Unlocked Apple iPhone 4 Finally Hit Market: 10 Reasons Not to Buy Them

News Analysis: Apple's iPhone 4 is now available unlocked in the U.S. While some people have waited a long time for a chance to get their hands on an unlocked iPhone, buying one now would be a bad idea.

Apple's newly unveiled unlocked iPhone 4 models in the United States will deliver consumers and enterprise customers the same experience as the current, locked iPhone, but allow them to choose the carrier that they want to work with. Several other companies over the years have been offering unlocked devices, but Apple's decision to do so gives consumers the opportunity to determine if they want to stay with an iPhone locked into a specific wireless carrier or try something new.

Buying an unlocked iPhone might seem like a no-brainer for some eager consumers. Yes, having an unlocked iPhone might appeal to some folks out there who want to have choices, but for the vast majority of customers looking to talk on a wireless phone, send emails and surf the Web, buying an unlocked iPhone 4, rather than a cheaper locked version, just doesn't make much sense.

Read on to find out why consumers and enterprise customers alike shouldn't waste their time with unlocked iPhone 4 units and stick with the iPhone 4s already sitting on store shelves.
1. It's expensive

In a time where the economy is in a state of uncertainty and people are looking for the best value for their money, Apple is selling unlocked iPhone 4s for $649 and $749. Those same devices can be purchased for $199 and $299 with a two-year contract. Considering either option - locked or unlocked-will still require mobile-phone service to work, saving $450 on a smartphone seems like a fine idea.

2. Local travelers don't need it

The only real benefit of buying an unlocked iPhone is its international support. Users will be able to easily access a different carrier's network elsewhere around the world and have the same experience of using the smartphone as they do in the United States. But if a person doesn't travel overseas and plans to only stay within the U.S. borders over the next couple years, buying an unlocked iPhone makes little sense.

3. AT&T's pending merger

Currently, there are two GSM providers in the United States. But with AT&T's announcement earlier this year that it plans to acquire T-Mobile USA for $39 billion, it might not be long before there is a single GSM carrier in the U.S. At that point, having an unlocked iPhone 4 won't make much of a difference. Given the market factors, opting for a device that might not even be required a year from now doesn't seem like the best idea.

4. What's so bad with locked phones?

Though there are some out there that tout the versatility of unlocked smartphones, there's little reason to get one. They tend to be extremely expensive, they deliver no tangible benefit over locked versions, and getting them set-up with a carrier tends to be more a pain than it has to be. There's nothing wrong with locked phones and consumers should keep that in mind.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...