What is the advantage of a SIM free phone?

ravenfan

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 17, 2011
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I am with ATT and will be for as long as possible because I have the grandfathered in unlimited data. Would there be any reason I would want to get a SIM free phone? I do travel a lot internationally.
 

C DM

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Oct 17, 2011
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Well, the traveling a lot internationally part might play a role in that if you potentially might using different providers where you travel.
 

ahostmadsen

macrumors 6502a
Dec 28, 2009
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425
I am with ATT and will be for as long as possible because I have the grandfathered in unlimited data. Would there be any reason I would want to get a SIM free phone? I do travel a lot internationally.
If you get the phone through AT&T (or locked to AT&T) you get the version with the Intel modem, which cannot be used in certain countries (and, if you wanted to switch to Verizon, you cannot take your phone, even if unlocked). As far as I know, the unlocked phones are the Qualcomm versions, which can be used on all networks worldwide.
 
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xxray

macrumors 6502a
Jul 27, 2013
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It would be beneficial internationally but also if you decide to change carriers for any reason. Even if you think you never will, it's always nice to know you can switch if you ever need to.
 

Applejuiced

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Apr 16, 2008
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At the iPhone hacks section.
If you get the phone through AT&T (or locked to AT&T) you get the version with the Intel modem, which cannot be used in certain countries (and, if you wanted to switch to Verizon, you cannot take your phone, even if unlocked). As far as I know, the unlocked phones are the Qualcomm versions, which can be used on all networks worldwide.
The att iPhone can be used on all gsm carriers once unlocked.
It just won't work on cdma carriers like Verizon and sprint. 99% of international carriers use gsm.
 
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jav6454

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Nov 14, 2007
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I am with ATT and will be for as long as possible because I have the grandfathered in unlimited data. Would there be any reason I would want to get a SIM free phone? I do travel a lot internationally.
If you buy the AT&T version full price at an Apple Sotre, it is unlocked by default. The SIM free version this year just includes a CDMA radio. Pros? If you travel to a country you frequent that only has CDMA operators, then it is good choice, otherwise, no.
 

Florida Gator

macrumors regular
Feb 26, 2004
194
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And none of those 20-25 countries are cdma only.
GSM is available everywhere.
Definitely not, but there are a number of countries (primarily Asia) where the most major carriers still operate CDMA on their 3G networks. So if you aren't in a city that has LTE coverage everywhere, you need that CDMA radio to stay connected. I've needed this a few times this year and thank goodness I had it because I needed maps access.
 

Applejuiced

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Apr 16, 2008
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At the iPhone hacks section.
Definitely not, but there are a number of countries (primarily Asia) where the most major carriers still operate CDMA on their 3G networks. So if you aren't in a city that has LTE coverage everywhere, you need that CDMA radio to stay connected. I've needed this a few times this year and thank goodness I had it because I needed maps access.
You can choose a carriers sim network that uses gsm 3G instead of cdma.
Cdma is dead technology and some of the few locations that still have it available you wouldn't want to visit;)
 
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Florida Gator

macrumors regular
Feb 26, 2004
194
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You can choose a carriers sim network that uses gsm 3G instead of cdma.
That's not how it works. On legacy GSM networks, if no LTE service is available, it defaults to 3G HSPA. On legacy CDMA networks, if no LTE service is available, it defaults back to 3G EVDO. So say you're on Setar in Aruba, and in an area not covered by LTE, you're going to need a CDMA-compatible radio, or you're not getting data service.

Now, I agree, CDMA is dying and will be completely dead soon. In most places you can find a carrier that doesn't rely on it. But if you're a frequent international traveler that goes outside of major cities (this is me), it is still valuable to be able to connect to old legacy networks.

Cdma is dead technology and some of the few locations that still have it available you wouldn't want to visit;)
Disagree. But I like to travel.
 

noisycats

macrumors 6502a
Jun 1, 2010
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The 'ham. Alabama.
I was once a grandfather unlimited. Hated to give it up, but it was purely emotional. I'm paying less now for 20gig monthly, have added family on my shared line, and still roll over 10gig every month; in essence giving me 30 for an emergency month. I realize this is purely my experience, but maybe explore why you are staying with unlimited? It may open options or at least make transitioning easier. Just my two cents.
 

ahostmadsen

macrumors 6502a
Dec 28, 2009
751
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You can choose a carriers sim network that uses gsm 3G instead of cdma.
Cdma is dead technology and some of the few locations that still have it available you wouldn't want to visit;)
You mean, such as Korea? We are not talking visiting Kim Jong-Un.

T-mobile states on their webpage that the iPhone 5s, 6, 6s can be used in Korea. iPhone 7 (the Intel version, presumably) cannot.
 
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Applejuiced

macrumors Westmere
Apr 16, 2008
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At the iPhone hacks section.
That's not how it works. On legacy GSM networks, if no LTE service is available, it defaults to 3G HSPA. On legacy CDMA networks, if no LTE service is available, it defaults back to 3G EVDO. So say you're on Setar in Aruba, and in an area not covered by LTE, you're going to need a CDMA-compatible radio, or you're not getting data service.

Now, I agree, CDMA is dying and will be completely dead soon. In most places you can find a carrier that doesn't rely on it. But if you're a frequent international traveler that goes outside of major cities (this is me), it is still valuable to be able to connect to old legacy networks.



Disagree. But I like to travel.
I hear what you're setting.
But there was no gsm carrier in Aruba that would fall back to 3G hspa version instead of falling back to cdma 3G?
 

jrcsh6

macrumors 6502
Jul 1, 2008
426
33
I think your take away is this. If both are available, get sim free. It gives you more options. But don't sweat it if you just buy the at&t phone because it'll probably be fine for you.
 

ahostmadsen

macrumors 6502a
Dec 28, 2009
751
425
LOL, hopefully if you visit Korea you'll stay south of the 38th parallel, otherwise you won't need your phone anyway. :D

And by the way, there are LTE networks available in S. Korea along with GSM in addition to CDMA2000.
Yes, perhaps. But, again, T-mobile states that the their iPhone 7 cannot be used in Korea.
 

techiebug

macrumors 6502a
Oct 20, 2013
729
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Another benefit of the sim free is the Qualcomm chip has better cell signal performance according to a new report. It'll be easier to resell too
 

timeconsumer

macrumors 68000
Aug 1, 2008
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Portland
It seems like Apple took a step-back with the iPhone 7, from the 6S I thought for sure they were moving to one model which would support all US carriers at least.

I always recommend the SIM-free whenever possible. Works on all carriers, it's unlocked and the re-sell value (if this is applicable to you) is probably easier/better than the AT&T or T-Mobile model this year.
 
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upnorth85

macrumors 6502a
Oct 2, 2011
566
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MN, USA
so how does the sim free work? In many Asian countries the GSM networks of each company give their own SIM card when they open an account. So how do they provide you service without their SIM card? Many of these countries may not be set up that way. Now if one is roaming that is different. But I generally carry a second phone and buy a local SIM at the airport for the duration of my overseas stay in that country.
 

C DM

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Oct 17, 2011
47,468
15,999
so how does the sim free work? In many Asian countries the GSM networks of each company give their own SIM card when they open an account. So how do they provide you service without their SIM card? Many of these countries may not be set up that way. Now if one is roaming that is different. But I generally carry a second phone and buy a local SIM at the airport for the duration of my overseas stay in that country.
The phone doesn't come with a SIM and you just put one in from whatever provider you want to use.