Why are there multiple carrier iPhones?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Kendo, Oct 4, 2017.

  1. Kendo macrumors 68010

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    #1
    Aren’t all phones unlocked these days since you’re paying full price? So why do they sell phones for each carrier along with a SIM free phone? Is the Verizon iPhone really the best since it includes CDMA and GSM compatibility? Why not just get the SIM free version? Why are there 5 different iPhones at all (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, SIM free)?
     
  2. akash.nu macrumors 604

    akash.nu

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    #2
    In the uk if you buy the phone on contract then it’s Locked to the specific network.
     
  3. macTW Suspended

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    #3
    In the US, certain carriers use certain network types, I believe att and sprint are locked to their network due to using GSMA exclusively.

    Correct me if I’m wrong though!
     
  4. akash.nu macrumors 604

    akash.nu

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    #4
    I think iPhones normally support all gsm and cdma network.
     
  5. zone23 macrumors 68000

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    #5
    Because they come with that carriers SIM card.
     
  6. bufffilm Suspended

    bufffilm

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    #6
    A lot of questions from you...

    Suffice to know that carriers may sell a phone that is locked to their network.
     
  7. eyoungren macrumors Core

    eyoungren

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    #7
    1. Not everyone is paying full price. You may be, but that doesn't mean everyone is.
    2. Those that are not paying full price have their phones locked to their carrier - except for phones bought from Apple on the IUP.
    3. Carriers have promotions. They want you to use the phone they just gave up on promotion on their network. So it's locked to their network.
    4. People not paying full price and not getting a phone on a promotion either lease or purchase through payments on their monthly bill. The carrier does not want those phones unlocked because they want the money you pay monthly.
    5. Multiple models: Not every radio in the phone can have every frequency. Also, past a certain point the cost starts to go up. Making a phone specific to each carrier's frequencies kills two birds with one stone. The carrier can lock the phone to their network and Apple can give the carrier a price more in line with what the carrier expects.
    6. The Verizon phone may or may not have all the frequencies of the SIM free phone.
    7. Why not just get the SIM free version? Because you have to pay full price for it. Not everyone has $1000 sitting around.
    8. The SIM free version is provided because this is the version of the phone that has the most (but not all) of the frequencies worldwide.
    --- Post Merged, Oct 4, 2017 ---
    You are mixing GSM and CDMA.

    AT&T is GSM. Yes, a phone bought from AT&T will be locked to AT&T. But AT&T has the most liberal unlock policy of all four carriers.

    Sprint is CDMA, but they utilize LTE which is a derivative of GSM technology. Any phone bought from them will be locked and they have a certain set of restrictions you must pass before they will unlock.
     
  8. fischersd macrumors 601

    fischersd

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    #8
    If you buy a phone on a payment plan / subsidy through the carrier, you'd expect it to be SIM-locked to that carrier until it's paid off / the subsidy has been completed. Paying "full pop" for a phone and it still being locked to a carrier? (you need your head examined).

    As to Verizon phones - have they actually shut down their CDMA network yet? (would have thought they would have by now - it's expensive licensing those Qualcomm base stations). Verizon phones do outperform the AT&T/T-Mobile phones as they have the Qualcomm modem in them. The AT&T / T-Mobile phone has the Intel modem - which isn't quite as fast, but it's less expensive for Apple to buy.

    btw....really hate that "SIM free" verbiage...they should have stuck with the term "SIM unlocked". The phone still requires a SIM card (at least until all of the carriers support eSIMs).

    The vast majority of carriers around the world have been GSM. CDMA really didn't catch on that well. Oh...and GSMA means the GSM Alliance (regulatory/standards association that all of the GSM carriers belong to).
     
  9. Volusia macrumors 6502

    Volusia

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    #9

    OK, help me understand the rest of this issue please. I recently went plan shopping. Verizon offered to buy me out of my old Sprint plan then let me use the phones I had on their system. What do they have to do to make that happen?

    BTW did not switch. Got a deal on a plan that included new phones and improvement to my plan for less than what I was paying...
     
  10. Nermal Moderator

    Nermal

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    #10
    Is that correct? I was under the impression that LTE was a completely different system not based on GSM/CDMA.
     
  11. sactownbwoy macrumors 6502

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    #11
    Sprint and Verizon use CDMA that’s why. Go to Apples website and look at the specs. It tells you the models and frequency bands they support
     
  12. spiddyman007 macrumors regular

    spiddyman007

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    #12
    the 2012 era the iPhones were locked on carriers at a 399 price point with a 2 year contract.
    now they have a different deal where you pay like 30 bucks a month for 24 months on top of your data plan and you can usually switch to the next gen iPhone once 50% of it is paid off and the original 24 month plan gets wiped off and a new one starts. They sell for each carrier because some carriers use different cellular (voice, text) modems. Even though they should all be done under LTE to get better quality. Verizion does VoLTE which uses this concept. but sprint and verizon us CDMA (the technology looked promising in the 90s because GSM at the time sucked) so they both invested in creating CDMA networks. now CDMA sucks and GSM (the one that uses a sim card) is better. eventually all carriers are gonna go to 5G / LTE / E SIM... Verizion plans to shut down its CDMA network in 2019 so this should happen relatively soon.
    oh and some people get their phone locked on different carriers for different offers. an example would be the iPhone upgrade program at T-mobile or the apple upgrade program at apple.com
     
  13. eyoungren macrumors Core

    eyoungren

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    #13
    They have to add your IMEIs to their whitelist so those devices are allowed on their network.

