Stuck in Europe with "American" supposedly factory-unlocked iPhone..different LTE bands??

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Crunch, Aug 13, 2017.

  1. Crunch macrumors 6502a


    Jun 26, 2008
    Crazy L.A.
    I thought I was buying a factory-unlocked iPhone for a reason: To use it on different carriers around the world utilizing each country's LTE bands.

    Apple brags each year "wow, and this year, we've added even more LTE bands..."

    According to one Vodafone shop employee in Germany, there are three models of iPhones each year: the American, Asian, and European versions. He claimed that while many LTE bands are covered in all three versions, there are some that are not. Is this true?

    I purchased a fully (perhaps not?) factory-unlocked iPhone 6s in the U.S. that I use on AT&T without any problems. I thought I was finally done after going through the ridiculously time-consuming process of "legitimizing" myself and finally activated my Vodafone prepaid SIM.

    For those of you considering a trip across the pond, they have a new law since July 1 where you have to go through a video call, hold your passport up to the camera and they take a photo of you. The pretense for this is "oh, we have to crack down on terrorism". HAHAH...Actually, the real reason is total control of the population and logging every transaction of every person, but that's for another day.

    So the phone jumps between "4G", which supposedly means LTE in German parlance, 3G, and even E (or 2G/EDGE), which is completely useless.

    The Vodafone dude claims that if I had a European version, LTE would immediately show up and that I would have much better coverage overall. He even offered to put my SIM in his phone, which I didn't take him up on, because I was in a rush, and, frankly, my Pong case is pain to take off and I feel like I'm breaking the phone and/or the case each time I do it. (side note: I'll go back to that genius when I have more time just to see what happens)

    So I compared all the LTE bands on Apple's U.S. and German sites and I can't find a difference. Is this business of three versions of iPhones really true? Would I be better off getting a European iPhone?

    I already ordered a T-Mobile SIM after sifting through the net and finding a very good deal, but according to the place I ordered it from, there's likely going to be another problem with activating it because I have the wrong passport. According to my brother, who lives in Germany, T-Mobile is significantly better than Vodafone.

    I'll be using the phone in southern Germany, Austria, and Italy during my stay here and I'd really like to get this done.

    I appreciate anyone's help on this great forum! I thank you in advance!
  2. ray737 macrumors 6502

    Sep 11, 2014
    Your Vodaphone guy is incorrect. I am in Germany every month and I have a US bought iPhone 7 that gets LTE on T-Mobile as well as Vodaphone and Orange in France. Your brother is correct T-Mobile does have the best coverage in Germany.
  3. chriscl macrumors 6502


    Jan 4, 2008
    Stuttgart, Germany
    I live in Germany, and I have a personal iPhone 6 (which was bought in the UK) and is on T-Mobile, and I have a work-provided iPhone 6, which is on Vodafone.

    I find in my area (Stuttgart) coverage from T-Mobile, especially for data, is better. My personal iPhone almost always shows "LTE" and has a very strong signal. My work one on Voda flip-flops between 3G and LTE a lot.

    As to the activation, it is simple, you can do it in any T-Mobile shop (they are everywhere!) and it took about five minutes (yes, they need your passport but there is nothing sinister in that). FWIW, I have also signed up my new iPad Pro with T-Mobile using the Apple SIM, and that took about 60 seconds and was done entirely online, and again, the LTE coverage is excellent.

    TL;DR - T-Mobile are very good!

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