updated 09:55 am EST, Fri November 11, 2011
US joins world in selling iPhone 4S unlocked
Apple quietly updated the online Apple Store to give US buyers the option of an unlocked iPhone 4S. As in other parts of the world, the smartphone is available at full price in return for going without a contract and being usable on nearly any GSM network in the world as long as the owner has a micro SIM card. The 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions are on sale at the same $649, $749, and $849 as they are in Canada.
Both Apple's physical and online stores should be selling the unlocked versions in black and white. Online orders still face the same one to two weeks' shipping delay as locked versions, Apple said. AT&T stores aren't expected to offer the unlocked version, even at full price.
Having an unlocked iPhone 4S makes less sense in the US, where a lack of competition among GSM carriers makes AT&T the only GSM carrier that can fully use the iPhone. T-Mobile supports the iPhone and has micro SIM cards just for that purpose, but its frequency limits rule out 3G data. The unlock is mostly an advantage for travelers, who can get a prepaid SIM with voice and data for much less than AT&T or T-Mobile would charge for international roaming.