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By Sarah de Sainte Croix, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – According to Apple’s Brazilian website, unlocked iPhone 4S handsets will be available to buy, direct from the manufacturer, on December 16th for the first time ever in Brazil. Until now, the coveted cell phones have only been available to buy through mobile network operators, often as part of a pricey and long-term call plan, but Apple’s announcement looks set to change all that.

Unlocked iPhones available in Brazil
Unlocked iPhones available in Brazil from December 16th, photo by William Hook/Flickr Creative Commons License.

Its website says, “When you get your [unlocked] iPhone from Apple’s online store … you will be able to sign up to services from an operator of your choosing, and even change your operator whenever you please.”

Although the official price tag has yet to be released, a Brazilian financial publication, Valor Econômico, is predicting prices will start at R$2,100 for the 16 gigabytes model, and R$2,700 for the 32GB version.

However, Foxconn is expected to begin production of the handsets at their factory in São Paulo by the end of the year, and once those handsets reach the market, it is anticipated that prices will drop.

Currently the unlocked iPhone 4 32G iPhone retails for R$1,175 in the U.S., although the web site reports they are out of stock.

Read more (in Portuguese).

* The Rio Times Daily Update is a new feature we are offering to help keep you up-to-date with major news as it happens.

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