If you’re a frequent traveler, getting a truly unlocked, contract-free iPhone 4S may be a better option than getting a subsidized handset through a carrier, like AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint. The benefit of an unlocked handset allows you to just use a local or pre-paid SIM card when you’re abroad so that you can choose whatever network you want to use when you’re traveling and pay local toll rates, rather than pay for high roaming fees when you’re traveling. So, with all the buzz about the iPhone 4S for Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T costing as little as $199 for a 16 GB version, $299 for a 32 GB version, and $399 for a 64 GB version in either black or white, how do you get an unlocked version?
Going through the pre-order process on Apple’s web store, you’ll start the pre-order process as you would for a carrier-branded version and scroll to the bottom to select the unlocked, contract-free iPhone 4S. Without carrier subsidies, a 16 GB iPhone 4S would cost as much as $649 while a 64 GB iPhone 4S will cost as high as $849. These phones will ship in November.
With an unlocked iPhone 4S, you’re not tied to any network, and you won’t be locked into a contract for 2 years.
Unfortunately, though, there are stipulations for unlocked iPhone 4S devices. These will not work for CDMA networks and would only work for GSM networks in the U.S., such as AT&T’s and T-Mobile’s networks.
The unlocked iPhone works only on supported GSM networks, such as AT&T in the U.S. When you travel internationally, you can also use a micro-SIM card from a local GSM carrier. The unlocked iPhone 4 will not work with CDMA carriers such as Verizon Wireless or Sprint.