How to buy an unlocked iPhone XR
How to buy an unlocked iPhone XR
Best answer: If you want the iPhone XR unlocked as soon as you buy it, choosing the SIM-free version is the most hassle-free way of doing that.Colorful mainstay: iPhone XR (opens in new tab) ($749 at Apple)
Get the iPhone XR SIM-free for no hassle and maximum flexibility
Getting the SIM-free variant of the iPhone XR lets you buy your phone with the least hassle while offering maximum flexibility. When buying SIM-free, you won't have any carrier information that you need to enter, nor will Apple perform a credit check as it does with its iPhone Upgrade Program. You just pay for the phone and you're good to go. And your new iPhone XR can be used with any carrier, so just pop in the nano SIM of your preferred carrier and you'll be good to go. And because it's unlocked, switching carriers is as "simple" as cancelling service at one carrier and moving over to another.
The downside, of course, is that you'll be paying for the whole thing up front. That means you'll pay $749 for the 64GB model, $799 for 128GB, and $899 for the 256GB model.
If you don't want to pay that much up front, there's always the iPhone Upgrade Program.
The iPhone Upgrade Program offers carrier options, AppleCare+, and a low up-front price
With Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program, you'll get an unlocked iPhone that you can use with any U.S. carrier, much like you do with the SIM-free option, along with some added benefits. You'll also avoid the full up-front cost of the iPhone XR, as you'll only need to pay sales tax initially when you get your phone through the Upgrade Program
After getting your iPhone through the Upgrade Program, you pay in monthly installments and are eligible for one iPhone upgrade per year after 12 payments. The program also includes the AppleCare+ protection program in its cost, with a $4.17 per month add-on available for AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss protection. iPhone Upgrade Program payments for the iPhone XR start at $37.41 per month for the 64GB model, climbing up to $43.66 per month for the 256GB version.
Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint customers can enroll in the program online and in the Apple Store app. Approval should only take a couple of minutes at most.
Note that because this is a financing plan based on installment payments, Apple and its partner, Citizens One, will need to perform a credit check in order to determine your eligibility for the program.
If you buy your iPhone XR through Verizon, that device should be SIM unlocked at the time of purchase. The carrier says that it's policy is not to lock their LTE-enabled phones, with a couple of statements on the subject:
So whether you buy your iPhone on a Verizon installment plan or pay for it all up front, you can just pull the Verizon SIM card out of the phone and insert another one.
Just remember that if you bought your iPhone from Verizon on an installment plan, then later want to switch to another carrier, you'll need to pay off the remaining cost of your phone before you do so.
Mint Mobile, an mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that utilizes T-Mobile's cellular network to provide low-cost service, allows you to get your iPhone completely unlocked on a financing plan, much like Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program. Financing goes as low as 0%, meaning that you'll pay no interest on your phone when you sign up for Mint Mobile to take advantage of this plan, instead just paying off the price of the iPhone over time.
The iPhone XR is avaialble through this financing plan starting at $32 per month. This will be in additon to your Mint Mobile service plan, which starts at $15 per month for unlimited talk and text, as well as 3GB of LTE data.
Other U.S. carriers
While we're primarily focusing on buying an unlocked iPhone, I wanted to mention the unlocking situation with other U.S. carriers.
First, a note on these carriers: While each one does allow you to unlock your iPhone, you should be aware that you'll need to wait a bit before doing so. AT&T requires you to wait 14 days before unlocking your device if you've just upgraded your iPhone. T-Mobile will let you unlock your phone after 40 days, and Sprint after 50.
Buy directly from Apple for a hassle-free experience
Buying your iPhone SIM-free directly from Apple gets you an unlocked phone, ready for any carrier you choose, completely unlocked. You'll just need to pay full price for your iPhone up front for to do it.
Get the best of iMore in your inbox, every day!
Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.