Unlocked Apple iPhone 5 Now Onsale

An unlocked version of the Apple iPhone 5 went on sale in the US yesterday. Consumers who purchase the device will not be limited to Apple-affiliated carriers Sprint, AT&T or Verizon, but instead can choose any carrier, contract-free. Freedom comes with a price, however. The unlocked version of the phone sells at the Apple online store for the starting price of $649—for the 16GB model—but ranges up to $849 for the 64GB phone. By comparison, customers who purchase the phone under contract with a mobile carrier can snag the 16GB phone for the subsidized price tag of $199.

The unlocked iPhone includes all the features of iPhone but without a wireless contract commitment,” Apple wrote when describing the device on its Web site. “If you don’t want a multiyear service contract, or if you prefer to use a local carrier when traveling abroad, the unlocked iPhone is the best choice.

Apple has placed a limit on the sale of its unlocked iPhone5 at two units per customer. Consumers considering the product should also keep in mind it only works with supported GSM networks, such as AT&T, in the United States. That means the phone will not work with CDMA-network carriers, such as Sprint and Verizon. The largest carrier in the United States that does not offer iPhone but runs on a GSM network is T-Mobile, although the provider is rumored to be close to offering iPhone in its own right in the near future. Users traveling internationally can use insert a local GSM carrier’s nano-SIM into their unlocked iPhone.

[Image via Apple]