US customers looking to pick up an iPhone 5 unencumbered by a carrier's contract will have to put those dreams on hold — at least for a little bit. We spoke with several Apple Store customer service representatives today, who informed us that US customers won't be able to sign up for the unlocked variant of Apple's new flagship phone when pre-orders start early tomorrow morning. The unlocked version also won't be available from either the US online or brick-and-mortar Apple Stores when the iPhone 5 launches on September 21st. Canadian customers, however, will be able to get in on the action right away when pre-orders begin (all of the iPhones solds from the Canada Apple Store are unlocked).
As first noticed by TechCrunch, Apple's website already lists the pricing of the unlocked iPhone 5. In the US, the unlocked model — when available — will be offered in the traditional 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB sizes, priced at $649, $749, and $849, respectively. In Canada, they're priced at CAD $699, CAD $799, and CAD $899.
The Apple Store representatives told us that the unlocked version will be available to US customers sometime over the next several weeks. A minor delay in the US isn't anything new; last year, the unlocked iPhone 4S wasn't available in the US until November, and given that the unlocked models are GSM-only there's no reason to wait if you're a Sprint or Verizon customer in the first place. Still, it's sure to be a bit frustrating for those that want to get their hands on the iPhone 5's 4-inch screen without succumbing to a two-year commitment. We've reached out to Apple for comment on the unlocked model's official US availability.