Unlocked iPhone 5 hitting online Apple Store tonight, retail outlets to follow soon?

Like an elusive unicorn, the unlocked iPhone 5 remains a pipedream in the United States, where the government doesn’t require telcos to offer unlocked, contract-free devices alongside subsidized ones, like in Italy, France and elsewhere.

If you’re unwilling to commit your soul to your carrier just to get your hands on an iPhone 5, you may wanna keep a close eye on the online Apple Store at around 9pm tonight as it’s been reported factory-unlocked devices will appear as early as this midnight…

Additionally, word on the street is that the iPhone maker will be offering the sought-after device in its own brick-and-mortar stores sooner than later.

The unlocked 5 prices will likely be $649/$749/$849 for the 16/32/64GB version. Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

Of course, Apple’s retail outlets in Canada are selling the iPhone 5 factory-unlocked as we speak.

“Apple’s chain of retail stores will begin selling the unlocked devices soon, but have yet to be provided a start sales date”, Mark Gurman of 9to5Mac writes.

We’re also hearing that Apple will expand its Apple Store Personal Pickup program to allow customers to reserve devices at any time of the day, not just after 10 PM.

Here’s how to check if your iPhone is factory-unlocked.

It’s been a little over two months sine the iPhone 5 became available, prompting questions over this lack of factory-unlocked offering (unlocked iPhone 4S units became available a month following the launch).

Of course, if you’re purchasing a Verizon iPhone 5, you’re already getting an unlocked device.

Have you been holding out for a contract-free iPhone 5?