Would-be iPhoners can now purchase an unlocked 8 GB iPhone from Apple’s online Hong Kong store for 5,400 HKD (around $694) or a 16 GB for 6,200 HKD ($797). Below these prices Apple states that the “iPhone 3G purchased at the Apple Online Store can be activated with any wireless carrier. Simply insert the SIM from your current phone into iPhone 3G and connect to iTunes 8 to complete activation.”
The iPhone 3G launched on July 11 in Hong Kong and until now the handset has only been available with Hutchinson Telecommunications and with quite a hefty price plan. While it’s no longer uncommon for Apple to offer the iPhone 3G with multiple networks within a region, news that the carrier is selling the handset completely unlocked (and offering free shipping to anyone inside Hong Kong, no less) comes as a surprise.
It’s unclear as to why Apple made the decision to offer the device on an “any network will do” basis but we did notice that the company didn’t make much noise about the announcement, (i.e., there was none), which lends at least a little hope to the rest of us. Could this be the beginning of Apple offering the iPhone on any network in any country? We doubt it and we won’t get our hopes up, but it’s nice to dream.
The news follows last week’s reports that China Mobile was hoping to sell a stripped version of the iPhone without WiFi or 3G connectivity.