Sim-Free vs Pay in Full iPhone: Simple Question

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by DSTOFEL, Sep 13, 2016.

  1. DSTOFEL macrumors 6502

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    Feb 11, 2011
    #1
    I'm going to pass on the iPhone 7 and either by a new 64GB SE or new 128GB 6s from Apple this weekend. I'm going to pay full price so that I have maximum flexibility to pre-order the 2017 iPhone. I'm going to activate the phone with Verison (i.e. My current carrier).

    Given that I'm going to activate the phone with Verison, my question is: Is there any advantage whatsoever with buying the phone "Sim-Free" version of the phone from Apple vs buying the Verison version (i.e. Paying full price either way)?

    My understanding is that all Verison iPhones are "unlocked" anyway. If that's true it seems to me there is no advantage of buying the "Sim-Free" version from Apple. But there actually is a disadvantage of buying the Sim-Free version in that I have to buy my own SIM card (i.e. Granted...it's only $10).

    Amy I missing something simple?
     
  2. rui no onna macrumors 603

    rui no onna

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    #3
    If you don't care about using the iPhone with Sprint (afaik, Sprint still requires whitelisted devices), no problem getting the unlocked Verizon version. Also, LTE Band 30 on the iP6s so you won't have that option with AT&T. Not sure how important that is considering rollout is pretty limited for now.
     
  3. DSTOFEL, Sep 13, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 15, 2016

    DSTOFEL thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #4
    Very helpful reply there Drew!
    --- Post Merged, Sep 13, 2016 ---
    On Apple's site, there is actually 1 option to buy a SIM-free phone. The SE price for this is $449. There is another option under each of the carrier's to buy the phone at full price. Under the Verizon carrier option, the Full Price option is also $449.

    So, the iPhone SIM free version is not associated with any carrier (i.e. Is unlocked and does not come with a SIM card). See the Thumbnail pic. I'm assuming this phone can be activated with any carrier. I'd just need to buy my own SIM card.

    The option to pay full price for the Verizon version is the same price $449. See the Thumbnail pic. I'm assuming that since Verizon iPhones are all 'unlocked" anyway, that this phone could also be activated on any carriers network (i.e. Despite the fact that it comes with a Verison SIM). I'd just have to buy the other carrier's SIM to use it on a different network.

    My question is very targeted and nuanced. Is there any difference between these two phones other than the Verizon version comes with a SIM card (i.e. Which would be an advantage for me since I'm planning to activate it on Verizon).

    Thanks,
     

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  4. Shadowbech macrumors 601

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    #5
    Just know that the sim-free for 6S an 6S Plus is the AT&T model as it has the LTE band 30. Not that it may matter but if you choose to switch to AT&T down the road. Verizon model for the 6S and 6S plus does not have LTE band 30.
     
  5. rui no onna macrumors 603

    rui no onna

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    #6
    I believe I've answered that. SIM-free version is whitelisted on both Verizon and Sprint so it's the one that works with all 4 major carriers (should have no issues activating new service/SIM on any carrier). Like @Shadowbech mentioned, the iPhone 6S/6S Plus also have LTE Band 30 which AT&T uses in select areas to reduce congestion.

    Given these considerations, if you plan to resell, SIM-free might fetch a slightly higher price compared to Verizon.
     
  6. DSTOFEL, Sep 13, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2016

    DSTOFEL thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #7
    Okay thanks! This is the kind of information I was after. So, it seems there is a difference between the SIM-Free full price phone vs each Carrier's full price phone in that the SIM-Free version comes with additional "bands".

    So, If I'm understanding you correctly: If I bought the SIM-FREE version of the 6s, I'd be able to activate it on Verizon and then next year when I go to sell it, I'd have a larger market to sell to as I could also sell it to someone planning to activate it on ATT's network. Is this correct? If so, that certainly sounds like an advantage of going with the SIM-FREE model and buying my own SIM card.

