Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Is the US Ready for an Unlocked iPhone?

The iPhone 5 was probably one of the most awaited gadgets of the year.  When it was finally available for sale, Apple reported selling about 5 million units in its first week alone, which was 1 million more units than when the iPhone 4S was launched.  This is the scenario that Apple has been accustomed to and was expecting with the iPhone 5.  The sales satisfied both the company and its stockholders because the surge in product sales meant higher stock prices. Apple knew just when to release their most awaited product; just in time for the gift-giving spree of the Christmas holidays.  Of course, their new iPhone would make the perfect gift to give and to receive.  The only downside to buying one was the phone carrier contracts; a mandatory requirement for the subsidized price ($300-$400 cheaper than a contract free phone). Almost the same thing happened when they sell ipad to the public.

Fast-forward to the present, just a few months later. Apple has finally made an unlocked version of the smartphone available via its online stores.  There was no pomp or fan fare when the company made it available but of course, rumors spread after crates of the unlocked units were seen being delivered to quite a few Apple stores. However, the lowest priced iPhone 5 with 16GB is still a bank breaker at $649. Freedom indeed comes with a price in the case of these unlocked iPhones. Also, this version of the iPhone 5 does not work on CDMA networks, which limits choices for phone carriers. 

This is still good news for phone users who want the freedom to choose their own respective carriers and also to be able to take advantage of the lower and cheaper data plans of other carriers.  Also, unlocked phones are a big advantage to those who go out of the country often as they would not have to worry about switching phone units whenever they travel.  The only thing that they would have to do is check on the available networks at their destination to make sure that their unit would work once they got there.

For Apple, this hopefully means an increase in sales as people will be enticed by their contract-free units.  However, the phone carrier, in this case, AT&T, will probably feel the impact of this move with their multi-year contracts. But even so, Apple still prioritizes AT&T since users of Verizon and Sprint cannot take advantage of the unlocked phones since they will not work on CDMA networks.

It is Apple’s fans who are more than happy with this news.  Now, they can use the iPhone 5 anywhere they go, even out of the country without worrying about the roaming charges as it can now work on a local carrier.  The downside, of course is the high cost of getting the unit since customers have to pay upfront to be able to walk out of the store with an iPhone 5. Nevertheless, most people, especially loyal Apple followers, welcome this move.


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