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Earlier this week, Macworld reported that the Sprint iPhone 4S would ship with an unlocked micro-SIM slot allowing users to avoid costly roaming fees when traveling internationally by simply inserting a micro-SIM card from a local GSM carrier. But Sprint later disputed that report, claiming that the iPhone 4S will not be sold unlocked for international use.

iphone_4s_sim.jpg



Sprint has now offered further clarification to Macworld, outlining how the carrier will ultimately unlock the micro-SIM slot for customers in good standing but still leaving a number of questions unanswered.
Indeed, the Sprint iPhone 4S will ship with its micro-SIM slot unlocked. However, Sprint now says that it will be locking that slot "shortly after launch" via an update pushed to those devices. After the slot has been locked, Sprint says that it will allow customers in good standing to unlock the SIM for international use in the future.

So far as I can tell, this means that after a short period of the phone shipping completely unlocked, Sprint will revert to a policy more or less in line with Verizon's. If you are a good customer and pay your bills on time, you can call Sprint and ask the company to unlock your microSIM so you can slip in a foreign, pre-paid SIM.
Sprint and Verizon iPhone 4S models will ship with "roaming SIMs" from the respective carriers, allowing customers to access the networks of their international carrier partners but at the higher roaming prices. But customers who request that the micro-SIM slot be unlocked will be able to remove that card and insert lower-cost local cards when they travel.

Still, Sprint's explanation seems to lack some detail, including the reasons behind the apparently convoluted process of shipping the slots unlocked and then locking them, only to later unlock them upon request for customers in good standing. It is also unclear how Sprint plans to lock the micro-SIM slots and whether users will be able to avoid applying a carrier settings update or other update that would lock them.

Article Link: Sprint Offers Clarification on iPhone 4S International Micro-SIM Unlocking
 

TheRealHershey

macrumors member
Jul 20, 2011
60
0
Sounds like something Sprint would do. I wonder what update method they're planning on using to re-lock it. PRL is out; Profile wouldn't be able to do that; Firmware or Software updates could, but those are released via Apple, last I knew.
 

andyplace

macrumors member
Jun 18, 2009
73
0
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_3 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8J2 Safari/6533.18.5)

Apple uses the activation record to control device locking. Every iPhone of a specific model number is created equal at Foxconn, but apple takes the IMEI and other identifiers of a batch of phones and designates them for a certain carrier.
Upon activation, a cryptographically signed plist is sent to the baseband with a list of allowed carriers.
This means that sprint's only method is to wait for devices to sync with iTunes to query activation state or use new OTA-based activation info in iOS5.
 

optophobia

macrumors 6502a
Oct 26, 2007
877
24
Hudson MA
I assume the logic for this is to allow time for users to apply a jailbreak to the phone before it is locked, and therefore avoid the locking, making it more reaon to Jailbreak.

iPhone Jailbreak FTW :cool:
 

John.B

macrumors 601
Jan 15, 2008
4,158
671
Holocene Epoch
Yeah, I'm wondering if this will do something asinine like re-lock the SIM every time you re-enter a Sprint coverage area.

:confused:
 

complexcommunic

macrumors regular
Feb 23, 2010
133
0
I am INCREDIBLY wary of sprint "pushing" software onto my phone. With my Android phone, every new software update from Sprint meant more and more bloatware that was literally uninstallable without rooting (jailbreaking) the phone. The worst of the bloatware was this massive video game called NOVA that took up a huge amount of memory, kept starting itself in the background without warning, sucked on battery life, and was UNINSTALLABLE.
 

optophobia

macrumors 6502a
Oct 26, 2007
877
24
Hudson MA
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_3 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8J2 Safari/6533.18.5)

Apple uses the activation record to control device locking. Every iPhone of a specific model number is created equal at Foxconn, but apple takes the IMEI and other identifiers of a batch of phones and designates them for a certain carrier.
Upon activation, a cryptographically signed plist is sent to the baseband with a list of allowed carriers.
This means that sprint's only method is to wait for devices to sync with iTunes to query activation state or use new OTA-based activation info in iOS5.

