Buying a US phone for use in Japan

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by TokyoProg, Jul 12, 2016.

  1. TokyoProg macrumors newbie

    TokyoProg

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2016
    #1
    Hello

    I have been thinking of buying a US unlocked model of an iPhone when in the US (I am a resident of Japan). But have been told that for some countries, at least for older models, this could be a problem.

    Would like to ask two questions related to the above topic.

    MODELS
    One is about model numbers. For example, iPhone 6s Plus is listed as Model A1634 in the US (as well as 1688 and A1687). But ONLY those latter models are listed as ok for Japan. Confusingly, Apple says " Models A1633 and A1634 also support LTE networks listed for Models A1688 and A1687"

    1A) What does that mean as far as buying? Should I buy only 1687?

    1B) Likewise with 6Plus--the US lists Model A1522 (GSM)Model A1522 but then Model A1524 (GSM) and
    Model A1524 (CDMA) are also given, also US but also Japan. Should I only buy 1524?

    I want to buy unlocked because I will use a MNVO (third party SIM). Probably linked either to Docomo or AU. It is my understanding that newer models are all sold unlocked but not necessarily older ones. Very confusing.

    WHERE TO BUY


    2A) Gazelle does not list the model number. Right now there are no unlocked phones, but here is a link to one 6 PLUS.http://buy.gazelle.com/buy/used/iphone-6-plus-128gb-unlocked . How to know what you are buying?

    2B) Swappa shows the model umber, such as here:
    https://swappa.com/buy/apple-iphone-6s-plus-a1634-unlocked
    (But as a Japan based business Paypal account holder, I don't have a Paypal Confirmed address--though I would ship to a resending service in the US. so maybe I cannot use them?)

    2C) Glyde also does not seem to list the model.
    https://glyde.com/buy/used-Apple-iPhone-6S-Plus-16GB-Silver-ATT/12078900

    A final question is about the relative merit of Glyde's verified vs New compared to Gazelle's claim of its own 30-point inspection, and Swappa's system of listing as Mint, new retail and new resale.

    Thank you.








     
  2. silverblack macrumors 68030

    silverblack

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2007
    #2
    This is the website you should check out:
    http://www.apple.com/iphone/LTE/

    If I were you, I would stick with only the newest model, 6s, 6s+ or SE, and look for the version that with with Sprint. Also I would buy only directly from Apple Store, to make sure it is fully sim unlocked.
     
  3. timeconsumer macrumors 65816

    timeconsumer

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    PNW
    #3
    If you're purchasing an iPhone 6S (model A1633 or model A1688) or an iPhone 6S plus (model A1634 or model A1687) as long as the phone is unlocked you will be fine as far as using it in the US is concerned. The A1633/A1634 support one additional LTE band (30) but all models work on all US carriers assuming they are unlocked.

    If you're purchasing an iPhone 6 or 6 plus you'll likely want the Sprint version as that is the more international version. Again, you'll need the phone to be unlocked. However, keep in mind that the iPhone 6 does not have band 12 support which T-Mobile uses. If you plan to use T-Mobile then you might want to get a 6S, 6S plus or SE as that offers LTE Band 12. Band 12 isn't necessarily needed for T-Mobile, however T-Mobile advertises Band 12 as "Extended Range LTE" as per: http://www.t-mobile.com/optional-services/coverage-phones-700.html

    As far as where to buy, swappa.com is fairly popular from what I've read and there's an ongoing discussion regarding Swappa which may be helpful: Is buying iPhones from Swappa safe?
     
  4. TokyoProg thread starter macrumors newbie

    TokyoProg

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2016
    #4
    Thanks, silverback. The link you gave me is where I actually got my data. It did not answer the question, but it did suggest that I would be ok.


    timeconsumer- thank you. I would be purchasing it for use in Japan. I understand similar to what you said. But let me confirm:

    Just using the 6S Plus for my example.
    Model A1634
    Model A1633
    As you said, this is the unlocked version

    Model A1687 (GSM)
    Model A1687 (CDMA)

    As you said, this is the international version. And I see that Sprint and other carriers use it. ActuallY i see Sprint offering both phones. That seems wrong, but please see below.

    I also understand that the Japanese market uses
    Model A1687 (GSM)
    Model A1687 (CDMA)

    Model A1688 (GSM)
    Model A1688 (CDMA)



    What is confusing is that there are unlocked versions of both phones on Swappa.
    And there are carrier specific phones.

