Verizon iPhone 5 reportedly ships unlocked for GSM networks

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Hours after the iPhone 5 hit store shelves across the U.S. on Friday, it has reportedly been discovered that the CDMA Verizon version of the device can be used on AT&T and T-Mobile's networks with a simple GSM micro SIM card modification.

Verizon iPhone 5 Unlocked
Verizon iPhone 5 operating on AT&T's HSPA+ network. | Source: iDownloadBlog


Website iDownloadBlog claims it was able to trim down and install a micro SIM card into
the new Verizon iPhone 5, which was purchased under contract, and connect to AT&T's HSPA+ "4G" network.

The publication contacted a Verizon representative who confirmed the handset is indeed unlocked, meaning it can use SIM cards from other carriers even under contract. This is encouraging to travelers who own a CDMA Verizon iPhone 5 but need to hop onto international GSM networks from time to time.

Verizon iPhone 5
Verizon iPhone 5 with trimmed GSM micro SIM installed.


While the installation is anything but elegant, in this case requiring a paper clip and a piece of tape to hold the card in place rather than the supplied tray, AT&T and T-Mobile nano-SIMs are likely to have a better fit.

With the iPhone 5, Apple is implementing new nano-SIM cards that bring a 40 percent reduction in size compared to last-generation micro SIM cards.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27


    And if CDMA carriers were be forced to accept user devices, the AT&T model would be unlocked for Verizon… 


     


    So when VoLTE is finished, how will that work? Will the CDMA guys slowly dismantle the old and switch to SIMs for the new?

  • Reply 2 of 27
    tulkastulkas Posts: 3,757member


    I wonder if this is because if the FCC requirement regarding the 700Mhz spectrum.


     


    Was reading this over at hofo, might be interesting for those here:


    http://www.howardforum.com/showthread.php/1777112-Verizon-iPhone-5-s-must-be-unlocked!-FCC


    [quote]


     


    Verizon iPhone 5's must be unlocked! - FCC



    I've been reading up on the open access provisions in regards to the C-Block of 700 mhz LTE spectrum. There is a very specific line saying that a licensee(Verizon)cannot configure devices to be locked against use on another network. This means that Verizon would be violating Federal law if the iPhone 5's sim slot is even partially locked. Unlike on the iPhone 4S - these regulations mean that Verizon must even allow an AT&T sim card to be used in any Verizon iPhone 5. 



    The relevant law is found here in the Code of Federal Regulations 

    Title 47 - Telecommunication. CHAPTER I - FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION (CONTINUED). SUBCHAPTER B - COMMON CARRIER SERVICES. PART 27 - MISCELLANEOUS WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS SERVICES. Subpart B - Applications and Licenses. § 27.16Network access requirements for Block C in the 746-757 and 776-787 MHz bands.



    Take a look at this : (e) Handset locking prohibited. No licensee may disable features on handsets it provides to customers, to the extent such features are compliant with the licensee's standards pursuant to paragraph (b)of this section, nor configure handsets it provides to prohibit use of such handsets on other providers' networks.[/quote]


     

  • Reply 3 of 27
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tulkas View Post


    The relevant law is found here in the Code of Federal Regulations 



    Title 47 - Telecommunication. CHAPTER I - FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION (CONTINUED). SUBCHAPTER B - COMMON CARRIER SERVICES. PART 27 - MISCELLANEOUS WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS SERVICES. Subpart B - Applications and Licenses. § 27.16Network access requirements for Block C in the 746-757 and 776-787 MHz bands.



    Take a look at this : (e) Handset locking prohibited. No licensee may disable features on handsets it provides to customers, to the extent such features are compliant with the licensee's standards pursuant to paragraph (b)of this section, nor configure handsets it provides to prohibit use of such handsets on other providers' networks.


     



    Why does this law only apply to Verizon? Can AT&T lock their handsets?

  • Reply 4 of 27


    Too bad the place I am going to visit doesn't have a nano-sim.  No, I'm not going to be messing with a Claro or Movistar micro-sim and cut it to fit.  

  • Reply 5 of 27
    kpomkpom Posts: 658member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    Why does this law only apply to Verizon? Can AT&T lock their handsets?





    Does AT&T use that band?

  • Reply 6 of 27


    I hope AT&T's and Sprint's phone are same way.

  • Reply 7 of 27


    I'm sure we'll soon be able to buy the right sim card trays on eBay to deal with the thinner nano-sim cards.

  • Reply 8 of 27

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by radster360 View Post


    I hope AT&T's and Sprint's phone are same way.



     


    Sprint's might be the same. However, even if AT&T's phones are unlocked, they can't be used on Sprint or Verizon.  Unlike the 4S, where the internals were the same, the 5 has three different models with different bands/frequencies.  The Verizon/Sprint model (CDMA model A1429) also has HSPA+, GSM, etc., but the AT&T model (GSM model A1428) lacks the CDMA bands and uses different LTE bands.  This really isn't unlike the 4S, where the CDMA couldn't ever be used unless originally activated on a CDMA network.  However, the difference is that the hardware is a different spec.  So maybe AT&T's won't need to be unlocked to be used on a different GSM provider, but it will never work on a CDMA provider.


     


    (Details about models with frequencies/bands are under the "Cellular and Wireless" section of http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html.)

  • Reply 9 of 27

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by KPOM View Post




    Does AT&T use that band?



