Advice for a Brit buying an iPhone in the US...

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by peanutismint, Jul 12, 2013.

  1. peanutismint macrumors 6502

    peanutismint

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    #1
    I'm hoping to buy a used iPhone 4S while on holiday in the States in a few weeks.

    I obviously want to make sure it works back in the UK. My current iPhone is unlocked (I don't know how it works in the US but by law here providers have to unlock your handset if you ask them).

    The prices of 'unlocked' used iPhones on eBay are a lot higher than the locked models. I'm just wondering, if I purchase a 'locked' one, will I then be able to get it unlocked back in the UK? If so, I'll be happy to buy a locked one for cheaper...
     
  2. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #2
    The unlock can only come from the carrier that issues the phone. So, even if you buy a locked AT&T phone say, you'd have to call AT&T to unlock your phone when back home, not the carrier you're on at home.

    I would go with a Verizon iPhone 5 if you can. Because of the FCC rules, it's unlocked new. So, any used iPhone 5 from Verizon will be unlocked.

    Avoid any Sprint iPhones. You may see a lot for sale, but Sprint has a restrictive unlock policy and they only unlock for international use. That would be to your advantage of course because you'd be considered international, but your phone is not unlocked completely. Sprint also requires you to be a customer with an active line for three months before they will unlock for international use.

    So don't be fooled by any Sprint "unlocked" phones. If they are unlocked, it's only for international use. There are a LOT of these deals going on because people rightly assumed that it's unlocked completely and the seller unloads an iPhone.

    Maybe someone else can advise about AT&T iPhones. Although I do know that you have to complete a full contract with AT&T before they will unlock your iPhone. So, if you buy an unlocked AT&T iPhone be prepared to be in the US with an active line on AT&T for the next two years.

    The prices on unlocked phones here in the US are more expensive because they are more valuable, because you aren't locked in to a specific network.
     
  3. peanutismint thread starter macrumors 6502

    peanutismint

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    #3
    I see, that makes more sense.... Thanks!

    Ok, well I'll look into the Verizon handsets, although one would assume that they'd be as valuable/pricey as an 'unlocked' handset if most people are aware that they can be used with any network....

    Can I ask, with the Sprint phones, when you say they're not "unlocked completely", what does that mean in real-world terms for me? That I could use it in the UK but not in the US?
     
  4. CEmajr macrumors 601

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    #4
    Best advice would be to get an AT&T iPhone 4S or 4 or whichever model you want to buy. AT&T iPhones can easily be unlocked online for only around $2.
     
  5. peanutismint thread starter macrumors 6502

    peanutismint

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    #5
    Hang on, am I missing something.... I know it's only $2 but how is that better than getting a Verizon which is unlocked to begin with? Are the AT&T ones cheaper still or something?
     
  6. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #6
    It means that you can use it on any carrier that supports it outside of the US. But if you bring that phone back in to the US you are stuck on Sprint.

    I'm a Sprint customer, but I'm no policy guru. But I suspect that not ever having been a customer with them if you bring them an unlocked Sprint iPhone in to the US, they may refuse to activate it. Sprint's pretty vindictive/iron fist about stuff like that.

    About the AT&T iPhone, what this means is that you can buy one locked and pay a service $2 to have it unlocked. The service is actually someone taking the IMEI (or ESN, not sure which one) of your iPhone and entering it directly into the Apple unlock database. It's usually an AT&T employee that has access to the DB. Since there are so many going through these employees are rarely caught and they make a tidy sum on the side.

    Be aware that those services are now considered "illegal" here in the US. Your chances of getting caught and prosecuted though are slim. Unlocking by the carrier is legal.
     
  7. peanutismint thread starter macrumors 6502

    peanutismint

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  8. wordoflife macrumors 604

    wordoflife

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    #8
    Well just for some basics, the Verizon 4S has a CDMA and GSM part to it. As far as I know, Verizon had to manually unlock the GSM side of the Verizon iPhone 4S. And the thing is, the "unlock" applies to every carrier except US GSM carriers. So you can't just put a US SIM inside to see if it works. Also I'm not sure how easy it is to unlock on Verizon, especially if you are a non customer. I'm sure it's not terrible... but the other thing you have to worry about is that Verizon won't unlock the phone if there is an issue on the account (stolen phone reported, bill not paid... etc). You wouldn't exactly know when buying it, and probably wouldn't know if there was some problem when you find out that the phone is not unlocked and that they won't unlock it.

    I would just go with an AT&T iPhone because it's most similar to the "unlocked" GSM variant. And for some reason, if you find that it doesn't work in the UK, you can always get it unlocked online for $2-3 without having to deal with the carrier (although AT&T should unlock it).

