With the iPhone 5s experience heading to Boost Mobile sometime soon, the message is apparent: small carriers that do not carry the iPhone will lose customers. US Cellular is in the same boat: it has said that it will carry the iPhone, although 9 regional carriers have been announced as carrying the iPhone in their lineup starting with the iPhone 5s – and US Cellular has said nothing about its iPhone lineup.

Even with the national carriers selling the iPhone on a regular basis (T-Mobile being the last of the top 4), carriers still want to set themselves apart from the crowd. Verizon is in this position, trying to differentiate itself from the other three top carriers so that you will choose Big Red every time.

iPhone 5S unboxed
Verizon’s iPhone 5S will work on both AT&T and T-Mobile networks.

Verizon sold the iPhone 5 last year as an unlocked device, right out of the box, and the carrier is doing the same thing now with Apple’s latest iPhone 5s. The iPhone 5s unlocked status is one that shouldn’t go unnoticed.


Why the Unlocked iPhone 5s is Good Marketing Strategy

The iPhone 5s comes in both locked and unlocked models. Consumers who have two-year contracts or want to get the price at a discount sign up for a locked model. Carriers lock iPhones so that consumers will not be able to take their device elsewhere, should they refuse to pay the balance on their account or pay off the remaining balance on their iPhone.

There are carriers (most fit in this group) that will unlock your iPhone after you’ve been with them for, say, three months (AT&T fits in this group). T-Mobile will do the same after some period of time, but you can get the device unlocked out of the box if you pay the full retail price for the device while purchasing service with the carrier.

In Verizon’s case, it finds itself in a unique position: a carrier that will allow contract customers to have an unlocked iPhone 5s, even during the contract experience. AT&T will let you have the same, but it will take 12 weeks to achieve this goal. Verizon, on the other hand, won’t make you wait another minute beyond the second you sign your contract.

Why is this good for Verizon? It is a good marketing strategy for Verizon because Big Red is the only carrier to allow your device to use both AT&T and T-Mobile networks while on a two-year contract. When you’re overseas in Europe and need to stop in and buy a local SIM to use your iPhone 5s, Verizon will allow you to do so.

Now, don’t get me wrong: AT&T and T-Mobile both allow you to use the unlocked iPhone 5s (retail price: $649 for 16GB, $749 for 32GB, $849 for 64GB) on their networks as well. These two carriers are known as GSM carriers – “GSM” being an acronym for “Global System for Mobile Communications.”

In other words, GSM phones (or unlocked phones, as most people know them) allow you to use your phone anywhere in the world (“global system” for a reason). CDMA carriers provide two-year contracts, but you cannot use these phones internationally. In other words, they come SIM-locked. The SIM card located in them is locked to the carrier network  alone.

In short, you may not like the fact that Verizon doesn’t allow unlimited data plans anymore (forgiving the software glitch issue from this past weekend), but Verizon’s iPhone 5s does have an edge over the others. And if you’re a travelin’ man or woman, you may want to give Verizon’s iPhone 5s some serious thought.