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Summary:

In the past, to buy an iPhone you’ve had to either deal with Apple or one of its worldwide providers directly, or try your chances with online retailers, some of whom can be rather shady. Getting a carrier unlocked version was even trickier. But as of […]

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In the past, to buy an iPhone you’ve had to either deal with Apple or one of its worldwide providers directly, or try your chances with online retailers, some of whom can be rather shady. Getting a carrier unlocked version was even trickier. But as of next week, Germans will be able to walk into a store designed just for the purpose and pick one up off the shelf.

The store, called 3Gstore.de, is a brick-and-mortar extension of the online retailer of the same name. It sells legally unlocked iPhones to German customers, and has done so since the release of the iPhone 3G. 3Gstore.de even went so far as to sue T-Mobile Germany for false advertising, since the carrier claimed it was the exclusive purveyor of the devices, despite European free trade agreements which make device exclusivity illegal.

Next week, on September 9 at 9:09 local time (09.09.09 @ 9:09, get it?), 3Gstore.de will open a physical retail store (photos in the gallery below) in the German city of Bochum, located in the bustling metropolitan area of the Ruhrgebiet. On offer will be 3G and 3GS iPhones, contract free and officially sim-unlocked. Customers who buy these devices can then sign up for a service plan with the provider of their choice — either O2, Vodafone, or ePlus, in addition to T-Mobile.

For us here in North America, it sounds like some fantastic dream. Sure, the prices are downright jaw-dropping (€999 for a 32GB 3GS, for example), but imagine the freedom, the sheer public nature of it all. Right there in the open, no jailbreak, no shady independent electronics retailer offering unlocking services on Craigslist.

You could plan an iPhone-tourism trip to Bochum, if the picture I’ve just painted is that appealing. But it’s possible that won’t be necessary, since in the very near future, the U.S. might have iPhone stores of their very own. The FCC’s investigation into AT&T/Apple relationship could always bear fruit, if you’ll pardon the pun, and result in the kind of antitrust laws surrounding device exclusivity that 3Gstore.de is taking advantage of.

The people behind 3Gstore.de are all just really big iPhone fans who want other users to have the freedom to choose. T-Mobile has tried to stifle them at every turn, even going so far as to try to limit what kinds of product images the much smaller company can use to promote its iPhone sales. It’s a true David and Goliath story, and if I was anywhere near Germany I’d be there on September 9 celebrating the store’s opening. Not buying a phone, mind you. $1400 USD is a little too rich for my blood. But I’ll be buying one in spirit.

 
  1. Or you could go to Italy and buy a legally never-locked iPhone 3GS 32GB for 719€…

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    1. Why should a german (except he is living just in the nearby) travel to Italy in order to get an IPhone??

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    2. Re: Why should a german (except he is living just in the nearby) travel to Italy in order to get an IPhone??

      The answer is because T-Mobile is the exclusive Apple sanctioned operator for the iPhone in Germany. And this sucks. Think of T-Mobile as the German AT&T, only not that bad as AT&T is supposed to be. We have MMS since a decade I think and T-Mobile has no say as to which apps may go in the App Store and which may not. But other than that they suck.

      When I bought my first gen iPhone I had no choice and signed a T-Mobile contract but when that runs out I will go to any of those European countries where you can purchase iPhones without plans and get one. Flights are dirt cheap here and you need one hour at most to get into most European countries from Germany.

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    3. Well, hypothetically going to Italy isn’t that big of a deal. If you happen to live near an airport that RyanAir offers flights from, you could probably go there for a few euros (€5-20). In Italy the iPhone has always been sold SIM-lock-free. Just like in Belgium. But in Germany you had to get one from T-Mobile with a 2-year contract.

      However, to me there would be no point in spending that much on an iPhone and then having to spend yet more on a plan to go with it, if I can get an iPhone + service for 2 years (and my bill is never higher as it includes all the internet, minutes and text messages/MMS I need) for about €950.

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  2. Wow – what a great find! I’m German, but THIS is new to me! I know about 3Gstore.de (they are really big in that business) but they haven’t publicly said that they are going ‘offline’ anytime soon!

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  3. [...] Edit Staff | Friday, September 4, 2009 | 8:44 AM PT | 0 comments Exclusive: first retail iPhone store to open in Germany next week (TheAppleBlog) Sony’s sweet DSC-HX1 zooms into HD (NewTeeVee) The promise of algae fuel rests on [...]

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  4. Woah, now that’s awesome news. I like the date and time, btw ;-)

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  5. [...] Chancey Mathews | Friday, September 4, 2009 | 8:50 AM PT | 0 comments Exclusive: first retail iPhone store to open in Germany next week (TheAppleBlog) Sony’s sweet DSC-HX1 zooms into HD (NewTeeVee) The promise of algae fuel rests on [...]

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  6. You can also buy them in the Czech Republic (where I live) for less than 800 Euro. So it seems that the Germans are getting shanked!

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  7. [...] führende US-Blog Theappleblog hat schon vorab davon erfahren und beurteilt den Bochumer 3Gstore als spektakulär Neuerung für den Endkunden: On offer will be [...]

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  8. @Tyler: in Czech and Italy you can get them from any Telco Company, but not in Germany where T-Mobile pretends to have a monopoly and sues everyone like 3Gstore. I think that 3Gstore.de buys them in other European countries and resells them but offers service and guarantee at their own cost.

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