Image by wwphotos via Flickr
Apple's timing in launching unlocked iPhones here in the USA is just in time--for summer, and the heavy summer international travel season. Reports are the Apple online store now is selling them. I've owned a legally unlocked iPhone 4 since last December, and used it heavily since purchasing it at the London Apple Store on Regent Street. The phone has been for me a dream come true as I have now used it in six countries and each time with local SIMS. In the UK I prefer the H3G network, simply known as 3, same in Italy, SFR in France, Yoigo in Spain (note the SIM must be cut down) and both Vodafone and PT (Portugal Telecom) in Portugal.
Some tips for travel and hooking up with the right operator-
The Phone House Stores in Portugal and Spain are best informed. Be pushy and ask for a SIM that will work for both voice and data. I've written before about this and now after 10 weeks of Europe travel the last year with the unlocked iPhone they know what's best.
Remember to reset your network settings on the iPhone. Some carriers don't auto reset these.
Know how to recharge -AKA- The TopUp. In the UK visiting just about any supermarket will make it easy to recharge. Same with stores operated under the Carphone Warehouse brand. In Spain any counter in the nationwide department store chain, Cortes des Ingles will work. In Portugal, the Phone House, also in Spain many news stands offer recharge (recarga in Spanish). In Austria I found that many service stations offer top-ups and this is especially valuable on a Sunday when just about everything is closed.
One rub. Some apps are country iTunes App store specific, so if you don't have a local credit card, you won't be buying local apps unless they are sold in your country's own App store.