Apple now selling unlocked GSM iPhones in the US, prices start at $649

We heard a rumor a few days ago that Apple would be selling unlocked iPhones in the US starting this Wednesday. Well it appears that it was true but started a day earlier. Apple has updated its online store and you can now order an unlocked GSM iPhone 4. 

Both black and white models are available in 16GB and 32GB flavors. It will set you back $649 for the 16GB model and $749 for the 32GB. Shipping is quoted at 1-3 days.

Get all the features of iPhone 4 — FaceTime video calling, Retina display, HD video recording, and more — in a phone that you can activate and use on the supported GSM wireless carrier of your choice, such as AT&T in the United States. 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.

There is no mention of any support for T-Mobile AWS frequencies so you wouldn't get any 3G data on that network. We assume, then, that this new offer is aimed more at those who travel and would benefit from using local SIM cards at their destination. Like iMessage it could also be a show of strength to the US carriers, or a way to help ease the regulatory wheels by showing how open and available iPhone is in the US.

No word yet on whether AT&T will offer to unlock any existing, previously locked iPhones. In the UK, carriers do offer to unlock for a fee, while in Canada, no carrier unlocks have

Are any of our readers planning on picking up an unlocked iPhone 4? Is the price too high? Let us know in the comments!

[Apple Store]

 

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chrisoldroyd

UK editor at iMore, mobile technology lover and air conditioning design engineer.

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Reader comments

Apple now selling unlocked GSM iPhones in the US, prices start at $649

36 Comments

The real question for me is can I pay for an unlock on my ATT model when the contract is up? I am guessing no. Either way I am glad to see this as I will eventually get an unlocked phone. Now I don't have to go the eBay or road trip to Canada route. I am hoping the next iPhone is the fabled world phone. Buying that unlocked would be a dream!

I just got off the phone with AT&T customer service, they asked for the IMEI # for our iPhone 4, they then said "according to our database your phone is not eligible to be unlocked at this time". When I asked why (we got them 6 months ago) the rep said she did not know why and then suggested that if we NEED an unlock we should jailbrake because thats what she had done.
I do wonder what devices are eligible... any one else give Ma Bell a call but got a different answer?

That gives me hope. I just moved from the US to Spain, and had to cancel my service with AT&T. They charged me $225 for the ETF (it goes down each month of service, apparently they don't consider a move to another continent as a justifiable reason to waive the ETF), and so I basically ended up paying full price for the phone. When I asked for an unlock, they simply said they didn't have the ability to unlock iPhones. So maybe now that I'm off-contract my iPhone would be eligible... I'm gonna call AT&T right away...

I hope they unlock it for you... we needed the unlock as well because we "go home" to Europe every year for a month to visit family. having locked iPhones has caused us to have a couple of unlocked devices just for overseas.

When you talked to AT&T, did you actually tell them it was an iPhone 4 you were requesting the unlock for? They just told me their policy hasn't changed and that iPhones are NOT eligible for unlocking. Fucking assholes.

I too moved overseas and had to cancel my contract. However, I was able to get the ETF reimbursed to my credit card by sending certain documentation to an address AT&T provided. I had to talk to a couple people to explain my situation and they did follow through. Hope that helps!

What's the point of selling an unlocked iPhone in the US if it's GSM only? The other two big carriers are CDMA and (as mentioned in the article) T-mobile 3G frequency isn't compatible with current iPhone hardware. Kinda pointless to release it in the US.

Homer Simpson, did you even read the blog? The purpose is for people traveling internationally so they can use local SIMs instead of paying roaming.
As far as what's the point if it's GSM only, there is no such thing as unlocked CDMA phone. You must be a Verizon user. Get a clue. D'oh!

He didn't mention anything about an unlocked CDMA phone.
Reading comprehension is a wonderful thing to those of us who possess it. Perhaps you read more carefully before opening up your piehole, sir

"What's the point of selling an unlocked iPhone in the US if it's GSM only?"
Hmm... sounds to me like he's wondering why not also have an unlocked CDMA version. And you're the one talking about reading comprehension? Besides, that's not even the main point I was making. He obviously missed the whole point IN THE BLOG where it talks about "We assume, then, that this new offer is aimed more at those who travel and would benefit from using local SIM cards at their destination", not swapping US carriers.
Release the hounds on these two.

I think the price is reasonable. I bought my factory unlocked iPhone 4 in Canada last year for way higher price. I'm happy that Apple is finally offering unlocked iPhones in the US and I just hope they continue to offer unlocked phones even when the new iPhone 4S/5 gets released.

I think that AT&T and Apple should start unlocking curent iPhones for some fee, becouse AT&T charging 375$ for early termination fee so I don't believe that anybody will go to pay fee for unlock and they go to pay ETF to have Factory unlocked iPhone and then Go.. Where!?
T-Mobile? No Way!
I was over 2year on T-Mobile and I'm now more then 2yr with AT&T.. In my area T-Mobile suck!
But again I will be first to pay to unlock my iPhone anyway.. Because this is America.. Land of freedom! Right!? Or Not!?

Rogers in Canada does offer to unlock device, its just cost you $50, and it has to be after your contract expires.

sounds good but does this still support regular SIMs? The article says it uses micro-sims but does that mean it wont have space for the bigger sized SIM cards? Because many networks around the world have not even started using the micro-sim.

im buyin one asap , so i can take it back to my country! cheaper in the states than in southamerica

It's about damn time... I'm getting a factory unlocked one as soon as the next iPhone is released. It makes sense for frequent international travelers, but it also makes sense for those of us who don't do a lot of traveling but still just want freedom from having a locked phone. It'd make even more sense on the next iPhone if it ends up being a dual-mode GSM & CDMA phone that would enable you to switch from, say, AT&T to VZW or Sprint with the same device. Then there'd be a lot more unlocked iPhones sold here in the US.

That's brings up an interesting point. I'm curious to see if Sprint starts offering the iPhone how Apple will manage the potential for devices being taken between CDMA networks. If Apple actually manages to force both Sprint and Verizon into accepting any CDMA iPhone on to their networks it would be the first time a manufacturer has ever done so.

It'd be cool if they'd make it compatible with the smaller CDMA carriers as well (e.g. Virgin Mobile, Boost, Metro PCS, etc.).

wow, look at that! Finally we are getting to be as progressive as the europeans...
no, but for real, I'm glad it actually happened. At least now the rest of the world wouldn't be looking at us as pushovers.

Says that it comes with Dock Connector to connect to USB cable.. Any idea what this is?? Locked ones didnt get this.

Is this price including taxes? If it is, I'm getting my next iPhone while vacationing in the US, cause they charge about 650 EUR overhere for a contract free, simlock free 16GB iPhone 4.

Typical price gauge by Apple Australia. How can the same phone cost A$859 unlocked when the Australian dollar is worth more than US......????????????
conversion works out at A$607. $250 more WOW...Apple you need to look at yourself...