Buying an iPhone 4S Without a Contract Makes it Unlocked
Anyone can buy an unlocked iPhone 4S right now if you are willing to pay the full price of the device, meaning the lower carrier subsidized contract 4S prices do not apply. The unlock applies to both the GSM and CDMA carriers currently being sold, available at the following price points:
- iPhone 4S 16 GB – $649
- iPhone 4S 32 GB – $749
- iPhone 4S 64 GB – $849
The iPhone 4S GSM SIM card slot is unlocked when the full retail price is paid at an Apple Store. In the case of the CDMA carriers selling the device like US carriers Sprint and Verizon, the Micro SIM card slot is also unlocked and will support other GSM carriers. The carrier unlock allows the iPhone to be used on another US carrier like T-Mobile, or allows for cheap roaming abroad with the purchase of a local SIM card, with the other benefit being that you are not tied to a contract with any single US cell provider.
You can verify the unlock immediately when the iPhone 4S is first connected to iTunes, where the following message is displayed:
Initial reports indicated the unlocked 4S would be sold in November, which may suggest a change in policy at some point when paying the full out-of-contract price.
Buying an unlocked iPhone at full price is typical outside of the USA, but in the USA was somewhat of an anomaly until earlier this year when Apple started selling the iPhone 4 unlocked at the full retail price. That has since translated to the iPhone 4S, and presumably will carry on with future iPhone releases as well.