Unlocked iPhone 4S available in November

Unlocked iPhone 4S available in November

Summary: Pre-ordering an iPhone 4S just got more complicated with Apple quietly revealing pricing for an unlocked version for frequent flyers and contract-adverse.

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Just as Apple began taking pre-orders for the iPhone 4S on its website this morning, some eagle-eyed visitors suddenly discovered they could order an unlocked version direct from Apple (just like the iPhone 4), rather sign a contract with either AT&T, Sprint or Verizon. This is a tidbit that Apple never announced at its "Let's Talk iPhone" event earlier this week. But the convenience of not being tied to a carrier comes with some costs: the unlocked iPhone 4S won't arrive till some time November and the unsubsidized price tags are quite steep -- as much as $849 for the 64 GB version.

Although the iPhone 4S is already a world phone with both the GSM and CDMA antennae, for those who travel internationally on a regular basis, an unlocked GSM phone is the way to go as you won't have to pay your U.S. carrier roaming charges when you are abroad, especially for data. With an unlocked iPhone 4S, all you have to do is buy a local micro-SIM card from a GSM carrier and swap out your American one while you're traveling.

When you're in America, the only downside to an unlocked iPhone 4S is that you won't be able to take advantage of Sprint or Verizon's unlimited plans or better cellular coverage (in certain areas) because the phone will only be compatible with GSM networks. In other words, you will be limited to AT&T or T-Mobile as your carrier. (A micro-SIM card will be included in the unlocked phone.) For T-Mobile customers who are peeved your carrier won't be offering the iPhone 4S this year (if ever), you could grab an unlocked version and use it on T-Mobile's network. Otherwise, the unlocked and subsidized iPhone 4Ses are essentially identical devices that offer the same functionality: iOS 5 and iCloud, Siri, dual-core A5 processor and an 8-megapixel camera.

I usually prefer unlocked devices as they give me the flexibility to use the same phone anywhere I go but at $649 for the 16 GB iPhone 4S, I would really have to love the phone (even when it becomes out-dated) to sink that much money into a single device. What about you? Will you go for the more palatable, subsidized price tag or buy your freedom from the get-go with an unlocked iPhone 4S?

[Source: CNET, Apple]

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Topics: Hardware, iPhone, Mobility, Networking, Smartphones

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23 comments
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  • RE: Unlocked iPhone 4S available in November

    A quick question, if I get the iPhone 4S on Sprint, can I still use it on a GSM network outside USA?
    Thanks for the help.
    sameerdewani
    • RE: Unlocked iPhone 4S available in November

      @sameerdewani Yes you can !
      1773
  • RE: Unlocked iPhone 4S available in November

    Well if you consider that with t-mobile or att you can get a unlimited data, text and talk plan for $50/mo (no contract) and that with the 2 years contract you need to pay at least $80/mo, the savings per months are $30, therefore $720 savings in 2 year (+$200 for the phone = $920) , which is cheaper than the $649 of the unlocked phone. What do you think?
    Bologna87
    • RE: Unlocked iPhone 4S available in November

      @Bologna87 If you're willing to deal with the limited coverage of t-mobile then I guess that works out. But if you live in a more rural state where t-mobile is only available along the Interstate corridor then this isn't much of a deal.
      boomchuck1
  • RE: Unlocked iPhone 4S available in November

    A follow up to sameerdewani's question; if I get the iPhone 4S with Sprint, can I use a SIM card from a local company abroad or do I have to roam on that local GSM network and pay Sprint rediculous money?
    wangi911
    • RE: Unlocked iPhone 4S available in November

      @wangi911 I think you have to roam, unless Sprint is willing to unlock it for you. I have heard that VZW does that if you ask them (though it won't accept an AT&T or T-Mobile US SIM).
      KPOM1
  • RE: Unlocked iPhone 4S available in November

    This will sooth the souls of those poor folks that were complaining about not being able to compare the price of the iPhone for an unlocked version. $649 vs. $199! Yikes! Seems like $450 could cover quite a bit of international charges. Personally I'd just find myself a nice hotspot and use someones wifi.
    boomchuck1
  • RE: Unlocked iPhone 4S available in November

    Does this unlocked iPhone 4S support 3G/4G on T-Mobile or are you stuck with EDGE data speeds?
    Tiggster79
  • RE: Unlocked iPhone 4S available in November

    Unlocked for me. Remember, unlocked phones go for a premium on the resale market, so you can recoup some of the cost. If you travel overseas even once, it is worth it. Data is about $20/MB unless you buy a special plan from the carrier, and they often don't let you simply add and drop the special plan whenever you want.
    KPOM1
  • RE: Unlocked iPhone 4S available in November

    Note that the iPhone 4S is limited to 2G speeds on T-Mobile USA. Their 3G network operates on a different frequency from most of the rest of the world, and so isn't included on the "world" phone.
    KPOM1
    • RE: Unlocked iPhone 4S available in November

      @KPOM1 According to this blog, it sounds like the unlocked iPhone 4S will support both 3G and HPSA+ on T-Mobile:

      http://iphone5newsblog.com/2011/10/07/unlocked-iphone-4s-will-work-on-t-mobile/

      Are there any credible sources that contradicts this report?
      Tiggster79
    • RE: Unlocked iPhone 4S available in November

      a
      Tiggster79
  • RE: Unlocked iPhone 4S available in November

    You pay that much for the phone anyway, whether you pay it upfront or over two years with a contract. In fact, you often pay more for the phone when you sign a contract. I will be buying one and using T-mobile, which has good, cheap non-contract plans (substantially cheaper than their contract plans). Think of it as an investment, not a cost.

