Apple’s newly unveiled unlocked iPhone 4 models in the United States will deliver consumers and enterprise customers the same experience as the current, locked iPhone, but allow them to choose the carrier that they want to work with. Several other companies over the years have been offering unlocked devices, but Apple’s decision to do so gives consumers the opportunity to determine if they want to stay with an iPhone locked into a specific wireless carrier or try something new. Buying an unlocked iPhone might seem like a no-brainer for some eager consumers. Yes, having an unlocked iPhone might appeal to some folks out there who want to have choices, but for the vast majority of customers looking to talk on a wireless phone, send e-mails, and surf the Web, buying an unlocked iPhone 4, rather than a cheaper locked version, just doesn’t make much sense.
Read on to find out why consumers and enterprise customers alike shouldn’t waste their time with unlocked iPhone 4 units and stick with the iPhone 4s already sitting on store shelves.
1. It’s expensive
In a time where the economy is in a state of uncertainty and people are looking for the best value for their money, Apple is selling unlocked iPhone 4s for $649 and $749. Those same devices can be purchased for $199 and $299 with a two-year contract. Considering either option — locked or unlocked—will still require mobile-phone service to work, saving $450 on a smartphone seems like a fine idea.
2. Local travelers don’t need it
The only real benefit of buying an unlocked iPhone is its international support. Users will be able to easily access a different carrier’s network elsewhere around the world and have the same experience of using the smartphone as they do in the United States. But if a person doesn’t travel overseas and plans to only stay within the U.S. borders over the next couple years, buying an unlocked iPhone makes little sense.
3. AT&T’s pending merger
Currently, there are two GSM providers in the United States. But with AT&T’s announcement earlier this year that it plans to acquire T-Mobile USA for $39 billion, it might not be long before there is a single GSM carrier in the U.S. At that point, having an unlocked iPhone 4 won’t make much of a difference. Given the market factors, opting for a device that might not even be required a year from now doesn’t seem like the best idea.
4. What’s so bad with locked phones?
Though there are some out there that tout the versatility of unlockedsmartphones, there’s little reason to get one. They tend to be extremely expensive, they deliver no tangible benefit over locked versions, and getting them set-up with a carrier tends to be more a pain than it has to be. There’s nothing wrong with locked phones and consumers should keep that in mind.
5. CDMA isn’t supported
According to Apple, the unlocked versions of the iPhone 4 it’s offering are GSM-only. That means that customers hoping to buy an unlocked device and run it on Verizon’s orSprint’s networks won’t be able to do so. So, right after buying the unlocked iPhone 4, consumers have only half the market to choose from. That alone might disqualify the unlocked iPhone 4 for some customers.
6. No 3G on T-Mobile
If consumers decide to buy an unlocked version of the iPhone 4, they won’t be able to access T-Mobile’s 3G network because of the way in which the smartphone connects to high-speed mobile networks. Users will, however, be able to connect to AT&T’s 3G network. Considering how important 3G is, and the fact that AT&T is already selling locked versions for much less, it doesn’t make much sense to buy an unlocked iPhone 4.
7. It’s not jailbroken
Too often, people mistakenly believe that an unlocked device is also a jailbroken device. However, that’s not the case. Even the unlocked versions of the iPhone 4 will be closed and not allow folks to run unauthorized applications. If users are after a jailbroken device, it’s easier to buy a locked option and jailbreak it rather than go with the highly expensive unlocked device to get some of the same benefits.
8. The plans are still expensive
After paying $450 more for an unlocked iPhone, consumers will still need to invest in plans from AT&T or T-Mobile. AT&T currently sells prepaid plans, which would be used with unlocked devices that cost $2 per day for unlimited talk and texting. If users want to add 200MB of data to the mix, they will need to pay a total of $75 per month for talk, texting, and data. That’s no deal when one considers that an unlimited national plan costs $70 per month from AT&T and 3GB of data will cost $35 per month. For $105 a month—$30 more than a cheap prepaid option—consumers can get the same experience and save $450 on the device. That plan sounds like a winner.
Who really wants to deal with buying an unlocked iPhone 4, going to a carrier’s store and signing up with a deal? By buying a locked version of the smartphone, consumers can have it all activated in a matter of seconds without all the hasslethat goes along with an unlocked device. Convenience means something in the mobile marketplace and buying a locked smartphone is most convenient.
10. An iPhone 5 is around the corner
Though Apple didn’t announce the new iPhone 5 at the Worldwide Developers Conference, the company will likely be offering a new version of its smartphone in the next several months. With that factor in mind it wouldn’t be the best idea to opt for the unlocked iPhone 4 now. The iPhone 5 is right around the corner, and paying a premium on an expensive device that might be obsolete soon is a bad idea.