Apple is now selling an unlocked version of the iPhone 5, which will allow you to ditch the two-year carrier contract, but set you back at least $649.
The 16GB unlocked iPhone 5 is on sale for $649, the 32GB is $749, and the 64GB version is $849 on Apple’s website; no word on when they might appear in Apple Stores. The phone is currently available to ship in one week, but Apple is limiting people to two per customer.
Having an unlocked iPhone means you aren’t tied to a carrier for the next two years. Apple’s website, however, says its unlocked iPhone 5 currently only runs on GSM networks in the U.S., which means AT&T and T-Mobile, but not Verizon or Sprint.
“When you travel internationally, you can also use a micro-SIM card for iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S or a nano-SIM card for iPhone 5 from a local GSM carrier,” Apple said.
T-Mobile is currently the only major U.S. carrier that does not offer the iPhone, but the company has recently been running a campaign that encourages AT&T customers with an unlocked iPhone to move over to T-Mobile for unlimited data. Yesterday, there were reports that T-Mobile might land the iPhone as early as next week, but the carrier said it cannot comment on rumors or speculation.
To purchase, click over to the iPhone 5 “buy now” section of the Apple website. Once you choose a color, a link will illuminate below the carrier options that says “Or get iPhone unlocked and contract-free.” Click that and the unlocked iPhone options will appear below.
Subsidized iPhones tied to a carrier cost $199 (16GB), $299 (32GB), or $399 (64GB).
Unlocked iPhone 5 pricing made a brief appearance on the Apple website back in September, but Apple quickly removed any reference to the pricey devices. Apple first started selling unlocked iPhones in June 2011 with the iPhone 4 and expanded to the iPhone 4S in November 2011. Apple is still selling a 16GB, unlocked iPhone 4S for $549 on its website; an unlocked 8GB iPhone 4 will set you back $450.