Originally Publushed: June 20, 2011 http://blogs.republicanherald.com/tech/?p=87
For much of the US, I’m sure this news doesn’t even matter, but if you visited theApple Store website recently, you may have noticed that in addition to being able to purchase an iPhone 4 for either $200 or $300 from AT&T or Verizon, there is now the option to purchase an unlocked GSM device starting at $649. I can just hear people saying, this price is blasphemous. Why would anyone pay $700 for a cell phone?
Well, if you didn’t know, these are the actual prices of a high-end smartphone if you aren’t getting it at a subsidized price by locking into a contract, and with this new unlocked GSM model, you can use the phone on any GSM network, meaning it isn’t locked to just AT&T.
Although this is a push in the right direction, allowing you to change GSM carriers freely, for the US, this isn’t a big deal since AT&T and T-Mobile are the only carriers that use GSM technology. Also, an the iPhone can only utilize 3G on AT&T (you get stuck with Edge on T-Mobile). They don’t use the same bands for 3G.
If you plan on traveling a lot to other countries and utilizing the local networks, such as I did when I was in China for two months last year for an internship, you might want to consider buying unlocked. You can freely insert a micro SIM for other GSM networks and you won’t have to keep unlocking it every time you update the OS. For anyone wondering, I used my unlocked HTC Nexus One (Android) overseas, which I still use here in the US on AT&T. Personally I like having an unlocked phone because for my Nexus device, the updates come right from Google. Also, the unlocked devices don’t have all the bloatware that carriers like to put on their devices, with iPhones there really is no bloatware though since Apple controls all of that.
If you want to purchase an unlocked GSM version, it’s $649 for the 16GB model and $749 for the 32GB model, but it’s a known fact that most people in the US don’t leave the country that often, since they don’t even have a passport. Most people are fine with their iPhone 4 locked to a carrier. I think it’s also cheaper though if you wanted to unlock your iPhone 4 yourself to use on other networks and then cancel your contract early, but again, you have to re-unlock it every time you update the firmware.
That being said, any world travelers or people with money burning a hole in their pocket can go to a US Apple Store or online and get an unlocked iPhone 4 (Black or White) now with free shipping!