We tech journalists love our silly jargon, even if it's gibberish to the average user. So if you heard the rumor that Apple will start selling an unlocked iPhone 4 on Wednesday, allow me to explain what that means.
If you buy an iPhone in the United States today, you must pledge allegiance to a single wireless carrier and never go astray. An AT&T iPhone will always be an AT&T iPhone, unless you're willing to do a bit of hacking and "unlock" the phone yourself. An official unlocked iPhone 4 would, in theory, let users switch wireless carriers at will, without hacking or worrying that future Apple software updates will turn their phones into paperweights.
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