Apple has started selling SIM-free iPhone 7 models in the U.S. online Apple Store, allowing customers who wish to purchase an unlocked iPhone outright without signing a carrier contract the opportunity to do so. A new “SIM-free” option now appears on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus ordering pages as an alternative to the traditional carrier selection options. As the SIM-free iPhone models are not subsidized by carrier contracts, customers will pay the full retail purchase prices, ranging from $649 for a 32GB iPhone 7 up to $969 for a 256GB iPhone 7 Plus. SIM-free models appear to be the A1660 and A1661 versions, which include CDMA support for use on Sprint or Verizon Wireless in addition to AT&T and T-Mobile.
Apple has been selling unlocked SIM-free iPhone 7 models in most other countries since the initial launch, with the U.S. being one of the few places where customers purchasing an iPhone 7 have been required to go through their carrier until now. Although Apple does not provide any specific reasons for the delay in selling unlocked iPhones, it’s likely due to considerations regarding stock availability for its carrier partners combined with the possibility of people purchasing iPhones for grey market sales into other countries.