Unlocked 4s - GSM only - ANNOYING

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by iPhoneBurger, Oct 7, 2011.

  1. iPhoneBurger macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2011
    They just had to throw a wrench in it. Thanks Apple. Here I am frothing at the mouth at the new iPhone 4s .... the possibility of a CDMA+GSM cell phone where I can keep Verizon and continue avoiding crap AT&T ... yet use it overseas.

    Then i realize how insanely expensive international roaming is going to be. So spent the last 4 days googling for hours, for a gsm unlocked phone ... wishing i could have an iPhone 4s that was unlocked GSM .... dreaming ... hoping ...

    Then I go to pre-order my 4s .... because my 4 is broken anyways ....

    And Apple announces an unlocked iPhone 4s .... !!!

    My dreams have come true! Verizon in the USA .... and SIM swapping GSM internationally ... The holy Grail of phones !!!


    The unlocked one is only GSM capable.

    Great. So what now? You force people back onto AT&T ? I mean God forbid you'd keep CDMA+GSM capability on the phone that's claim to fame is the dual-radio capability right?

    Instead you release an unlocked version of it and kill the CDMA portion. Why?

    Now what do I do? Waste $700 on an unlocked GSM iphone that sits and collects dust except during my overseas trips? Thats a good use of money. Im a verizon customer. So I'd have to have two iphones. Thanks ******s ...

    I mean it sucks that I can only use this Verizon iPhone 4 here in the USA. Granted .... thats a crap solution.

    But would it KILL SOMEONE to create a phone that has the basic options everyone needs? Always gotta leave something MAJOR out ?

    Thank you. I'm done.

  2. French macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2011
    I've been trying to figure this out myself and this is the conclusion I've come to

    1) Verizon's website says the iPhone 4S is a global phone...so it DOES indeed have GSM capability. But I suspect they will force you to use their SIM card and pay them for the global plan


    2) Customers in good standing might possibly be given instruction on how to unlock the 4S. I'm doubting this one a great deal.

    So while it won't be unlocked when we buy it, from what I've gathered I think it does indeed use the GSM radio. You just have to pay Verizon instead of being able to buy a SIM card from the country where you are.

    Until they are in hand I don't think we'll know for sure if there is a way to unlock the iPhone like there is for Blackberries (and I assume Android).
  3. curitibagarrett macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2007
    how often do you go overseas? If it isn't that often does it really matter?
  4. iPhoneBurger, Oct 7, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2011

    iPhoneBurger thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2011
    Exactly. Its GSM only, and will only work with AT&T international partners. You will pay through the nose for standard international roaming. Period.

    I've already been all over the internet asking the hackers and unlockers if they plan to unlock the 4s. The unanimous response is a solid "NO". Because the iPhone 5 is coming out soon after.

    So if you get the CDMA+GSM Verizon iPhone 4s .... you will NOT be able to unlock it and you will not be able to pop in other SIMS in other countries and use them. Period.

    iPhone is offering an unlocked phone and for some reason killed the CDMA capability as part of that. Maybe some stupid agreement with AT&T to recover customers. I dont know.

    But no verizon customer can use the unlocked phone. Period.

    Some people do. This thread is for them.

    You have no idea what a pain in the ass it is to have to hunt down a crappy local phone on the poverty stricken streets of thailand, southeast asia, and even in places like Kiev, Ukraine, where people couldn't even tell me where a shopping mall was. I spent 3 hours just trying to find a straight blade razor because I forgot mine.

    Being able to just pop a local SIM (which you can buy ahead of time online) into your existing iPhone and use it while you're there is a very big deal.
  5. pyro008 macrumors 6502

    May 23, 2011
    Pretty sure its on VZW/Sprint. They have to personally activate the phones so they can and will control which ones you use. I am curious whether the CDMA is actually disabled in the unlocked one or they are just warning people that Sprint/VZW won't let you use it on their networks.
  6. openendstraight macrumors regular


    May 5, 2010
    La Vegas
    You will be able to put in a sim and use it over seas. CDMA not being unlocked just means you can't use that phone with other CDMA carriers. Meaning the unlocked Verizon iPhone 4S will work on Verizon and you can use it on any GSM carrier, but the only CDMA carrier will be Verizon.
  7. iPhoneBurger, Oct 7, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2011

    iPhoneBurger thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2011

    From the Apple pre-order web site:

    About the Unlocked iPhone

    The unlocked iPhone includes all the features of iPhone but without a contract commitment. You can activate and use it on the supported GSM wireless network of your choice, such as AT&T in the United States.* The unlocked iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S will not work with CDMA-based carriers such as Verizon Wireless or Sprint.

