Unlocked iPhone Difference Between Carriers?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by SPNarwhal, Oct 12, 2016.

  1. SPNarwhal macrumors 65816


    Apr 22, 2009
    I'd like to clear this up once and for all.

    Let's only cover the iPhone 5S and up.

    Is there a difference between an unlocked iPhone between all carriers?

    Is a Sprint Unlocked iPhone 6 better than an AT&T Unlocked iPhone 6?

    I've fallen out of being in the know. I know Verizon iPhones are all unlocked out of the box, but are they better than an AT&T Unlocked iPhone for any reason? Would an AT&T Unlocked iPhone work on Verizon/Sprint? I know Verizon phones work on AT&T and T-Mobile. (Do they work on Sprint?) and I assume they have restrictions? (No Visual Voicemail?)

    I once heard that Sprint was the "True Unlocked" iPhone, and supports the most bands. I've also heard the same about T-Mobile phones.

    I'm genuinely confused by it all.

    I am still in the old mindset that Sprint won't unlock their phones domestically (not true anymore) and that AT&T unlocked iPhones won't work on Verizon and Sprint simply because Verizon and Sprint will not activate them (not true anymore)

    So can someone please clear this up for me?

    What is the best carrier to have an unlocked iPhone from?
    If you buy a "sim free" iPhone from Apple directly, which model is it?
    What are the differences?

    Thank you so much.
  2. C DM macrumors Westmere

    Oct 17, 2011
    Most of the differences can be seen at http://www.apple.com/iphone/LTE/ and mainly come down to different models support of various LTE bands and sometimes even GSM vs CDMA (as far as having support for both or not).
  3. JulesJam Suspended


    Sep 20, 2014
    It changes every year.

    For iP6/6+, SIM free = unlocked Sprint. For iP6s/6s+, SIM free = unlocked AT&T.

    Apple hasn't released a SIM free iP7/7+ but when they do it should be SIM free = Verizon = unlocked Sprint.
  4. eyoungren, Oct 12, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2016

    eyoungren macrumors Core


    Aug 31, 2011
    ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
    If all we are speaking of, is if the phone is unlocked, then no, there is no difference. It's either unlocked or it's not.

    The SIM free version for the 6 was the Sprint model.

    It depends on the LTE bands the phone supports.

    It was true with the iPhone 6 (Sprint model). Not with the iPhone 6s (Sprint model). Never heard that said about T-Mobile.

    You seem to be confusing 'unlocked', which is the STATE of a device in relation to a carrier with the CAPABILITY of a device to support a carrier's frequencies.

    Put another way, just because you unlock a device doesn't mean you can use that device on all carriers.

    Sprint's unlock policy changed in February of 2015. Any Sprint iPhone from the 5c and up can be domestically unlocked.

    Sprint started BYOD late last year. No idea about Verizon, but you can get around that by inserting an already active Verizon SIM if they still don't do that.

    It depends on the model. You seem to want to have everything clearly defined by carrier. The reality is that Apple does whatever is best for them each year and this year's carrier model to have may not be the same carrier model to have next year.

    For example…the AT&T/T-Mobile iPhone 7/7+ do not have CDMA capability. You cannot use that carrier model on Sprint or Verizon. But you could LAST year.

    Things change every year.

    Again…it depends. Which model are we speaking of 5s? 6? 6s? 7? Apple does what's best for them each year. Just because one year it's such and such carrier model doesn't mean it's going to be exactly the SAME next year.
  5. lordofthereef macrumors G5


    Nov 29, 2011
    Boston, MA
    The reason it's difficult to give you a quick and easy answer is because every year Apple changes things up. This year is the worst yet with the ATT and T-MOBILE models completely missing the the cmda radios. In other words an unlocked 7 from TMO won't do you much good in Verizon (I'm unclear if it will still connect to lte or if it's not compatible at all so that's something for someone to chime in). For all intents and purposes the 6s is the same for all carriers unlocked (yeah yeah band 30 ATT but really, this year is a much bigger difference).
  6. JulesJam Suspended


    Sep 20, 2014
    No it's not. Band 30 will become more and more important to AT&T customers.

    The iP6s/6s+ models are NOT all the same for all carriers.
  7. M5RahuL macrumors 68030


    Aug 1, 2009
    If Apple isn't offering a SIM Free version of a certain model, I prefer to pick up the Verizon or Sprint one.

    The 6S/6S+ SIM free model is A1634 which is the ATT version. There is no SIM Free option for the 7/7+ yet, but the Verizon one is, as you know, unlocked out of the box.

    If I were looking for the 7/7+, regardless of carrier, I'd opt for either the Sprint or Verizon model. The TMobile and ATT iPhone 7s do not support CDMA bands anymore, whereas the Sprint and Verizon ones do support GSM.
  8. SPNarwhal thread starter macrumors 65816


    Apr 22, 2009
    You guys are the best.

    That's what I figured, although I didn't know that the AT&T version of the 6S/+ was the true unlock for that generation. That's interesting.

    I heard that things like visual voicemail might not work on AT&T from a Verizon unlocked iPhone and such. Is that true?
    Or was that just existent on the 5S and below?
  9. MonsterE macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2017

    I got an Unlocked iPhone 7+ Nov.2016 from Apple Store.

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