Unlocked iPhone 4S coming in November, won't work with CDMA carriers

Posted:
in iPhone edited August 2014
Apple on Friday began taking preorders for the iPhone 4S, and also revealed its next-generation handset will be sold unlocked and contract-free in November starting at $649.



The unlocked iPhone 4GS will only work on supported GSM networks, like AT&T in the U.S. But it will not work with any CDMA carriers, including Verizon Wireless or Sprint.



Customers who buy an unlocked iPhone 4S will be able to use the handset internationally on GSM networks. They must obtain a micro-SIM card from a local GSM carrier to put in the handset.



When it was announced on Tuesday, the iPhone 4S was unveiled as a "world phone," meaning it is compatible with both CDMA and GSM networks. But customers who want to operate the handset on a CDMA network, like Verizon, the largest carrier in the U.S., will need to buy Apple's latest smartphone with a new two-year contract.



"The unlocked iPhone includes all the features of iPhone but without a contract commitment," Apple's description reads. "You can activate and use it on the supported GSM wireless network of your choice, such as AT&T in the United States."



The contract-free iPhone 4S is available in all three standard capacities, and is priced at $649 for 16GB, $749 for 32GB and $849 for 64GB. It will be available in both black and white.







When the iPhone 4S is delivered in November, it will arrive without a micro-SIM card. By inserting a card and turning on the phone, users will be able to activate the device by following the onscreen instructions without tethering to a Mac or PC, a new feature made possible by the PC-free setup in iOS 5.



Apple has warned that a credit check may be required for customers who purchase the unlocked GSM iPhone 4S in November. In addition, customers must be at least 18 years of age to buy.



The unlocked iPhone 4S will arrive only a few months after Apple began selling the GSM iPhone 4 unlocked in June. The contract-free iPhone 4 also carried a starting price of $649.
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Comments

  • anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 17,395member
    Makes sense, since most (not all) of the world is on GSM and that's what international travelers usually want. Might as well save a few bucks on CDMA components....
  • applegreenapplegreen Posts: 421member
    This is disappointing. I was hoping for an unlocked world phone. This means Apple will be manufacturing 2 versions of the 4s - world phone and GSM only. Does not make sense. Anybody have an explanation?
  • ajitmdajitmd Posts: 365member
    Since ATT does not give a price break with unlocked phones, does is make sense to unlock the phone during foreign trips and just use a local SIM? When I come back, I can resect and re-lock the handset back to ATT.
  • ajitmdajitmd Posts: 365member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleGreen View Post


    This is disappointing. I was hoping for an unlocked world phone. This means Apple will be manufacturing 2 versions of the 4s - world phone and GSM only. Does not make sense. Anybody have an explanation?



    I do not think that Apple will be making a GSM/3G phone only in the 4S version. It is just that CDMA does not have SIM cards... it is something internal.



    Anyway, I am thinking of keeping an old iPhone for roaming after unlocking it.
  • bigdaddypbigdaddyp Posts: 811member
    Why the hell do you need a credit check for a pre paid contract free phone?
  • wigginwiggin Posts: 2,196member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    Makes sense, since most (not all) of the world is on GSM and that's what international travelers usually want. Might as well save a few bucks on CDMA components....



    I doubt very much the hardware will be any different. There's not really any component that is CDMA-only that they could leave out. It's more likely simply that there's really no such thing as an "unlocked" CDMA phone (ie, you can't just go buy a SIM card a pop it in). You are dependent on a carrier to activate the phone itself on their network and you can't switch back-and-forth between networks (again, no SIMs to swap).



    What I want to know is, can I get a CDMA phone with a two-year contract and get it with the GSM part unlocked? So I can use it with Verizon in the US (on contract) but still put any SIM in I want when traveling overseas? Knowing the carriers, no. They will put their own SIM in and lock it so you have to pay their ridiculously high international roaming rates.
  • diddydiddy Posts: 282member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AjitMD View Post


    I do not think that Apple will be making a GSM/3G phone only in the 4S version. It is just that CDMA does not have SIM cards... it is something internal.



    My guess is that the CDMA radio will be disabled via firmware.
  • applegreenapplegreen Posts: 421member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AjitMD View Post


    I do not think that Apple will be making a GSM/3G phone only in the 4S version. It is just that CDMA does not have SIM cards... it is something internal.



    If you buy an unlocked 4s phone, can you activate it on Verizon? Apple specifically says no. But, if it has a CDMA radio inside, why not?
  • macinsider2macinsider2 Posts: 75member
    WHEN will we find out if the CDMA contract 4s will be sold on either Sprint/Verizon with GSM unlocked??
  • applegreenapplegreen Posts: 421member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by diddy View Post


    My guess is that the CDMA radio will be disabled via firmware.



