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Unlocked iPhones finally coming to US Apple Stores this Wednesday?

If Jailbreak developer Chronic's sources are to be believe, unlocked iPhones may finally hit US Apple Stores this Wednesday.

Unlocked iPhones headed to Apple Stores for Wednesday: MC603 (16GB, Black) MC604 (16GB, White) MC605 (32GB, Black) MC606 (32GB, White)

Chronic originally believed his sources were referring to new MacBook Air models but has since stated the original information was off -- it's for unlocked iPhones.

While countries like Canada and the UK have had SIM-unlocked models available since the iPhone 4 launched (and places like Hong Kong before that), the US has remained GSM-locked to AT&T even after Verizon launched a CDMA iPhone last February.

Before T-Mobile users get their hopes up, it's unlikely these unlocked iPhones would support AWS frequencies, which means no 3G off AT&T in the US. But for travelers who'd prefer to swap SIM cards than pay extravagant roaming rates, it might be a compelling choice.

If this rumor pans out, expect the unlocked models to come with a hefty, unsubsidized price -- like $600+ for 16GB and $700+ for 32GB.

And with iPhone 5 likely coming this fall alongside iOS 5 would anyone rush out and pay that much, right now, just for a factory unlock?


Rene Ritchie
Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • So the 3GS won't be coming unlocked? Damn it...haha
  • if this actually will happen, i wonder what will become of those handsets that are already in customers' hands. will they be given an option to finally officially unlock their phones. i guess all we can do is wait and see.
  • i dont understand why att hasnt done this a long time ago. what is the benefit of forcing their customers to have to use some other/unlocked gsm phone when they travel abroad? that doesnt make sense! it is a big inconvinience for those that travel frequently.
  • It makes perfect sense. The average idiot isn't smart enough to buy a local SIM when they travel overseas, and just doesn't know any better. So they pay AT&T $10000/minute when overseas.
    It's about time. I will definitely get one next time around.
    Seems like Apple is really starting to lower the reasons to jailbreak. (At least my reasons)
  • Silly how the US does not get unlocked iPhones. New Zealand has had them for years now. Gives us the freedom to use any carrier we want without being locked to one. We also don't require contracts either.
  • Agreed; I went to NZ on holiday last year and brought my iPhone 4 with me. Rather than using AT&T's roaming service and getting charged dearly for it, I just avoided all that by turning all roaming off during my trip, as I didn't really want to be bothered by anyone during my holiday anyway. I like how in NZ you can just buy whichever phone you want, and then use it on whichever carrier you want, as they're all GSM and on the same frequency. In the US it's a mess as we essentially have 4 carriers each with their own proprietary and mutually incompatible cellular technologies (GSM & CDMA) and on different 3G frequencies. Technically it's possible to switch freely between carriers in the US, but we have to use an unlocked dual-mode "world phone," and those are usually the higher-end, more expensive devices. It'll probably be another decade until we finally get that situation sorted (if then!). Hopefully it'll get resolved when we finally get LTE (true 4G) up and running everywhere.
  • Yeah I see your displeasure and completely understand. Yeah I purchased and iPhone 4 last year on our Apple online store and was able to choose my carrier. Unfortunately tho as you said, I had to fork out $1,100 dollars for the 16GB one. When I was in the US earlier last year I see there is a huge emphasis on contracts. Here we seem to have a majority on "Pay as you go" or "Prepay". Our carriers provide rather good prepay plans. People here only tend to be on contracts through business etc. The reason I chose the prepay way is because my iPhone costs me only $24 dollars a month for 120 mb of data, and 5000 txts to any network plus one contact who I can call as much as I like. This may seem rather piddly compared to the US, but our plans are ridiculously expensive for what you get. Interesting though
  • 120 MB per month? That's it? I reckon you'd have to be pretty miserly with your data usage, or else rely heavily on Wi-Fi for data-intensive functions such as web surfing & streaming. Is that on Vodafone NZ? When I was there (Auckland area) I noticed that phones & contracts tended to be shockingly expensive. I get 2 GB a month & unlimited texts on AT&T, which is more than I'll probably ever use, as I rarely go over 1 GB; when I told my Kiwi friends about it they were just mind-blown. LOL But I hate being stuck in a contract, and I'd take Kiwi-style freedom of choice of device & carrier any day. Once you've had a taste of that freedom, you just have to have it from then on. My next device will definitely be unlocked & off-contract.
  • Yeah 120mb. Data here tends to be rather expensive. $24 dollars gets you a whole 240 MB lol. Nah not on Vodafone. Telecom NZ. the big three telecommunication companies all tend to have the same rates. You are exactly right. Our contracts here are absurd. I couldn't even imagine the costs we would be forking out for unlimited data haha. One day I hope we have something as competitive as you guys in the big US :). Yeah I completely understand. I think many of us kiwis will be going prepay until these companies decide that they really ain't getting the contact numbers they were hoping. One day!
  • Oh, and in the US contracts are not required, but they are a way for people to get a high-end phone for a cheaper price initially, tho it's actually more expensive in the long run. If you like your carrier and don't mind getting locked into a contract for 2 years, it's a viable option. I just hate being "stuck" with a carrier, so I'm going the unlocked, off-contract route next time around. Unlocked iPhones are available here too, but they're quite expensive and most people don't really need them unless they do a lot of international traveling.
  • Is apple trying to get all the carriers to hate them?
  • and how is that exactly?
  • First imessages and FaceTime over 3G and now unlocked phones? I get what ur saying Jake
  • If this is true, then its about time. I've been wanting to get an Unlocked iPhone for ages. Though my current iPhone is Jailbroken, I never actually wanted to Unlock it via that Method (may sound silly but it's true). Hopefully I'll be saying Goodbye to contracts soon too.
  • No
  • I still never got the point of an unlocked phone.. Don't you still have to pay a bill to someone anyways? What's the point of being off contract?
  • People that leave the country would like it to be unlocked so they can still use their phone with different service provider while abroad.
  • I went to Greece 5 days ATT roaming $1500 Next year I unlocked my iphone when to Greece 10 days 35 euros.
    you do the math
  • Awesome if true... and now I wonder will AT&T will unlock my wife's iPhone 4 after this wednesday. We are in good standing (and have been forever). I will gladly pay full price for an unlocked unit (even though I'm waiting for what ever may be coming this fall).