Apple begins contract-free iPhone 3GS sales in U.S. | iLounge News


Apple begins contract-free iPhone 3GS sales in U.S.

Apple has begun to offer iPhone 3GS units without a contract in its own retail stores, according to a new report. Citing an internal Apple document, Gizmodo reports that customers may purchase one iPhone per day without verifying that they have an AT&T account or providing a form of ID. According to the report, the phones remain carrier-locked to AT&T, and are priced from $499 for the 8GB iPhone 3G to $699 for the 32GB iPhone 3GS. Curiously, the move comes nearly one year to the day after Apple started similar contract-free sales of the iPhone 3G, suggesting that the company is preparing to move existing stock ahead of a new iPhone model this summer.

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I’m not sure of the point of this from the customer perspective. You still need to sign up with AT&T for service and I believe you’d still have to do the two-year contract at the same price everyone else pays.

If you could bring a phone to a provider (and I’m not just singling out AT&T) in the U.S. and pay a lower price for voice and data that didn’t include the phone subsidy, then that makes sense.

Posted by cxc273 on March 23, 2010 at 9:18 AM (CDT)


Actually, if they’re contract-free, I expect you’d be able to sign up on month-by-month service or even pay-as-you-go, although obviously the rates may not be as good.

As for being carrier-locked, the interesting thing is that the AT&T version of the iPhone isn’t compatible with most of T-Mobile’s 3G network anyway, so the best you’d be getting in most places is EDGE.  AT&T’s 3G network runs in the 850/1900/2100 MHz band while T-Mobile’s runs in the 900, AWS and 2100 MHz bands. Google is actually selling two distinct versions of the Nexus One for that very reason—an AT&T/Rogers version and a T-Mobile version.

Posted by Jesse Hollington on March 23, 2010 at 9:24 AM (CDT)


I wonder how these are distinguished from any other iPhone purchased on the secondary market or passed down from a family member.  I tried to pass my original iPhone to my wife but AT&T has told me repeatedly that she would need to sign a 2 year contract to activate in her name even though I never had my phone subsidized and it is well beyond 2 years in service.  They tell me every time that the iPhone is different than any other phone on their network from that standpoint which has always irked me.

Posted by TosaDeac on March 23, 2010 at 11:03 AM (CDT)


Jesse (#2): An unlocked (contract-free) phone could be taken overseas for use with local/regional pre-paid SIM cards. The iPhone has the correct 3G frequencies for the rest of the world. This would eliminate the need to buy AT&T’s international services, and also avoid the risk of overseas roaming.

... Which may be why the iPhone will remain locked to AT&T. They have to keep making their money somehow, right?

Posted by Herr Doktor on March 23, 2010 at 3:48 PM (CDT)


what’s to stop me from pulling my AT&T sim card out of my Nokia and slipping it into one of these iphones and using it as I did with the unlocked Nokia?

Posted by xtoast on March 23, 2010 at 4:37 PM (CDT)


#4: True enough, but I suspect that Apple is more interested in preventing it from being used on T-Mobile for whatever reason, at least some of which may be their obsession with customer experience—running the iPhone 3G on an EDGE-only network would reflect badly on the hardware itself.

Still, there’s no reason why users who know what they’re getting into shouldn’t be able to unlock them if they’re paying full price anyway.

#5: Theoretically nothing.  However, AT&T-locked iPhones have in the past been locked to iPhone-specific SIM cards based on the ICCID of the actual SIM card itself—iTunes refuses to activate such phones without the proper SIM card.  It’s all going to depend on how Apple chooses to identify these iPhones in their internal activations database.

Posted by Jesse Hollington on March 23, 2010 at 8:38 PM (CDT)


@TosaDeac - It’s weird that you have had that experience with AT&T.  I purchased a used 2G iPhone off eBay, went into my local AT&T store and signed up for service with no contract.  I think whoever is telling you that you need to sign a contract has incorrect info, maybe go into a local store.  I will say that it was more effort than normal to activate service because of it being the iPhone, they treat the phone like it can change the world, but no contract required.  Hope this helps.

Posted by Tom on March 24, 2010 at 1:21 PM (CDT)

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