On Apple’s online store, buyers should select the “SIM-free” version of the iPhone 6 if they want to buy a completely-unlocked model, and prices start at $649 for the 16GB 4.7-inch iPhone 6.
The pricing is the same as the current T-Mobile iPhone 6 models, starting at $649 for the 16GB unit, while the 64GB and the 128GB models will be priced at $749 and $849, respectively. As for the iPhone 6 Plus, you can plan to tack on $100 to these prices, thanks to the larger 5.5-inch screen and the better camera.
While this is good news, it wouldn’t be the first time that Apple has made completely-unlocked iPhones available for sale on its online store as well as in its retails stores. Both the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 5s were available unlocked a couple months after their initial releases.
It’s not completely clear what the difference will be between the current T-Mobile iPhone 6 model and the unlocked iPhone 6 that are on sale now, other than the fact that the current T-Mobile iPhone 6 isn’t always unlocked. It’s also possible that the new unlocked iPhone 6 comes with different/more LTE bands, allowing for the device to be used in a wider set of regions around the world.
The situation with the T-Mobile iPhone 6 is a bit confusing to say the least, but we’ve discussed it in the past. Basically, if you buy an iPhone 6 directly from T-Mobile, it will come carrier locked to T-Mobile, but you can eventually unlock it. However, the T-Mobile iPhone 6 that Apple sells in their stores happens to be completely unlocked.
Hopefully with the sale of no-questions-asked unlocked iPhone 6 units now on sale, there will be less confusion about all of this.
If you’re not familiar with unlocked/locked iPhones, most carriers lock the devices that they sell, which means that you can only use that specific device with that carrier.
For example, if I buy an iPhone 6 from Verizon, it will be carrier locked to Verizon and I’ll only be able to use that iPhone 6 with Big Red (even though you can unofficially use it on AT&T’s network, which Verizon doesn’t like very much). This keeps devices on their network, thus partially preventing users from switching carriers.
This isn’t a huge deal if you plan to stick with a specific carrier for an extended amount of time, but if you like freedom and being able to switch carriers whenever you want to without any penalties, buying an unlocked iPhone 6 is usually the way to go, as you also won’t be locked into a two-year contract.
The only downside to buying an unlocked iPhone is that you’ll have to pay full price for the device, which again starts at a steep $649, but you’ll also be paying less every month for your service charges, which will vary by carrier. This means that you could possibly pay less overall for your iPhone and the service charges over two years even though you’re paying more up front.
In the end, most iPhone 6 owners shouldn’t need to worry about unlocking their devices, especially Americans that don’t travel out of the country that often. However, for those who travel frequently or like the freedom to switch carriers whenever they want, buying an unlocked iPhone 6 is a great way to go, and Apple will have you covered.