    In my opinion, part of the reason our cellular service in this country has the problems (and poor service) that it does is that Americans in general don't want to pay the cost up front and instead sign contracts. If we bought our phones separately, we'd be in a better position to ask for good cell service.
    carlvz01
  • RE: Unlocked iPhone 4S available in November

    @KPOM1
    To all: You would have to be a really hardcore Apple Fanboy with deep pockets to think that these unlocked phones are even close to being worth it. Whether you travel or not. You can pick up a cheap burner if you travel outside of the US and still come out way ahead of buying an unlocked iPhone for travel. And if having a capable smart phone on overseas trips is that important to you, AND you want a capable phone here in the states, then order an unlocked Nokia from Europe somewhere (don't order it from the US because Nokia doesn't give a rats a** about North American Customers and thus don't provide timely updates to phones made for the US market). One of the reasons I say this is that hardware wise the Nokia is a nicer phone than the iPhone, and it comes with more bells and whistles, and even though their apps are more limited, nearly every app you really need IS available. And their unlocked phones, even top of the line ones, only set you back $500. Additionally, you have the ability in the current crop (not sure about future ones now that they're in bed with Microsoft) to expand the memory by adding a micro SD. They also don't require a micro SIM which not all carriers support. So, you can save $200 dollars up front, have better features albeit less choice when it comes to apps, and you can save the monthly fees with the unlocked version as someone else suggested. Oh, one other thing. Several of the Nokia phones are penta band phones instead of quad band, which means that they support that frequency that TMobil uses for 3G which Apple doesn't support, limiting you to 2G speeds. The same is true overseas in that the penta band works in many places that the iPhone isn't going to work that well in. For those that are all "Apple is great!", check out the specs for the iPhone 4S (apples Newest phone) and the specs for Nokia's N8 (which is more than a year old now) and compare them side by side. I'm really not asking you to take my word for it, I'm really telling you that you should open your mind and your eyes a bit and seriously compare the 2. But, as I said earlier, whatever you do, if you go with a Nokia, don't get the ones made for the NAM(north american) market. Find a place to order it from in the UK so that it has a UK product code on it. They seem to get the best support from Nokia as far as upgrades, functions, etc. go.
    mgrubb@...
  • RE: Unlocked iPhone 4S available in November

    Wait I am confused. If you get the unlocked iPhone 4s why does the article say you can't have a Verizon contract? Isnt the iPhone 4s both CDMA and GSM ? Seems like you'd have a SIM card slot for AT&T (and international sims) and the CDMA capability if you are a Verizon customer. Wasn't the entire point of the 4s to be dual-radio CDMA and GSM?
    ZDBurger
  • RE: Unlocked iPhone 4S available in November

    (sorry for the duplicate post, would be super cool if this web page refreshed and showed me my post after submitting ... duh)

    Wait I am confused. The iPhone 4s is supposed to be CDMA + GSM compatible. Yet the article states that if you get the unlocked version, you can't have a Verizon contract. <br><br>Wouldn't you have a SIM card slot for AT&T (and international sims) and the CDMA capability if you are a Verizon customer? Wasn't the entire point of the 4s to be dual-radio CDMA and GSM?
    ZDBurger
  • RE: Unlocked iPhone 4S available in November

    So much for the iPhone 4s being a "world phone". It is a world phone from a manufacturing standpoint, but the inability to access the CDMA portion means ONLY the Verizon carrier unlocked one has the most flexibility, but limited to Verizon as the only CDMA carrier.
    flyguy29
  • RE: Unlocked iPhone 4S available in November

    Even in the USA, an unlocked GSM phone allows me to use a prepaid plan from AT&T, for example; without being bound by a contract and only paying for what you use. If going abroad, swap out the SIM card and pay local GSM data/voice fees in that country. Come back to the USA, swap back in the pre-pay SIM card. There is a point where you breakeven and save money in the long run with an unlocked phone, even GSM unlocked (such as the current iPhone 4, and now with the new iPhone 4S)
    Kabiela.com
  • RE: Unlocked iPhone 4S available in November

    For the unlock iphone 4s, here i get another resources for unlock http://unlockiphone.org/unlock-iphone-4s/
    dianecoronado
  • RE: Unlocked iPhone 4S available in November

    I am a foreigner currently living in the US and still have a micro SIM card from a (European) phone. If I put that SIM card in a new unlocked iphone I'd buy here, would it work for making calls in the US? (I don't phone much, so would care less if the calls were more expensive than with an AT&T contract for example.)
    dccl