Can I Pop In Any International SIM Card to My iPhone Abroad, or Must I Unlock Somehow

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by HappyDude20, Apr 20, 2014.

  1. HappyDude20 macrumors 68020

    HappyDude20

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    #1
    I have an iPhone 4S. Mainly used In the states on Verizon and scour for WiFi when visiting abroad. At least, that's how it went with my iphone 4. Now I'd love to pop in a SIM card of a different carrier when I'm abroad but am wondering if I have to be unlocked for this to work. I remember hearing that at one point all iPhones were unlocked but not sure if it's true.

    If I do need to unlock is this a jailbreak thing? I'm familiar with JBing but not unlocking, If it makes a difference or is of general concern.
     
  2. KUguardgrl13 macrumors 68020

    KUguardgrl13

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    #2
    My understanding is that the 4S is locked, but Verizon will unlock for international use if your account is in good standing. It's not a jailbreak. Verizon iPhone 4S SIM UNLOCK Tutorial

    Edit: The Verizon 5/5c/5s are unlocked for any GSM carrier international or domestic. The CDMA portion is locked though. It's a tradeoff they made with the feds to get LTE spectrum. I believe the 5 can only get HSPA+ while the 5c/5s can get full LTE.
     
  3. rui no onna macrumors 601

    rui no onna

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    #3
    The 5 has LTE. That's the reason it's unlocked in the first place (per agreement with the FCC). However, unlike the iPad Air and iPad rMini which have universal LTE support, there are various models of the iPhone 5/5c/5s which only support LTE for specific bands/carriers.
     
  4. KUguardgrl13 macrumors 68020

    KUguardgrl13

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    I meant that the Verizon 5 can only get LTE on Verizon. I believe it's limited to HSPA+ on AT&T, T-Mobile, etc.
     
  5. mrkramer macrumors 603

    mrkramer

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    Yes you would have to be unlocked, and as you have a 4S on Verizon it is locked. If you call them though and tell them you are traveling out of the country then they will unlock it for you.
     
  6. rui no onna macrumors 601

    rui no onna

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    #6
    In the US, sure. Might be different if you go abroad. For example, the carrier I used when I went on vacation in the Philippines used Band 1 (2100 Mhz) for LTE which the Verizon iPhone 5 supports and the AT&T and T-Mobile versions don't. Would certainly be nice if there was just a universal iPhone model supporting all the different LTE bands similar to the iPad Air and rMini. I'm sure Apple would like to go that route for simplicity's sake (just one device to manufacture). Alas, I think they were probably held back by physical limitations and might need a die shrink before this becomes a reality.
     
  7. KUguardgrl13 macrumors 68020

    KUguardgrl13

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    I think the 5c and 5s are pretty much universal now at least for Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. I think Sprint has different ones, but their policies are a load of crap.
     
  8. rui no onna macrumors 601

    rui no onna

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    #8
    Again, only for the US. Plenty of other models with different bands used in other parts of the world.
     
  9. KUguardgrl13 macrumors 68020

    KUguardgrl13

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    #9
    I'm not quite sure what this has to do with using a Verizon 4S internationally abroad? Please enlighten me. As far as I'm aware, there are three models of each iPhone going back to the 5. This is for GSM, CDMA, and a special China model. Any band difference I believe comes down to carrier locks and things like the Sprint UICC SIM. There is a thread here that says that there is a single model for the 5c and 5s for Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. That's about as close as it comes to a universal iPhone.
     
  10. rui no onna macrumors 601

    rui no onna

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    Nothing but you're the one who brought up the iPhone 5's in the first place.

    Band difference isn't because of carrier locks. It's because different carriers in different countries use different bands for LTE. Last I checked, there were 5 iPhone models each for the 5s and 5c with different sets of supported LTE bands. I know there's a single model in the US for AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. Heck, I've got a Verizon 5c on T-Mobile.

    As I recall, for the 5c/5s, there are two model for the Americas, one for Europe, one for Asia-Pacific and one for China.

