Overshadowed by Microsoft's long anticipated Xbox One console launch
today is the availability of unlocked iPhone 5S handsets
. By "available," we mean that Apple is now accepting orders for SIM-free iPhone 5S devices to customers living in the United States, though new orders won't actually ship out for 1-2 weeks, according to Apple's website.
Other than shipping without a SIM card, there's nothing different about these handsets from a physical standpoint. Some people opt to go the unlocked route to avoid being locked into a long-term service contract with a wireless carrier. These devices also come in handy if you frequently travel abroad, as you can hook up with a local carrier and avoid exorbitant international roaming rates. The disadvantage of going this route is that you have to pay full price for the handset.
To use an unlocked iPhone 5S, you need to provide your own GSM-compatible SIM card, which you can get from AT&T or T-Mobile, the two wireless carriers these devices are compatible with.
Pricing runs $649 for the 16GB model, $749 for the 32GB model, and $849 for the 64GB model. All three color options (Space Gray, Gold, and Silver) are available for each SKU.