Verizon has officially told the AP that the SIM slot on its iPhone 5, which shipped unlocked, won’t be re-locked later on, as was the case with the initial shipment of Sprint iPhone 4S devices sold last year. That means that Verizon iPhone 5 owners can effectively use their devices with any GSM carriers around the world, including AT&T in the U.S.
That freedom not only to travel, but even to switch carriers within the U.S. once a contract expires puts a big premium on Verizon iPhone devices, if you ask me, allowing customers to save money both in the near- and long-term. It also increases the resale value of used Verizon devices, since the person you’re selling to doesn’t have to be on the same carrier.
There is a significant caveat, however: The iPhone 5 from Verizon will need Verizon’s network to achieve true 4G LTE speeds, while on AT&T it would have to settle for so-called “4G” HSPA+ network connections. That’s still a far cry better than being limited to EDGE, however, and probably plenty fast enough for most people.
As for the competition, AT&T has a policy of unlocking phones once they’re off-contract, and Sprint provides unlocking for international use only after a customer has been in good standing for six months or more.
Long story short, frequent business travelers looking for as little hassle as possible when taking their phones on the road would do well to give Verizon a good long look if they’re interested in buying an iPhone 5. Well played, Verizon.