Unlocked iPhone 5: Worth The Cost? - InformationWeek

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IoT
IoT
Mobile // Mobile Devices
Commentary
11/30/2012
01:31 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
Commentary
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Unlocked iPhone 5: Worth The Cost?

Apple is now selling an unlocked version of the iPhone 5 starting at $649. Make sure you know the pros and cons involved in buying an off-contract device.

Apple
Apple iPhone 5 Teardown: Visual Tour
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Apple this week made the iPhone 5 available for sale unlocked and without a contract. It can be purchased from Apple.com for $649, $749, or $849 for the 16-GB, 32-GB and 64-GB versions, respectively. It comes in the same black and white color options as the on-contract subsidized models.

The subsidized iPhone 5 can be purchased for as little as $199 from AT&T, Sprint and Verizon Wireless, and even less if you're willing to sign a contract with a small regional carrier. If you can buy the iPhone 5 for $199 from a carrier, why choose to pay more than three times that cost for the unlocked version?

In a word, freedom. Here's what type of freedom $649 buys you.

First, it is important to remember that the iPhone 5 comes in several different models that are optimized for the different wireless network operators. The unlocked model works on GSM networks, not CDMA networks. That means you won't be able to use the unlocked iPhone on either Sprint or Verizon's networks. Instead, it will be limited to GSM networks. In the U.S., that means AT&T or T-Mobile USA. (You'll be able to get LTE service from AT&T, but only 3G service from T-Mobile in a handful of markets.)

The biggest benefit of having an unlocked device is that you'll be able to use the iPhone 5 on the networks of foreign carriers when you travel abroad. The on-contract version of the iPhone will roam on those networks, too, but you'll have to pay roaming fees to your U.S.-based carrier (think Bill Shock). Unlocked devices can be used with local SIM cards at a much lower cost.

The trade-off is that you lose *your* phone number, which is replaced with a local phone number. This means your coworkers or family will get dinged for long-distance charges if they call the foreign cell number temporarily assigned to your unlocked iPhone 5.

The second biggest benefit is that you won't be beholden to a pricey contract. Remember, the $199 iPhone may seem like the best deal, but it chains you to a two-year contract with the wireless network operator of your choice. Most post-paid carriers charge a minimum of $70 per month for voice, messaging and data packages. Multiply that by 24 months and you're looking at about $1,700 in carrier fees.

Living contract free means you can use a month-to-month service that costs less. For example, T-Mobile USA offers a prepaid plan that includes unlimited 3G/4G data, unlimited messaging and 100 voice minutes for $30 per month. Some quick math tells us that T-Mobile's two-year prepaid plan costs $720.

No contracts also afford you a greater degree of flexibility, especially if big things change in your life (income, employment, location, etc.).

There's one really important factor consider with the iPhone 5 in particular, however. Verizon Wireless's version of the iPhone 5 already comes with an unlocked SIM card tray (per FCC regulations). That means you can take a Verizon-branded iPhone 5 from the U.S. across the pond to the U.K., buy a local SIM card from a U.K. carrier and use the device at a lower cost on that foreign network (it includes the necessary radios to talk to the GSM networks in foreign countries).

So, if you want to live contract free, and don't mind coughing up at least $649 to do so, the iPhone 5 isn't a bad choice.

For my money, the unlocked and contract-free $349 Nexus 4 a better choice.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
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lnjvand
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lnjvand,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/1/2012 | 4:41:53 PM
re: Unlocked iPhone 5: Worth The Cost?
Many of those that travel will mod their iPhone to accept a secondary sim card. Then you have local service wherever you are and can still receive local calls from home.
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
12/3/2012 | 10:31:41 PM
re: Unlocked iPhone 5: Worth The Cost?
Why stop at that ?
Why not have a tripple sim case that accepts not only 3 other sim cards but any size card as well.
ccbrown
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ccbrown,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/7/2013 | 12:09:58 PM
re: Unlocked iPhone 5: Worth The Cost?
Well, att iphone unlocking cost around 30$, and it could be done by those googled sites within hours, buying an already unlocked iphone is just over priced compare to buy a locked one then unlock yourself, using those sites.
ristakiss
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ristakiss,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/13/2013 | 4:24:26 PM
re: Unlocked iPhone 5: Worth The Cost?
Hi, All networks for Unlocking is not same, price for at&t is 29$ on http://www.imeiunlockpro.com/ . I tested this service, unlock my iPhone 5 very fast.
tomstrong
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tomstrong,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/14/2013 | 1:03:58 PM
re: Unlocked iPhone 5: Worth The Cost?
actual site is attiphoneunlocking.com, which is the only one I use nowadays, as for those 5 dollar unlocks, I used foreverunlocks, looks so real, but it is the biggest SCAM around, watch out for it
tomasz99
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tomasz99,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/26/2013 | 3:50:33 PM
re: Unlocked iPhone 5: Worth The Cost?
If you guys want to unlock any phone with carrier ATT, go? google att iphone unlocking,
I believe the first one was the one I used, and they unlock all ATT phone up to date.
igors99
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igors99,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/5/2013 | 11:54:14 AM
re: Unlocked iPhone 5: Worth The Cost?
Actually worked, thx alot, leaving the country the day after tomorrow, was worried about the usage of my phone, but they unlocked it in one afternoon.
attiphoneunlocking.com was the one
Monty0000
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Monty0000,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/1/2012 | 5:35:39 PM
re: Unlocked iPhone 5: Worth The Cost?
The discrepancy in carrier costs is even larger than you calculate. Your contract cost is at least $70 plus taxes which can add $20+ to your bill. Realistically, you would be hard pressed to find any person with a one-phone cell plan who is paying less than $100 a month, even with the most basic services. On the pre-paid side you are paying $30 a month and that includes the taxes. The real world difference in cost can be $70 a month or more, which means your off-contract iPhone will pay for itself in seven months or less.

