Carrier iPhone 5S in USA: Which Models are Unlocked?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Apple Trees, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. Apple Trees, Oct 3, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2013

    Apple Trees macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 28, 2013
    #1
    I've seen tons of threads popping up here asking where to get unlocked iPhone 5S, which ones are unlocked, and from where to buy them. Here is the final word on this to end all questions.

    AT&T
    Unlocked: If purchased from Apple store full retail price device only
    Locked: If purchased from Apple at the subsidized price, AT&T, or any other 3rd party retailer
    Note: Can easily be unlocked for $2-$3 using remote IMEI sites such as swiftunlocks.com (does not matter whether phone is in contract or not)
    Carrier: AT&T will unlock your iPhone 5S once your contract is completed per request. Unlock works for any GSM carrier, US or other countries.

    Verizon
    Unlocked: No matter where purchased or at what price, ALL Verizon iPhone 5S are unlocked right out of the box. Even if they are bought from Verizon or 3rd party retailers at the subsidized price. Can never be carrier locked. The is due to an FCC requirement for Verizon LTE phones.

    T-Mobile
    Unlocked: If purchased from Apple. The iPhone is only sold to T-Mobile customers at full retail price by Apple, no EIP financing through Apple. Thus coming from Apple, the iPhone 5S that has a T-Mobile sim card is factory unlocked out of the box.
    Locked: If purchased from a T-Mobile retail store whether financing or at full retail price. Phone will be LOCKED.
    Carrier: T-Mobile allows you to request an unlock for your phone after 40 days of service with the carrier. Unlock works for any GSM carrier. US and other countries.

    Sprint
    Unlocked: This phone can ONLY be unlocked by at the discretion of Sprint. After 90 days of service and paying your bill on time Sprint will allow you to request an unlock of your iPhone.
    Locked: This phone will be locked no matter where or how you purchased it. Full retail or subsidized.
    Note: Even when Sprint 'unlocks' your iPhone, it is only for international use. It CANNOT be used on domestic GSM carriers like AT&T or T-Mobile. This means that in the USA your phone can only be used on Sprint even if it is unlocked. No exceptions.

    Hope this clears up some of the confusion. Suggestions are welcome for any incorrect info. I've also just discovered that Virgin Mobile will be offering the 5S, so anyone with that carrier who is familiar with their unlock requirements can chime in.

    Edit: this also applies for the iPhone 5C
     
  2. AndrewR23 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2010
    #2
    I can verify I ordered a T mobile 5S on apple.com, inserted my AT&T sim and it worked perfectly, with full LTE.

    Yesterday, returned the T mobile one for Verizon 5S, my AT&T LTE works flawless on that one as well.
     
  3. CEmajr macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2012
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    #3
    Good maybe this will put an end to some of these asking if my iPhone is unlocked threads.
     
  4. Jovianremix macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2013
    #4
    So it appears that the 5S models for Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile are all exactly the same hardware. The only differentiating factor is whether the phones are unlocked or not? Am I correct?
     
  5. Namji macrumors 6502a

    Namji

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2010
    #5
    Could you go in more details on the bolded comment? Why does FCC only require VZW to unlock their LTE phones and not AT&T or tmobile, and sprint?

    ----------

    Not to my knowledge. If you were to pay full retail price on a iPhone 5S the best phone to get would be from Verizon, regardless which carrier you are with.
     
  6. Jovianremix macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2013
    #6
    Why is it best to get the Verizon model?
     
  7. Namji macrumors 6502a

    Namji

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2010
  8. Raibyn macrumors regular

    Raibyn

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Location:
    South Carolina
    #8
    Unless you are on Sprint. Otherwise, yes as the Verizon 5s is the only phone I know of that can get LTE on Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile.
     
  9. urkel macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2008
    #9
    I know this is how it was last gen with the iPhone 5 but I thought for the 5s then Apple was only making a single model that would be carrier locked, but unlocked would all work identically. So did Sprint get a unique (crippled) model?
     
  10. Raibyn macrumors regular

    Raibyn

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Location:
    South Carolina
    #10
    Yes, the Sprint model is different, A1453 vs A1533 for the other three carriers. Different LTE bands on the Sprint version.

    http://www.apple.com/iphone/LTE/
     
  11. CEmajr macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2012
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    #11
    Yep Sprint is always the crippled oddball and their restrictive unlock policies are what keeps the resale value of their phones so low. Just another reason I would never use them.
     