    If you don’t want a multiyear service contract or if you prefer to use a local carrier when traveling abroad, the unlocked iPhone is the best choice. It arrives without a micro-SIM card, so you’ll need an active micro-SIM card from any supported GSM carrier worldwide. To start using it, simply insert the micro-SIM card into the slot on your iPhone and turn it on by pressing and holding the On/Off button for a few seconds. Then follow the onscreen instructions to set up your iPhone.

    * Credit check may be required; must be 18 or older. An unlocked iPhone may be activated on supported GSM carrier networks. See www.apple.com/iphone for more information. Service may not be available in all areas or at the signal strength, rates, speeds, or bandwidth as demonstrated. Wi-Fi Internet access required for some features; broadband recommended; fees may apply. Some applications, features, and services are not available in all areas. Check with your service provider about network coverage in your area and international roaming options. Warranty information available at www.apple.com/legal/warranty/iphone. When available, transferring your mobile number to a different service provider will terminate your service with your existing provider; termination fees and other charges may apply. Some features may require added fees. Contact your service provider for more details. Use constitutes acceptance of Apple’s software license agreement and third-party terms located in the iPhone box. Unauthorized modification of your iPhone software violates the software license agreement. Inability to use an iPhone due to unauthorized modifications is not covered under your warranty.
  8. French macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2011
    Well, I did ask the question today as to whether unlocking the iPhone would be an option with Verizon and the response I got is that ALL Verizon phones are sold locked. I was originally going to wait until November to buy an unlocked iPhone but then realized it would be GSM only and I didn't want that.

    I'm not sure why Verizon wouldn't allow customers to unlock the phone just like they do for Blackberry and Android. It is annoying. And while I'm not optimistic they will, until they are hand isn't there still the chance?
  9. iPhoneBurger thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2011
    If its not a technology related issue (cant have unlocked GSM with CDMA still on board) ... then to me .. its clearly some deal with AT&T to help them recover customers. I can't imagine Apple would care that much ... but this is obviously an exclusivity deal with AT&T when it all comes out in the wash ...

    Or maybe, for some financial / business reason, Verizon didnt want this iPhone to be unlocked. Maybe they have numbers to meet, and forcing people to use international roaming helps them meet those numbers. The almighty dollar.
  10. Enrico macrumors 6502


    Feb 6, 2007
    Milano / Roma
    I think we may have to wait a compatible GEVEY in order to unlock the GSM portion. Regretting the move to VZ right now....
  11. vitzr macrumors 68030


    Jul 28, 2011
    True, just like Apple, you gotta love it :)
  12. French macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2011
    Well I just talked to global support at Verizon and they said they are not able to provide unlock codes at this time. The lady was very nice and seemed somewhat knowledgeable...she really said that it can't be done now because the "manufacturer will not provide the unlock codes" but that that doesn't mean "it won't happen in the future".

    So sounds like Apple is driving this decision (not Verizon...which you already mentioned). And I have to agree with you that is it extremely annoying.

    In all honesty I don't travel enough so I shouldn't get all in a lather about it BUT now I am ticked because I'm paying a lot of money for a phone I can't use how I want to.

    So I feel your pain. She did mention that AT&T used to never be able to unlock and they added that capability so never say never. But I wouldn't bet on it.
  13. pyro008 macrumors 6502

    May 23, 2011
    Don't believe everything you're told. Apple doesn't care. Verizon is the one that loses out if you use a local sim as opposed to their global roaming.
  14. albert1028 macrumors 6502

    Jun 29, 2007
    To the original poster...how many unlocked CDMA phones are for sale currently? Doesn't really make sense to sell CDMA unlocked, because CDMA unlocked is not the same as GSM unlocked. Plus most of the world uses GSM or similar to GSM technology for the most part.

