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!

[ 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.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

More Posts



← Previously

So did you pre-order or reserve an iPhone 4 today? Are you going to?

Next up →

iPad live podcast #8: Chasing cars

Reader comments

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


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. :(

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).

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.

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. .

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.

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.

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

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

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"

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.

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?

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.

I just could not leave your web site before suggesting that I really enjoyed the standard information an individual supply for your guests? Is going to be again regularly in order to investigate cross-check new posts

Hi there, simply became alert to your blog thru Google, and located that it is really informative. I am going to be careful for brussels. I will appreciate for those who continue this in future. A lot of people will likely be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

Usually I don't read article on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to try and do so! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, quite nice post.

Hello, i think that i saw you visited my website so i got here to return the favor?.I'm attempting to in finding issues to improve my site!I suppose its ok to make use of some of your ideas!!

I've been surfing on-line more than 3 hours as of late, yet I by no means discovered any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all web owners and bloggers made just right content material as you probably did, the net can be a lot more helpful than ever before.

hey there and thanks for your information ? I have certainly picked up something new from proper here. I did on the other hand expertise a few technical issues the use of this site, since I skilled to reload the web site lots of times previous to I may get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your web hosting is OK? Now not that I am complaining, but sluggish loading instances occasions will sometimes impact your placement in google and can harm your quality score if ads and marketing with Adwords. Well I'm including this RSS to my email and can glance out for much more of your respective interesting content. Make sure you update this once more very soon..