Europe/US T-mobile Model A1549 question

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by TacoTony, Dec 19, 2014.

  1. TacoTony macrumors newbie

    Dec 19, 2014
    I live about 10 months out of the year in Europe and about 2 months out of the year in the States. I am looking to purchase a new iPhone 6. The simple thing to do would be to buy it in Europe. In Italy, for example, there are no such things as a locked phone. Does not exist and never will. Against the law. I could buy A1586 there, use my Vodafone SIM when I am in Europe and when I come to the States just swap it out with my TMobile SIM. Problem is taxes are at 22% and with the euro to dollar conversion I would be spending about $300 more than if I just bought it in the States. I just can't justify that extra cost.

    I stopped into an Apple store in Delaware last week when I was passing through and attempted to buy the contract free TMobile phone, when they told me that in Europe I would not receive LTE and only 4G as the Tmobile version does not support the LTE bands in Europe. As proof they showed me this site:

    They told me that I would need to purchase a Sprint contract free phone and have it unlocked if I wanted to have LTE in Europe as the TMobile phone will only give me 4G. Since the majority of year is spent in Europe it is far more important to me to have the LTE in Europe and i could make do with 4G in the states.

    Before following their advice, I started doing some research and noticed that all the carriers in Italy operate on band 3 (1800MHz) and band 7 (2600MHz). I also noticed almost every carrier in Europe also uses those same bands. I went back to the iphone/lte web page and saw that the Tmobile A1549 does indeed support both of those bands. Well if that is the case, why do they not list the different countries in Europe and the different supported networks for the A1549? Why are they only listed for the A1586? I called Apple, and got redirected 4 times until I ended up with Technical Supervisor who I ended up talking to for over an hour regarding this issue.

    The first thing he told me is that the TMobile (A1549), will most definitely only get 4G in Europe. He said something along the lines of: while the phone does operate on bands 3 and 7 the antenna in the phone is carrier specific. So he said I was out of luck and should not go with the TMobile version. Can anyone confirm or deny this? Is this true?

    He said my best bet would be to get a model A1586 from some carrier stateside and have them unlock it for me.

    I called multiple carriers around the country today and non of them were helpful. Could not find a single one that would sell an A1586 and unlock it for me. It just doesn't make sense to me. Why not????

    I then called US Cellular and asked to buy a contract free iphone 6 and have them unlock it for me. They told me they could not unlock it. I then preceded to ask them why couldn't they unlock it considering the law now states that they have to unlock it. He had no idea what I was talking about. So I told him to google a few key terms and showed him the FCC page regarding unlocked phones, as well as a page talking about President Obama singing into law the bill about cell phone unlocking, the CTIA page, etc. He read through a lot of the stuff and then said he needed to speak to his supervisor. When he got back on the phone he said that since US Cellular is a signatory of CTIA that they are bound by CTIA rules and regulations and that CTIA has not yet approved the iPhone 6 for unlocking. ????? Seriously???? Does that make sense to anyone here? Sure as hell baffled me.

    I then called Sprint for ***** and giggles just to see what they had to say. After a much more abbreviated version of US Cellular phone call, that rep also spoke with his supervisor and said that the contract free Sprint phone purchased in an Apple Store is also unlocked as well. I re-verified with him what he said and he repeated. Unlocked. But everything on this site and apple itself denies that. So my guess is he was just trying to get me off of the phone.

    Does anyone have any thoughts for me? I would really like to get a phone here in the States and not in Europe. I would appreciate any help.

  2. amro macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2008
    Just flew through Heathrow and got LTE in some places on the airport premises, if that helps.
  3. KPOM, Dec 19, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2014

    KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    As long as your carriers in Europe aren't using the TD-LTE Bands (40-43) just get the T-Mobile, Verizon, or AT&T version the next time you are in Delaware. When I researched LTE bands in the EU, I saw that only a handful of operators actually use the TD-LTE bands (a few in Spain, one in Sweden), but the vast majority were using the FDD-LTE bands supported by the A1549. If it supports the bands, it will work. Apple sales reps tend to be inexperienced, and are taught the official script in part to discourage scalpers.

    This list is better than Apple's for gauging which networks a particular iPhone will work with. Apple's list is merely which model they sell for each carrier around the world. It makes sense for Apple to sell the A1586 in Europe even if most networks don't use it because of roaming agreements, etc

    There are no "special antennas" for each carrier. I'm using an AT&T SIM in a "Verizon" iPhone 6 and get the full benefit of AT&T's network. Actually, with the 6 I could put a Verizon SIM in the AT&T or T-Mobile version and get the same result (that was not true for the 5s). To be fair, I have read some reports that the A1586 sold in Europe could conceivably have SIM provisioning issues with features like VoLTE on American networks, but I haven't seen anything definitive on it, and nothing to suggest that there are any issues in reverse. I got LTE in Greece and the UK on my iPhone 5 two years ago using local SIMs. The new ones support even more bands, so they should get LTE in more places.

    The law you are referring to simply permits people to unlock phones. Before, an obscure clause in an anti-piracy act was vague enough where the Librarian of Congress (don't ask me how he got to be the arbiter) concluded it could render un-sanctioned unlocking methods illegal. Congress quickly passed a law to remove that uncertainty. The carriers and the FCC did agree on a voluntary unlocking standard, but that does not take effect until February, and only for phones developed after that date (so the iPhone 6s but not the 6 will be subject to that protocol).

    The 1586 is reserved for Sprint and a few regional carriers here because they are the only ones who use the TD-LTE bands in the US. AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile don't have LTE roaming agreements with Sprint or any other carrier that uses the TD-LTE bands, and so they get the A1549. Sprint won't unlock its current devices for domestic use. While USCC says they will unlock phones, so far they haven't started unlocking the 6 yet. My guess is that the CTIA hasn't yet added the iPhone 6 to the list of phones that must be unlocked by their members since it is still a fairly new device, but that doesn't prevent USCC from unlocking it. The CSRs may not know how to do it, or USCC hasn't gotten around to posting the instructions yet.

    Because of a unique situation, Verizon LTE phones are all unlocked, even when sold on contract. They were the only bidder for Band 13, which at the time was the most desirable spectrum for LTE in this country. The FCC mandated that anyone who won the auction for Band 13 had to unlock any phone sold to operate on that network, and could not block any other phone capable of accessing that band. That's why the Verizon model is actually the most sought model here. They are whitelisted for Verizon and work just fine on T-Mobile and AT&T.
  4. TacoTony thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 19, 2014
    Yeah, they all are on FDD. So I should be ok it looks like.

    Great to hear!

    I knew the date of February 11th. However, I didn't realize that it only applies to phones released after that date.

    Really good to know! I will definitely look for the Verizon model! If not, I'll just grab the T-Mobile version.

    Thanks for the help!

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