Unlocked iPhone 5 models can now be purchased directly from Apple at the full unsubsidized prices. The unlocked iPhones will work with any supported GSM network, such as AT&T or T-Mobile in the USA, and can be used abroad on compatible GSM networks with a nano-SIM card from local carriers. The factory unlocked models are not compatible with CDMA networks.
The iPhones are available for order both in stores and online, they can be bought directly from Apple Online Store by selecting a black or white iPhone 5, then navigating down to find the “Or get iPhone unlocked and contract-free” link. That reveals the full unlocked iPhone 5 prices, which are as follows:
- 16GB – $ 649
- 32GB – $ 749
- 64GB – $ 849
These prices are each $ 450 more than buying the same model locked to a carrier as part of a service plan, and unless you have a compelling reason to buy unlocked it typically makes more financial sense to buy an iPhone within a standard two-year agreement. Unlocked iPhones can be set up as pay-go and as prepaid phones in the USA, though the process is unofficially supported by AT&T and you may have more options using the device on the T-Mobile network.
Unlocked iPhones are typically best for frequent travelers and international users, since the device can be used just about anywhere worldwide. For more infrequent travelers, another option for individuals who already purchased an iPhone 5 within a contract is to unlock their original iPhone through AT&T‘s simple online procedure. Additionally, both Sprint & Verizon will sometimes unlock the SIM card slots on iPhones contracted onto their network through a customer service request.