Here's where the math gets fuzzy. An unlocked 5.5-inchsmartphone with 64GB of storage: $349. An unlocked 5.5-inch iPhone Plus with 16GB: $749.
The iPhone faithful may well be drooling over, but for anyone hoping to bypass the two-year contract in favor of an unlocked, carrier-agnostic edition, well, it's gonna cost. (Although this option doesn't expressly mention "unlocked," you should have no trouble getting it unlocked if it's not already. And from there it should work with any GSM carrier.)
As shown on Apple's ordering page (which is active even though preordering doesn't start until September 12), the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus start at $199 and $299, respectively, when purchased as part of a two-year contract with AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon.
But T-Mobile lists a contract-free option for the two models, and here's how the prices break down:
- iPhone 6 (16GB): $649
- iPhone 6 (64GB): $749
- iPhone 6 (128GB): $849
- iPhone 6 Plus (16GB): $749
- iPhone 6 Plus (64GB): $849
- iPhone 6 Plus (128GB): $949
Needless to say, these prices put the new iPhones among the most expensive smartphones on the market. The question is whether a higher up-front cost can still work in your favor when amortized out over two years, particularly if you take the phone to an MVNO offering cheaper rates than the Big Four.
For example, the Verizon iPhone 6 (16GB) would cost you $199, then $60 monthly for a single-line plan with 2GB of data. Total price at the end of two years: $1,639.
However, if you the same iPhone 6 outright for $649, then went with H20 Wireless and a $40 monthly plan (good for just 1GB of data, admittedly), your two-year total would come to $1,609. For all intents and purposes, a wash.
The key benefit to an unlocked iPhone, of course, is freedom to switch carriers at your leisure. And there are certainly more affordable monthly plans available. But with the Big Four now getting much more competitive on plan pricing, the draw of the MVNO seems a little less -- unless they, too, lower their prices.
If you're planning to buy an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, would you consider splurging on an unlocked model? Or is the allure of the subsidized price too strong to ignore?