It wouldn’t be a new week without at-least one Apple rumor floating around, and one of the latest Cupertino rumors says that an unlocked iPhone 4 model is finally going to become available in the U.S. While many other countries, including Canada, already have unlocked iPhone 4’s available, AT&T has been doing their best to prevent unlocked iPhone 4’s from being sold in the U.S.
But it’s time that AT&T loosened up a little bit, and here is why. For starters, Verizon’s iPhone 4 model is already giving them some competition. But an unlocked iPhone 4 wouldn’t necessarily mean more competition for AT&T, instead it could mean more business for them as it offers another incentive to choose AT&T over Verizon. Sure, an unlocked iPhone 4 could also be used on T-Mobile’s network, but as it stands now, the bands used inside the GSM version of the iPhone are not compatible with T-Mobile’s 3G network. That means that T-Mobile customers could only use their unlocked iPhone 4 for voice calls and with slow edge data speeds. So the reality is that most customers would stick with AT&T as their service provider if they purchased an unlocked iPhone 4.
That said, an unlocked iPhone 4 will likely cost $600 for the 16GB model. That is a $400 premium over the 2 year contact subsidized price. So why would anyone chose to buy an unlocked iPhone 4 you ask? Most users won’t. But customers like myself who often travel internationally, will grab it up. I am actually using an unlocked iPhone 4 that I managed to import in from Canada. Instead of paying AT&T’s crazy roaming voice and data fees every time I travel abroad, I buy a local sim card in the country I am visiting, and pop it into my iPhone 4. That means unlimited data for me and much more reasonable calling rates.
Sure, that means that AT&T loses my roaming business when I am overseas, but it also means that I stick with them when I am at home in the U.S. It’s a win-win situation. And again, the reality is that most customers will not want to shell out the big bucks for an unlocked iPhone 4 anyway. At the end of the day, an unlocked iPhone 4 would only boost AT&T’s sales. That said, if Apple would produce an unlocked iPhone with support for T-Mobile’s 3G 1700mhz spectrum, that would surely lure in a lot of users to choose T-Mobile over AT&T for their more affordable rate plans. However, it is very unlikely that Apple will start selling an iPhone 4 with new hardware anytime before September.