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My, how far we've come from the days when only AT&T carried the iPhone. As 9to5 Mac reports, today Apple started the rollout of unlocked models of the iPhone 5s without SIM cards on the online Apple Store. There's a bit of a delay involved, however, as you'll need to wait around one or two weeks for the SIM-free phones to ship over the three to five business days for carrier specific models.
In theory, at least, this isn't the first time that Apple's made such phones available. 9to5 Mac points out that the iPhones carried by T-Mobile have been unlocked since they were launched, although the carrier (understandably) didn't play this up in its marketing. Apparently there was also a brief slip not long after the 5s' launch in which Apple declared some phones were unlocked and SIM-free, but it was quickly retracted.
And thus this marks the first time that Apple has ever expressed that it has unlocked, SIM-free phones available for sale (and from its own store, at that). But don't expect such freedom to equate into savings. According to Apple's page, the pricing for the SIM-free versions remains the same as it does for its carrier-specific siblings.
If there's one small catch, it's that the phones can only be used with GSM networks. If you're an overseas Apple aficionado (or at the very least, a frequent traveler), make sure your network is compatible before taking advantage of this offer.
Follow this article's writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.