Unlocked French iPhones on sale for $1,437

The official price tag is right in the middle of the range France Telecom's CEO quoted yesterday

France Telecom set the price for an unlocked iPhone Wednesday at NZ$1,437 (US$1,106) — squarely in the middle of the range its CEO spelled out on Tuesday — as it started selling the iconic Apple smart phone throughout France.

The company's Orange mobile subsidiary, Apple's exclusive provider partner in France, is selling iPhones able to connect to other carriers for $1,437 when customers decline to sign a 12- or 24-month service contract.

Today, France Telecom CEO Didier Lombard had promised Orange would sell unlocked iPhones at "significantly lower" prices than the roughly $1,900 that rival T-Mobile charges its customers in Germany. The official price tag is right in the middle of the range Lombard quoted yesterday.

Orange priced the iPhone at $765 when purchased with a service plan, dubbed tariffs in Europe. Orange offers plans ranging in price from about $95 to $230, which include between 120 and 480 minutes. For an additional $190, Orange will unlock any locked iPhone, including those previously purchased with a 12- or 24-month contract.

Current Orange customers can purchase an iPhone without extending their existing contract, but the price jumps to the equivalent of $1,053, said the company.

Only Orange in France and T-Mobile in Germany are currently selling iPhones unlocked out of the box. T-Mobile, owned by Deutsche Telekom, began offering unlocked iPhones for about $1,900 after a German court ruled in favour of rival Vodafone Group, which had filed a lawsuit in Hamburg demanding that T-Mobile open the iPhone to other carriers.

iPhone buyers in the US and the UK have resorted to applying free or for-a-fee hacks to open their phones. According to comments made in late October by Apple executives, approximately 250,000 of the 1.4 million iPhones sold in the US had not been registered with AT&T, and had presumably been unlocked instead by their owners.

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