When the first iPhone 4S story was written here on SlashGear announcing said device, it was entitled iPhone 4S World Phone revealed - as it turns out, that doesn't mean the same thing to all carriers here in the United States. What we've got for you here is an official statement from Verizon outlining exactly how their iPhone 4S can be unlocked, just as it should be, when you're planning on traveling abroad. On the other hand, Sprint today confirms that they have no such plans to reveal the process to unlock their iPhone 4S because with them, no such ability exists!
To be doubly clear here, what owning a World Phone means in this case is that you're supposed to be able to trade out the SIM card in your device to work with whatever carrier you like when you're traveling abroad, for the iPhone 4S this means that, as Apple says, "whether you're a GSM or CDMA customer, you can roam GSM networks in 200 countries around the world." Sounds pretty convenient, yes? It certainly is if you've picked up the Verizon Wireless version of the iPhone 4S, at least. We've got confirmation of what the rules are exactly from Verizon Public Relations Spokesperson Brenda Raney, who notes:
"It is our standard unlock policy for all Global Phones. You have to have been a customer for 60 days and in good standing (meaning your bill is current) and the phone you want to unlock must be on our network at the time of the request. You call Verizon Wireless before you leave the country and we unlock the SIM. We will honor one unlock every 10 months." -- Brenda Raney, Verizon Wireless Public Relations
Sound easy enough to you?
Then there's Sprint, jumping in on the iPhone market here for the first time, perhaps taking too big a risk in doing so, having the iPhone 4S not available for international unlocking at all. Ask your local Sprint representative and they'll tell you the same: roaming internationally on Sprint will only be available with a specific plan chosen from Sprint's own collection, and no unlocking will be offered at any time in the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile Apple will be releasing unlocked versions of the iPhone 4S ranging in price from $649.00 to $849.00 depending on the GB storage you'd like inside. These devices only have access to GSM networks, on the other hand, so they will not work with CDMA carriers like Sprint or Verizon Wireless inside the states.
Does any of this sway your decision on if or from whom you'll buy?