Great news for folks in the US who have been waiting for Apple to start selling unlocked versions of its latest handset. As we were expecting, the company has begun selling contract-free, unlocked GSM models of the iPhone 5 tonight in both its retail stores and online…

The new unlocked option, first spotted by MacRumors, can be found on Apple’s web store underneath the carrier choices on the iPhone 5 page. The link is labeled “or get iPhone unlocked and contract-free,” and clicking it brings up unlocked iPhone models and prices.

From Apple’s website:

“The unlocked iPhone includes all the features of iPhone but without a wireless contract commitment. You can activate and use iPhone on the supported GSM wireless network of your choice, such as AT&T in the United States. The unlocked iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 will not work with CDMA-based carriers such as Verizon Wireless or Sprint.

If you don’t want a multiyear service contract, or if you prefer to use a local carrier when traveling abroad, the unlocked iPhone is the best choice. It does not come with a micro-SIM card for iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, or a nano-SIM card for iPhone 5, so you’ll need to get one from any supported GSM carrier worldwide. To start using it, simply insert the card into the slot on your iPhone and turn it on by pressing and holding the On/Off button for a few seconds. Then follow the onscreen instructions to set up your iPhone.”

As far as pricing goes, there aren’t any surprises. Just like its predecessor, the 16GB version of the unlocked iPhone 5 starts at $649. And the 32GB and 64GB models cost $749 and $849 respectively. Again, these are just GSM units. But CDMA models are already unlocked.

Do you plan on purchasing an unlocked iPhone 5?