    For example, here, right now, I see this:
    https://swappa.com/buy/apple-iphone-6s-plus
    Left to right:
    1634 unlocked, 1634 AT&T, 1687 Unlocked (??), 1687 verizon, 1697 T-Mobile, 1687 Sprint, 1634 Sprint



    This is confusing.

    Swappa currently lists unlocked models that are unlocked. But it also lists 1687 as unlocked. I thought only 1634 was unlocked.



    These are the locked US versions for ATT, for example. You can get one and unlike it at this site.
    https://www.att.com/deviceunlock/#/

    Can I do that with any locked phone?

    It looks like I should get an unlocked one of these:
    Model A1687 (GSM)
    Model A1687 (CDMA)

    Model A1688 (GSM)
    Model A1688 (CDMA)





    Thanks for the discussion link to Swappa.
     
  5. timeconsumer macrumors 65816

    timeconsumer

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    PNW
    #5
    Short answer: Yes of those models you listed, as long as they are unlocked, the A1687/A1688 would be best.

    Longer answer: It is slightly complicated but I'll see if I can break it down a little bit.

    The unlocked models sold in the US for the 6S/6S plus are: A1633/A1634 and this is the same model that AT&T uses. If it's sim-free A1633 or A1634 it will be unlocked. If it's an AT&T version it could be locked to AT&T. This isn't the model that you want for Japan, so you can ignore this model.

    For use in Japan you will want: A1688/A1687 which is what T-mobile, Sprint and Verizon use as per: http://www.apple.com/iphone/LTE/

    By default, Verizon models (iPhone 5 and up) are unlocked out of the box. The Sprint and T-mobile versions are locked to those carriers until they meet the requirements to be unlocked in which the person who owns the Sprint/T-Mobile account would have to request for it to be unlocked.

    Sprint unlocking policy: https://www.sprint.com/legal/unlocking_policy.html
    T-Mobile unlocking policy: http://www.t-mobile.com/company/com...olicy/unlock-your-mobile-wireless-device.html

    For the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus you will want the Sprint version (A1586 or A1524) for use in Japan and you will want to verify that it has been fully unlocked.

    Hopefully this helps.
     
  6. TokyoProg thread starter macrumors newbie

    TokyoProg

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2016
    #6
    Thanks, timeconsumer. Yes, very clear.

    Just one thing, if I want to buy NEW and unlockedm does Apple give you a choice of which model? Or do I have to buy Sprint new and unlocked only from Sprint?

    And would this be the sane for Ipad Mini 4s?

    Thanks again!!
     
  7. timeconsumer macrumors 65816

    timeconsumer

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    PNW
    #7
    You're welcome. Now buying unlocked from Apple would be different.

    For the iPhone 6S or 6S plus you could get the Verizon version (A1688/A1687) at the Apple Store since they are unlocked as per: http://www.verizon.com/about/responsibility/product/device-unlocking-policy

    However, I'm not sure if the Apple Store will sell you one without an active Verizon account.

    It does kind of seem odd that Apple doesn't list the A1633/A1634 as working in Japan even though it states it supports the same bands as the A1688/A1687 models. According to: http://willmyphonework.net the A1633/A1634 models should work in Japan. So with that being said, you should be able to get the A1688/A1687 or A1633/A1634 models to use in Japan.

    For the iPhone 6 or 6 plus if you buy the SIM-free option from the Apple Store it should be the A1586/A1524 which says it works in Japan as per: http://www.apple.com/iphone/LTE/#iphone-6-iphone-6-plus

    Basically to summarize, it appears if you're buying directly from the Apple Store you can buy the US-sim free version (either 6S or 6) and it should work on AU and NTT Docomo in Japan. It also appears you should be able to get any used US 6S or 6S plus as long as it's unlocked and it will work in Japan. The 6 I would recommend sticking to Sprint (unlocked of course) or sim free from Apple in the US.

    This may have some contradictions to previous information, but I researched it a little more, it is definitely a little confusing!
     
  8. TokyoProg thread starter macrumors newbie

    TokyoProg

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    Jul 12, 2016
    #8
  9. TheAppleFairy, Jul 14, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2016

    TheAppleFairy macrumors 68020

    TheAppleFairy

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2013
    Location:
    The Clinton Archipelago unfortunately
    #9
    Not sure what your status is, but in order to purchase cellular service in Japan you have to have some legal status. If there on vacation you won't be able to get a sim. Just a heads up.

