johnnash View Post


    Am I being overly cheap by thinking that's way to expensive for a phone I'll use for maybe 2 years tops before I upgrade to the next best thing that they put out? I think they could make a good amount of money if they sell them at price points that are more aligned with their cost plus a price point, not a (guessing) 300 - 400% markup.



    Two points:



    1) You can get it with contract (in the U.S.) for $200 for 16GB model. If you are going to use it for 2 years anyway (in the U.S.), this is perhaps the least expensive option. The carriers don't give you a price break for using an unlocked phone.



    2) You should consider the residual value at the end of 2 years. Currently, iPhone 4 16GB models go for about $300 or so.
  • Reply 17 of 59
    When I am not travelling and using a sim card, can I use it as a glorified iPod touch? I like the hardware (A5, camera, Siri etc.) unavailable in a touch)
  • Reply 18 of 59
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DrDoppio View Post


    Why would a credit check be necessary upon upfront payment?



    It's for the monthly service on the SIM card, not the unlocked hardware which you already own outright
  • Reply 19 of 59
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Sweet. I was waiting for this. I think I be getting a 16 GB. Sad part about my traveling situation is that I will still be carrying 2 phones. I will keep my on contract iPhone 4. When I travel abroad, I will buy a local sim for the 4S. When I return I'll swap out the AT&T sim into the i4S and put the i4 in a drawer until the next trip. I need both a local and my regular US number roaming when I travel.
  • Reply 20 of 59
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by johnnash View Post


    Am I being overly cheap by thinking that's way to expensive for a phone I'll use for maybe 2 years tops before I upgrade to the next best thing that they put out? I think they could make a good amount of money if they sell them at price points that are more aligned with their cost plus a price point, not a (guessing) 300 - 400% markup.



    Yes you are. The cost of all these units is the unsubsidized price, which is then discounted by a multi-hundred dollar subsidy from the carrier. That's why you see a 199 or $299 price point in the stores, with phones locked to a particular carrier. You are walking around with several hundred dollars of the carrier's money in your pocket when you buy one. That's also why your sales tax on the unit is NOT based on the $199 or $299 price, but on the higher unsubsidized cost,
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