    If I went with the Verizon Full price version of the 6s are you saying that it would not work on ATT's network since it's missing the required band to do so? Thanks
    --- Post Merged, Sep 13, 2016 ---
    Thanks. Yes, you probably did give me the answer I needed. The fault is on my end in that I didn't quite understand the response due to my lack of knowledge around all of this. I'm not familiar with the term "Whitelisted" or "Band. 30". I think between your're and Shadowbech's response, it's starting to sink in;--)

    Just one follow-up question I you don't mind. You (and Shadowbech) mentioned that the iPhone 6s has this 'Band 30" on the SIM-Free version. Do you know if the SIM-Free SE version also has Band 30?

    It sounds to me based on your and Shadowbech's responses that there are a couple of advantages of buying the SIM-free model vs the carrier specific "Full Price" version.
    • One advantage (at least with the iPhone 6s): It has an additional band (i.e. Band 30) that would be of benefit to certain AT&T users (i.e. And therefore might help the resell value).
    • Another advantage: The SIM-Free version can be activated on all networks while the Verizon full priced version (even though also "unlocked") cannot be activated on Sprint's network (i.e. But can be activated on all the other networks).

    Did I summarize this correctly? Or am I still missing some small nuance?

    Thanks again,
     
  7. rui no onna macrumors 603

    rui no onna

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    Oct 25, 2013
    #8
    The Verizon 6s will work on AT&T's LTE network. AT&T uses other bands (iirc 1,2,5 & 7). It just won't work on the less congested band 30. None of the SE models have LTE Band 30.
     
  8. blowfish89 macrumors member

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    Pasadena, CA
    #9
    Isn't Verizon/Sprint CDMA and ATT/T-Mobile GSM ? Maybe it has changed?
     
  9. Shadowbech macrumors 601

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    #10
    Nothing changed. Verizon/Sprint is still CDMA and ATT/T-Mobile is still GSM
     
  10. rui no onna macrumors 603

    rui no onna

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    #11
    Pre-LTE, sure. All of Verizon's LTE capable phones work on both CDMA and GSM.
     
  11. blowfish89 macrumors member

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    Pasadena, CA
    #12
    Just to clarify further, I need an unlocked GSM phone, which should work with any SIM (GSM) in the US or internationally. I ordered the T-Mobile version from Apple.com for full price outright - this is what I want, right? My order does say 7plus GSM 256gb, there is no mention of T-Mobile even. Not sure if I should have got the Verizon version.

    Fwiw, I am on T-Mobile right now (no contract).
     
  12. DSTOFEL, Sep 13, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2016

    DSTOFEL thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #13
    From my understanding of the replies in this thread so far: It sounds like the phone you ordered will work with any network in the USA except for Sprint (i.e. Per Rui no onna's response: "Sprint requires a Whitelisted device" which a SIM-Free option from Apple would provide (i.e. this version in the 7 won't be available for sale from Apple at launch), but which the Full Price carrier specific versions such as the T-Mobile or Verizon full price version will not provide)). The only other difference for USA carriers that "might" come into play is: Your T-Mobile full price version "might" not have band 30...useful for some AT&T users, whereas a true SIM-Free version definitely would have Band 30. However, I'm not clear from the responses whether it's only the Verizon full priced (i.e. Carrier specific) version that's missing band 30, or if it applies to the T-mobile version you got. Maybe others can chime in!

    As for international use. I wonder if there are any other "missing bands" (similar to Band 30) in the carrier specific full price versions (i.e. Such as Verizon) that would be included in the SIM-Free version of the 7 that would come into play internationally?
     
  13. rui no onna macrumors 603

    rui no onna

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    #14
    Actually, GSM iPhone 7 will not work on Verizon and Sprint (at least not on CDMA). No CDMA hardware at all from what I've read (uses Intel chip instead of Qualcomm).

    The iPhone 6S/6S+ were for the most part universal (at least as far as underlying technology is concerned). Barring LTE Band 30 which has limited availability anyway (just a few major cities), theoretically, the 6S/6S+ can be used with any carrier.