The down-side is that you will not get LTE speeds. As good as HSPA+ is, for people who are tied to cellular data all day long, that 3G Plus will not be good enough. However, for those of us who spend most of our day on Wi-Fi, it is silly to not take advantage of the price difference.

As it relates to not being able to port your cell phone number - that does not have to be an issue. Port your phone number to Google Voice and then your number will travel with you to any device or carrier you pick. It gives enormous freedom and adds some other features (number following you to multiple devices, text conversion of voicemails, VoIP calling, etc) that are quite useful.

Finally, the market for top unlocked devices is getting better every day. Many of the hottest cell phones are available without a contract today and it is nice the iPhone 5 finally joined the party. I think the best options for the money today are the Nexus 4 and the Note 2, but the iPhone 5 is certainly a great choice.
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
12/3/2012 | 10:35:06 PM
re: Unlocked iPhone 5: Worth The Cost?
The issue with GV is mms will only work with sprint.
Idunno about others but for me thats a deal breaker right there.

Not to mention tmobiles stupid restrictions on call forwarding for prepaid and flex pay users.
souple
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souple,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/25/2013 | 1:37:05 PM
re: Unlocked iPhone 5: Worth The Cost?
Well, I have used officialiphoneunlock the uk site for unlocking my 5, but it took more than 5 weeks, such a waste of time.
louis
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louis,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/29/2013 | 2:48:34 PM
re: Unlocked iPhone 5: Worth The Cost?
yea the official whatever is really bad, saw another link down there called attiphoneunlocking com, which only unlocks att phones, but dame fast, only 2 hour...
FaceFlipBook
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FaceFlipBook,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/2/2012 | 4:08:04 PM
re: Unlocked iPhone 5: Worth The Cost?
Definitely look for the HSPA+ or LTE iPhone versions that allow users to talk and access web features at the same time. This is a great feature if you are sending / recording info back and forth during a conversation or meeting.

FaceFlipBook.com
MyW0r1d
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MyW0r1d,
User Rank: Strategist
12/7/2012 | 11:04:02 PM
re: Unlocked iPhone 5: Worth The Cost?
Not even at list price.
disqus_c049ogxrHd
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disqus_c049ogxrHd,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/12/2013 | 10:08:38 PM
re: Unlocked iPhone 5: Worth The Cost?
I intend to buy iPhone 5. but I feel difficult to make decision which is better between contract or unblocked iPhone I should buy. Which is better and is more benefits? I want to buy iPhone with reasonable price and I can use it outside U.S like foreign countries. everyone who have experience can help me? thanks a lot.
emily_tran
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emily_tran,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/27/2013 | 7:11:13 PM
re: Unlocked iPhone 5: Worth The Cost?
My husband and I travel pretty often between California and China for his investment work. Im kinda like his secratary, but he bought us 2 iPhone 5 from the Socal area AT&T they were locked to AT&T. You should read this article it helped me out in unlocking both my iPhone 5 and we can use it in China and USA. Its called a factory unlock. Hope this saves you the head ache of countless hours of searching as i did.



Link: http://pwnagetool.us/iphone-fa...
BernitaD398
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BernitaD398,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/30/2013 | 7:42:07 AM
re: Unlocked iPhone 5: Worth The Cost?
Buy the locked att iphone and unlock it ob such unlock iphone 5s ATT site. it will cost $139 only, so u could use it on any carrier
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
6/2/2013 | 9:30:39 PM
re: Unlocked iPhone 5: Worth The Cost?
Or you could get some good deals on unlocked iPhones on eBay. http://www.buyunlockediphone.n...
Frankis2
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Frankis2,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/9/2013 | 4:14:08 AM
re: Unlocked iPhone 5: Worth The Cost?
I use several unlock iPhone service, for example - http://letsunlockiphone5.com - can unlock iPhone  from more than 90 carrier, include Europe mobile network, att-iphone-unlock.com - provide only AT&T carrier unlock. For bulk unlock iPhone i use digitalunlocking.com - new service - now they provide good API
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