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Apple Begins Selling Contract-Free iPhones at Retail Stores

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First it was AT&T (s att) selling iPhones off-contract, which suggested a stock clear-out, and now it’s Apple (s appl), which all but confirms the sell-off.

Apple began selling contract-free iPhones at their brick-and-mortar retail locations on Thursday, a fact reported by AppleInsider and confirmed by Apple’s flagship Fifth Avenue store in New York, via CNNMoney.com. Buying from Apple apparently carries less restrictions than buying from AT&T, but the phone is still technically locked to the only official U.S. iPhone carrier.

Pricing is also still the same as what we’ve seen from AT&T. The entry-level 8GB model will cost you $599, while the 16GB version will set you back $699. At those prices, the iPhone costs more than most netbooks, but to some, the additional freedom the extra $400 buys is worth the price of admission. According to reports, customers will be able to purchase unlimited numbers of iPhones from Apple stores, and won’t have to be AT&T customers to get one. If Apple isn’t actively encouraging unlocking, they know that it’s going to happen, and they’re clearly turning a blind eye in the interest of moving stock.

There’s no word on whether this deal will come to other international stores, or when they’ll actually be stocked at Apple retail locations. It’s unclear how many people will go for this, since that’s an awful lot of money to part with for a product that’s soon to become previous generation technology. Personally, I’m just hoping it drives down the price of the used iPhone market so that I can pick up an unlocked 8GB for less than $400 via craigslist.

5 Responses to “Apple Begins Selling Contract-Free iPhones at Retail Stores”

  1. Unless AT&T data plans are also offered at the old, unsubsidized rate, or the early termination fee has been upped to more than $400, this doesn’t seem like a deal. Am I missing something?