We have reported a few days that for the first time in the US, Apple is now selling factory unlocked iPhone 4 at their stores, both in local retail and online. Starting at $649, you can now buy a 16GB unlocked iPhone which means that you are free to use any carrier that you want as long as you have a sim card. Aside from that, you are free to swap any working sim card that you have at any time.
As of the meantime, mobile carrier AT&T do not offer factory unlocked iPhones for their US customers. Since Apple started selling factory unlocked iPhones, there has been no official statement if the company will be offering factory unlocked phones on their own stores or if they will offer to unlock iPhones which are previously purchased from them.
The main advantage of having an unlocked device is that users will be able to use them even if they travel out of the US. Which is actually only applicable with GSM networks since it operates on a more global standard. CDMA network standard on the other hand, such as with Verizon, is exclusive in the United States. So the benefits of an unlocked CDMA iPhone is pretty much limited.
In addition to that, unlocked iPhones does not come with a multi-year contract from a carrier, which also makes them much more expensive when compared to the locked ones due to the lack of carrier subsidization.
Interestingly, 9to5Mac received an email from a Verizon spokesperson with regards to unlocking a CDMA device:
Verizon Wireless does not lock any of our phones in the U.S, that has never been our policy. Typically the conversation of locking or unlocking a device is one for carriers that use GSM technology. CDMA and GSM technologies are not compatible, so a CDMA phone won’t work on a GSM network and vice versa.
So with this response, this only means that you will be able to take your Verizon iPhone 4 to another carrier granted that they are using the same CDMA network technology. But it seems that GSM and CDMA are simply incompatible. Although there are ways that you can do so, but it requires flashing your CDMA iPhone in order to work with GSM networks.
As for AT&T at the meantime, it looks like they have no interest of unlocking previously purchased iPhone. They do have something to say about the issue:
You can, of course, buy an unlocked iPhone from Apple and use it on the AT&T network. We offer a variety of contract and no-contract options for iPhone, but do not sell unlocked iPhones. If you do buy an unlocked phone from Apple, you can absolutely bring it to us and choose any current voice and data plan – with no term commitment. AT&T offers data plans starting as low as $15 per month for 250 MB of data.
iPhone Dev Team member MuscleNerd, commented on this issue through his tweet that AT&T should offer to unlock iPhones that are already paid by the customer through subsidy. AT&T has yet to make an official statement about that.
So will AT&T offer to unlock older iPhones? Well that still remains to be seen. Stay tune with us for more updates.Contact Us for News Tips, Corrections and Feedback