What an unlocked iPhone 6 means for consumers

What does an unlocked iPhone mean?
What does an unlocked iPhone mean?   

U.S. consumers can now purchase an unlocked iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, meaning the phone is not linked to any one cellular provider.

What Apple gets out of the deal is two fold, according to Rajeev Chand, managing director and head of research at investment banking firm Rutberg & Company.

"The Apple objective is to give maximum amount of choice to consumers and it allows Apple to free itself from operators," Chand said.

For consumers, the main benefits are being able to use a local carrier when traveling abroad instead of paying international roaming charges. It also means avoiding early termination fees as you would with an annual, traditional contract. Other than that, the pricing plans with carriers remain the same.

Apple will sell the unlocked phones for prices ranging from $649 to $949, depending on screen size and storage space. Locked iPhone 6s start at $199.

Read MoreApple to sell unlocked iPhone 6 in the US

It's not the first such move by Apple. A few months after launching the iPhone 5, it released unlocked versions.

"It could be that Apple still sells iPhones in partnership with operators and wants to keep that relationship healthy," Chand said.

The long-term concern for carriers like Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile would be if Apple installed soft SIM-cards, which are not linked to specific carriers. Such an arrangement would mean a consumer would be able to switch to a carrier with a better plan, and that could set off a pricing war over service plans, Chand said.