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

post #1 of 123
Thread Starter 
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.
post #2 of 123
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....
post #3 of 123
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?
post #4 of 123
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.
post #5 of 123
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.
post #6 of 123
Why the hell do you need a credit check for a pre paid contract free phone?
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post #7 of 123
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.
post #8 of 123
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.
post #9 of 123
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?
post #10 of 123
WHEN will we find out if the CDMA contract 4s will be sold on either Sprint/Verizon with GSM unlocked??
post #11 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by diddy View Post

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

Why disable it?
post #12 of 123
This story isn't true for all countries. In the UK, you can order an unlocked iPhone 4S right now.
post #13 of 123
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.
post #14 of 123
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
post #15 of 123
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).
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post #16 of 123
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.
post #17 of 123
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.
post #18 of 123
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.
post #19 of 123
Apple.ca will sell you the unlocked version of the 4S unlocked, if you have a Canadian shipping address.
post #20 of 123
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.
post #21 of 123
Apple website says iPhone 4S standby time = 200 hours.
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post #22 of 123
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?

They aren't necessarily making two phones. THe issue could be software.

to get the CDMA carriers to agree to this single phone system they may have had to write the software so that the GSM side is locked for roaming only. So if you activate the phone, even no contract, with CDMA, a lock is put on that only uses GSM if you are out of the CDMA area, at the carrier's roaming rates.

But if you activate with a GSM, at full price once that date has past, no lock is put on but the CDMA software won't activate in the iTunes server after that.

That said, I'm sure someone is working on a jailbreak that will unlock the GSM and override the whole roaming thing even as we speak. And if you are gutsy enough, go for it
post #23 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Apple website says iPhone 4S standby time = 200 hours.

It will be the greatest iPhone Apple has ever made and the best selling product in Apple's history, yet again. Sure, Android will chug along well and "beat" the iPhone but Apple ain't going anywhere at least for a few years. No one still is anywhere close to the iPad even after a few years now.

iPhone4 Standby time: Up to 300 hours ... There will be some flies in the ointment though. Battery life decreasing is going to be a pain. Especially with 3G and apps and notifications running in the background. With Siri and A5, we'll be seeing going just about a full day on a single charge for moderate to heavy users... just as now with the iPhone4. Ah well.
post #24 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post


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.


Actually yes. Verizon will unlock SIM slots for free after a full 30 days of the phone being active on your account. I've done this twice with other world phones.
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post #25 of 123
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.

You can use the CDMA version overseas, but only if you pay VZW or Sprint's roaming charges. The two of them already have some other phones with both CDMA and GSM radios. There's a locked SIM card in them, and they won't accept other SIMs.
post #26 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by KPOM View Post

You can use the CDMA version overseas, but only if you pay VZW or Sprint's roaming charges. The two of them already have some other phones with both CDMA and GSM radios. There's a locked SIM card in them, and they won't accept other SIMs.

See I'm asking because I know the blackberry storm for the verizon network will completely unlock once you stick a 3rd party sim into the slot.

I have no interest in using verizon's service overseas. I just want to know will I be able to stick a Chinese sim into the phone and have it work?
post #27 of 123
The dev community will have unlock for everything. Apple isn't making a completely separate phone. That would make zero financial/fiscal/supply chain sense. This is more for lowering expectations of people. This phone has both radios. You'll be able to use it anywhere once the dev community gets their hands on it.
post #28 of 123
yet again we are being tucked up in the UK

Yes there are extra taxes and additional business costs to operate in the UK so I'm not complaining about the $649 / £499 starting price. But, why is there a £100 addition for each size increase when the equivalent in the US is only $100.

Only at Apple does $100 = £100
post #29 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

But customers who want to operate the handset on a GSM network, like Verizon,....



i think they meant CDMA
post #30 of 123
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.

Anyway, I am thinking of keeping an old iPhone for roaming after unlocking it.

There is no concept of "unlocking" in CDMA. If you are using CDMA the carrier has your IMEI number and you are on that carrier. When you want to change carriers you go to the new carrier and give them your IMEI number and they put you on their service and discontinue service from the pervious carrier.

When a phone is unlocked - it basically accepts SIM crds from multiple carriers. If it is locked then it accepts SIM cards from one carrier.

