Customers who buy new iPhone 4s at Apple retail stores may be given an AT&T version that’s unlocked on the spot at an Apple retail store should the store run out of the unlocked model, which suggests that Apple has the capability of unlocking the AT&T edition of the GSM iPhone 4 units. According to 9to5 Mac, if Apple retail stores are short of unlocked iPhone 4 units, they can grab an AT&T iPhone and the checkout system can unlock the device if the customer pays the full, unsubsidized price for the phone.
While Apple has sold iPhones in the U.S. without a contract at full retail price in the past, they were only able to sell AT&T-locked iPhone units. Now, with a retail system that can potentially either lock a phone to AT&T, or unlock the phone if a user pays full price, Apple can essentially stock fewer models of the iPhone going forward to avoid having to maintain inventories for each individual model, whether they’re locked or unlocked iPhone units, and still give customers what they want at the point of sales.
With Apple rumored to be migrating AT&T and Verizon onto the same iPhone model in the future with the next iPhone–as the iPhone would utilize Qualcomm’s Gobi chip which allows for GSM and CDMA radios to be on the same unit–Apple can potentially stock one iPhone model and sell it as a Verizon unit, an AT&T unit, or an unlocked unit at its sales terminal.
An unlocked iPhone 4 would be beneficial to those who travel overseas and would rather get a local SIM card at their destination rather than pay AT&T roaming. Though users can potentially use a T-Mobile USA SIM card inside the iPhone 4, doing so would default the iPhone 4 to a 2G EDGE mobile data connection, rather than the HSPA 3G connection as the iPhone 4 lacks the radio support for T-Mobile USA’s 3G and 4G HSPA+ network.
Via: 9to5 Mac