Carrier Buying an iPhone SE at full price: carrier locked or non locked?

dpace32

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Original poster
Aug 24, 2008
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Hello - I am looking to buy an iPhone SE 64GB (paid in full) and not sure whether to get the AT&T version or the SIM-Free version. Is there a difference besides that the AT&T version is carrier locked? Will the SIM-Free version work just as well on the AT&T network (same bands, etc)? There are too many options :)

Thank you in advance
 

dave006

Contributor
Jul 3, 2008
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Just West of East
No difference in the case of the iPhone SE. The AT&T version will not be carrier locked if you purchase it from Apple and "Pay in full".

Same Apple model: A1662 and same LTE Bands on both devices. My personal choice would be the SIM-free for max resale value. But you might just want to get which ever one you can find in-stock.

Dave
 

dpace32

macrumors regular
Original poster
Aug 24, 2008
202
17
No difference in the case of the iPhone SE. The AT&T version will not be carrier locked if you purchase it from Apple and "Pay in full".

Same Apple model: A1662 and same LTE Bands on both devices.

Dave
What if I purchased from AT&T? Still the same model but just carrier locked? Also would it matter if I did the 6S instead?

Thank you!
 

dave006

Contributor
Jul 3, 2008
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Just West of East
Yep same model but carrier locked to AT&T. However, if you purchase it as Device Only aka full price, then it can be unlocked right away. Note: Some AT&T locations might not want to sell as Device Only until they get more inventory.

Now for the iPhone 6S AT&T. It is Model 1633 and shares the same Model 1633 as the 6S SIM-free. Same rules apply for purchasing at Apple and AT&T.

Dave
 

\-V-/

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May 3, 2012
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If you're going to pay full price you might as well buy it unlocked.
 

nburwell

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May 6, 2008
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I would just purchase the SE outright directly from Apple. Even if you purchase the phone from AT&T and pay for it in full, you'll still need to request to have the device unlocked. It would make more sense to just purchase the SIM Free model from Apple.
 

dave006

Contributor
Jul 3, 2008
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Just West of East
Sorry it does not really make more sense to just buy the SIM-free. You can purchase the AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and even the Sprint carrier version from Apple. They will all be unlocked if you pay for it in full from Apple.com or Apple in-store.

In the case of the iPhone SE the SIM-free, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile are all the same model (A1662), same LTE bands and everything...:eek:

Dave
 

Ladybug

macrumors 68000
Apr 13, 2006
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I bought from AT&T. They would not sell it to me at full price, they insisted I had to purchase through Next plan. Either way, I will pay it off in the next month or so and use the form to unlock it. This was a retail AT&T and not a corporate store so perhaps the rules are a bit different.
 

chino-rican

macrumors regular
Sep 21, 2012
178
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Virginia
I would just purchase the SE outright directly from Apple. Even if you purchase the phone from AT&T and pay for it in full, you'll still need to request to have the device unlocked. It would make more sense to just purchase the SIM Free model from Apple.
Here's a data point.
I purchased mine (paid in full) directly from Apple and didn't select the SIM-free model. I went to the AT&T website to see if it showed up in their unlock database, and it's not there. In other words, AT&T doesn't even have it in their system as being an "AT&T device."
 

MrGuder

macrumors 68030
Nov 30, 2012
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So why would someone who is currently using Verizon, AT&T etc get an sim free unlocked iPhone?
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No difference in the case of the iPhone SE. The AT&T version will not be carrier locked if you purchase it from Apple and "Pay in full".
Dave
I'm not sure that's correct because I bought my SE direct from Apple and paid full price, I chose Verizon because that is who I'm with then it asked me to pick a data plan but then it knew I wasn't illegible once I put in my passcode then Apple prompted with a message that my existing plan with not change. Maybe it's different if you pick sim free unlocked version but it you select a carrier it will ask you for a data plan even if your buying full price from Apple.
 

dave006

Contributor
Jul 3, 2008
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670
Just West of East
For reasons of personal choice, no technical reason if they want to chose a carrier. In most cases it is just a psychological feeling than a technical one.

Yes it is correct. If you are replacing an existing device - in your case a Sprint model. You entered information about your account and Apple communicated with Sprint to confirm your options. It does not matter what you chose, the device will be carrier unlocked. It is working as designed, the process is designed to have your device arrive ready to activate on your carrier of choice since you chose the Sprint model. The device will still be unlocked as long as you pay in full.

