Good news for folks in UK and France. Apple has announced that their customers in these countries can now purchase SIM-free and unlocked units of iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4. We've learned that SIM-free, factory unlocked iPhones will also be offered to Canadian customers in July.
A message posted on Apple's UK website reads:
"When you purchase your iPhone from the Apple Online Store, you’ll get it SIM-free. So you can sign up for service with the carrier of your choice and change your carrier at any time."
Since these iPhones are not locked to a carrier, users can sign up with any compatible carrier of their choice. Also, these subscribers may sign up for any service plan, including the prepaid options.
As expected, the SIM-free, factory unlocked iPhones do not come cheap. UK customers can purchase the 16GB iPhone 4 for £499 while the 32GB model will cost them £599. These two models are available for €629 and €739 respectively in France. The 8GB iPhone 3GS model has been priced at £419 and €519 respectively in UK and France.
Despite the high price, factory unlocked iPhones can be highly popular among international travellers who may need to frequently switch carriers.
Apple has released an FAQ that answers some of the pertinent questions that customers may have about these new plans. Here is an excerpt:
Does iPhone work with any SIM card or carrier worldwide?
iPhone 3GS works with SIM cards and iPhone 4 works with micro-SIM cards from compatible carriers, including prepaid cards. Non-GSM carrier networks do not support iPhone. Availability of 3G data depends on carrier support for the radio frequencies used by iPhone.
Does iPhone support tethering?
Yes. You can share the fast 3G connection on your iPhone with your Mac or PC and connect to the Internet from just about anywhere — no Wi-Fi required. Contact your carrier for details.
Will all iPhone features work with my carrier?
Visual Voicemail requires carrier support and may not function on your carrier’s network. Please read this Support article or contact your carrier for more details.
If I buy iPhone from this Apple Online Store, can I ship it to another country?
No. Orders placed through this Apple Online Store can be shipped only within the country of purchase. You can also shop for friends and family in countries where iPhone is sold. Just visit the local store of the country where you want your products delivered.
You can checkout the complete FAQ on Apple's website.
Have you bought or planning to buy the SIM-free, factory unlocked iPhone 4 or the subsidized one from carriers? Let us know in the comments.