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Apple to sell iPhones off-contract to fight Nexus One

updated 07:30 pm EDT, Mon March 22, 2010

Apple docs show iPhone plan-free, SIM locked

Apple is returning to letting customers buy the iPhone without a contract, a leaked memo may have confirmed today. Those willing to buy an iPhone 3G or 3GS at full price will purportedly have the freedom to do so at a US store without having a new or existing AT&T plan. The sales would discourage bootleggers only by keeping the phones locked to AT&T and one phone per day.

While the memo obtained by Gizmodo hasn't been publicly confirmed by Apple, customers have heard the same from Apple store staff and suggest the strategy is in full effect. Pricing would start at $499 for the 8GB iPhone 3G and climb to $599 and $699 for the 16GB and 32GB iPhone 3GS models.

Why Apple would relent at this stage isn't known but may be influenced at least partly by Google's attitude to the Nexus One. While AT&T's deal with Apple could prevent a truly unlocked iPhone at this stage, the terms essentially mirror that for the Android smartphone, where buyers are encouraged to pay full price in return for control over when they end service. Apple has often resisted any implied support for hacking and unlocking iPhones but may be reaching out to an audience that would normally avoid Apple due to AT&T's requirements.

The news has come just as Google has begun selling AT&T-ready Nexus Ones and is on the verge of offering both Sprint and Verizon editions, leading to further speculation that Apple wants to provide equal pricing where possible.

Bootlegging was a concern mostly with the first generation of the iPhone, when US- and Europe-only sales led gray market importers from China and elsewhere to buy the phones in large quantities and resell them overseas. China, Russia and other popular destinations for these phones now have their own official agreements and sometimes sell completely unlocked versions.

by MacNN Staff



  1. dliup

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Um NO

    Nexus One had extremely slow sales. In comparison, Palm Pre sold more than Nexus One.

    So no, iPhone is not fighting Nexus One.

  1. WiseWeasel

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Until Apple sells a truly unlocked one in the US, I don't see the value in getting this over the subsidized one, and paying an ETF if you need to get out of your contract early, which AT&T even prorates.

  1. freebrian

    Joined: Dec 1969


    meh too

    As a resident of the US, let me be the first to say: *YAWN*

    So I can pay full price for an iPhone and still get stuck with AT&T.

    Even better, I still get to pay AT&T's full "but we're subsidizing your equipment" monthly service fees, despite the fact that they wouldn't be.

    When my current iPhone's contract is up, I'm switching back to T-Mobile. Will I be able to hack my iPhone and take it with me? Don't know, don't care. Will be happy to no longer be an AT&T customer.

  1. ZinkDifferent

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Nothing new...

    This is neither new, or news - you have been able to do this for the past 8 months, and continue bring able to do this to this day.

    What's the point to this, seeing as the iPhone is still locked to AT&T, and not unlocked.

    Either way, this is neither 'new' nor in reaction to anything.

    Fact checking is apparently a lost art at MacNN.

  1. bearcatrp

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Seems apple is worried....

    and should be. I'll give it a year and the nexus one will put a big dent into the iphone. Reason: it will be available to ALL carriers. Since I am on sprint, and no iphone in sight, I will be getting a nexus one. Thats how apple will get bit. To stubborn to get away from crappy AT&T.

  1. lamewing

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I see no advantage to Apple sticking only with AT&T. I like my iPhone, but when my contract is up I am going to sell my iphone. If I had a choice in carriers, I would keep the iPhone, but Apple is simply too stubborn. For my apps, I will use the iPad since I usually use the apps when at home or on campus. Time to go back to a simple phone that does one thing - make calls.

  1. stenniz

    Joined: Dec 1969



    If you are so fed up with at&t,pay your early termination fee and move un.

  1. davester

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I wanted 11...

  1. slapppy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Thats funny!!

    The Nexus One was and is a market failure. So umm no fighting off the Nexus One. The market already proved it failed.

  1. SergioRS

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Dumping unsold inventory?

    pricing makes no sense for att users - or tmo since no 3G SUPPORT there. Really only makes sense if jailbreaking for export. Sounds like unsold stock being cleared out for new model to me

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