So if one were not to activate through iTunes and cancel the contract, you would be left with an unlocked iphone for the subsidized price + the ETF.

The tough part would then be to somehow activate it... hmmmm.
 

Abyssgh0st

macrumors 68000
Jan 12, 2009
1,888
8
Colorado
I am INCREDIBLY wary of sprint "pushing" software onto my phone. With my Android phone, every new software update from Sprint meant more and more bloatware that was literally uninstallable without rooting (jailbreaking) the phone. The worst of the bloatware was this massive video game called NOVA that took up a huge amount of memory, kept starting itself in the background without warning, sucked on battery life, and was UNINSTALLABLE.

Don't worry- Apple wouldn't allow any bloatware, or the carrier would get axed.

I think everyone is overreacting here- it'll probably just be a carrier update. We've seen this before (a la: AT&T MMS update).
 

pika2000

Suspended
Jun 22, 2007
5,587
4,900
Is this it? Is this the end of Apple's "complete control" of iOS? I mean so far, any update to iPhones are delivered by Apple, not carriers. It would be sad if Apple succumbed to the US carriers. :(
 

KPOM

macrumors P6
Oct 23, 2010
16,536
5,445
In the comments to the Macworld article, Jason Snell is speculating that Sprint probably didn't even realize the SIM slot was unlocked. That said, at the end of the day, they are adopting a reasonable approach by unlocking it at the customer's request. AT&T won't do that, even after the contract is over, and not even for international use. It's entirely possible from a technical perspective to put in a country lock to block other US carriers, while allowing international SIMs to work, but AT&T refuses.
 

Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Oct 9, 2006
10,136
4
So if one were not to activate through iTunes and cancel the contract, you would be left with an unlocked iphone for the subsidized price + the ETF.

The tough part would then be to somehow activate it... hmmmm.

not going to work. First time it connects with Apple's servers it gets locked. You can not use the phone with out connecting to Apple servers any how.
 

justinfreid

macrumors 6502
Nov 24, 2009
499
20
NEW Jersey / USA
Does this make Verizon/Sprint iPhone 4S More Valuable

If Verizon and Sprint will facilitate GSM unlocking of iPhone 4Ss for their customers, it seems to me that they're more valuable than their ATT counterparts. Even though Apple will be selling an unlocked version of the 4S in November, when customers want to resell the phones they received on contract, having them unlocked will make them much more attractive to international eBay buyers and the like.
 

Trauma1

macrumors 6502a
Jun 15, 2009
585
2
I assume the logic for this is to allow time for users to apply a jailbreak to the phone before it is locked, and therefore avoid the locking, making it more reaon to Jailbreak.

iPhone Jailbreak FTW :cool:

Well, that all depends on what "shortly after launch" means.

If it's going to be pushed to the phone a minute or two after activation, you may not have enough time to jailbreak before the lock.

Not to mention, software unlock may not be possible with the baseband version.
 

bacaramac

macrumors 65816
Dec 29, 2007
1,421
81
Is this it? Is this the end of Apple's "complete control" of iOS? I mean so far, any update to iPhones are delivered by Apple, not carriers. It would be sad if Apple succumbed to the US carriers. :(

I still think Apple controls all aspects of software for the iPhone. But I guess this whole IMEI validation against Apple's database would determine if phone is locked if that is how they are doing it. So my guess is Apple is maintaining four states for the current model in the US (Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and Unlocked). My guess is if they do lock it using the method mentioned above, your IMEI # would move from Sprint list to Unlocked list. Seems easy enough. Now if we can get Sprint to not make it this difficult.
 

iph.or.android

macrumors newbie
Oct 13, 2011
3
0
If I purchase a Verizon phone with month-to-month, does this mean that the phone is unlocked?

Further, let's say that you unlocked the phone after 60 days. Does this mean you could suspend the service with Verizon, pop in an AT&T sim card (for prepaid) and all will work?
 

bacaramac

macrumors 65816
Dec 29, 2007
1,421
81
If I purchase a Verizon phone with month-to-month, does this mean that the phone is unlocked?

