Apple Begins Selling Unlocked iPhone 5 in the U.S.

Love the iPhone but hate contracts? As of today, Apple has begun offering a carrier-unlocked version of the new iPhone 5.

Because these are factory-unlocked iPhones, they cost more than those requiring a contract. When purchased through AT&T, Sprint or Verizon, the iPhone 5 is subsidized in part by the carrier when they lock you into a monthly contract. Contract subsidized iPhones are priced at either $199, $299, or $399 (for 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB versions), an unlocked iPhone 5 will cost you $649, $749, or $849 for the same capacities.

Shelling out the extra $450 means that you can use your phone without contract requirements. That means you can take your phone to other GSM networks, which in the U.S. include AT&T and T-Mobile (which does not sell the iPhone), as well as a number of smaller providers like Straight Talk.