If you own an iPhone 4 on AT&T, using the device while traveling internationally means paying sky-high roaming fees, jailbreaking or limiting data use to when you're on a WiFi network, either with a public hotspot or through a service like Xcom Global. Verizon iPhone 4 owners, however, don't have the option of GSM roaming at all, and can only make calls and use cellular data in countries that support CDMA. All that changes with the iPhone 4S, however -- Macworld has confirmed that Sprint will sell its version of the device with the Micro SIM slot unlocked, with Verizon offering free unlocking to customers after the first 60 days of service. iPhone 4S owners will then be able to purchase a Micro SIM overseas, allowing them to access data and make calls at local rates, for a fraction of what it would cost to roam. AT&T iPhone 4S owners won't have this option, however, so if you make frequent trips overseas, this benefit alone may be enough to justify purchasing the phone through Sprint or Verizon, saving some users hundreds or thousands of dollars in international roaming fees.

Update: A Sprint spokesperson has said that our source article was incorrect, telling us that its SIM will not be unlocked and adding that the card will not even be removable:

"Our SIM does not come out of the device - I believe the same is true of Verizon's iPhone but you would need to confirm that with them. Customers can sign up for one of our international rate plans and use this phone all over the world. When traveling internationally, there is a setting that must be turned on within the device to connect to GSM. The phone will work with a SIM that is provided within the device out of the box. International voice and data charges are on a pay-as-you-go basis and vary based on the country where the customer is using their phone; a list of rates is available at www.sprint.com/international."

Update 2: We heard from Sprint a second time, which redacted part of its previous statement. The carrier further explained "the SIM is removable and is not affixed to the device," which as you may notice directly contradicts the statement made earlier today. We've reached out to Apple twice and are awaiting further clarification.

Update 3: A Verizon spokesperson has confirmed that the original version of the article is in fact correct:

"The iPhone 4S works like all of our global phones. The phone comes in box with a SIM locked to our network and the network of our roaming partners including Vodafone, one of our parent companies. Customers sign up for a Verizon Wireless voice plan (beginning at $39.99 for 450 min.) and a data plan beginning at 2GB for $30. When they choose to go out of the country, they should call Verizon Wireless and sign up for a global plan. The customer can also request to have the SIM unlocked if they want to use a local service while out of the country. The request needs to be made prior to leaving the country, their bill must be current and the phone must be active on the account for 60 days before we will unlock the SIM."


[Thanks, Julio]

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Sprint and Verizon confirm iPhone 4S Micro SIM unlock for international travel (update: Sprint remains locked?)