The unlocked iPhone 4S is only being made available in the US through AT&T. Since AT&T is a GSM network, your unlocked device will only work on other GSM networks. This excludes Verizon Wireless and Sprint in the states, which are CDMA-based carriers.
The benefits of an unlocked phone include being able to travel abroad and use a micro-SIM card from a local carrier rather than racking up expensive out-of-country fees. Additionally, unlocked phones are sold without a contract so you are free to discontinue service whenever you want without paying a hefty early termination fee.
An unlocked phone doesn’t come cheap since there are no carrier subsidies to offset the hardware cost. The 16GB model is $649, a 32GB unit costs $749 and a 64GB iPhone 4S will set you back $849. Meanwhile, the unlocked iPhone 4 has been displaced to a lower price point and it now costs $549 for the sole 8GB model -- also on AT&T.
CNET has learned that Apple has started taking pre-orders for unlocked models in other countries. For example, the UK 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models retail for 499, 599 and 699 pounds, respectively.
Carrier-specific iPhone 4S’ are available for pre-order in the US starting today through Apple and wireless providers AT&T, Sprint and Verizon. The phone is available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB capacities for $199, $299 and $399 (with a two year service agreement) respectively in white and black. Phones will become available starting October 14.