Apple to offer contract-free iPhone plans in retail stores – Unlocked iPhone 6 on launch day?

7 June 2014, 7:05 am EDT By Alexandra Burlacu Mobile & Apps

Apple is reportedly planning to boost in-store iPhone sales in the U.S. by allowing customers to purchase unlocked devices on pre-paid or month-to-month plans.

Purchasing an unlocked iPhone automatically means paying the full retail price for the device, with no subsidies, but it's a great move on Apple's part to finally allow customers to add pre-paid or month-to-month plans in its stores.

Currently, customers who shell out the full retail price to purchase an unlocked iPhone from Apple retail locations have to visit a carrier store or use a pre-activated SIM card in order to get service on the device. Changing this policy would make it far easier and more convenient, as customers would be able to choose their desired plans straight through the Apple Store, without any additional hassle.

As part of this effort, Apple Stores will reportedly stock AT&T GoPhone pre-paid activation kits, as well as T-Mobile SIM cards, in order to accommodate both T-Mobile and AT&T pre-paid plans. Apple will start training its employees in this regards over the next few weeks.

"Sales staff will promote ATT's $60 per month pre-paid plan (with 2.5GB of internet data and unlimited talk and text) to those seeking AT&T plans, while the stores will offer $50/month (1GB LTE data) and $70/month (5GB LTE data) unlimited data plans to customers seeking T-Mobile devices," a source told 9to5Mac, which was the first to report on Apple's upcoming move. "The activations must be done at the time of purchase in Apple Stores and those devices will be unable to be returned to Apple for a refund."

The publication further notes that these new pre-paid and month-to-month plans may become available at Apple Stores as soon as this month, in the last week of June. This new strategy is likely part of an effort to boost in-store device sales, as most iPhones are generally sold at third-party locations instead of Apple.

Apple has also made several efforts recently to boost in-store device sales, the last of which targeted iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S owners, encouraging them to upgrade to an iPhone 5S or iPhone 5C.

If this upcoming plan turn out to be accurate, it could mean great things for iPhone customers who prefer to buy their devices unlocked. Most notably, it could mean that the highly-anticipated iPhone 6 could be available for purchase unlocked on launch day.

Currently, customers who want to purchase an unlocked iPhone have no chance of getting it on launch day, as they have to wait weeks after the launch for the unlocked version to become available. Even then, it's available only for online order, and shipping takes another four to six weeks. We'll keep you up to date as soon as Apple makes an official announcement.

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