There's been a lot of confusion over the last 48 hours as to whether or not Apple would be selling the iPhone 5 unlocked at Apple Retail Canada. For the last few years Apple has sold new iPhones unlocked at Apple Retail on launch day, but that time is over. As part of new, anti-scalping measure, if you want an unlocked iPhone in Canada this year, you'll have to order online.
Here's the new language on http://www.apple.com/ca/retail/iphone/ (emphasis mine):
Buy iPhone 5 with a contract at your favourite Apple Retail Store beginning at 8:00 a.m. on September 21. We can help you choose the right rate plan and get you up and running. Or visit the Apple Online Store to buy an unlocked, no-contract iPhone 5.
Compare and contrast this to what it currently says on http://www.apple.com/uk/retail/iphone/:
Buy iPhone 5 at your favourite Apple Retail Store from 8:00 am on 21 September. We can help you choose the right tariff and get you up and running.
Now it does seem odd that Apple would implement this new policy in Canada and not everywhere, including the U.K. Although only Apple knows their numbers and projections, the U.K. hasn't been any more immune to daily scalper lineups than Canada has. However, the U.K. and Europe in general is a very different market than Canada.
This biggest problem here is that this information wasn't widely known when pre-orders began. Had it been in advance, those wanting unlocked iPhones could have ordered them online for September 21. Now they're stuck having to wait an additional two weeks or more, or deal with more expensive, less certain carrier unlock policies.
So, if your only reason for lining up this Friday was to get an unlocked iPhone 5 in Canada, save yourself the trouble and order online now. If you just wanted an iPhone 5, however, the lineups should be shorter and blissfully scalper free.