It can be a little quicker in-store as the sales rep can bypass the carrier steps based on your phone number and just sell you the Sprint model. For your reference here is the relevant link from Apple.com http://www.apple.com/shop/buy-iphone/iphone-se Frequently Asked Questions: Both unlocked and locked iPhone models are available from apple.com. Most models are “unlocked” — which means your iPhone isn’t tied to a single carrier. Your iPhone will be locked to your carrier when selecting a 2-year contract or carrier financing from AT&T or Sprint.

Note: This works for all carrier models from Apple.com and Apple in-store.

Dave
 

Rigby

macrumors 601
Aug 5, 2008
4,741
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San Jose, CA
Hello - I am looking to buy an iPhone SE 64GB (paid in full) and not sure whether to get the AT&T version or the SIM-Free version. Is there a difference besides that the AT&T version is carrier locked? Will the SIM-Free version work just as well on the AT&T network (same bands, etc)?
If you buy from Apple, the only difference is that the AT&T version comes with a pre-installed AT&T SIM and the SIM-free version doesn't. Both are unlocked and support the same bands.

BTW, AT&T recently introduced a new "activation fee" policy. From the description, it sounds like they will even charge a fee if you buy an AT&T phone for full price. If you already have an AT&T SIM, it may be better to buy the SIM-free version and install your old SIM (I doubt that they would charge an activation fee for that).

http://arstechnica.com/business/2016/04/att-and-verizon-wireless-now-charging-20-device-upgrade-fees/
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Maybe it's different if you pick sim free unlocked version but it you select a carrier it will ask you for a data plan even if your buying full price from Apple.
They ask for the carrier information because they pre-activate the SIM that comes with the phone. But the phone is not locked.
 
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MrGuder

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Nov 30, 2012
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This makes more sense now if buying full price, the sim free version will always be unlocked, it's when you choose a carrier version then pick a 2 yr data plan or carrier financing that the phone becomes locked.

So would it be correct to say that a person who still has a unlimited data plan with either Verizon or AT&T and that person wants to keep their unlimited plan, they should opt for the sim free phone (providing they have a Nano-Sim tied to their existing unlimited) this way there is no data plan selected when ordering and you would just swap out your existing sim into the sim free phone. The carrier would probably still get you for an upgrade fee or maybe not.
 

dpace32

macrumors regular
Original poster
Aug 24, 2008
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Has anyone seen promotions on buying the phone out right (sim free)? I have seen $100 gift cards, etc. if buying through Target with an AT&T Next plan but nothing for buying it in full.
 

chino-rican

macrumors regular
Sep 21, 2012
178
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Virginia
Has anyone seen promotions on buying the phone out right (sim free)? I have seen $100 gift cards, etc. if buying through Target with an AT&T Next plan but nothing for buying it in full.
You could always buy using Next, take advantage of the promotion, and then pay it off afterwards. Unlocking is pretty easy and painless with AT&T.
 

iDuel

macrumors 6502a
Jul 20, 2011
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Greece/USA
I recently purchased an AT&T iPhone SE from an AT&T corporate store for full price. As I have plans on using the phone with another carrier in the near future, I called AT&T customer support and they confirmed that if you purchase the phone from a corporate store outright, it is unlocked out of the box.
 

617aircav

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Jul 2, 2012
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Has anyone seen promotions on buying the phone out right (sim free)? I have seen $100 gift cards, etc. if buying through Target with an AT&T Next plan but nothing for buying it in full.
You will never see promos for full price. Because of this I bought my 6s 64gb Verizon on contract from bestbuy for $100. $200 savings. After 30 days I cancelled and paid ETF. Total came out to under $600. Had I paid full price from Apple I would have paid $800 with tax.
 
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Channan

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Mar 7, 2012
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Not sure if it was said, but the Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and SIM-free iPhone SE are all exactly the same phones. The Verizon model comes unlocked no matter what, and the AT&T and T-Mobile models are unlocked as soon as you pay off the entire phone. Once unlocked, either of those models will work on any of those three carriers.

I actually just bought an AT&T iPhone SE and it works just fine on Verizon. I actually use it on RingPlus, which uses Sprint, and it works fine on that network as well. I just don't get LTE Plus (Sprint Spark).