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iPhone 5S and 5C in shops now, but not SIM-free

The new iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C are proving hard to find without a lengthy and pricey contract.

Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet, and when it comes to phones, that means buying SIM-free. Except when it's a new iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C, which you can't buy from phone shops without a contract.

When we trawled London's West End, meeting the hardy souls camping out for the new iPhone 5S and 5C this morning, a helpful Phones 4U staffer told us that they're not allowed to sell the iPhone SIM-free for two weeks. And various networks and phone shops have confirmed to us that they're not selling the new iPhones without a lengthy -- and pricey -- contract for the foreseeable future.

That means if you've decided to bite the bullet and pay full price for an iPhone in order to take advantage of a cheap SIM-only deal, you'd better have either an Apple Store near you, or a few weeks-worth of patience.

Or just generally be more like this guy, who queued up to bag himself a new iPhone today:

The new iPhones are widely available on contract from the networks, but buying one straight up isn't so straightforward. Vodafone is only selling new iPhones on pay as you go in selected stores, and O2 isn't selling it SIM-free in shops at all.

Don't head to your nearest O2 store if you want a 5S, either: not only is O2 not able to turn on 4G for the iPhone just yet, it doesn't have any 5S phones in stores. You have to order online or go to a different shop if you want the more expensive iPhone.

The iPhone 5S and 5C were warmly received by the first reviews, but they're still pretty hard on the wallet. Hey, you can get a lot of the features found in the new Apple smart phones just by updating your current iPhone or iPad to iOS 7 -- heck, even if you do get a new iPhone you'll have to update it anyway.

What do you think of the new iPhones? Have you picked one up today? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook wall.