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T-Mobile offers unlocked iPhones in Germany [U]

updated 09:15 am EST, Wed November 21, 2007

German iPhone w/o contract

(Updated with offer for current customers)

Reacting to a legal ruling, Germany's T-Mobile has announced that it will soon begin selling the iPhone without any required contract. A court yesterday granted Vodafone a preliminary injunction against T-Mobile, which since November 9th has been selling the iPhone for 399 with a two-year contract, much like the one enforced for AT&T's iPhone in the United States. Although T-Mobile had said it would ignore the injunction on at least a temporary basis, it has already devised a price for a contract-free product: 999, or $1,477. By contrast, the total cost of the iPhone with contract would be 1,575 ($2,329).

Vodafone has complained that T-Mobile's terms have been unfair, and that the company should not be allowed to lock phones to its service. Unlike the US, it is common in Europe for customers to unlock their cellphones; in some countries, it is even illegal for a carrier to sell phones without the option of an unlocked version. T-Mobile's option however will mark the first time the iPhone has ever been sold unlocked, as Apple has traditionally insisted that its product be an exclusive. Another unlocked iPhone will likely debut on November 29th, when it will arrive at the French carrier Orange.

Update: Reuters now reports that customers who have bought an iPhone from T-Mobile since November 19th will be able to get it unlocked for free, but some unspecified features will be broken as a result.

by MacNN Staff




  1. tortenteufel

    Joined: Dec 1969


    1477 ?

    a bargain ! muwahahahahaha

  1. ViktorCode

    Joined: Dec 1969


    999 is the cost of greed

    T-Mobile decided that if it had to follow the German law anyway then why don't gather some big euros in process? To bad no one will buy it. The story will go as usual: people who don't want T-Mobile will buy and unlock.

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Visual voicemail feature

    would be T-Mobile only, though?

  1. imagine engine

    Joined: Dec 1969


    unlock smartphones

    The estimated pricing for the unlocked iPhone seems accurate. Consider that other smartphone manufacturers such as RIM and HTC sell some of their devices unlocked near the $1000.00 mark or slightly past it. Where as if purchased carrier locked on a term commitment (contract 2 or 3 year) with a voice/data plan it's lower cost to buy the hardware. I'm sure even though it will now be offered unlocked people will still be calling the carrier or Apple trying to get a discount on buying one.

  1. bobolicious

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Retribution claims...

    ...may become easier against those who unlock once a legitimate option is available, with a quantifiable loss more easily identified...

  1. UberFu

    Joined: Dec 1969


    all i know...

    is that in the US - I can call up Apple and buy an iPhone for $400 [and whatever the Euro converts to] then with a minor tweak here or there - have aphone that works on any carrier_

    There is no "lock" into signing up with AT&T to use the phone_

    BUT - things like Visual Voice Mail are not available elsewhere_

    HOWEVER - Now that T-Mobile is in charge of the German offering - this means that T-Mobile should now have the capability_ Except they may be locking it to European [or specifically - German] Accounts_

    In theory [in the US] I could switch to T-Mobile and gain access to the Visual Voice Mail feature with enough finagling_

    Also - with the moves by the European Provdiers to [downgrade] to EDGE technology for the phone to work on that front - that just makes it more viable to by a US version - work the trickery - and switch providers_

    In all accounts - the customer is getting the short end of the stick - but looks more like German folks are getting the shorter or shortest end of the stick_

    What fun_

  1. cmoney

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: all i know

    the official unlock and the unofficial unlock aren't the same really. the official one won't have the associated "will it work, will it brick my phone" problems that the hacked unlocks have with every software update.

    also, how would you get visual voicemail working on a non-supported carrier? it's backend feature that downloads the voicemail to your phone locally.

    so i suppose you have three options really:

    1) buy locked device, full feature support, cheapest price. 2 year contract, possibly not your carrier of choice

    2) hack locked phone, possible bricking in the future if you want a particular software update. cheap price, no contract so you can use with your carrier. probably not full feature support.

    3) official unlocked phone, full support, possible loss of features on other carriers. very expensive price, but no contract and you have choice of carrier.

  1. MacnnGregor

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Choice v. No Choice

    Those unlocked prices look steep, but that is what you pay for when you have choice.

    In the "free market" bastion we call America we let companies do whatever they want first and then let the corporations battle it out for market share. This is what cartels are about, when the "free market" is driven by the supplier.

    At least in Germany and France the courts give consumers more say and ironically enough these two more socialistic nations are going to give their citizens more consumer choices.

    Thus an open market often needs to have government regulations. Sounds strange to American ears, but it is true.

    Anyway, I hope it drives a more open system overall and at least now we can see what Apple really needs to turn a profit on each phone when it isn't tied to a carrier.

  1. ender

    Joined: Dec 1969



    So given the price difference between the locked and unlocked versions, can we assume that Apple collects approximately $850 from T-mobile over the life of a two-year contract? The iPhone is just like every other cell phone that comes at a discount when you get a contract. Carriers list cell phone XYZ at $300 but you get if FREE with a two year contract. But instead of the carrier paying the handset maker upfront to offset the MSRP, Apple collects its subsidy over time.

  1. pm2012

    Joined: Dec 1969


    For what it's worth . . .

    Just for accuracy, 999 is 718.88 (not 1,477).

    Still very steep but half the price of the miscalculated conversion rate.

    A bargain in some people's eyes!

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