Buying/preording off-contract on release day

SR71

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Jan 12, 2011
1,589
305
Boston, MA
Anyone remember how this worked last year with the 5S? Were people able to preorder or buy the 5S off-contract (I mean the carrier specific models, not the unlocked ones) on release day?
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
63,836
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Boston
I think you could only buy T-Mobile at full price the other carriers required the subsidized prices - at least initially.
 

runningtowin

macrumors member
Jan 2, 2011
81
0
Anyone remember how this worked last year with the 5S? Were people able to preorder or buy the 5S off-contract (I mean the carrier specific models, not the unlocked ones) on release day?
You should be able to buy T-Mobile and maybe the SIM-free model (though they're identical, no reason to not grab the T-Mobile model, just in case). This is what I'll be doing. The off-contract (i.e. $700) Verizon model will be a couple months off, I'd expect.
 

T5BRICK

macrumors G3
Aug 3, 2006
8,086
2,055
Oregon
I bought my off contract AT&T iPhone 5s about a month after the original release date. Some stores were selling them on day one though. It really depends on the person you speak with.
 

Sodner

macrumors 68020
Jan 12, 2011
2,081
39
Pittsburgh, PA
i've always got my iPhones on release day at the subsidized price using either my wife's or my own upgrade. But this year I'll be buying the 6 at retail. I can't believe that if I'm prepared to fork over $800 or more they aren't going to take my money and hand me a phone. I don't care if the phone is unlocked or not. I'll just want a phone that works on AT&T.
 

citivolus

macrumors 6502a
Sep 19, 2008
763
85
Bought two from apple.com and two from att on release day.
was that the T-mobile model or the sim-free model? IIRC there were no pre-orders for the 5S so I would hope to buy the sim-free model of the iPhone 6 from Apple's website and pick it up later in the day on launch day.
 

CEmajr

macrumors 601
Dec 18, 2012
4,373
1,132
Charlotte, NC
was that the T-mobile model or the sim-free model? IIRC there were no pre-orders for the 5S so I would hope to buy the sim-free model of the iPhone 6 from Apple's website and pick it up later in the day on launch day.
The "T-Mobile" model IS the sim-free model except it just comes with a T-Mobile sim card. If you don't plan on using T-Mobile you can just throw away the sim and insert one from your carrier of choice. That's the one I bought on day 1 last year. Fully unlocked.
 

1080p

macrumors 68030
Mar 17, 2010
2,709
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Planet Earth
You guys are "half correct."

The T-Mobile variant is unlocked... IF YOU BUY IT FROM APPLE.

If you buy it from T-Mobile, it is locked to T-Mobile... even if you buy it outright. But, since you aren't buying it on EIP or contract, T-Mobile will unlock it for you if you've been a customer for 2 years and haven't requested more than 2 unlocks per line per year.
 

Woochifer

macrumors 6502a
Apr 22, 2007
685
0
Apple did not make any "unlocked" models available at launch. Anyone who wanted to buy an unlocked iPhone 5s in the U.S. had the following options:

1) Buy the T-Mobile version, either online or at the Apple Store. Since T-Mobile had already done away with contracts by that time, all of the units sold by Apple were unlocked. They came preloaded with a T-Mobile SIM, but were otherwise identical to official 'unlocked" phones that Apple made available over a month later.

2) Buy the AT&T or Verizon versions at the Apple Store and request the device-only option. You could not buy a device-only AT&T or Verizon phone through Apple's website (and still cannot).

----------

You guys are "half correct."

The T-Mobile variant is unlocked... IF YOU BUY IT FROM APPLE.

If you buy it from T-Mobile, it is locked to T-Mobile... even if you buy it outright. But, since you aren't buying it on EIP or contract, T-Mobile will unlock it for you if you've been a customer for 2 years and haven't requested more than 2 unlocks per line per year.
That's not totally correct either. T-Mobile will unlock a phone purchased outright from their carrier stores after 40 days on a postpaid plan, or 1 year (or after posting $100 in refills) on a prepaid plan. If you're on a contract, you also have to have migrated the plan to a contract-free monthly plan.

http://support.t-mobile.com/docs/DOC-1588
 

citivolus

macrumors 6502a
Sep 19, 2008
763
85
Well I hope Apple will make unlocked versions of the iPhone 6 available at launch. Given the fact that subsidy plans are quickly on their way out in the US, I imagine lots more people such as myself will be looking for unlocked versions going forward.
 

