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Following in the footsteps of what they did with the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S, Apple are set to make an unlocked iPhone 5 available. For the time being, the device will only be for sale in their online store.

According to sources, the decision to release an unlocked iPhone 5 at this time is not innocent. It is related to two main reasons: the proximity of the Christmas season, and the fact that orders on the iPhone 5 have finally begun to give Apple some breathing room, with stock keeping in stores and the online delivery time back to the standard one-week maximum.

An unlocked iPhone 5 isn’t set to any carrier, which means you can use a SIM card from any mobile phone operator that supports it. As you may expect, however, this comes at a price. Not being assigned to any plan means that you’ll have to pay full price for the iPhone, which may be too much for most people. However, the freedom to switch carriers may be compelling enough for some to prefer an unlocked phone to the standard version.