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Apple begins selling the iPhone 4 in unlocked, GSM form

updated 04:50 am EDT, Tue June 14, 2011

Apple now selling unlocked iPhone 4s

As rumored, Apple has begun selling the iPhone 4 in unlocked form, for supported GSM networks. The off-contract 16GB version is retailing for $649 while the off-contract 32GB model is going for $749. Both the black and the white models are now on sale with free shipping at the Apple Store online only.

The unlocked black model has an estimated shipping timeframe of 1-3 business days, while the white model should ship with 3-5 business days.

According to Apple, the iPhone 4 will ship without a micro-SIM card, but "requires an active micro-SIM card that you obtain from a supported GSM wireless carrier."

Apple has pitched this version of the iPhone for users who do not want to be locked in for a two-year contract, or who also plan on traveling overseas. As is normally the case, Apple points out that micro-SIMs activated for iPads will not work in the unlocked iPhone 4, or vice-versa.

US users will be free to choose whether they fit their device with a micro-SIM for the AT&T network or even the T-Mobile network. However, because of 3G incompatibilities, the iPhone 4 will only work over the T-Mobile EDGE (2G) network. This will limit the data transmission speed of the phone.

The forthcoming iPhone 4S/5 is reported to be receiving a "global" 3G radio that will allow it to operate on CDMA networks and a wider range of 3G GSM networks.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001



    That means there's a $500 mark-up on this over the locked phone. Makes one think Apple is getting $400 a phone from ATT/Verizon as their subsidy.

  1. chas_m


    Joined: Aug 2001


    Wrong again.

    It's not the locking that makes the difference in price -- it's the subsidy. Apple sells the iPhone for about the same price unsubsidized in their retail stores (outside the US, I mean).

    The company sells iPhones to AT&T (and Verizon) for a wholesale price -- let's say about $300 per unit for the sake of argument (I think I once read somewhere that it was actually around $250). Now AT&T has an iPhone. They can either sell it:

    a. below cost but locked to them, meaning they will suffer a short term loss but a long-term gain since the cellular service is incredibly profitable, OR

    b. Sell the phone outright and try to front-load as much profit as possible into the price to offset the possible loss of monthly income.

    I'm dumbfounded that five years after the initial iPhone, people are still shocked to discover that it actually costs more than the subsidized price. Well, DUH.

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