    EDIT: I missed it in your first post, I see you are a resident. Good information for other to know anyway.
     
  10. TokyoProg thread starter macrumors newbie

    TokyoProg

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2016
    #10
    Thanks, TheApplefairy. I am a 38 year resident of Japan, so probably not a problem. Just that the used prices are high here and it is not clear if they have been refurbished or just sold as is. Oh, I see you are from Iwate. I am in Fukuoka. or do you know of reliable used stuff that has been refurbished? Apple does not even sell refurbished cellular iPads.
     
  11. TheAppleFairy macrumors 68020

    TheAppleFairy

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2013
    Location:
    The Clinton Archipelago unfortunately
    #11
    I am in NY now, my wife is from Fukuoka. Kitakyushu. I don't blame you although the Yen is pretty strong against the dollar right now, so buying in Japan might not be too bad. I don't know if you can buy unlocked in Japan yet though.
    .
     
  12. TokyoProg thread starter macrumors newbie

    TokyoProg

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2016
    #12
    Well, I did some research that suggests that it is safe to buy a SIM FREE 6SPlus from US Apple (I guess both refurbished and new) but not an SE.

    I went online to talk to Apple USA. I was trying to ascertain whether the cellular models you buy from the store are the same as for AT&T or the same as Sprint.

    The result was mixed. From what he said, it seems the iPhone 6S plus sold in Japan is the same model as the SIM free sold in Apple US stores and by SPRINT in the US.. But NOT the SE. The SE sold in Japan is the same as the AT&T model, also sold as SIM free in the U.S.

    And the SE sold in each country is even less compatible with its counterparts in other countries. That I learned from a few articles.


    Now Chatting with Apple

    Welcome to Apple.
    What can we do for you today?


    Iphone- If I were to get an unlocked phone 6S Plus from the Apple Store, would I get the Model A1634 (same specs as AT&T) or Model 1687 (same Specs as Verizon, T-mobile, Sprint I think).

    Please wait while I connect you with an Apple Specialist.

    Now Chatting with Brian

    Sure thing! The sim free unlocked iPhone 6s Plus would be model A1687.
    [/color]

    Ah, very good. because I will be travelling to Japan and that is the model they use.....

    Awesome! You’d just put in your sim card in Japan and you’ll be all set.

    And I guess the SIM FREE IPHONE SE....

    For the iPhone SE, it would be model A1662.

    Interesting, because isn't 1687 would be Japanese model? Am I mistaken? In other words, the SE number you gave is the US model, but the 6S plus model you gave is the Japanese one?

    It looks like the Japanese model for the iPhone SE is A1723. Here in the US, that is sold as the Sprint iPhone SE.

    Right....What I mean is for the Plus it is A1687 (same as Sprint) but you said it is 1662 for the , same as AT&T. I wonder why the difference, because the Japanese model for the SE is A1723

    I understand. Different models are necessary in different countries and carriers. We wouldn’t have any information regarding those decisions. That’s simply how it is sold here in the US.

    I see, so for the Plus you sell the identical model as Japan and sprint and for the SE you sell the identical model as AT&T? Just to make sure.

    Correct!

    OK...Then my last question is for the iPad Mini 4...it seems there are no numbers on the LTE phone page,http://www.apple.com/iphone/LTE/#iphone-se , so am I correct that even though I get a cellular model, there is no different in the model sold in Japan and the US. Oh, here it is: http://www.apple.com/ipad/LTE/

    As far as the iPad goes, the same model is sold here in the US and in Japan. There’s no difference there.

    Ok, great. Thank you very much!!

    My pleasure! When were you looking to get your new iPhone and iPad?...


    OBSERVATION

    Odd that the SE and 6S Plus would be different in terms of availability. For the 6S Plus, I have been advised that it actually doesn't matter. That the main difference is that the AT&T has an additional frequency:

    SPRINT and Japan, sold as SIM FREE MODEL 1 2 3 4 5 7 8 12 13 17 18 19 20 25 26 27 28 29 38 39 40 41

    AT&T almost same but actually Sprint has an extra 30 " " 30 "


    But the SE? Different.

    Sprint and Japan 1 2 3 4 5 7 8 12 17 18 19 20 25 26 28 38 39 40 41 (Missing 13 27 29)
    AT&T/ SOLD SIM FREE 1 2 3 4 5 8 12 13 17 18 19 20 25 26 29 (LESS COVERAGE, but HAS 13)


    So, what is one to make of this. For a 6S plus, ok to buy Sim Free US Apple Store. But for SE, better not to?