    The problem is Verizon and Sprint will likely make you jump through hoops trying to activate service on an iPhone that's not SIM-free or branded to them. There's no technical reason why you can't use an AT&T/T-Mobile iPhone 6S/6S+ on Verizon/Sprint other than the fact that stupid Verizon/Sprint don't like allowing IMEI (mobile device identification) numbers that's not on their whitelist (think guest list) on their networks. It's a pretty asinine policy that's carried over from CDMA.

    Meanwhile, AT&T/T-Mobile just lets all phones with compatible technology on their networks unless that device is blacklisted (typically phones that have been reported stolen).

    Confusing, I know. To be safe, just buy the SIM-free model or the one that's branded to your carrier.
     
  14. HarryWild, Sep 13, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2016

    HarryWild macrumors 65816

    HarryWild

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    #15
    The sim free version has additional radios in it for international use and usually priced in aftermarket(used) around $100 more then the carrier branded models after a year's time. It use shows up in first or second weeks in December but is easily available in mid January! I usually wait till then.
     
  15. DSTOFEL, Sep 14, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2016

    DSTOFEL thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #16
    After the great information you provided last night I did a bit of research into this. There is a thread that goes into great detail about the differences between SIM-Free vs carrier specific full priced version of the 7. Apparently, as you mention, there are differences between the 6s and 7 with regards to this. The Full priced GSM version of the 7 (i.e. Not the SIM-free version, but the full priced carrier specific version available for preorder) appear not to have CDMA radio's and will not work on Verizon or Sprint.

    Here is a post from "gregnauman" on the last page of that thread that sums it up well (note: I pasted the link to this thread at the bottom of the page):

    "People were not using logic and reason or reading his posts.

    He tried to explain the truth multiple times but people were not listening to him at all or reading his links. Unlocked and Sim-free are in some ways two different things.

    Unlocked means you can go to any network that the PHONE SUPPORTS.

    This is all different than the iPhone 6S plus and 6s. Those phones had BOTH RADIOS (CDMA and GSM)

    The new iPhone 7's are not all the same as far as the hardware. Some will have Intel radio chips only supporting GSM, Some will have Qualcomm radio chips that support GSM AND CDMA.

    A Sim Free phone is sold without a SIM chip and therefore has to have the ABILITY to work on any network because it does not have a SIM card PRE-INSERTED. The sim free phone needs to have the capability to work on any networks radio because they do not know what SIM will be inserted into the phone when the user purchases it.

    See pictures in my post above.....

    If you try to purchase a full price ATT phone right now it will say "Unlocked but tied to ATT" The ATT phone does NOT have a CDMA radio at all so can only be used on ATT or Tmobile, UNLIKE the sim free iPhone 6s

    On the other hand the Verizon and Sprint phone DO have dual radios in them one for GSM and one for CDMA. So if you purchase one of those and you get it "unlocked" it will have the ABILITY to go to TMobile or ATT.

    Problem is if you are an ATT customer you can't purchase a Verizon or Sprint phone right now you would need to wait for Sim-free phone if you want BOTH RADIOS.

    When/IF apple starts selling a sim free phone it will most likely be the A1630 and A1631 models currently sold as Verizon and Sprint phones."


    The link to this thread is: http://forums.macrumors.com/threads...ippled-iphone-7s.1992556/page-9#post-23382069
     
  16. blowfish89 macrumors member

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    Pasadena, CA
    #17
    Thanks a lot for the replies. I will not be using CDMA (either domestic or international), so the unlocked GSM/T-Mobile phone I ordered is sufficient for my requirements. I did not even see a SIM-free option on the Apple website for pre-order, so I presume it will be available later (as the poster above says).
     
  17. DSTOFEL thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #18
    I've got one more follow-up question if you don't mind. You seem to understand how these SIM-Free phones work.

    So, I've decided to go with a SIM-Free 6S. I'll pick it up on Friday. I currently have my 6+ and my service for it is through Verizon. My question is: How do I go about activating the new SIM-Free 6s on my Verizon account. I'm selling my 6+ and want to just keep the same phone number and have it associated with my new 6S.

