updated 12:30 pm EDT, Thu August 19, 2010
US amongst most restricted countries
(Update with AT&T correction) The option of a contract-free iPhone 4 in the US has vanished from the Apple and AT&T websites, reports observe. It was previously possible to buy a 16GB phone for $599, or a 32GB model for $699. In an FAQ, however, Apple now states that all US iPhones require a two-year AT&T contract, which does at least lower the hardware price. No explanation has been given for the change.
The US has become increasingly alone in terms of restrictions on buying an iPhone. Most regions with the device now have multiple supporting carriers, and in countries like Canada or France, it's possible to buy an unlocked phone compatible with many GSM carriers around the world. The situation may soon change if rumors of future Verizon support prove true.
Update: An AT&T spokesman states that the wording on Apple's website has not changed, and it should still be possible to get an iPhone 4 without a contract by going to an AT&T store.