Mysteries of foreign-purchased iPhones

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by tfitzsimons, Dec 5, 2012.

  1. tfitzsimons macrumors member

    Feb 10, 2008
    Hi all,
    I live in Beirut and plan to buy a factory unlocked iPhone 5 in Amsterdam next week. My iPhone 4S (used) is still worth quite a bit for resale here in Lebanon, so I am selling that and upgrading to the new phone for a comparatively small fee.

    I have two questions:

    1. What US networks will the global unlocked iPhone 5 (purchased in Holland) work on? Sprint/Verizon? AT&T? I understand it runs on both CDMA and GSM, but uses specific LTE bands that would basically limit my choice when I move back to the US. I am not worried about which carrier I have to choose, since they are all pretty good where I will be living. I tried to figure it out but ended up mostly confused.

    2. A more obscure question.. Does anyone know if the Amsterdam Apple Store will give a VAT refund form? There is 21% sales tax in Holland and obviously I will only buy one if I do not have to pay that.

    Thanks for help on these obscure questions
  2. Tea-Aholic macrumors 6502


    Dec 8, 2011
    Melbourne, Australia
    The international unlocked version is model A1429 (GSM).

    It will only work on GSM networks in the US (AT&T). Verizon will not likely activate it for you. It will NOT work on LTE networks because it misses AWS and 700b band in the A1428 model.

    If you NEED LTE, then get one in the US.

    I live in Australia, but Apple does give me a tax invoice so I can claim the tax at the airport. Just go to the Apple Store and ask them.
  3. vbtwo31984 macrumors regular

    Jun 20, 2010
    You will only be able to use it on AT&T and T-Mobile. With T-Mobile you'll only get HSPA+ in areas where they refarmed their network, otherwise you'll be stuck with Edge. You'll get HSPA+ with AT&T. You will not get any LTE. It will not work with Verizon or Sprint.
  4. tfitzsimons thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 10, 2008
    There's no chance I could convince Verizon to activate a foreign bought, unlocked phone?

    This makes it look as if model A1429 can work for both GSM and CDMA... Is it just one or the other based on the type of SIM inserted?

    It seems that vbtwo is confusing the unlocked US phone with the unlocked foreign phone... (all Netherlands iPhones are sold unlocked).

    Isn't the phone capable of accessing both CDMA and GSM? Sorry for being so dense.
  5. jmmo20 macrumors 65816

    Jun 15, 2006
    I read a few weeks ago that non-US A1429 iphones have a special iOS version that disables the CDMA hardware, so there's no way to activate it on Verizon.

    Not sure if it's true or not, as I live in Europe and see no need to ever use CDMA.
  6. Tea-Aholic macrumors 6502


    Dec 8, 2011
    Melbourne, Australia
    That's correct. The international version A1429 GSM have the CDMA portion disabled.
  7. dave006 Contributor


    Jul 3, 2008
    Just West of East
    Yes the model A1429 can work with both GSM and CDMA. The issue is that both Verizon and Sprint don't as a rule allow you to connect a device to their network that was not purchased directly for use on their network.

    There is no magical iOS, a model A1429 in the US is exactly the same as a model A1429 purchase World Wide! The difference is in the iOS carrier bundles that get loaded to your device.

    Currently in the US the new unlocked iPhone 5 is the model A1428 and not the model 1429!

    Note: The unlocked iPhone 5 is model A1428. For details on LTE support see The unlocked iPhone will not work with CDMA carriers such as Verizon Wireless or Sprint. Learn more about the unlocked iPhone.

    Open the "Or get iPhone unlocked and contract-free" section.


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