Earlier this month, Apple announced that it would finally be offering unlocked iPhone 4s in the U.S. Unlocking the iPhone has largely been a process of the jailbreak community for the past few years, so needless to say the news was surprising.

Since the announcement, a lot of folks have been wondering whether or not AT&T or Apple would be able to unlock previously owned devices. Well, 9to5Mac has just discovered that some Apple stores do indeed have the ability to unlock AT&T-branded iPhones…

It seems that Apple retail stores are able to unlock AT&T iPhones, which are different than the unlocked models Apple announced earlier this month. The information comes from a “trusty retail source” who received this note from his higher ups:

“Running low on any of the Unlocked iPhone 4 SKUs? You’ve got a solution. Sell any of the AT&T iPhone 4 SKUs as Device Only, and they’ll get unlocked too.”

The catch? You must still purchase the device at full retail. So for the 16GB model you are looking at $650 and it’ll run you another $100 for the 32GB.

The interesting thing here is that Apple is unlocking these phones at the point of sale for the customer, who is then allowed to take the device to another carrier like T-Mobile. My how things have changed in the last 6 months.

Thoughts?