We’re t-minus three hours and counting until the iPhone 5 pre-orders begin, and some new information regarding model availability and pricing has just come to light.

According to several Apple customer service representatives, unlocked models of the iPhone 5 will not be available for tonight’s pre-order or even next week’s launch…

The Verge reports:

“We spoke with several Apple Store customer service representatives today, who informed us that US customers won’t be able to sign up for the unlocked variant of Apple’s new flagship phone when pre-orders start early tomorrow morning.The unlocked version also won’t be available from either the US online or brick-and-mortar Apple Stores when the iPhone 5 launches on September 21st.”

Conversely, unlocked iPhones will be available immediately for folks in Canada. But, as the site points out, all of the handsets sold in the Canada Apple Store are unlocked.

As far as pricing goes, it will be the same as the iPhone 4S. So when unlocked models become available here in the US, you’ll pay $649 for the 16GB, $749 for 32GB and $849 for 64GB. The word is that will happen sometime in the next several weeks.

Admittedly this is a bit disappointment for me. I was, like I’m sure several others were, hoping to be able to purchase an iPhone 5 tonight sans the carrier contract.

My gut says this was more of a carrier request, asking Apple to make sure stock goes to on-contract buyers first.

What do you think?