While Sprint’s initial batch of iPhone 4S handsets were sold unlocked, allowing you to swap out your Sprint SIM card for a SIM card of your choice, that will no longer be the case. From today, November 11, Sprint will be SIM locking Apple’s latest iPhone.
Sprintfeed has obtained a internal memo sent to Sprint staff which details its changes to iPhone SIM locking:
Starting tomorrow, all iPhone 4S devices will have the SIM locked. The locking occurs during the activation process and is invisible to the customer (no extra action is needed by customer or rep).
Sprint did confirm in a statement issued shortly after the device made its debut on its CDMA network that the iPhone 4S would only come unlocked for a short period of time:
Sprint’s policy is to have the iPhone 4S SIM locked to our network domestically and internationally. At launch, the International SIM will be unlocked. We do expect a SIM lock to be pushed to the devices shortly after launch. We will then allow existing customers in good standing to unlock the SIM for international use if needed in the future.
As the leaked memo notes, customers who have already purchased their iPhone 4S prior to today will still be able to enjoy an unlocked iPhone. “This SIM lock update will not impact any current iPhone 4S customers (activated prior to 11/11/11).” Of course, there aren’t exactly a lot of CDMA networks out there, so the benefits of having an unlocked Sprint iPhone 4S were pretty intangible to begin with.