  12. takeshi74 macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2011
    #12
    Part of the terms of Verizon's purchase of the 700Mhz spectrum. It was a cover story here on MacRumors and has been discussed in many threads as well:
    http://www.macrumors.com/2012/09/24...s-required-by-fcc-network-access-regulations/

    Locks can be applied like that without needing a different model.
     
  13. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #13
    Is that swift unlocks thing legit and are there any drawbacks? Anyone here personally use the service themselves?
     
  14. ryanmcv macrumors 6502a

    ryanmcv

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    #14
    I've used it, and it works perfectly. But unfortunately, the service appears to be down for AT&T iPhone unlocks at the moment. Apparently AT&T is cracking down on these types of unlocks. If and when the service comes back up, expect prices to be much higher than $2.
     
  15. Col Ronson macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    #15
    its legit but technically "illegal." I only unlock my phones thru official means or by buying full price. I dont like taking chances.
     
  16. CEmajr macrumors 601

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    Dec 18, 2012
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
  17. Satnam1989 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2011
    Location:
    Illinois
    #17
    Add /5C to the title and next to any "5S" you have mentioned in the post as the Radio chip is the exact same in both.

    Nice post
     
  18. germinator macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2009
    #18
    Just one question...

    If I buy the AT&T 5s from Target at full price, will AT&T unlock it?
     
  19. Coleman2010 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Location:
    NYC
    #19
    Yes they should. It will be sold locked to AT&T. You will have to call AT&T customer service and request an unlock. They will have you fax copy of the receipt to prove its paid full price.
     
  20. aneftp macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2007
    #20
    I want to point out, outside of iPhones (which Apple controls 100% of the software).

    Verizon play A holes with their LTE Android and especially Windows Phones "GSM unlocked" portion of the FCC agreement. Sure they let you make and receive phone calls and text with Verizon HTC 8X/Lumia 822, Galaxy S4/S3 etc.

    But Verizon neuters the software that makes MMS and data APN changes extremely difficult Android phones without rooting it.

    And in Windows "unlocked" Verizon phones like the HTC 8x, it's next to impossible to enable MMS to correct work with GSM carriers.

    Thank God Apple doesn't not let Verizon impose their will with their "unlocked GSM portion" by not allowing Verizon to cripple APNs and MMS settings.

    I have both Verizon and ATT and the iPhone 5S works flawlessly, nothing needs to be changed. Pop Verizon SIM in, it works. Pop ATT sim in, it works.

    Verizon Nokia Lumia 822, pop Verizon Sim everything works including data and MMS.

    Verizon Nokia Lumia 822 with ATT sim, calls and text work. Data works only by changing access points. But MMS will not work even with downloading Nokia access points which configures everything for you.
     
  21. MJedi macrumors 6502a

    MJedi

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2010
    #21
    Has anyone requested an unlock but you're financing the iPhone with T-Mobile? Did they approve or deny it? I thought they would only unlock any phone if you bought it for full retail price, aside from the 40 days of service.
     
  22. Coleman2010 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Location:
    NYC
    #22
    T-Mobile will unlock if you meet their criteria. 40 days active account. Account in good standing. iPhone in use on account for at least 7 days. Unit paid in full.

    Considering how hard it is too find unlocked Gold units in store I'm considering buying it locked and having T-Mobile unlock it.
     
  23. CEmajr macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2012
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    #23
    Yeah I noticed this when I was trying to use a T-Mobile sim with the Verizon S3. Couldn't do anything but talk and text, no data or MMS. Seems like a slick way for Verizon to get around the FCC unlock requirement. Technically it's unlocked, but essential features are crippled.
     
  24. galaceuriel macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2013
    #24
    Does this apply for international carriers as well? Like, can I just go into a Verizon store, buy a contract-free iPhone 5S at full price, then take it with me outside of the country and use nano-SIMs from international carriers?
     
  25. Apple Trees thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 28, 2013
    #25
    Yeah it works with nano sims for carriers outside the US too.
     

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