    Do I:
    • Just take the SIM out of my 6+, put it in my new 6S and begin using it straight away (i.e. With no need to go through any kind of activation process with Verizon)? Is this possible? If so, I guess I'd need to buy Verizon SIM card (from Best Buy for example) to put in my old 6+ so that the person buying it will get a phone with a SIM card.
    • Buy a SIM-Card from Best Buy, etc..., put it in my new 6S and stop by a Verizon Store and have them activate it...to take over the number of my old 6+ (i.e. Which I assume will be deactivated).
    Just not sure what my options are for activating these SIM-less phones. Thanks,
     
  18. rui no onna macrumors 603

    rui no onna

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    #19
    This method is the simplest. It's actually the workaround used by people who buy AT&T/T-Mobile phones and want to use it on Verizon. I have a Verizon iPhone 5c and moved the SIM card from that phone to a T-Mobile iPhone 6. Verizon reports unknown device on my account page but aside from that, everything works fine including VoLTE.

    You don't really need to buy a SIM card when reselling. The buyer should know how to take care of that on their own. It's pretty standard practice that phones sold as used don't come with SIM cards.
     
  19. Shadowbech macrumors 601

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    #20
    I'm not sure how it's done but I think you can just remove the sim card from the 6 Plus and simply insert that one into your new sim-Free 6S and should be good to go.
     
  20. Lilato macrumors newbie

    Lilato

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    Sep 19, 2016
    #21
    So refreshing to find someone who knows about this stuff. I couldn't even get a straight answer from chatting with an Apple specialist.
    I'm on Verizon, but I guess because everyone wants a VZ phone, they're usually more expensive in the secondary marked. I'm thinking about getting a jet black 7+. I asked a seller if his Sprint phone had to be active on Sprint for 50+ days before it could work on other carriers and he said that because he paid for it in full, it worked with everyone.
    Can I just pop my SIM card and use the phone or unless I turn on the charm and try to convince someone to "whitelist" my phone, it won't work? Or it's too much hassle and I shouldn't risk spending money on a phone that might not work?
    Thanks in advance and if there's anything I can help with, just shout. I'm indecisive between the matte or jet black 7+. I have picked out a few nice clear & clear black cases on Amazon, if anyone is looking for it. Don't even have a phone and already looked up cases. Crazy lol I guess is the excitement of owning my 1st iPhone ever!
     
  21. rui no onna macrumors 603

    rui no onna

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    #22
    Do you already have a working Verizon Nano-SIM card? If yes, then just popping it in should work assuming the Sprint phone is really unlocked.

    If you buy full price Sprint iPhone from Apple, it's automatically unlocked at the register. If you buy full price Sprint iPhone from Sprint, then it may not be automatically unlocked.
     
  22. Lilato macrumors newbie

    Lilato

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    #23
    Thanks a lot for the help, rui no ona. Yes, I'm currently with Verizon and have a Nano SIM on my off contract Galaxy S6. Is there a reliable way to find out if a phone is unlocked, if you buy it from eBay or Swappa? I think Swappa's IMEI checker makes sure the IMEI is clean, but I don't know if Paypal will protect me and give me a refund, if the seller says the phone is unlocked and it was bought from Apple, if it wasn't. What can I do to be safe, if buying in the "secondary" market? I've tried asking for proof of purchase or receipt, but some people doesn't even reply. I have an excellent 300+ positive eBay feedback.
     
  23. rui no onna macrumors 603

    rui no onna

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    #24
    Sorry. No idea so can't help you there. Honestly, if I were, I'd just get a Verizon phone.
     
  24. Lilato macrumors newbie

    Lilato

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    Sep 19, 2016
    #25
    Thanks a lot for all the help. I truly appreciate it. I think I'll just stick to my matte black upgrade order, instead of risking spending a small fortune buying from an unknown source just to get a jet black one.
     

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