    But that aside, you would have needed to have your devices unlocked by Sprint first. Verizon could have added the IMEIs but with the SIM slot still locked it would not have done you any good.

    Verizon must have really wanted your business or a rep must have really been shading the truth because first of all, Verizon does not do BYOD. Unless that's changed just recently.

    Second, since Verizon is CDMA they may have assumed you could call/text but probably failed to mention to you that depending on device, you may not have been able to fully use all their LTE frequencies.
     
  14. sactownbwoy macrumors 6502

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  15. eyoungren macrumors Core

    eyoungren

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    #15
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LTE_(telecommunication)

    Emphasis mine…
     
  16. sactownbwoy macrumors 6502

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    #16
    Verizon and Sprint are compatible it would have worked. And once the phones were paid off Sprint could have unlocked them so their they could be used on Sprint. There was a law passed a few years ago that allows you to get your phone unlocked way easier now
     
  17. Nermal Moderator

    Nermal

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    #17
  18. eyoungren, Oct 4, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2017

    eyoungren macrumors Core

    eyoungren

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    #18
    I didn't say it wouldn't. But OP did not specify his devices and not all devices have the same frequencies.

    Easier said then done. If OP paid them off first then ported, sure. But the other way around? Sprint is being very difficult lately. Their reasoning for denying unlocks to people who port out now is that they are no longer customers and can't help them.

    Ah yes, this is a common misconception.

    Yes. President Obama signed a law. No. It doesn't make it easier. For you or any other customer anyway.

    Do the carriers have to unlock? Yes. But what the the customer commonly fails to understand is that the law allows the carriers to define the policys in which they will unlock. If you do not meet a single specific, point they can deny you the unlock.

    They can deny you the unlock by saying your device was manufactured before February 15, 2015. They can deny you an unlock by saying it would be extremely difficult for them to unlock your device because it was technologically designed NOT to be unlocked. A prime example? The Sprint iPhone 5. Sprint won't unlock it. But they'll give you an MSL code. Which does nothing for an iPhone.

    In short, the 'law' has holes in it large enough to deny you your unlock in any way you can imagine and plenty more the carrier can dream up.

    Lastly, there was also an agreement that the carriers came to around the time this 'law' was passed. Most of them are abiding by that. But that isn't a law and sometimes people confuse the agreement the carriers have with the law.
    --- Post Merged, Oct 4, 2017 ---
    Yep, which is why I said, deriavtive of. I just recently, myself learned this. So, LTE, while derived from GSM also has some CDMA components.
     
  19. LiemTa macrumors 6502

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    #19
    Tons of people in this thread are completely missing the point and responding with carrier pricing models and plans. OP is asking why there needs to be separate iPhone models and not 1 model.

    Best Buy, Amazon, Apple, Target, B&H all sell similar products, but the products do not differ based on which retailer the product comes from.
     
  20. C DM macrumors Sandy Bridge

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    Oct 17, 2011
    #20
    It's not really which retailer sells the product, it's which service the product can run on essentially, that's where the difference is.

    That said, the underlying question isn't really even about that, but basically why can't Apple simply only have a single SIM-free model that supports pretty much everything. The answer probably has multiple parts and variations to it, but ultimately it likely comes down to a cost vs profit type of thing.
     
  21. Septembersrain Contributor

    Septembersrain

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    #21
    It's simple. Apple and Qualcomm went to war. Consumers are being pushed into getting the inferior Intel modem whenever possible. They'd get us all Intel crap but Intel doesn't have CDMA abilities. Add in that they cripple the Qualcomm quite a bit to match this Intel modem. It's great.

    If you buy from carrier or you buy on Apple upgrade program and you're on T-Mobile or AT&T, it's Intel for you.
     
  22. eyoungren macrumors Core

    eyoungren

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    #22
    Except if you use a 6s or 6s+. :D :D
     
  23. Septembersrain Contributor

    Septembersrain

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    #23
    Yeah, I think the 6s is my second favorite to the 5c. The 5c was purely aesthetic liking to me (and my very first iPhone too), the 6s is both performance and aesthetic. I like the way my 7 Plus jet black looks but damn have I had terrible call quality and data speeds with it.
     
  24. sactownbwoy macrumors 6502

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    #24
    Since this is an Apple forum I assumed he was referring to iPhones, and I posted the freqs that the iPhone supports. The only difference being that the ones for Sprint and Verizon support CDMA. Other than that the iPhone can be used on all carriers. That is why I consistently see on these very forums people recommend the Verizon/Sprint version, if they want an iPhone that is a capable to be used on any carrier.
     
  25. itsmilo macrumors 68020

    itsmilo

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    #25
    I dont get it either. Here in Germany they simply sell one version online. Since you paid the full price it makes no sense for the phone provider to mandate a sim lock on a device that has already been paid in full
     

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39 October 4, 2017