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Apple selling unlocked, contract-free iPhone 4S

For those who don't want to be bound by a single contract or carrier, the new iPhone 4S is now available from Apple as an unlocked phone selling at non-subsidized prices.

The iPhone 4S is now available unlocked and contract free.
The iPhone 4S is now available unlocked and contract-free.

iPhone 4S buyers looking for an unlocked version of the new phone can now grab one directly from Apple.

The company has just started selling an unlocked and contract-free version of its new phone. In a nutshell, that means you can use the iPhone 4S without shelling out money for the usual two-year carrier contract. You can then jump from one network to another by picking up and inserting a micro-SIM card, which is available from each supported carrier.

An unlocked phone is especially handy for people who travel around the world and want to be able to use it across a range of countries and carriers.

Of course, there are one or two catches.

The unlocked edition of the iPhone 4S supports only GSM carriers, so using the phone with CDMA-based Verizon Wireless or Sprint is not an option. And since there's no two-year contract, you'll pay the full, non-subsidized price for the phone. The 16GB iPhone 4S runs $649, the 32GB version costs $749, and the 64GB model is priced at $849.

Apple's Web site currently shows a wait time of one to two weeks for the unlocked iPhone, the same number of weeks you'd wait for the regular subsidized version. As usual, you can buy the phone in either black or white.

Apple had initially teased users in early October that it would unveil an unlocked iPhone 4S sometime this month.

The company also sells an unlocked iPhone 4 for $549 and an unlocked 3GS for $375.