The iPhone 4 makes its debut in Canada on Friday, giving Canadians the ability to choose from three carriers and to buy the device unlocked directly from Apple. It won’t be cheap: the unlocked 16GB iPhone 4 will retail for $659 (CAD) or about $640 (USD), while the 32GB version will go for $779 (CAD) or $756 (USD). Apple is also selling an unlocked 8GB iPhone 3GS for a cool $549 (CAD) or $532 (USD), according to the CBC.
By comparison, the contract-free, but still locked, price for the iPhone 4 in the United States is $599 (16GB) and $699 (32GB). Considering Canada’s proximity to the United States, I wonder if many Americans might consider heading to Canada for future iPhone purchases instead of buying a subsidized and locked device from AT&T.
Canada is not the only country to get the unlocked iPhone 4; 16 other countries will have stores full of unlocked iPhones beginning Friday. Customers in the United Kingdom and France currently enjoy the privilege of buying unlocked Apple iPhones.
Reasons to Unlock
T-Mobile doesn’t support the iPhone 4’s new micro-SIM card at the moment, so unless you want to try cutting down a regular-sized SIM to micro-SIM size, increased carrier choice in the U.S. isn’t a reason to switch. But an unlocked iPhone can be a boon for international travelers. An unlocked iPhone means you don’t have to worry about exorbitant roaming and data fees, and you can avoid AT&T’s World Traveler service that offers international calling plans for about $6 per month and international data access for $25-200 (20MB-200MB) per month. Rather than pay the extra fees, you could pop out your iPhone 4’s micro-SIM, pick up a micro-SIM card at your destination country, and you’re ready to go.
There are other ways to get your hands on an unlocked iPhone, such as software unlocking tools. But if you’re queasy about tinkering with iPhone firmware, it doesn’t get much easier than a day trip across the border.