Locking and Carriers

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Texas_Toast, Oct 3, 2016.

  1. Texas_Toast macrumors 6502a

    Texas_Toast

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2016
    Location:
    Texas
    #1
    Can someone explain to me what locking/unlocking an iPhone means?

    Also, how does this relate to the carrier? For instance, if I want to buy a new/used iPhone 6S Plus to do development on, and I want to use Cricket, then what do I need to do?

    And what if I want to use AT&T, since I already have a hot spot with them.

    Thanks.
     
  2. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2011
    Location:
    Phoenix • 85037
    #2
    Unlocking an iPhone allows you to use it on a carrier other than the one it was originally intended to be used on.

    It does not, however, guarantee that a carrier will alow that phone on their network nor that the phone will even have the ability to function on that network.

    It's just the process of allowing it to be used on other networks.

    Without unlocking, inserting the SIM of a different carrier would mean that your phone would fail to recognize the SIM as valid and you would not get service.
     
  3. Texas_Toast thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Texas_Toast

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2016
    Location:
    Texas
    #3
    So if I buy a brand new iPhone to work on, say, AT&T then it won't work on another carrier like Sprint or Verizon?

    That almost sounds like if you buy a PC then your software won't work when you switch to a Mac.
     
  4. TheAppleFairy macrumors 68020

    TheAppleFairy

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2013
    Location:
    The Clinton Archipelago unfortunately
    #4
    Correct, it won't work until it's unlocked.

    Well not exactly....it's a different operating system with different code. It won't work, because it can't work.

    That's like diesel in a gas engine.
     
  5. rui no onna macrumors 601

    rui no onna

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2013
    #5
    Technically, you can run Windows on Macs now.

    As for AT&T iPhone on Verizon, the iPhone 6/+ and 6s/+ have both GSM and CDMA hardware, so yes, it's possible (there are some caveats to activating new SIM/service, though). Alas, the AT&T and T-Mobile iPhone 7's are GSM-only so they're not gonna work on Verizon or if they do, only on LTE.
     
  6. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2011
    Location:
    Phoenix • 85037
    #6
    It's not about software and it's not about Apple intentionally screwing you over.

    It's about the carriers wanting to retain their customers. Back when contracts and subsidized phones were the norm a carrier lost a lot of money if someone was able to unlock their phone and move to a different carrier before the phone was paid for.

    It was a demand that the carriers placed upon Apple. Now that leasing is popular and customers are demanding carrier freedom the carriers are far more lenient. But they still want the phone paid off before unlocking it. That way they don't lose money.

    On the technological side there are limitations to just how many frequencies you can stuff into a small space. So not every carrier's phone has every frequency, or in the case of the AT&T/T-Mobile iPhone 7/7s those phones do not have CDMA radios so you can only use those two on T-Mobile or AT&T or some other GSM carrier outside the USA.
     
  7. Texas_Toast thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Texas_Toast

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2016
    Location:
    Texas
    #7
    I am getting more confused by everyone's detailed responses...

    Let me rephrase things... If I buy a new iPhone 6S Plus from Apple, then is there a way to buy one so that it could conceivably work on any carrier down the road?

    If I am paying upfront for the phone, I don't owe any carrier anything, and it would be disturbing to think that after dropping $700 that I would be stuck with one carrier for life!

    The plan right now is to buy a new iPhone and get Cricket for my service because they are cheapest and all I need the carrier for is texting while I develop and demo mobile-friendly websites. That's it. Expensive choice, but that is all I need.

    At the same time, let's say that down the road another carrier had some great deal, it would be nice to think I could use them. (You don't buy a new Honda and find out that you can only buy gas at Exxon, right?!)

    Besides Cricket, it would be nice it it also worked on AT&T, because I do have an AT&T hot spot, and maybe they would make me a deal where I could add a phone to my mobile plan. So I would like a new iPhoen that definitely works on Cricket, ideally AT&T too, and if it works on other carrier even better.

    Am I making any sense?

    And based on what I have said, what do I need to select if/when I buy a new iPhone 6S Plus from Apple - paid in full at time of purchase?

    Thanks.
     
  8. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2011
    Location:
    Phoenix • 85037
    #8
    Any iPhone you buy directly from Apple that you pay full price for will be automatically unlocked. Doesn't matter what carrier.

    Cricket is owned by AT&T so it uses AT&T's network.

    As to your car analogy, and someone mentioned this earlier, let me try to explain it this way…

    You buy a new Volkwswagen with a diesel engine. You can buy diesel gasoline from any company selling it, but guess what? Exxon is the only one selling diesel gas in your town.

    That's what we're talking about when we mean technical limitations of the phone.

    I am not sure which carrier version of the 6s+ has the most frequency support. Maybe someone else can answer that.
     
  9. Texas_Toast thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Texas_Toast

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2016
    Location:
    Texas
    #9
    So do I buy a new iPhone 6S Plus configured to work with Cricket, or do I have to buy one enabled for AT&T? Or maybe something else?
     
  10. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2011
    Location:
    Phoenix • 85037
    #10
    Well, they don't sell a model specifically for Cricket. They'd sell you the AT&T model.

    I can't suggest which one to buy to you as I'm not familiar with which carrier models for the 6s+ offers the most frequencies. Hopefully someone else who knows can suggest the right one.
     
  11. alexmarchuk macrumors 6502a

    alexmarchuk

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2007
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #11
    The iPhone 6S bought in full from Apple is unlocked and mentioned before has GSM and CDMA bands so it will work with all carriers. Your carrier is your choice, just put your compatible SIM in the phone with service you will be good to go.
     
  12. T5BRICK macrumors 604

    T5BRICK

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2006
    Location:
    Oregon
    #12
    Since you're buying a 6s, just pick up the "sim-free" model. It's fully unlocked and will work with all 4 of the major carriers.
     
  13. C DM macrumors Westmere

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2011
    #13
    You can check at https://www.apple.com/iphone/LTE/#iphone-6-iphone-6-plus Seems like the same model is used for AT&T and Cricket. There's also the SIM-Free model that will work basically with any carrier.
     
  14. Texas_Toast thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Texas_Toast

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2016
    Location:
    Texas
    #14
    So it sounds like whoever above implied that I had to pick an iPhone to match my carrier wasn't right in this case.

    I hear three people above saying that for an iPhone 6S Plus, an unlocked sim-free card will work with any major US carrier - which is what I would expect as far as being "fair".

    I thought someone above also said this will not be the case moving forward with the iPhone 7?

    Maybe when I have time I should call or stop into an AT&T and Cricket store and just verify with them what I should do - more so with Cricket.

    At least it is good to know that I have a little flexibility than it originally appeared.

    Thanks.
     
  15. T5BRICK macrumors 604

    T5BRICK

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2006
    Location:
    Oregon
    #15
    Correct. Just ask for the sim free iPhone 6s in the capacity, color and screen size you want, and it'll work fine on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon, along with many other smaller carriers.

    Every year Apple releases a sim free version of the iPhone. It takes a few weeks to a few months before it's available. The sim free iPhone 7 isn't being sold, yet.

    It says right on the Apple website that the sim free 6s can be activated on any supported carrier.
     
  16. AustinIllini macrumors demi-god

    AustinIllini

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2011
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #16
    I'm interested to see if AT&T will unlock a phone if I bought it outright (i.e. I owe no money on it)
     
  17. T5BRICK macrumors 604

    T5BRICK

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2006
    Location:
    Oregon
    #17
    https://www.att.com/deviceunlock/?#/

    If you bought it from Apple, it's probably already unlocked.
     

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