True to the rumors, Apple began selling unlocked GSM-based iPhones in the United States on Tuesday. The change means customers can buy an iPhone without an AT&T service contract, and they can use their combination iPod and smartphone on other GSM-compatible networks such as T-Mobile.
iPhone 4 gets carrier-free option in U.S.
Unlocked iPhones have been officially available in other countries for some time. In the U.S., however, iPhone users had to resort to hacking their phones if they wanted to move from AT&T or buy SIM cards for use in other countries.
Apple’s Web site stated:
If you don’t want a multiyear service contract or if you prefer to use a local carrier when traveling abroad, the unlocked iPhone 4 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.
Buying an unlocked iPhone 4 may give customers the freedom to choose their cell service provider, but it also comes with some drawbacks. T-Mobile’s data network, for example, doesn’t use the same 3G frequencies the iPhone supports, so users will be limited to EDGE speeds. Users will also give up Visual Voicemail features when using a carrier other than AT&T.
The unlocked iPhone 4 costs more than AT&T-bound models since it is sold without carrier subsidies. Customers that want to pay less for their iPhone can still buy locked models that are tied to AT&T.
The unlocked iPhone 4 is available in black or white, and is priced at US$649 for the 16GB model, or $749 for the 32GB version.