    There's no reason to be annoyed. Anyways, how much more pain would it be to take your CDMA phone in and go through activation each time you enter a new country. Pain!
  15. French macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2011
    The OP is wanting to unlock the GSM side of the CDMA phone. So that they can use it in other countries. Verizon sells several phones that can do this...a few blackberries and Androids as well. So you aren't unlocking the CDMA radio, but the GSM radio.


    True, but this would be the first phone they have with a GSM radio that isn't being allowed to be unlocked. I believe Apple is driving it. If they aren't then I would think we'd see unlocking services popping up all over the place once it's released.
  16. bpeeps macrumors 68030


    May 6, 2011
    Yup! Right from the Apple site.

    The unlocked iPhone works only on supported GSM networks, such as AT&T in the U.S. When you travel internationally, you can also use a micro-SIM card from a local GSM carrier. The unlocked iPhone 4 will not work with CDMA carriers such as Verizon Wireless or Sprint.
    Learn more about the unlocked iPhone 4

  17. jeffsaha macrumors member

    Oct 6, 2011
    Also, from what I heard, there is no unlock "code" for iOS devices. It has to go through some process through iTunes to take the carrier lock off which is why most people have to JB in order to unlock. It's not like a BB where you just press in a key combo and then enter a code.
  18. Daniel L macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2009
    That's the iPhone 4 and not the 4s. The iPhone 4 doesn't have a CDMA radio
  19. ap3604 macrumors 68000

    Jan 11, 2011
    Damn that's some serious ******** right there Apple :mad:

    Here I was thinking that you would finally have an unlocked contract-free iPhone that would get coverage wherever you were in America.

    Say you moved to an area that didn't have good Att coverage? Switch over to Sprint or Verizon contract free. Didn't have good CDMA coverage? Switch over to Att contract free...

    Guess its a profit play though to force Americans into buying different iPhones. Gotta just follow the almighty dollar to find out why :rolleyes:
  20. acfusion29 macrumors 68040


    Nov 8, 2007
    i'm 99% sure they did this to avoid confusion with the people that aren't so tech-savvy.

    you can't share ESN numbers between 2 networks (Sprint and Verizon), so i believe this would just cause a LOT of confusion. you can't assign CDMA numbers like a phone number, it's assigned to the CHIP of the phone.

    needless to say: CDMA is garbage technology.
  21. French macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2011
    This was the piece I wasn't sure about. How infuriating. I can't jailbreak...wouldn't be able to get work email if I did.
  22. borisiii macrumors 6502

    Jul 4, 2010
    Does this mean that if I visit the US (I am from the UK) and I bought my 4S from my carrier that I will be able to roam using Sprint or Verizon, whereas if I bought it unlocked it would only work with AT&T?

    Or is it only a consideration for US customers who want to keep the option of switching to a CDMA provider?
  23. E3BK, Oct 7, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2011

    E3BK macrumors 68030


    Mar 15, 2008
    Are you sure you aren't an AT&T iPhone customer, because you sure sound like one. haha. :( Does VZW have other phones that also have a SIM slot that you can use for overseas travel that are unlockable?

    I'm an AT&T customer and buying an unlocked iPhone in Nov because of travel reasons as well. It only took 4 years to be able to get one. Hoping it won't take as long for you.
  24. French macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2011
    I'm not positive but think UK buyers are getting the unlocked GSM version, therefore you would not be able to use Verizon or Sprint as the unlocked iPhone is GSM only. You could use AT&T or TMobile (I think).


    Verizon does have other phones that they will allow to be unlocked. A while back I had the Blackberry Storm unlocked and was able to purchase any SIM I wanted and use it. In fact I would transfer between TMobile and Verizon during the work day as my work gets no signal for Verizon and I needed to be available via phone. So using a Tmobile SIM during the day was a HUGE help...it meant I didn't have to have 2 phones.

    This is actually the first phone I know of on Verizon with GSM capability but not allowed to be unlocked.
  25. jca24 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 28, 2010

    GSM is the world standard, not cdma. Why would they do that, what would keep you from putting a sim card in from ATT and using it here.


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