    In any case, this warning about SE phones suggests better to buy the SE in Japan. Am I right?
    http://www.pcmag.com/news/343091/the-iphone-se-is-not-carrier-agnostic


    Additional, extraneous? info?
    These below sites are looking at 4G (LTE 4?) coverage I guess, and it looks completely different.
    Probably not relevant?




    US
    UMTS 850, UMTS 1900, UMTS 1700, UMTS 2100 _ I don't see thereon Apple's site

    4G capabilities
    LTE 700, LTE 800, LTE 1700, LTE 1900, LTE 2100
    X
    Japan
    UMTS 800, UMTS 900, UMTS 1500, UMTS 1700, UMTS 2100 Don't see these on Apple's site

    4G capabilities
    LTE 850, LTE 1500, LTE 1800, LTE 2100, LTE 2500
    X X
    http://www.gsmarena.com/network-bands.php3?sCountry=United+States



    Wikipedia says:

    Japan Docomo 800, 1500, 1800, 2100, 3500
    AU 700, 800, 1500, 2100, 2500

    SoftBank 900, 1800, 2100, 2500


    Sprint 850, 1900 g, 2500
    (same
    6S Plus sold
    in Japan)



    ATT 700c 1700 1900
    (Same
    SE as sold in
    Japan(
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_LTE_networks#Asia



    Ah, one more thing. Gazelle does not specify what models they sell. In an email, they said they are GSM models. Which is not very helpful, because as I understand Models A1687 and A1634 are BOTH GSM/CDMA
    --- Post Merged, Jul 14, 2016 ---

    I am originally from New York City (Ozone Park (yuck). Yes, the new models are unlocked. But i was going to go with an MNVO like DTI or IIJmio.
     
  13. TheAppleFairy macrumors 68020

    TheAppleFairy

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    Mar 28, 2013
    Location:
    The Clinton Archipelago unfortunately
    #13
    I have noticed that with gazelle and was hesitant to purchase for the same reason. Good luck.
     
  14. TokyoProg thread starter macrumors newbie

    TokyoProg

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2016
    #14
    Yes. I just asked them to confirm. But they probably won't. Swappa has some decent deals now and then. Clyde seems much more expensive. When Swappa says Apple Pre-owned certified, it is unclear if they mean Apple refurb, though.
     
  15. TheAppleFairy macrumors 68020

    TheAppleFairy

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    Mar 28, 2013
    Location:
    The Clinton Archipelago unfortunately
    #15
    My wife is actually using an AT&T iPhone 6 on SoftBank as we speak with no issues. I am not sure if she picks up all available bands but she doesn't complain.
     
  16. TokyoProg thread starter macrumors newbie

    TokyoProg

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2016
    #16
    good to know. Perhaps it is the 4G speeds that are problematic? But I will probably EITHER get the 6S Plus or iPad Mini 4. Most of my funds are not in Japan, so easier to buy there. Replacement for old style, non Smartphone AU keitai (cellphone). Plan to do data only as found a great IP service from Rakuten called Fusion IP. hardly call anyone, so thought would save on a data plan only.


    Assuming a phone, as compared to an IPad (now use iPad 4) , would have an earphone mode rather than just using the speaker.
     
  17. TheAppleFairy macrumors 68020

    TheAppleFairy

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    Mar 28, 2013
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    The Clinton Archipelago unfortunately
    #17
    Everyone just uses line app these days anyway. Japanese carriers charge a ridiculous amount for actual phone calls.
     
  18. TokyoProg thread starter macrumors newbie

    TokyoProg

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    Jul 12, 2016
    #18
    I guess Line would work, but I need a phone number for people who do not use Line, right. Fusion IP gives you a free 050 number.
     
  19. TheAppleFairy macrumors 68020

    TheAppleFairy

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    Mar 28, 2013
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    The Clinton Archipelago unfortunately
    #19
    There is line out as well. I know I think allows you to call phone numbers for a cost, but I am not sure if it gives you a phone number.
     
  20. niji, Jul 15, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2016

    niji macrumors 6502a

    niji

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2003
    Location:
    tokyo
    #20
    the model that apple sells in its apple stores in japan is A1688.
    it works on soft bank, au, docomo (and therefore also works on any MVNO that uses any of these 3 networks).
    if you buy this model in the usa, just make sure you buy one that is really unlocked.

    what about apple+ ? if you buy it in the USA can you get it fixed in japan?
     

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