Yesterday we told you that Apple started selling unlocked iPhone 4s here in the U.S. We do have to admit that the move leaves us scratching our heads a bit. The iPhone 4 is a year-old device at this point. That leaves the question: why?
The GSM iPhone 4 only works well on AT&T. Sure, you can run it on 2G EDGE with T-Mobile, but that's a lousy user experience, and Apple is all about providing smooth user experiences. I just can't accept that T-Mobile users want the iPhone so desperately that they're willing to give up 3G for it, although I may be wrong about that, too.
Boy Genius Report's Jon Geller is right when he says that Apple sells unlocked iPhones in 85 other countries. But those countries all have more than one GSM iPhone-compatible 3G carrier. Canada has three. Dave Zatz points out this morning that for Americans, the "unlocked" iPhone will cost $450 more over two years than the locked model, because AT&T doesn't give any discounts for bringing your own phone. That's "an extra $450 mostly for the privilege of feeling more liberated and fancy free," he concludes.
Apple is finally selling unlocked GSM iPhone 4 models in the US, although you'll have to pony up a pretty penny to get it. You can get an unlocked black or white iPhone 4 directly from Apple for $649 for the 16 GB model, and $749 for the 32 GB model, making these the most expensive iOS devices in the Apple portfolio, save for the 64 GB iPad. Why would you want an unlocked iPhone 4 in the US? Well, if you frequently travel abroad, this would allow you to easily swap SIM cards to take advantage of local calling rates. You can also use the unlocked model with T-Mobile without risking the loss of your jailbroken unlock due to a software update, however, the iPhone 4 won't take advantage of T-Mobile's 3G speeds, so you'd be stuck with EDGE. At this point, with the iPhone 5 set for a September release, we aren't really sure who'd wanna rush out and pick up an unlocked iPhone 4 at these prices. That said, here's hoping that the next iPhone launches with an unlocked option right off the bat.
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