Most people assume that, when you buy an iPhone, you're also signing up for a two-year contract with AT&T or Verizon (if you're in the U.S.; there are lots of other carriers and plans in the rest of the world). That's because the attractive price of US$199 or $299 is advertised as requiring a two-year contract.
But it's possible to buy an iPhone without contract.
This is somewhat more common in the rest of the world, but it's possible the the U.S., too. The benefits of buying an iPhone without contract include that you're not tied to a two-year contract with a phone carrier, can pay month-to-month, and can switch to other phone companies whenever you want (though, as of now, AT&T-compatible iPhones don't work on Verizon, and vice versa).
The major downside, though, is that you don't get the benefit of the subsidized price offered by AT&T and Verizon. Which leads to the question: which is the cost of an iPhone without contract?
16GB model - $599
32GB - $699
16GB - $649
32GB - $749
While you won't find iPhones without contracts for sale on the Apple, AT&T, or Verizon websites, you can buy them in those companies' retail stores. You have to ask a salesperson for that option specifically.
Last Updated: April 6, 2011