It has been a while since Apple first started selling unlocked iPhones for an extended price. This gave the users the mobility of choosing their desired carriers and switching over whenever they want to. However, the options were limited as the models that were released unlocked were on GSM-LTE, which was supported with only limited carrier options, prime being AT&T.
This meant that these devices could not be used for the faster, more sophisticated CDMA enabled service providers like Verizon, US cellular, Sprint etc. While data services and 2G can be enjoyed uninterruptedly on these devices, carriers with 3G and 4G services just have to make do with the current market scenario.
The phone sets, however, can be used on any GSM networks across the globe. Users get the mobility of taking their phone to various locations without the headache of changing carriers or worse, their handsets. LTE services are also highly sought after, after GSM. Sadly, there is only one provider in the United States that provides LTE services, and that is AT&T. But this is nothing to be worried about. There are other networks which you might not have ventured into, and these networks can work great for you. Go through the following and make your pick.
As evident from above, AT&T is a network giant in the United States, providing services for GSM, LTE and GPRS services. It is a proud operator which boasts of all services available in the telecoms sector, including 3G, 4G, 2G and data services. It is a trusted network throughout the world and covers unprecedented network areas both in and out of the United States. The best advantage is mobility. With an unlocked phone, you can always start off with AT&T, and then make the switch whenever your preferred network provider starts providing GSM-LTE services.
T-Mobile is one of the networks which actually put in efforts to sync with the option of buying an unlocked iPhone directly from Apple, and succeeded in doing that. It may have nothing to do with the sale of the device itself, but T-Mobile saw it as a chance to increase their market share. T-Mobile initially could only support 2G and data services throughout the country, but now has expanded its market by enabling itself to support the iPhone friendly HSPA+ services. You can virtually use the iPhone with T-Mobile anywhere in the United States, which wasn’t possible until a year back. The biggest advantage of this mobile operator is that it offers cheaper prices for data services than AT&T and Verizon. T-Mobile is also one of the few brands which use the 1700 MHz / 2100 MHz AWS bands, which is not surprisingly supported by the iPhone.
3. Straight Talk
Straight Talk is not a very widely known (surprisingly!) service in the United States. In my opinion, it is the most under rated service provider throughout the country, provided the quality of service at cheaper rates as compared to giants like AT&T, Verizon and US cellular. Straight Talk is basically a Mobile Virtual Network Operator, which works in the networks of AT&T and T-Mobile. These services offer great monetary value at surprising speeds, able to support 3G HSPA and LTE networks. Apart from Straight Talk, other feasible options are H2O wireless and Red Pocket, both offering good services at much cheaper rates.
Now when you go out to buy the unlocked iPhone directly from Apple, you know what all to consider. The only thing while choosing a network that you need to pay attention to is the size of the SIM card. Note that iPhone 5 will only support a nano SIM. So either buy a nano SIM card, or be ready to operate a surgery upon the micro SIM card.