On Friday, Apple's online stores in the U.S. began selling the unlocked version of the iPhone 4S.
For $649 (16GB), $749 (32GB) or $849 (64GB), customers who purchase a contract-free 4S will be able to switch between networks and use their phone overseas without incurring pricey international roaming fees. (Engadget notes that the unlocked handsets won't ship for one to two weeks.)
The unlocked iPhone 4S, available in both black and white, works only on GSM networks (AT&T, T-Mobile), not on CDMA networks (Verizon, Sprint). Luckily, most international providers are on GSM networks.
While the thought of a phone without a contract makes some of us drunk on freedom, the savings may never add up to the steep initial cost. According to Lifehacker, at these prices, the only people who will save money by getting an unlocked phone are frequent international travelers. Everyone else should stick to a carrier-subsidized iPhone 4S, which starts at $199 at Apple.com.
If your motivation for getting an unlocked is being contract-free, Lifehacker suggests that you either unlock the phone yourself, or buy a contract-free phone on Craigslist for much less than what Apple is asking.
Take a look at a screenshot of the unlocked iPhone 4S units for sale at Apple.com: