After what at least feels like an eternity, it’s finally here – the option to own Apple’s iPhone5 without being beholden to a network. Yes folks, the Apple store is now selling the unlocked iPhone for considerably less than hundreds of greed resellers already were.
For people who travel abroad regularly, the official unlocked iPhone 5 release is welcome news. Essentially, the difference between an unlocked device and the existing devices is that consumers can simply purchase a SIM card from any network provider and insert it into the phone. The locked devices will not recognize a SIM card from anywhere other than the company the individual is contracted with; by contrast the unlocked version will recognize any SIM card allowing the user to choose which network they wish to use and at what time.
One clear advantage of the unlocked device is not being tied to one of the mobile giants, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon being the main carriers. There is also the benefit of not having a lengthy (usually 24 month) contract. The device will also prove particularly useful to those spending time abroad as it will allow them to use local carriers in their locality, thus avoiding expensive roaming charges when they return home.
This has been the source of many a profanity when faced with a bill after spending time out of the country.
The main disadvantage of the unlocked iPhone 5 however is its purchase in the first place. Not being locked into a contract, there is no associated discount that is levied by the service providers names above.
Subsequently the unlocked iPhone 5 will set you back a royal $650 for the 16GB and a whopping $850 for the bigger 64GB model. The same smartphone is priced at around (or less than) $200 for the 16GB model when purchased as part of a contract.
That being said, hit up an unofficial iPhone 5 reseller and upper-end models have been retailing for well over $1,100 – the $850 not seeming too excessive by comparison.
There are clear advantages and disadvantages to both locked and unlocked devices, however the fact that the option (and therefore the choice) is now available is something that should be rejoiced.