How to buy an unlocked iPhone 6 Plus or iPhone 6 in the U.S.

“You already can buy Apple’s latest smartphone [unlocked], meaning you can use it with any compatible wireless carrier in the U.S. or elsewhere,” Rob Pegoraro reports for USA Today. “But it’s easy to be led astray by the phrasing at Apple’s online store.”

“There, you’ll see the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus offered in four editions, one for each of the four major carriers: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless,” Pegoraro reports. “The first three can be purchased at the deeply-subsidized $199-and-up prices you see in ads; the T- Mobile version comes at the full starting price of $649.99 and is described as ‘contract-free’ but not unlocked.”

“So does that mean that the contract-free iPhone 6 is locked to T-Mobile? Nope,” Pegoraro reports. “As Apple users have reported after taking these no-contract phones home, they work with such other carriers as AT&T; just pop out the T-Mobile SIM and use whichever one you want. Apple confirmed that this model comes unlocked but didn’t explain the labeling mismatch.”

Read more in the full article here.

21 Comments

  1. No labeling mismatch according to my clear thinking tin hatted head!
    Pop out the T-Mobile SIM Card is the first thing you do….pam, pam, paaammmm!! It was an unlocked T-Mobile phone before! But not contracted to T-Mobile otherwise, you would not have been able to use another SIM card without first unlocking it!

    I should open a Tin Hat Shop to enable clear thinking for Rob Pegoraro!!!

  2. My September 12 order for an unlocked GSM 128GB Space Gray iPhone 6 Plus for $949 shows no mention of a carrier on the order status detail page. It was placed for me by an Apple Store employee about 10:30 am Saturday Sep.12, not BY me. At the time she mentioned that order requests for new unlocked iPhones weren’t going through so far as she had tried earlier that morning unsuccessfully – then she exclaimed her current attempt while on the phone with me was working and asked me if I wanted her to complete the order she was ready to execute for me. So I said yes and that was that. I thought the order was for a T-Mobile GSM iPhone which (I thought) by default is unlocked. I’m in the middle of a two year ATT contract on my 5S.

    But according to this article, it might just be an unlocked sans SIM card model. Delivery is still not promised ’til October 13-20. I’ll let you know when I get it what it is exactly that I got. I guess if I had camped out at the Palo Alto store last Thursday night, I’d have a locked GSM ATT unit in their Next program already. Instead I chose to camp at Soquel CA Best Buy where the iPhone 6 Plus never appeared.

      1. If you buy your phone unsubsidized, except for the Sprint model, you can use it on all the networks, including Verizon’s (if you have a working Verizon SIM card). Your best bet is to buy a Verizon unsubsidized phone so you can use it with any GSM carrier in addition to Verizon. If the iPhone was no labeled a Verizon phone, Verizon might not activate it on their network. But even then, insert a Verizon SIM card and it works.

  3. Here my experience with AT&T. Spoke with a supervisors three days before preorder and asked if they would be selling a contract free phone at full price. He replied yes. The morning of preordering there was no option on their website period. NEXT or two year. Order the two year called back and they advised I could pay off the phone immediately and I would have to wait sixty days to have them on lock it. Absurd. I did and they knocked off $10.00 off the full price of the phone given that their policy is that you have an option to use buyer’s remorse. I still don’t understand why AT&T continues to screw their customers. For others out there who are out of contract you’ll get a break on the data portion rather than paying a $40.00 fee you’ll pay $25.00. As far as the story posted here about T-Mobil phones being unlocked that must have been a mistake because I contacted Apple three times and they said No the phone wasn’t unlocked. Hmmmmm

    1. So did you get a phone and if so what model, color and storage size? For hiw much money out the door? The ATT Next program is an interest free loan with no upgrade fees. At least that’s the way my cart looked when I almost ordered it that way from the my ATT website. It also said November delivery so that’s why I logged out without completing the order.

      1. Sorry about the late reply. I purchased a gold 16g for $210.94 which included sales tax online. I then paid $325.00 to break the contract and own the phone outright. So total combined was $535.94. Good deal if I must say so. Got AT&T big time. Ha!

          1. I can’t speak for OP, but I bought a Silver ATT 64GB (non-plus) outright. Paid a little over 800 including tax and everything. ATT told me I’d have to wait 60 days, but as soon as I got it home I grabbed the IEMI and submitted an unlock request online. It was approved within 24 hours and I now have an unlocked phone.

            FWIW I also unlocked my old 5s at the same time, even though I only moved my SIM over (so both phones had the same number and the same SIM).

            Hope that helps!

    1. I bought a 5S Verizon phone from Apple store in January 2014 and immediately opened an ATT account and have been happy ever since.

      Apple salesperson and ATT salesperson both said Verizon iPhone would not work on ATT but it did. I am sure 6/6+ will also but I don’t know.

      Reason I bought a Verizon iPhone: higher resale value, works on any network except Sprint and I have no clue where I am living tomorrow.

      Reason I am with ATT: lower price plans (2 lines 1GB $80/mo). Tomorrow Verizon ($120 for 2 lines 2GB) may have the lower priced plan but I don’t think so.

    1. Don’t know what time you ordered but I ordered very early a.m. and I had no option. Not sure how you got an unlocked phone from AT&T because there were no unlocked phones in fact they have an agreement with Apple whereby they can’t even unlock them for 60 days. Dec. FWIW I went through AT&T’s Premier business site.

    2. I think the “problem” is that the phone is still carrier locked to ATT. If you tried to put in a t-mobile SIM, or travel internationally and buy a local SIM it wouldn’t work for you unless ATT unlocked it for you.

  4. Even more odd, I bought a full-price iPhone 6 (AT&T) at an Apple store on launch day and, when I plugged it in to my rMBP that night, got the “iPhone Unlocked” message in iTunes. I thought it might have been a mistake, but I had to do a clean restore in the aftermath of the 8.0.1 debacle and, upon first boot and iTunes restore, got an unlocked message again.

    I’m thinking that something in the checkout process for a full-freight, off-contract phone at Apple (they don’t communicate with AT&T’s servers at all) renders the IMEI as unlocked in Apple’s database.

  5. Pre-ordered my 16Gb T-Mobile iPhone 6 for $649, got it on the 19th, popped out the T-mobile SIM, put in my Net10 SIM from my old iPhone 5s, and boom off to the races with full service in about 30 seconds.

    Sold my iPhone 5s on eBay for almost $500 so not a bad deal. The iPhone is working fine, including LTE.

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