    Umm. I don't think that's been the case for a while now.
    http://www.macrumors.com/2013/03/04/white-house-backs-petition-in-support-of-mobile-phone-unlocking/
     
  9. 617aircav Suspended

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    #9
    As long as you are in the US, you can get any att iPhone unlocked through eBay for $3. I've done it too many times to count.
     
  10. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #10
    From the very first paragraph of your link, emphasis mine.

    "As of late January, it became illegal in the United States to unlock newly purchased mobile phones without carrier authorization. The decision, which came from the Librarian of Congress declining to issue an exemption for such activity under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, serves to restrict U.S. customers from shifting service to other carriers or using their devices abroad with local SIM cards."

    The White House is supporting a petition to make it legal. But it's NOT legal yet. If you bough the phone BEFORE this happened it's legal. If the carrier unlocks it, it's legal. But if you bought the phone AFTER this decision it's NOT legal.

    Why do you think all the unlock services on eBay were disappearing a few months back? Ebay shut them down!

    Unless Congress passed a new law and the President signed it and I didn't hear about it? Or the Librarian of Congress issued a new decision, or there was a legal challenge that staid the decision?
     
  11. wordoflife macrumors 604

    wordoflife

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    #11
    Then why are they on eBay now?
     
  12. ckc macrumors regular

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    #12
    There is no law in the UK that compels networks to unlock a phone.

    Most networks will do so providing the phone was originally supplied by them, but some, Vodafone for instance, will only unlock a phone at the request of the original owner, the exception being a PAYG. Phone for which they charge £20.

    As others have said if you buy a phone locked to a US carrier only that carrier can ask Apple to unlock it, so unless the phone falls within that networks parameters for unlocking you could end up with an expensive paperweight.

    Also worth remembering is that the Apple in the UK will only repair / service a phone that has bern purchased in the UK whether or not it is under warranty.
     
  13. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    IDK!

    I suspect because eBay hasn't gotten to all of them. It could just be a matter of some of them operating until eBay shuts them down. Or, eBay decided that they can't determine if a buyer is a new or old purchaser.

    All I know is what the Librarian of Congress said. Unless that's changed, this is now a grey area.
     
  14. cambookpro macrumors 603

    cambookpro

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    #14
    Yeah, I found this out and it was a bit of a bummer. Not worth the risk of it going wrong in my opinion.

    Although, the EU is counted as one country under the warranty agreement, but that doesn't really help since no EU countries sell them much cheaper than the EU.
     
  15. wordoflife macrumors 604

    wordoflife

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    #15
    Well anyways.... if you get an AT&T iPhone and AT&T won't unlock it, just use one of the unlocking venders online and be on your way.
     
  16. peanutismint thread starter macrumors 6502

    peanutismint

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    #16
    Ok thanks everybody, I think I've got a lot to learn/think about.... :)
     
  17. old-wiz macrumors G3

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    #17
    IIRC, the warranty on phones is only valid in the country where purchased..so if you have problems you'd have to send it here for service.
     
  18. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #18
    I'm curious. Would you know if OOW replacement is available and would apply in this case outside of the US?
     
  19. peanutismint, Jul 12, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2013

    peanutismint thread starter macrumors 6502

    peanutismint

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    #19
    If this is correct, then that's probably a dealbreaker for me... I use my phone a LOT and even though I've never dropped/smashed one (touch wood!) I've had about 6 different handsets of my current phone in this contract alone!
     
  20. TheProFTW macrumors regular

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    #20
    Warranty doesn't cover a cracked screen, so it doesn't matter.
     
  21. old-wiz macrumors G3

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    #21
    I don't remember where I read it but I think it was to prevent people buying a whole bunch of phones, taking them overseas, and demanding warranty service and replacements. there have been threads in the forum confirming warranty for phones is for the country purchased in as opposed to Macs.
     
  22. ckc macrumors regular

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    #22
    OOW replacement is only available in the country that the phone was originally sold in.

    A lot of the EEU warranty rules do not apply to the UK. Work that one out:rolleyes:
     
  23. wordoflife macrumors 604

    wordoflife

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    #23
    Not sure about that.
    Saw someone from Columbia getting their iPhone exchanged at the Apple Store recently.
     
  24. IFRIT macrumors 6502a

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    #24
    Personally i would'nt bother and buy one in the UK, surely it would'nt be that more expensive buying it here considering the £ is tanking agaisnt the $.
     
  25. Azzin macrumors 68040

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    #25
    I bought an iPad 3 in NYC on release day last year, while I was working out there (I live in the UK).

    I also took out AppleCare + (+ is not available in the UK) and had the unit replaced by my local Apple store after I got back to the UK, as I cracked the screen.
     

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