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Apple makes SIM-free version of iPhone XR available in the United States

Apple has started to offer the iPhone XR in a SIM-free option in the United States, with the most recent iPhone release now able to be acquired without it being provisioned for one of the country's four major carriers.

The online Apple Store showing the SIM-free iPhone XR option

The online Apple Store showing the SIM-free iPhone XR option


New iPhone releases are usually offered to customers in the United States as being activated to work on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon's networks, with the carrier selectable during the ordering process. A separate option to "Buy without a carrier" provides customers with a SIM-free device, which can be activated with any carrier at a later time.

For the release of the iPhone XR in the United States, the SIM-free option was notably missing, with customers forced to select a carrier if they were ordering through the online Apple Store. For customers who want to use a different carrier, this caused problems as the carrier-specific versions offered are not necessarily compatible with the other networks when unlocked, with varying support for different LTE bands.

On Thursday, Apple added the option to acquire the SIM-free version for U.S.-based customers. The SIM-free variant is usually the most compatible option for most mobile networks, and is also the handiest for travelers who would prefer an unlocked device so they can easily swap the SIM card out for a local carrier when in a foreign country.

It is unclear exactly why the SIM-free version was delayed for the iPhone XR in the United States. In other markets, SIM-free model options were offered right from when the iPhone XR was first made available.

The SIM-free version of the iPhone XR costs the same as the carrier-specific versions, priced at $749 for the 64-gigabyte capacity model and rising to $899 for the 256-gigabyte variant.