Prepay iPhone on the cards

It looks like any US consumer will be able to get their hands on the Apple iPhone when it launches next month, not just those on AT&T contracts.

Leaked screen shots that purport to be of AT&T’s internal accounts system have appeared on the internet, apparently showing the price plans on which the US carrier will offer the device.

The screen grabs show three subscription options, hybrid, postpaid and prepaid.

Hybrid is likely to be AT&T’s Go Phone Pick Your Plan subscription, which operates like a contract plan without the contract. Postpaid speaks for itself as a monthly contract plan, and prepaid we can assume to mean Go Phone Pay As You Go subscribers.

This means US consumers still locked in to their subscription on a rival network should be able to walk into an AT&T store and pick up a prepay iPhone and use their existing SIM with it.

AT&T has struck a “multi-year” exclusivity deal with Apple, under which only it will be able to sell the device. A move which is reportedly prompting consumers to leave their operators in droves and move to AT&T.

While details on the exclusivity deal are scant, AT&T has previously said that a two year service contract would be required.

But this throws up two potential problems with non-AT&T consumers getting their hands on an iPhone.

The first is that the device is likely to be locked to the AT&T network and Apple and AT&T may move to ensure that it stays this way. This would likely be done by blocking unlock requests through the official channels.

The second problem is price. AT&T has already said that with a two year subscription, a 4GB model will be priced at $499 and an 8GB model will sell for $599. A prepay version of the device could potentially add hundreds of dollars to the price, pushing it even further into the realms of luxury.

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