Apple releases unlocked GSM iPhone in US

Apple has today updated its online store with a new unlocked version of the iPhone 4. Customers can order the phone in either black or white at a starting price of $649 for 16GB, with the option to upgrade to 32GB for $100 extra.

Currently, shipping estimates place the black version as arriving within 1-3 business days, whereas the white version will take slightly longer, at around 3-5 business days. Although the phone comes without a carrier lock, Apple notes that users will need to supply their own activated micro-SIM from their service provider. Micro-SIMs from the iPad 3G will not work.

The GSM version will work with mobile networks globally, making them ideal for frequent travellers. However, Apple notes that the company will not ship internationally, meaning that customers are at the mercy of the offerings in their local Apple stores. In the US, customers essentially have a choice between AT&T or T-Mobile in terms of GSM, but T-Mobile's 3G network is not supported with the iPhone 4.

The unlocked iPhone marks the end of AT&T's exclusivity, a process that began in February with the release of the Verizon iPhone. One of the iPhone's commonly cited complaints is the unreliability of AT&T. With the unlocked iPhone, the US has now joined the numerous other countries able to officially purchase an iPhone with no strings attached.

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