The lock/unlock concept does not exist in CDMA only GSM.
post #31 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichL View Post

This story isn't true for all countries. In the UK, you can order an unlocked iPhone 4S right now.

and if you take off the VAT, the costs for a 16GB iPhone4S in the UK & US are almost identical.
post #32 of 123
Ok...i think I got it. So the iphone 4S is now a "World Phone" no matter what plan you go with? I travel internationally alot, and am torn between the ATT and Sprint plans. I like Sprint's unlimited data....but was wondering since it's CDMA will i be able to swap out the sim for a GSM international one when abroad? If not, i will go with ATT since i know its GSM....but i am not sure since i hear that this iphone is universal. Is that true?

Thanks!
post #33 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScartArt View Post

yet again we are being tucked up in the UK

Yes there are extra taxes and additional business costs to operate in the UK so I'm not complaining about the $649 / £499 starting price. But, why is there a £100 addition for each size increase when the equivalent in the US is only $100.

Only at Apple does $100 = £100

So for us in the UK, the basic model would seem to be the one to go for - before VAT, my 16GB iPhone 4S is £415.83, which at an exchange rate of 1.56 dollars to the pound, equates to $649.99!
post #34 of 123
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....

It's not a component issue. CDMA access is controlled at the carrier network level ( there are no CDMA SIM cards and no such thing as an "unlocked CDMA phone".
post #35 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdsonice View Post

There is no concept of "unlocking" in CDMA. If you are using CDMA the carrier has your IMEI number and you are on that carrier. When you want to change carriers you go to the new carrier and give them your IMEI number and they put you on their service and discontinue service from the pervious carrier.

When a phone is unlocked - it basically accepts SIM crds from multiple carriers. If it is locked then it accepts SIM cards from one carrier.

The lock/unlock concept does not exist in CDMA only GSM.

CDMA phones can be rooted to clone an existing phone. It's not easy, but it's possible. I personally never got it to work though.
post #36 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdsonice View Post

There is no concept of "unlocking" in CDMA. If you are using CDMA the carrier has your IMEI number and you are on that carrier. When you want to change carriers you go to the new carrier and give them your IMEI number and they put you on their service and discontinue service from the pervious carrier.

When a phone is unlocked - it basically accepts SIM crds from multiple carriers. If it is locked then it accepts SIM cards from one carrier.

The lock/unlock concept does not exist in CDMA only GSM.

OK. Two questions:

1) If I purchase an unlocked iPhone 4s, can I call Verizon (or Sprint) and have them activate it? If this is possible, will I be able to go overseas and use it as an unlocked GSM phone?

2) If I get a Sprint or Verizon "locked" phone, will I be able to go overseas and use it as an unlocked GSM phone?
post #37 of 123
It would be really interesting if Sprint could arrange their CDMA access alongside a US "roaming" GSM SIM card that would activate in poor CDMA coverage areas.

However, there's a few blocks to a creative idea like that -- execs at AT&T and maybe some egos at Sprint. AT&T could always use the revenue (sarcasm)
post #38 of 123
Ok...Im interested in the unlocked iphone 4S because i travel internationally alot.

What i want to know is...if i get an unlocked iphone 4S in November....can i turn it on and use it as a wifi only device for awhile? I'm not travelling overseas until January, but would like to use the iphone to shoot pictures and video with its awesome new 8 megapixel camera, and then upload those pics via wifi to youtube etc. I'd also like to use iMessage and other features via wifi, but i don't want to pop an ATT sim in right now to do so. Not interested in a contract.

Basically i want to know if i can activate/use my iphone 4S as a wifi only device without popping a sim in.

Thanks :-)
post #39 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleGreen View Post

OK. Two questions:

1) If I purchase an unlocked iPhone 4s, can I call Verizon (or Sprint) and have them activate it? If this is possible, will I be able to go overseas and use it as an unlocked GSM phone?

2) If I get a Sprint or Verizon "locked" phone, will I be able to go overseas and use it as an unlocked GSM phone?

1.) NO. That's exactly the point. It's too much of a hassle to add back IMEI numbers that weren't manufactured for that carrier. Not mention you still need the right PRL file for that carrier.

2.) Verizon will unlock SIM slots for free on their Global phones after 30 days of it being active on your account (though I'm hearing 60 days now). I've done this with Blackberries in the past. There may be other ways/3rd parties who will charge to do it, but I have no experience there. Can't speak to Sprint either.
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post #40 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdyB View Post

So for us in the UK, the basic model would seem to be the one to go for - before VAT, my 16GB iPhone 4S is £415.83, which at an exchange rate of 1.56 dollars to the pound, equates to $649.99!

except that Apple know 16GB isn't really enough, given that the camera is now 8MP and video is 1080 rather than 720 \
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