    The iPhone 5 was simpler. One GSM for the Americas, one CDMA for the Americas and one GSM for global.

    Assuming they're unlocked, all will work with GSM/GPRS. Most will work with 3G/HSPA+ internationally (although there are some models which will not be compatible with T-Mobile AWS). LTE support would vary by model depending on the country you're visiting. 3G/HSPA in some places is a joke. For example, I was getting just 200kbps-1Mbps with really high ping times on H+. Thank goodness I had an iPad Air which supported LTE in that country (15-30Mbps up & down).
     
  11. KUguardgrl13 macrumors 68020

    KUguardgrl13

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    I brought up the Verizon 5 and 5c/5s initially since they are already unlocked for use on GSM carriers worldwide. If OP were to upgrade to, say, a 5s, it would be very easy and no need to call Verizon for anything.

    I bring up locks with the US iPhones because the Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile 5c/5s are the same model numbers (CDMA permanently locked on the later two) while Sprint has different models and uses a special SIM. In theory, they could make a CDMA and GSM model that supports bands for Verizon and Sprint, but Sprint won't budge on their strict unlocking policy. I bet Apple would even produce a Sprint version with the GSM portion (besides LTE) permanently locked like they do for AT&T and T-Mobile with locking the CDMA portion. Maybe once Sprint decides to comply with the recent FCC ruling there can be one North America iPhone that can have GSM or CDMA permanently locked unless it's the Verizon model.

    Anyway, Everymac lists 8 models each for the 5c and 5s, so we were both wrong. There were 5 models for the iPhone 5. iPhone Specs @ EveryiPhone.com They still only have three actual model numbers which is what I was looking at before. My question would be how do they distinguish between them?

    For the OP, there are two 4Ses, but one is only for China. The Verizon model should be able to work most placed abroad once unlocked. It's supposedly a "world phone" that supports many bands. Since it doesn't support LTE, that shouldn't be a challenge to find a carrier with a compatible band. You could probably even Google carriers for where you're going.
     
  12. HappyDude20 thread starter macrumors 68020

    HappyDude20

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    #12
    I'm googling carriers as we speak. I just want the most straight forward info on data for when I'm abroad in multiple countries, I started another thread on the matter in the community discussion pages as well.
     
  13. rui no onna macrumors 601

    rui no onna

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    Carrier policy wouldn't really matter to Apple in terms of hardware design. The convenience of having just one model is in simplification and potentially better supply contracts. The rest (carrier locking, etc) can easily be done via software. I reckon we'll get to the one model eventually similar to what they did with the 4S. It's just a matter of availability of small, low-power chipsets that'll fit inside the iPhone's much more diminutive chassis. With the 4S, it was simple since WCDMA was pretty much just 850, 900, 1900 and 2100. Add AWS 1700 for TMo. Apparently, even the iPad Air and rMini have two models. The model released in the US (A1475/A1490) supports 14 LTE bands. The other (A1476/A1491, I'm guessing for China) supports 12 LTE bands with Band 38, 39 and 40 not being in the US version.

    Mind, the count of 8 for the 5c/5s seems to be only because they're considering the A1533 as 3 different models (GSM, Verizon CDMA, China CDMA).
     
  14. gaanee macrumors 6502a

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    One of the reps told me that Verizon iPhone will work on other GSM carriers both in US and outside, but will not work on other CDMA carriers outside. So the CDMA works only with Verizon.
     
  15. KUguardgrl13 macrumors 68020

    KUguardgrl13

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    #15
    Yes, the Verizon iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s are already unlocked for GSM worldwide. No need to get them to unlock it for you, unlike the 4S. CDMA isn't nearly as common as GSM, and at least in the US, both Sprint and Verizon have policies where they won't activate phones that weren't theirs originally (there may be an exception for phones from international carriers if you do prepaid, but I'm not positive). That may change with Verizon with their new BYOD discount and if they get VoLTE. The issue would be if the phone is GSM-only, there would be no CDMA 3G or 1X to fall back on, and Verizon doesn't have HSPA+ or Edge.
     

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