More than a month after launching the iPhone X, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has expanded the lineup. The Cupertino company has started selling the SIM-free, unlocked iPhone X. You can buy the unlocked iPhone X directly through Apple’s website, retail stores, and the Apple Store app. The unlocked iPhone X was previously only available through Best Buy or Verizon. Best Buy was charging a $100 premium over the regular price, but was forced to withdraw the device after facing consumer backlash.

Apple Launches Unlocked iPhone X
Image Source: Apple.com (screenshot)

Unlocked iPhone X works with any carrier of your choice

If you visit Apple’s website to buy the $1,000 phone, you’ll see a new fifth option “Buy without a carrier” besides the AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile versions. The SIM-free version has same specifications as the other iPhone X variants. However, it will support both the GSM and CDMA networks and will work with any carrier of your choosing.

The unlocked iPhone X does not ship with a carrier SIM card. You can go with any carrier of your choice or use a prepaid SIM card. There isn’t a huge difference between the new SIM-free version and the Verizon variant. Verizon has been selling the unlocked versions of Apple’s flagship iPhones for years, allowing you to switch between GSM and CDMA networks. But buying an unlocked iPhone X through Verizon would require Verizon account credentials.

The SIM-free model starts at $999 for the 64GB version and $1,149 for the 256GB variant, same as the other iPhone X models. The unlocked iPhone X would appeal to people who travel internationally frequently or want the freedom to switch between carriers. It also ensures that you are not stuck with a particular carrier or their financing programs.

According to Apple’s website, the unlocked iPhone X shipping time is just five days in the United States. Depending on the city, you might even be able to pick up the device from an Apple Store right now. The shipping times are similar to the other models of the iPhone X. Since the unlocked version has become available only now, it’s too early to predict its availability in the long term. If you want to buy one, get it at the earliest.

The iPhone X shipping times were pushed back to 5-6 weeks when the device went on sale in the first week of November. The scarce availability was due to a strong demand and poor supply. Since then, Apple has resolved all the production bottlenecks. Its partners are now producing 450,000 to 550,000 iPhone X handsets per day, up from merely 50,000 to 150,000 a few weeks ago. The ship times have also improved in Canada, Europe, and many Asian markets.

Delayed iPhone X launch hurt Apple’s market share

A research firm pointed out that the delayed release of the iPhone X hurt Apple’s market share. According to data from Kantar WorldPanel, the Cupertino company lost market share in the US, Europe, Japan, and many other markets to Android phones during October quarter. The iOS market share in the US fell to 32.9% from 40.6% in the same quarter a year ago.

Apple launched the iPhone X in November rather than in September when it introduced the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus were minor upgrades and didn’t sell in huge volumes. It means millions of customers were holding out for the iPhone X or at least wanted to see the early reviews of the device before deciding which phone to buy. The October quarter was a dull phase for the iOS devices.

According to Kantar, the iOS’s market share declined by 8.5% in Great Britain, 6.9% in Japan, 2.1% in Europe. The only bright spot for iOS was Urban China, where its market share went up from 16.9% to 17.4%. Android gained share in most markets during the October quarter. Its share went to 66.2% in the US, up from 58% in the same period a year ago.

Kantar WorldPanel’s global business unit director Dominic Sunnebo said the decline in iOS’s share was “significant” and it puts pressure on the iPhone X to perform. Though Apple hasn’t revealed the iPhone X sales numbers, the company has said that the opening weekend sales were “off the charts.” The older iPhone 7 and 7 Plus have also been selling well after receiving a price cut in September.

iPhone X sales stronger than iPhone 7, iPhone 8

Data from IHS Markit shows that the iPhone X sales have surpassed the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8. The anniversary iPhone accounts for more than 2% of the total iPhone installed base just three weeks after its release. The iPhone X has seen the highest adoption rate in countries with high per capita income such as Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, and Denmark.

IHS Markit added that the iPhone X witnessed particularly strong demand in countries where the “Plus” iPhones have sold well. Consumers in these markets value the dual camera setup and a larger display, and can afford to pay the premium for additional features. IHS Markit estimates that Apple would ship 88.8 million iPhones during the holiday quarter – the highest ever quarterly sales.