Ricky Morris, DIGITIMES, Taipei [Monday 15 December 2008]
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Contrary to earlier expectations, iPhone 3Gs bought in the Taiwan market are not restricted to only using SIM cards from Chunghwa Telecom (CHT), leaving owners the option to switch service providers, or use their smartphones with a local SIM card when traveling.
Prior to the launch last weekend, representatives from CHT and its retailers had said that iPhones bought in Taiwan would only work on its own network. However, when early adopters actually tried switching SIM cards they discovered that the phones operated fine on the other carriers’ networks, with the only limitation being they could not access CHT’s Hami value added web services.
If CHT continues its policy of not SIM-locking, Taiwan could become a popular source of gray market iPhones in other countries. The ability to use the phone on other networks without the need for a modified SIM card or resorting to software hacks to the phone’s baseband firmware would give importers peace of mind that they will not see their phones rendered unusable in their home country whenever Apple releases a new software update.
However, Taiwan sourced iPhones are likely to carry a high premium. The retail cost of an 8GB iPhone 3G without a contract is NT$26,600 (US$800) while 16GB models cost NT$29,900. Buyers willing to sign a two-year contract are able to get the handset at a reduced cost, but in these cases CHT is requiring a refundable deposit ranging up to NT$24,000.