Is An Unlocked iPhone Really That Great?

Apple's iPhone 5 is now available unlocked for those who don't want to even think about being stuck with a carrier. However, the unlocked handset won't come cheap – the device ships for a starting price of $699 for a 16GB option, and quickly goes up to $899 for the 64GB version.To put that into perspective, Apple's iPhone 5 ships for a starting price of $199 for those customers that are willing to be caught in the grips of a major carrier, like AT&T or Verizon. The top-of-the-line 64GB model goes for $399 when it's locked down.

For years now, I've been hearing my tech-obsessed friends that unlocked phones are awesome. They tell me as often as I'll listen that buying an unlocked handset means freedom and in some cases, could save you some cash on an otherwise expensive phone.

Plus, they say, "do you really want to be forced into a relationship with AT&T or Verizon? I mean, come on!"

I can say with utmost honesty that I really don't care about being locked into a carrier relationship. Every two years, I dutifully recycle my iPhone for a new one. And when I do so, I don't wait for the unlocked handset so I can proclaim my desire to be free; I go to a carrier store and buy a locked-down device.

Call me crazy, but I find far more value in saving $500 on a smartphone than feeling the freedom of unlocking a smartphone. And as troublesome as I know carriers can be, I don't think they're so bad that I would need to go to the extreme decision of buying an unlocked iPhone to show them just how mad I am. Do you think carriers, with tens of millions of customers, really care?

[aquote]The steep savings are few and far between[/aquote]

Now, for those who travel abroad and spend a lot of time overseas, I can definitely see the reasoning behind buying an unlocked iPhone. I'll also acknowledge that there are some cases in which an unlocked handset is a lot cheaper for customers. However, we should point out that in many cases, the steep savings are few and far between.

From what I've found, getting locked into a carrier relationship, while not ideal, really isn't the end of the world. Sure, I pay a significant sum every month just to have smartphones running in my home, but at the end of the day, all I really want is a nice phone that will let me place calls, play with apps, use the Web, and make some video calls from time to time. Having an unlocked phone that lets me pick a carrier just seems like an extra headache I don't need.

After all, do we really need that extra wrinkle in our relationship with smartphones? It's bad enough buying a smartphone, linking it up to our numbers, and ensuring all of our services have been turned on. Who would want to do that on a regular basis?

And maybe I'm cheap or something, but $699 for a freaking cell phone is expensive.