Apple Sells Contract-Free — But Not Unlocked — iPhones at List Price
By Sarah Jacobsson
Early Monday, 9to5Mac reported that Apple was going to start selling iPhones at list price (read: without subsidization from AT&T) in its stores and on its Websites. Some took this to mean that these contract-free iPhones would be sold unlocked, but it appears this is not the case.
The iPhone 3G 8GB model sells for a list price of $499, while the iPhone 3GS 16GB and 32GB models sell for $599 and $699, respectively. I inquired at my local Apple store and discovered that, yes, iPhones are being sold at list price to customers without requiring an AT&T contract. However, these iPhones are still locked to AT&T, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Gizmodo acquired the internal memo Apple sent out Monday that details the new policy change: customers may now buy one iPhone at full price, without an AT&T contract, per day (you can purchase up to five contracted iPhones). Also, customers are limited to ten full-price iPhones per lifetime.
So, what does this mean for the average customer? Not a whole lot, unless you’re of a mind to unlock your iPhone. Otherwise, you may not need to show proof of an AT&T contract to get an iPhone from an Apple store, but you’ll still need an AT&T contract if you want it to be anything more than an iPod Touch.
Unlocking your iPhone is actually quite simple — though no, it is not authorized by Apple; and yes, it can void your iPhone warranty. Also, it’s quite possible that the iPhone 3GS is jailbreak- and unlock-proof (any word on whether hackers have managed to get around this? Leave it in the comments!).