    Why disable it?
  • richlrichl Posts: 2,213member
    This story isn't true for all countries. In the UK, you can order an unlocked iPhone 4S right now.
  • echecuechecu Posts: 1member
    I am reading trying to decipher the unlocked iphone details. I was hoping to purchase an unlocked iphone and activate it on a CDMA network probably Verizon. Then I wanted to use the unlocked GSM capability overseas when traveling. The portion of the description saying you can only use the unlocked iphone on GSM networks is throwing me.
  • maestro64maestro64 Posts: 3,146member
    People the reason you can not unlock a CDMA phone is because there is no SIM card to activate it and secondly VZ requires you to call them and have them activate the phone for you. Unlike GSM phone with a SIM card you can own and use as many GSM phone you want and simply move the SIM from one card to another. VZ will not allow you to do this, so VZ basically forces to only use on phone at a time. Hell if you have an old CDMA smart phone that you own and not using you can not hand it down to your kids to use without VZ requiring you to sign up for a data package for the phone.



    My kids have our hand me down iphone with no data on them on AT&T so they only pay $9.99 a month and use WiFi for far data.



    This is one of the reason I do not understand what people like CDMA and VZ they restrict what you can do with product you own.



    So the reason Apple will only sell an unlock GSM phone is because you can not unlock a CDMA phone it required the carrier to activate the phone on their network
  • jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AjitMD View Post


    Since ATT does not give a price break with unlocked phones, does is make sense to unlock the phone during foreign trips and just use a local SIM? When I come back, I can resect and re-lock the handset back to ATT.



    That's my thinking. AT&T is giving you a huge discount if you buy the hone through them. If you buy an unlocked phone and then use it on AT&T, you're going to be paying the same monthly charge, so why not take the discounted phone?



    If you're traveling on business, your company will probably pay the roaming charges, anyway, but if they won't (or you want to save them money), you can unlock the phone before you go overseas. If you're traveling on vacation, you can also unlock the phone before you go overseas.



    I just don't see the real benefit of buying an unlocked phone other than a VERY tiny number of people (who're going to MOSTLY be using their phone overseas).
  • hittrj01hittrj01 Posts: 753member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleGreen View Post


    If you buy an unlocked 4s phone, can you activate it on Verizon? Apple specifically says no. But, if it has a CDMA radio inside, why not?



    It has to do with the way Verizon and Sprint manage their networks. They have to have that phone's specific MDN and Serial numbers in their system with permission to talk to their network, or else no matter how hard you try, you'll never get it to work. My guess is that Verizon and Sprint don't want to have these unlocked phones, because at that point, a customer could just bounce back and forth if they wanted to. I'm sure AT&T doesn't care, since they will soon be the only major GSM player in the country, so if you want an unlocked phone, you're still stuck on AT&T while you're in the USA.
  • personmanpersonman Posts: 58member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AjitMD View Post


    Since ATT does not give a price break with unlocked phones, does is make sense to unlock the phone during foreign trips and just use a local SIM? When I come back, I can resect and re-lock the handset back to ATT.



    While AT&T will unlock phones on contract (if you request it) after a certain amount of time has passed, they have refused to unlock *ANY* iPhone, even though it is possible, and even if the phone is no longer on contract. They lie and tell you "it's not possible."



    I don't know if that stance will change. I suspect that it will take a law to force them to unlock *ANY* phone regardless of the type at the end of the contract if the customer requests it, like in other countries.



    If you make frequent trips overseas the extra cost of the unlocked phone is easily made up in terms of the roaming charges you would otherwise incur. AT&T charges $5.99 a month for it's international roaming service, and per minute rates (both for making AND receiving calls) range from 99 cents/minute to $3.99 a minute (depending on the country) with the majority of rates being between $1.99 and $2.49 a minute. An international data plan starts at $24.99 a month for 50 MB up to $199.99 a month for 800 MB, and on all plans, if you go over that, each additional 10 MB is $10.
  • syan48306syan48306 Posts: 4member
    So how do you think a Verizon/Sprint phone will react if you stick a SIM card in it. Will the phone recognize the SIM card and automatically unlock to use that like a BB-Storm? Or will it just ignore it since it's "locked" to the carrier.



    On that note, what's the point of calling the 4s a world phone if verizon/sprint customers can't use sim cards and the unlocked phone can't use CDMA networks.
  • toysandmetoysandme Posts: 109member
    Apple.ca will sell you the unlocked version of the 4S unlocked, if you have a Canadian shipping address.
  • hittrj01hittrj01 Posts: 753member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Syan48306 View Post


    So how do you think a Verizon/Sprint phone will react if you stick a SIM card in it. Will the phone recognize the SIM card and automatically unlock to use that like a BB-Storm? Or will it just ignore it since it's "locked" to the carrier.



    On that note, what's the point of calling the 4s a world phone if verizon/sprint customers can't use sim cards and the unlocked phone can't use CDMA networks.



    Sprint and Verizon do not use SIM cards. The phone is ectronically "signed" to the particular character through firmware, and checked against the carrier's database to see if it is allowed access. The world-mode BB's, Android, now 4S, all have to do this as well. The only difference is there is a completely separate radio that talks to GSM networks and requires a SIM card.
  • irelandireland Posts: 16,077member
    Apple website says iPhone 4S standby time = 200 hours.
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