Woochifer

macrumors 6502a
Apr 22, 2007
685
0
Well I hope Apple will make unlocked versions of the iPhone 6 available at launch. Given the fact that subsidy plans are quickly on their way out in the US, I imagine lots more people such as myself will be looking for unlocked versions going forward.
That's why the T-Mobile versions were the most difficult to find when the 5s launched. The ones sold by Apple were all factory unlocked, and available in-person and online. People looking to resell also went for the T-Mobile models first, since they were readily usable overseas.
 

mobutt

macrumors 6502
Jun 22, 2010
441
48
i buy on launch a full price att model and it's always unlocked. Has been since 4s.
 

1080p

macrumors 68030
Mar 17, 2010
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Planet Earth
That's not totally correct either. T-Mobile will unlock a phone purchased outright from their carrier stores after 40 days on a postpaid plan, or 1 year (or after posting $100 in refills) on a prepaid plan. If you're on a contract, you also have to have migrated the plan to a contract-free monthly plan.

http://support.t-mobile.com/docs/DOC-1588
You are correct and mine was a brain fart. I meant to say 2 months.
 

nutmac

macrumors 601
Mar 30, 2004
4,170
2,031
I am on AT&T MobileShare plan and I am in a bit of a conundrum myself. Assuming Apple does not change the pricing....

2-year contract:
  • Upfront with upgrade fee, before taxes: $239 (16GB), $339 (32GB), or $439 (64GB)
  • Monthly premium: $15 for 2 years
  • Total before subscription and taxes: $599 (16GB), $699 (32GB), or $799 (64GB)
  • Upgrade eligibility: 2 years

Next 12:
  • Upfront before taxes: $0
  • Monthly premium: $32.50 (16GB), $37.50 (32GB), $42.50 (64GB) for 20 months
  • Total before subscription and taxes: $650 (16GB), $750 (32GB), or $850 (64GB)
  • Upgrade eligibility: 1 year

Next 18:
  • Upfront before taxes: $0
  • Monthly premium: $27.08 (16GB), $31.25 (32GB), $35.42 (64GB) for 2 years
  • Total before subscription and taxes: $649.92 (16GB), $750 (32GB), or $850.08 (64GB)
  • Upgrade eligibility: 18 months

Unlocked and contract-free (SIM-free):
  • Upfront before taxes: $649 (16GB), $749 (32GB), or $849 (64GB)
  • Monthly installment: $0
  • Monthly premium: $0
  • Total before subscription and taxes: $649 (16GB), $749 (32GB), or $849 (64GB)
  • Upgrade eligibility: immediate

If you want to save money, traditional 2-year contract is still the way to go. But if you want to upgrade before 2 years and/or want unlocked phone, buying the phone unlocked maybe worth $50 premium.
 

Deguello

macrumors 6502a
Jun 29, 2008
912
480
Texas
I am on AT&T MobileShare plan and I am in a bit of a conundrum myself. Assuming Apple does not change the pricing....

2-year contract:
  • Upfront with upgrade fee, before taxes: $239 (16GB), $339 (32GB), or $439 (64GB)
  • Monthly premium: $15 for 2 years
  • Total before subscription and taxes: $599 (16GB), $699 (32GB), or $799 (64GB)
  • Upgrade eligibility: 2 years

Next 12:
  • Upfront before taxes: $0
  • Monthly premium: $32.50 (16GB), $37.50 (32GB), $42.50 (64GB) for 20 months
  • Total before subscription and taxes: $650 (16GB), $750 (32GB), or $850 (64GB)
  • Upgrade eligibility: 1 year

Next 18:
  • Upfront before taxes: $0
  • Monthly premium: $27.08 (16GB), $31.25 (32GB), $35.42 (64GB) for 2 years
  • Total before subscription and taxes: $649.92 (16GB), $750 (32GB), or $850.08 (64GB)
  • Upgrade eligibility: 18 months

Unlocked and contract-free (SIM-free):
  • Upfront before taxes: $649 (16GB), $749 (32GB), or $849 (64GB)
  • Monthly installment: $0
  • Monthly premium: $0
  • Total before subscription and taxes: $649 (16GB), $749 (32GB), or $849 (64GB)
  • Upgrade eligibility: immediate

If you want to save money, traditional 2-year contract is still the way to go. But if you want to upgrade before 2 years and/or want unlocked phone, buying the phone unlocked maybe worth $50 premium.
Why is that the way to save money? I'd be paying an extra $25 per month on service for 24 months.
 
Last edited:

rman0726

macrumors regular
Jun 18, 2009
115
14
Why is that the way to save money? I'd be paying an extra $25 per month on service for 24 months.
You also have to pay the $40 upgrade fee for the two year contract, which is waived with off-contract and Next.
 

Woochifer

macrumors 6502a
Apr 22, 2007
685
0
I am on AT&T MobileShare plan and I am in a bit of a conundrum myself. Assuming Apple does not change the pricing....

