Pricing and availability details have surfaced regarding the unlocked flavor of the iPhone 5. Like previous generations, the base 16GB iPhone 5 starts at $649 unlocked, with 32GB costing $749 and 64GB costing $849.
What about getting to pre-order an unlocked iPhone 5? Looks like you won’t be able to do so on the web this weekend. Your best bet is visiting an Apple retail store on launch day next week.
The Verge is saying that U.S. customers won’t be able to preorder or buy the iPhone 5 with everyone else:
We spoke with several Apple Store customer service representatives today, who informed us that US customers won’t be able to sign up for the unlocked variant of Apple’s new flagship phone when pre-orders start early tomorrow morning. The unlocked version also won’t be available from either the US online or brick-and-mortar Apple Stores when the iPhone 5 launches on September 21st. Canadian customers, however, will be able to get in on the action right away when pre-orders begin (all of the iPhones solds from the Canada Apple Store are unlocked).
According to Apple, the official unlocked version of the iPhone 5 won’t be available until “sometime over the next several weeks,” which is typical for a new iPhone launch. It took Apple about a month to start selling the unlocked iPhone 4S in-store last year. However, if the past is anything to go by, buying an iPhone 5 for full price from Apple as early as next week should mean that the phone comes unlocked in the box.
Buying an unlocked iPhone means that you’re not tied down to a two-year U.S. carrier contract with the likes of AT&T and Verizon. That’s why it’s more expensive up front; you’re paying the full cost of the iPhone. Carriers typically subsidize smartphones to make them more affordable out of the gate, but the flip-side is that you actually spend less over the long-haul when you buy at the no-commitment, unlocked price. Think of it like paying full price for a new car before driving it off the lot instead of taking out a loan.
Pre-orders for the iPhone 5 start in a couple hours, with in-store availability starting Friday, September 21st.