Apple Stores Could Start Selling Carrier Unlocked iPhone 4s On Wednesday

Apple Stores Could Start Selling Carrier Unlocked iPhone 4s On Wednesday

The iPhone 4S might not be out until September, but that doesn’t mean a new iPhone won’t be released in its traditional launch window that June. In fact, new iPhones could hit the Apple Store as early as Wednesday… but don’t expect new hardware. Instead, if the latest report pans out, expect carrier unlocked iPhones that could work on both Verizon and AT&T.

So says the rumor, anyway. According to Chronic Wire, Apple Stores will start selling 16GB and 32GB carrier unlocked iPhone 4s on Wednesday. The part numbers are allegedly:

- MC603 (16GB, Black)
- MC604 (16GB, White)
- MC605 (32GB, Black)
- MC606 (32GB, White)

The most interesting thing here to me isn’t that Apple is planning on selling unlocked iPhone 4s in the United States. They already sell them abroad, after all. No, what’s intriguing to me here is that there should by all rights be eight part numbers here — four for AT&T, four for Verizon.

So what’s the story? It’s possible Apple is only planning on selling carrier unlocked iPhone 4s in the GSM variety. After all, Verizon’s the only CDMA carrier to speak of in the United States, and there aren’t that many more internationally, either. Wouldn’t it be interesting, though, if these carrier-unlocked iPhones leveraged the Verizon iPhone 4’s Qualcomm ‘world phone’ chip to run on both GSM and CDMA networks interchangeably?

It doesn’t seem totally insane that Apple could start selling last year’s iPhone model as a carrier unlocked handset for $600-$700. That still would allow Apple to keep its carrier partners happy, while also helping to break the stranglehold of two-year contracts.

For right now, this is just a rumor, so take with a grain of salt. But out of curiosity’s sake, how many of you would buy an unlocked, unsubsidized iPhone if it became available, even if it was last year’s model?

Update: An earlier version of this post said Verizon was GSM network, and AT&T was CDMA. Sorry about that: not enough coffee. It’s been fixed.

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  • bplano

    Assuming they would let me port it to MY cellular provider? I’d have one NOW.

    Of course, I don’t think that will happen :\ it would be awesome if Apple were the first phone producer to sell their phones unlocked for any carrier…

  • Mailjunky65

    The price point is crazy! Why would I pay full price when the carriers won’t give me a break on the monthly service fees if I don’t take their subsidized phone. Only if I lost or broke my phone and needed a new one would I consider it – but not at that price. $300 is my top price for a phone – any phone.

  • Len Mason

    My question is, “Will they now unlock my contract-completed iPhone?”

  • bplano

    I seriously, SERIOUSLY doubt it…

    … but it’s nice to dream, eh? :D

  • bplano

    Maybe if my plan was $50 rather than $100 I’d pay $600 for the phone, but yeah, you need some kind of break. :\

  • Alek Popov

    “After all, Verizon’s the only GSM carrier to speak of in the United
    States, and there aren’t that many more internationally, either.” Ughhh come again?

  • Avengarious

    The problem with that is, for instance Sprint, they have to have the serial in their database for the service to work.

    Unless they get iPhone serials/IMEI added to the Sprint database, that won’t happen for them at least.

    For GSM, it might be easier.

  • Barton Lynch

    Yeah I tried to figure this out too. Maybe he meant CDMA…. but it’s not the only CDMA carrier to speak of…. there’s Sprint
    no idea what he means

  • Grahas

    Regarding unlocked iPhones being released WED I believe it and here is why: I can see this happening. In april when I asked at the apple store in the us if I bought an unlocked iPhone in Europe and had is serviced here or replaced if the Lock would be kept. They did not even know apple sold unlocked iphones. Last Thur they were very knowledgeable.

  • Grahas

    I travel internationally a lot and it it is worth it to me to get  a local sim card and not pay the rooming fees if this is not released I will buy an unlocked one when I leave the country next week. Over all I would save money.

  • Grahas

    Regarding unlocked iPhones being released WED I believe it and here is why: I can see this happening. In april when I asked at the apple store in the us if I bought an unlocked iPhone in Europe and had is serviced here or replaced if the Lock would be kept. They did not even know apple sold unlocked iphones. Last Thur they were very knowledgeable.

  • Grahas

    For GSM it is easier

  • Avengarious

    Normally yes, but I’ve heard in some previous stories that there is enough of a difference in AT&T vs T-Mobile that it isn’t a direct transition as normally expected for SIM chip providers.

  • bplano

    Right – I believe there’s something having to do with the baseband (term?) and the spectrum used for the device.

  • bplano

    Right – I believe there’s something having to do with the baseband (term?) and the spectrum used for the device.

  • zeiche

    It is irresponsible to report on rumors, particularly when blog sites pick up stories from one another. These ideas bounce around the blog echo chamber until one site reports it as fact. Then, all the other blogs fall in line. Try corrobarating the story first, then report it as fact. But man, these rumors are getting old.

  • Jonny

    Not for an old model but a new one sure…..  But I am not buying any Apple product until it has 128GB or more of storage.

  • CharliK

    There’s no such thing as an ‘unlocked’ CDMA phone. They are by their nature locked to the carrier they were created for. its one of the reasons why folks want CDMA to go away

    As for the whole ‘unlocked GSM’ this week. Don’t hold your breath. This could be nothing more than a sku reassignment cause Apple likes to have the numbers together. They might not be able to do that by adding the next two numbers to the white GSM phones cause mc320 and mc321 could have already been used. Plus it is their thing to have like sizes together. so they would want the run to be 16 black, 16 white, 32 Black, 32 White. which also wouldn’t work for just going to the next two numbers. So they would need 4 new numbers for the whole set. That could be all this is and nothing is changing otherwise.(they did the same thing with the ipads about a month after the 3gs came out last year)

  • CharliK

    Agreed. We need new laws that make the device cost a separate line item that goes away when you have paid off the subsidy amount. 

  • CharliK

    more or less. Basically FCC rules wouldn’t let T-Mobile USA use the same 3g bandwidth as any other company and ATT already had the GSM ones. So if you unlock an iphone and put it on T-Mobile at the moment you only get voice and edge

  • aggarwal_rahul

    A different business strategy of Apple here is my opinion. The iphone 4s being made available on the AT and T / Verizon carriers will market the iphone 4s well since it is a GSM and not CDMA that only demands a fixed carrier in a life time. This part is not preferred by the people who travel across borders!

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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