So, you want a brand new iPhone? When you see the $199 price tag for that new iPhone, it looks pretty inviting. The first reaction may be the bright idea: “Why can’t I just get the iPhone at a discount, unlock it and be on my merry way?”
Not so fast, there’s a whole lot hiding behind that “discount”. Besides the fact that, as of January 26, 2013, mobile phones purchased in the USA cannot be legally unlocked without carrier permission, being on your “merry way” is made even more difficult when you take a closer look at what’s attached to that discount.
UPDATE: December 12, 2013 Wireless carriers, FCC agree on ‘unlocking’ cellphones – Reuters
Let’s just say, for argument’s sake, you purchase that $199 iPhone 5 (16GB) from either Apple’s web site or the Apple Store. Now, what do you do? Well, you sign a two year contract, that’s what you do!
Yes, the contract is required at that price and you’re not checking or walking out of the store without signing on the dotted line.
“Ok, so what”, you say, “I’ll just sign up, get my shiny new iPhone, terminate the contract and then be on my merry way.” Here’s where the early termination fees (ETF) come in.
You see, if you purchase the $199 iPhone 5, enter into a contract and thereafter cancel your contract thinking you’ll unlock your iPhone in order to use another carrier, the ETF plus other fees will total in EXCESS of $600!
This doesn’t take into consideration the frustration factor of paperwork, phone inquiries, etc., etc. On the other hand, you may purchase an iPhone 5 (16GB) contract free and unlocked for $649 from the same location.
So, all things considered, it will be cheaper for you to go that route rather than trying to snake your way around the system. There will be no need to jailbreak in order to unlock and no need to use an unlocking web site service at all: the iPhone will already be factory unlocked.
Again, this only applies to those looking to own that brand new iPhone. Optionally, you may enter into that two year contract.
You’ll shell out multiple times the actual price of the iPhone, fulfill your contract and own a very expensive, very outdated iPhone as well. It’s your choice. Decisions, decisions …