Sprint has finally chimed in to end the confusion about whether or not the carrier will unlock the iPhone 4S for customers. In a statement given to Macworld, Sprint clarified that the iPhone 4S will indeed be unlocked at first, but a SIM lock will be “pushed to the devices shortly after launch.”
Reports from earlier this week said that Sprint’s iPhone 4S would come with an unlocked micro-SIM that would allow customers traveling internationally to insert another SIM from any GSM carrier. This would allow customers to avoid roaming charges.
Once Sprint sends the SIM lock update to the iPhone 4S, customers “in good standing” will be able to request for the micro-SIM unlock again.
“Indeed, the Sprint iPhone 4S will ship with its micro-SIM slot unlocked. However, Sprint now says that it will be locking that slot “shortly after launch” via an update pushed to those devices. After the slot has been locked, Sprint says that it will allow customers in good standing to unlock the SIM for international use in the future.
So far as I can tell, this means that after a short period of the phone shipping completely unlocked, Sprint will revert to a policy more or less in line with Verizon’s. If you are a good customer and pay your bills on time, you can call Sprint and ask the company to unlock your microSIM so you can slip in a foreign, pre-paid SIM.”
Customers that purchase the iPhone 4S on Verizon and Sprint will be subject to roaming charges when traveling internationally, but customers that are granted an unlock will be able to swap out micro-SIMs and operate on local carrier fees.
The spokesperson from Sprint didn’t go into any detail on what it means to be in “good standing,” but we can only assume that a customer must pay bills on time to be considered. Sprint is treating its 4S unlock almost like a favor that customers should be grateful to receive.
In reality, Apple said that the iPhone 4S would be a “world phone” capable of running on any carrier. The red tape that carriers are putting in place will undoubtedly cause confusion for the average consumer.