unlocked iphone 5

Apple’s been experimenting with installment payments in emerging markets for some time now. For example, installment payments coupled with increased marketing helped quadruple Apple’s single-digit iPhone market share in India. And in China, the online Apple Store offers 1, 3, 6 and 12 payment installment options with no interest, thanks to Apple’s partnership with China Merchants Bank.

That being said, in what appears to be another effort to improve its standing in the US market, Apple has reportedly partnered with Barclay’s to offer a no-interest option on T-Mobile iPhone 5 sales at Apple Stores…

Terms of purchase are said to be the same as on T-Mobile, which will sell the iPhone 5 beginning April 12 for $99 down plus $20 per month over the next 24 months. By doing so, the new financing option on T-Mobile iPhone 5 sales at Apple Stores seemingly matches T-Mobile’s deal in terms of cost of ownership, as both hardware costs equal the same $579.

9to5Mac has more:

We’ve learned that Apple has partnered up with Barclays and T-Mobile to offer 24 months no interest when buying a new iPhone on T-Mobile at Apple Stores.

Barclays will also be crediting customers’ accounts $70, allowing Apple Store customers to finance the T-Mobile iPhone for the same $579 price point as T-Mobile offers through its 24 month plan.

Other carriers will be no doubt watching closely T-Mobile’s new “Un-carrier” policy.

Thus far, neither AT&T nor Verizon indicated changes in their respective offerings.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson kind of likes that idea and said his company is ”going to be watching” how installment payments work out for T-Mobile.

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam was less enthusiastic: while acknowledging that T-Mobile’s new strategy is “very intriguing,” he wonders if consumers are ready to pay full price.

At any rate, the ability to spread the cost of hardware across 24 monthly payments without having to commit your soul to a carrier is bound to get more and more popular and I expect other major U.S. telcos to follow suit sooner than later.

It’s also intriguing that a T-Mobile iPhone 5 is actually cheaper that its $649 unlocked no-contract counterpart sold by the online and brick-and-mortar Apple Stores, Walmart.com and other places, as depicted on the screenie top of post.