Apple posts FAQ on SIM-free (unlocked) international iPhones

iPhone now SIM-free unlocked

Apple has posted an FAQ (frequently asked questions) page concerning the new SIM-free (i.e. unlocked) iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 they're selling for the first time in international Apple Store like UK, France, and Canada.

Bottom line? They're really, truly, 100% unlocked and will work on any GSM carrier for which you have a miniSIM (iPhone 3GS) or microSIM (iPhone 4). You'll pay full price for them, of course, but for those who absolutely don't want a contract, or for frequent international travelers, this is huge.

(Note: No T-Mobile US 3G. Sorry folks, even though iPhone 4 is pentaband, T-Mobile's 3G band isn't supported. It hurts. Sorry).

Here's the cover:

Buy your iPhone from Apple commitment-free.

It works with the carrier of your choice. Buy your iPhone from the Apple Online Store and choose your own GSM carrier. You can change carriers at any time.

It’s easy to set up. Get a compatible SIM (iPhone 3GS) or micro-SIM card (iPhone 4) and select a plan from the carrier of your choice. Then insert the card and set up your iPhone using iTunes on your Mac or PC. With a few clicks, you can start making calls.

It works internationally. Because this iPhone is commitment-free, you can purchase a micro-SIM or SIM card and service from a local carrier at your destination. Or check with your home carrier regarding international roaming charges.

Full FAQ after the break!

[Apple.com iPhone 4 FAQ, via @havvac]

Does iPhone work with any SIM card or carrier worldwide?

iPhone 3GS works with SIM cards and iPhone 4 works with micro-SIM cards from compatible carriers, including prepaid cards. Non-GSM carrier networks do not support iPhone. Availability of 3G data depends on carrier support for the radio frequencies used by iPhone.

Where can I get a SIM or micro-SIM card?

You can get a SIM or micro-SIM card from any carrier offering iPhone plans.

How do I get started using iPhone to place and receive calls?

First, insert an activated SIM or micro-SIM card from a compatible carrier. Then connect your iPhone to your computer and open iTunes to complete set up.

Do I need an iPhone-specific service plan?

iPhone may require large amounts of data usage. Please contact your carrier to ensure that you have an appropriate service plan to support iPhone.

Do I need to commit to a long-term contract for my iPhone?

Buying a commitment-free iPhone from the Apple Online Store allows you choose your own carrier and change carriers at any time. iPhone may also be available at a reduced initial price with a contract directly from your wireless carrier.

Does iPhone support tethering?

Yes. You can share the fast 3G connection on your iPhone with your Mac or PC and connect to the Internet from just about anywhere — no Wi-Fi required. Contact your carrier for details.

Are iPhone 4 and iPad micro-SIM cards interchangeable?

No. Your iPad micro-SIM card will not work with your iPhone.

Will all iPhone features work with my carrier?

Visual Voicemail requires carrier support and may not function on your carrier’s network. Please read this Support article or contact your carrier for more details.

Why does the price of iPhone from the Apple Online Store differ from its price from a carrier?

Carriers typically sell the iPhone with a contract that subsidizes the initial purchase price of the phone. By purchasing your iPhone without a contract, you can use any SIM or micro-SIM card from a compatible carrier, including your current one.

Can I use my iPhone outside my home country?

Yes. iPhone is enabled to work on carrier networks using GSM around the world. Because the iPhone sold by the Apple Online Store is commitment-free, you can purchase a SIM or micro-SIM card and service from a local carrier at your destination. Or check with your home carrier regarding international roaming charges.

If I buy iPhone from this Apple Online Store, can I ship it to another country?

No. Orders placed through this Apple Online Store can be shipped only within the country of purchase. You can also shop for friends and family in countries where iPhone is sold. Just visit the local store of the country where you want your products delivered.

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, ZEN and TECH, MacBreak Weekly. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter, App.net, Google+.

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There are 27 comments. Add yours.

Mike says:

I welcome this, but I just bought two 3GS's outright before this was announced. One a few weeks ago, one a month and a bit ago. :(

Jo says:

How about they post something on the iPhone preorder problem

Microcosmos says:

Boo! That FAQ is for Canadians only! No good in the U.S.!http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/shop_iphone/family/iphone?mco=OTY2...
Per that link to U.S. FAQ's, a 2-year contract is required with AT&T for folks in the U.S. (unless of course the phone is jailbroken)!

excaliburca says:

Nice to see we Canadians can get an unlocked phone now.

Dyvim says:

They should sell these in the U.S. too. AT&T shouldn't be worried since they're the only carrier here that it will work with anyway (unless you want to use it on EDGE with T-Mobile).

MeinEurope says:

What about Germany? Wasnt Apple forced to allow other carriers to sell iPhone without a contract there?

francolasalsa#IM says:

The reason this is not in the USA is AT&T still has exclusitivity . In Canada every carrier ( I do mean EVERY ) has the iPhone now . The main benefits of unlocked up here really is the resell value.

icebike says:

And one more thing...
BOOM!
Steve
Sent from my iPhone4
Take that AT&T.

Beni says:

I have an officially unlocked iPhone 3GS (and before that an unlocked 3G) ever since they were available. (if you are wondering: I live in Switzerland and here, you can buy an unsubsidized iPhone without a contract). In my opinion, this is the only way to go, everything else is too restricted. I'm often surprised about the discussions in the USA where the carriers seem to be extremely powerful. My iPhone always had tethering right out of the box and when I'm abroad, I'm just using a local SIM card if I don't like the roaming charges. .

iPheuria says:

It looks like I'm one step closer to not having to JB. If we aren't required to have a data plan, in screenshots I saw a toggle to turn off cellular data. So if the phone is bought elsewhere unlocked you can simply turn off cellular data and hook it up with whatever voice plan you have. This is what I do with my iPhone now and it's one of the reasons I JB. I JB to apply my wallpaper and lockscreen, modify my SMS tones and turn off my 3G data connection. So with two of those things down there is only one thing that would make me JB it.

Bushido says:

Once my contract ends, this is prob the route I will take. Will wait for iPhone 5 before making a change. iPhone 3GS supports all the software updates.

Klaus says:

What about Germany?? I is possible to buy them unlocked in the UK and France from the Apple store... But what about in Germany?

Tom says:

I wonder if there will be money to be made from this on eBay

francolasalsa#IM says:

@Tom I think you need to re phrase your question to how much money will be made on eBay from this

solu says:

I got my 3GS unlocked from Australia .. as soon as its available in Canada I am getting one :) I hate AT&T.

Runswithscissors#IM says:

ha ha ha...too funny!
Oh wait, this doesn't apply to at$t
"Do I need an iPhone-specific service plan?
iPhone may require large amounts of data usage. Please contact your carrier to ensure that you have an appropriate service plan to support iPhone"

Kyle Beers says:

Where is this page? I called apple US and apple Canada and both know nothing about this. Fake?

Gordon says:

We've had unlocked phones since the 3G was released in Oz. And even phones on contract can be unlocked for little or no charge. Simply because it's available on all carriers. The only reason you're still waiting is because of silly exclusivity deals. I can even use one prepaid if I want.

ishbu says:

Here is the real question, would i be able to buy one of these and then hook it up on Verizon here in the US?

solu says:

When will be iPhone be available in Canada?

BBSwany says:

Sounds like a plan to me. I really don't care that I rock out on EDGE with T-Mo. I absolutely refuse to do business with AT&T.

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