2-year contract:
  • Upfront with upgrade fee, before taxes: $239 (16GB), $339 (32GB), or $439 (64GB)
  • Monthly premium: $15 for 2 years
  • Total before subscription and taxes: $599 (16GB), $699 (32GB), or $799 (64GB)
  • Upgrade eligibility: 2 years

Next 12:
  • Upfront before taxes: $0
  • Monthly premium: $32.50 (16GB), $37.50 (32GB), $42.50 (64GB) for 20 months
  • Total before subscription and taxes: $650 (16GB), $750 (32GB), or $850 (64GB)
  • Upgrade eligibility: 1 year

Next 18:
  • Upfront before taxes: $0
  • Monthly premium: $27.08 (16GB), $31.25 (32GB), $35.42 (64GB) for 2 years
  • Total before subscription and taxes: $649.92 (16GB), $750 (32GB), or $850.08 (64GB)
  • Upgrade eligibility: 18 months

Unlocked and contract-free (SIM-free):
  • Upfront before taxes: $649 (16GB), $749 (32GB), or $849 (64GB)
  • Monthly installment: $0
  • Monthly premium: $0
  • Total before subscription and taxes: $649 (16GB), $749 (32GB), or $849 (64GB)
  • Upgrade eligibility: immediate

If you want to save money, traditional 2-year contract is still the way to go. But if you want to upgrade before 2 years and/or want unlocked phone, buying the phone unlocked maybe worth $50 premium.
Stuff like this makes my eyes glaze over! :cool: It's the exact reason why I opted to go without a smartphone altogether until late last year, rather than lock myself down with a contract.

The part that's missing on this chart is the total cost of ownership when you include the monthly service charges. AT&T's monthly device charge on a BYOD plan will vary depending on how much data you purchase. With 10 GB or more, the monthly premium for going on-contract increases to $25 per line.

IMO, it's all loaded with conditions and confusion galore by design. Decoupling the device cost from the monthly service fee gives consumers a straight answer on how much something costs and makes the math much clearer.
 

citivolus

macrumors 6502a
Sep 19, 2008
763
85
I am on AT&T MobileShare plan and I am in a bit of a conundrum myself. Assuming Apple does not change the pricing....

2-year contract:
  • Upfront with upgrade fee, before taxes: $239 (16GB), $339 (32GB), or $439 (64GB)
  • Monthly premium: $15 for 2 years
  • Total before subscription and taxes: $599 (16GB), $699 (32GB), or $799 (64GB)
  • Upgrade eligibility: 2 years

Next 12:
  • Upfront before taxes: $0
  • Monthly premium: $32.50 (16GB), $37.50 (32GB), $42.50 (64GB) for 20 months
  • Total before subscription and taxes: $650 (16GB), $750 (32GB), or $850 (64GB)
  • Upgrade eligibility: 1 year

Next 18:
  • Upfront before taxes: $0
  • Monthly premium: $27.08 (16GB), $31.25 (32GB), $35.42 (64GB) for 2 years
  • Total before subscription and taxes: $649.92 (16GB), $750 (32GB), or $850.08 (64GB)
  • Upgrade eligibility: 18 months

Unlocked and contract-free (SIM-free):
  • Upfront before taxes: $649 (16GB), $749 (32GB), or $849 (64GB)
  • Monthly installment: $0
  • Monthly premium: $0
  • Total before subscription and taxes: $649 (16GB), $749 (32GB), or $849 (64GB)
  • Upgrade eligibility: immediate

If you want to save money, traditional 2-year contract is still the way to go. But if you want to upgrade before 2 years and/or want unlocked phone, buying the phone unlocked maybe worth $50 premium.
I don't think you're factoring the value of the device after upgrade. In the Next plan, I believe you are guaranteed a (low) trade in value, whereas in the contract-free option you could probably get much more for it by selling it on CL, Swappa, or eBay.
 

EM2013

macrumors 68000
Sep 2, 2013
1,740
1,365
I'm curious to know if you can preorder a sprint iphone, online not in store, at full price? Will have to buy full price since I used my upgrade last year for 5S :(
 
Last edited:

mjschabow

macrumors 68030
Dec 25, 2013
2,606
2,109
I'm curious to know if you can preorder a sprint iphone, online not in store, at full price? Will have to buy full price since I used my upgrade last year for 5S :(

My question as well. It would be nice to have the option to purchase off contract online on release day.
 

mr99

macrumors 6502a
Jan 8, 2014
520
44
i buy on launch a full price att model and it's always unlocked. Has been since 4s.
I've always wondered, why do people buy them full price instead of subsidy? I understand not wanting a contract but the difference is many hundreds of dollars. Are you on a share plan that is much cheaper/month since you're not subsidizing a device?