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The iPhone 5S won't be released where I live until maybe a month or two. I would like to get my hands on one from the US (better prices than UK) but I want it to be unlocked.

Apparently only the iPhone 5C is available unlocked from the US online Apple Store. I was wondering when would the 5S be sold unlocked as well ?

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Here is what we know:

  1. The iPhone 5c is for sale unlocked in the US at launch.
  2. The iPhone 5s is not for sale unlocked in the US at launch. It is unlocked at launch in many countries including Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, etc...
  3. The last phone launch had no 5c / 5s comparison (unless you want to ignore the 5c and assume the 5s is handled identically to the 5 at launch.)
  4. The iPhone 5 launch was September 21, 2012 and as of Thursday, November 29, 2012, you still could not buy a full price unlocked iPhone 5.

I would recommend you get confirmation that T-Mobile will unlock their contract-free but locked phone after a fixed amount of time or money, and get that in writing before you buy a US phone that isn't unlocked if you really need an unlocked iPhone.

In informal discussions today, I was told that two months of service needs to be maintained before you can ask for an unlock, but I didn't get it in writing and can't find any mention of it on T-Mobile's web site. Realize that any mobile carrier has limited devices and won't really want to sign up someone that will increase their churn rate and not be a "paying subscriber" when it comes time for them to report their quarterly subscriber counts.

  • Thank you that was informative. What about those online unlocking sites, are they legit or bunch of scams ? – Render Sep 21 '13 at 8:12
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    Just to add that Canada Apple Stores currently sell unlocked 5ses. – user10355 Sep 22 '13 at 22:47
  • I asked apple store employee in Vegas if it is possible to unlock T-Mobile iPhone 5s. He said that he can't confirm that T-Mobile iPhone 5s could be unlocked in future. – A B Oct 1 '13 at 2:39
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Purchasing an AT&T iPhone 5S as a "Device Only" (full price, no contract) transaction will in fact result in a factory unlocked phone, contrary to whatever the salespeople might say. I can confirm that my launch day 5S works with AT&T, T-Mobile, Telus, and China Unicom SIMs. Just make sure you replace the included AT&T SIM with one from another carrier before turning on the phone.

This only applies to devices purchased at an Apple Store and will not work for those bought at an AT&T Store or a retailer like Best Buy or RadioShack.

  • I spoke with a representative over apple support and told me a T-Mobile contract-free iPhone 5S will still require activation from them to be used anywhere. – Render Sep 24 '13 at 11:08
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    The representatives are trained to say this as using "device only" phones as unlocked models is neither encouraged nor officially supported. However, this has in fact worked for ages, with the iPhone 4S, the 5, and now the 5S as well. See here or here. According to the second account, the Verizon and T-Mobile models also work fine with any SIM as they are all in fact the same model (A1533) this time around. – Alex Warofka Sep 24 '13 at 14:29
  • I'm with Alex on this - the proof is in the pudding so to speak, and when you buy something from a company with a return policy you understand, it's easy to know to test things for a week and return the goods should they not work to your needs. – bmike Oct 1 '13 at 13:33
  • @bmike I'm not really based in the US and returning the phone is not an option for me. – Render Oct 1 '13 at 15:20
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By the time an unlocked iPhone 5S becomes available in the US Store, it will be also available in the UK.

If you are in a hurry, you can grab an unlocked iPhone 5S from the Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, Hong Kong and many other stores around the globe.

  • Any estimated timeframe to when they are available through the US apple store ? – Render Sep 20 '13 at 21:14
  • I agree with Melwan's opinion. I've backed it up with some facts from last year, but I'd be very surprised to see unlocked phones in the US until all the markets worldwide are past their constrained windows. – bmike Sep 20 '13 at 21:53
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i called t mobile today about contract free unlocked mobile and they told me that at least pre paid 1 month should be paid to get iphone 5s it will cost almost 750 $ i asked her that if it is confirmed that we can use it world wide after 1 month because i want to use it in Egypt she told me i have to ask my carrier and thier is no information because its did not released in egypt yet..i dunn know from where i can be sure that i can use world wide

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I have contacted a Genius on the Apple US website and she told me that the iPhone 5s T-Mobile contract-free is in fact unlocked and will work with any GSM SIM. I am based in Dubai, UAE. I ordered two 5s' and had the address of a freight forwarder and within a couple of days, I got sent a cancellation email for my order as Apple do not send any product to freight forwarders. What a shame. Just gonna wait till whenever they release it officially here in the UAE as prices are sky-high now. Either mid-October or December... The sooner the better. Cannot wait!

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I just used the chat service on Apple's website to gather the following information about iPhone 5S, which I think is quite useful:

Oct 14, 2013; based in the USA

  • The contract-free version from T-Mobile is for sale right now for $649.00.
  • This version is not factory unlocked, because it doesn't support CDMA networks (like Verizon or Sprint). It will only work on a GSM network, and has to have a sim card.
  • This contract free phone CAN be used internationally or with a different carrier in the US, and it DOES NOT need to be unlocked. Provided the phone supports your network of choice, "once it arrives to you, all you will need to do is take it to a different carrier, and they will change out the sim card for you."
  • This reason this phone is advertised under the name "T-Mobile contract-free" is the fact that it comes with a T-Mobile sim card installed.

I understand these don't answer your questions, but for those in the US, this can be very helpful. At least for me, it helped clarify what phones will work on what networks and such.

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