Further, let's say that you unlocked the phone after 60 days. Does this mean you could suspend the service with Verizon, pop in an AT&T sim card (for prepaid) and all will work?

If you could, I am guessing this is what they want to avoid. I didn't know you could suspend service. Assuming you can't then I guess you can just pay ETF.
 

sapporobaby

macrumors 68000
If Verizon and Sprint will facilitate GSM unlocking of iPhone 4Ss for their customers, it seems to me that they're more valuable than their ATT counterparts. Even though Apple will be selling an unlocked version of the 4S in November, when customers want to resell the phones they received on contract, having them unlocked will make them much more attractive to international eBay buyers and the like.

Uhhhhh.... Many to most International buyers are already unlocked. Like mine that will be delivered tomorrow. Sooooo, your unlocked phones might appeal to customers more so in the US rather than abroad.
 

clibinarius

macrumors 6502a
Aug 26, 2010
668
63
NY
If I purchase a Verizon phone with month-to-month, does this mean that the phone is unlocked?

Further, let's say that you unlocked the phone after 60 days. Does this mean you could suspend the service with Verizon, pop in an AT&T sim card (for prepaid) and all will work?

To my knowledge, no, because Verizon doesn't sell the phones off contract. Although they will sell a new phone to replace one on contract I believe.
 

roco1x

macrumors newbie
Aug 11, 2010
9
0
Should I be scared of Sprint?

I travel internationally every 6 weeks normally with my T-mobile and two unlocked phones for local cards. So the Sprint phone sounds great for me - lose T-mobile, resolve local sim extra phone carry - get iphone.

Why I'm scared;
1) Early call to sprint store to ask about whether I could insert local SIM when traveling resulted in 4 hang-ups on transfers and 2 wrong answers.

2) Tired to order phone online but as a new customer I could not. So Sprint who desperately needs customers couldn't allow a new customer (400/month usage) to order online? I would think they should have massage girls (or men depending on sex and preferences) hand delivering to new customers.

3) This - unlock - lock via undefined method - unlock if I'm a good customer - sounds like complete failing nonsense. Please define good customer - also what's the point?

Sadly - Verizon and AT&T no better.

The rest of the world - buy a phone - buy a SIM - done.

But any advise from Sprint users before I waste some of my life standing on line tomorrow?
 

blue22

macrumors 6502a
Oct 15, 2010
505
18
Just when Sprint was looking good...

Well that kinda sucks.

But hey, it's still way better than AT&T's stubborn/selfish unlock policies.
 

charlituna

macrumors G3
Jun 11, 2008
9,636
815
Los Angeles, CA
To my knowledge, no, because Verizon doesn't sell the phones off contract. Although they will sell a new phone to replace one on contract I believe.

They sell 'off contract' in the sense of no subsidy so no ETF but it is possible that they will still make you wait 60 days or more for the GSM unlock which would still be applied the moment you activate on their network.

as for the Sprint comment, to me it sounds more like "We didn't know that the phones ship unlocked and are locked during the first setup so now we have to scramble to get the lock put on. but at some point when you've been on your contract for a few months we'll consider unlocking it for you"

which was a dumb comment to make. they should have just say 'yes it is GSM locked but we will unlock it for good customers after X time'. Most folks wouldn't be bothered to test if the comment was true and don't read the blogs to know that someone else figured out its not
 

Trauma1

macrumors 6502a
Jun 15, 2009
585
2
I'm curious to see how the Gevey is going to come into effect with this new phone, if at all possible.
 

iph.or.android

macrumors newbie
Oct 13, 2011
3
0
To my knowledge, no, because Verizon doesn't sell the phones off contract. Although they will sell a new phone to replace one on contract I believe.

I am off contract, so I have the option of purchasing a new phone with month-to-month pricing. Sounds like with the month-to-month the phone is still locked. But it also sounds like the phone can be unlocked if in "good" standing after 60 days. So assuming all goes well, the phone is unlocked after 60 days, and you suspend the service -- this I know for a fact you could do -- would you be able to pop in AT&T sim card and use month-to-month while suspended with Verizon?
 
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