     


    Not exactly.  Their LTE network is on bands 4 and 17.  However, band 17 does fall in the 700 MHz range but not entirely within the 746-757 MHz range like band 13 from Verizon does.  This was quoted above in the FCC regulations as reason for the mandatory unlock.  See http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html and http://www.radio-electronics.com/info/cellulartelecomms/lte-long-term-evolution/lte-frequency-spectrum.php.  It's possible that AT&T's spectrum falls outside the regulation, so it can still be locked.

  • Reply 10 of 27
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,454member
    Too bad the place I am going to visit doesn't have a nano-sim.  No, I'm not going to be messing with a Claro or Movistar micro-sim and cut it to fit.  
    My friend just came back from Paris and used a full-sized SIMM cut down for a verizon Motorola Razr running ice cream sandwich. The guy at the kiosk cut it down for it and it worked like a charm. Don't see this as an issue ... I mean really, android can do something iOS can't?
  • Reply 11 of 27

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by user4567 View Post


     


    Sprint's might be the same. However, even if AT&T's phones are unlocked, they can't be used on Sprint or Verizon.  Unlike the 4S, where the internals were the same, the 5 has three different models with different bands/frequencies.  The Verizon/Sprint model (CDMA model A1429) also has HSPA+, GSM, etc., but the AT&T model (GSM model A1428) lacks the CDMA bands and uses different LTE bands.  This really isn't unlike the 4S, where the CDMA couldn't ever be used unless originally activated on a CDMA network.  However, the difference is that the hardware is a different spec.  So maybe AT&T's won't need to be unlocked to be used on a different GSM provider, but it will never work on a CDMA provider.


     


    (Details about models with frequencies/bands are under the "Cellular and Wireless" section of http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html.)



    This was addressed long ago. 

    The "three different models" is a software lock out and nothing more. 


    The reason it could not be used on Sprint or Verizon if it were an AT&T phone is due to how the networks function. 

    AT&T functions solely on the SIM card. I know this due to how my current phone is operating and having been responsible for phones in previous positions. 

    Someone's phone breaks? Swap SIMs. 


     


    For Verizon and Sprint the phone MUST be registered into their system in order to recognize it as usable on their system. 



    If you are willing to give Sprint or Verizon all the information for your phone (IMEI, Serial Number, etc) it just might work on their system as well. The "SIM" card for those services is more for the LTE. The CDMA downgrade in Non-LTE regions is hard encoded into the phone. 


     


    This, of course, is a "rough" explanation as to how it works, but I believe you get the jist of it. 

  • Reply 12 of 27

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Harleigh Quinn View Post


    This was addressed long ago. 

    The "three different models" is a software lock out and nothing more. 


    The reason it could not be used on Sprint or Verizon if it were an AT&T phone is due to how the networks function. 

    AT&T functions solely on the SIM card. I know this due to how my current phone is operating and having been responsible for phones in previous positions. 

    Someone's phone breaks? Swap SIMs. 


     


    For Verizon and Sprint the phone MUST be registered into their system in order to recognize it as usable on their system. 



    If you are willing to give Sprint or Verizon all the information for your phone (IMEI, Serial Number, etc) it just might work on their system as well. The "SIM" card for those services is more for the LTE. The CDMA downgrade in Non-LTE regions is hard encoded into the phone. 


     


    This, of course, is a "rough" explanation as to how it works, but I believe you get the jist of it. 



     


    How is it just a "software lock out" if the hardware and model number is different?

  • Reply 13 of 27

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Harleigh Quinn View Post


    This was addressed long ago. 

    The "three different models" is a software lock out and nothing more. 


    The reason it could not be used on Sprint or Verizon if it were an AT&T phone is due to how the networks function. 

    AT&T functions solely on the SIM card. I know this due to how my current phone is operating and having been responsible for phones in previous positions. 

    Someone's phone breaks? Swap SIMs. 


     


    For Verizon and Sprint the phone MUST be registered into their system in order to recognize it as usable on their system. 



    If you are willing to give Sprint or Verizon all the information for your phone (IMEI, Serial Number, etc) it just might work on their system as well. The "SIM" card for those services is more for the LTE. The CDMA downgrade in Non-LTE regions is hard encoded into the phone. 


     


    This, of course, is a "rough" explanation as to how it works, but I believe you get the jist of it. 



     


    How is it just a "software lock out" if the hardware and model number is different?

  • Reply 14 of 27


    Originally Posted by Harleigh Quinn View Post

    This was addressed long ago. 


    The "three different models" is a software lock out and nothing more. 



     


    That sounds completely wrong.

  • Reply 15 of 27

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    That sounds completely wrong.



    I agree.  It was a software issue on the 4S where the hardware was equivalent.  But with three versions/different internals now, it's a hardware issue.  What's the point of developing and listing different models and bands if they're all the same like they were on the 4S?  I'm guessing there was some sort of technical limitation with space, so the chips were swapped out rather than all combined into one package.

  • Reply 16 of 27


    Originally Posted by user4567 View Post


    I agree.  It was a software issue on the 4S where the hardware was equivalent.  But with three versions/different internals now, it's a hardware issue.  What's the point of developing and listing different models and bands if they're all the same like they were on the 4S?  I'm guessing there was some sort of technical limitation with space, so the chips were swapped out rather than all combined into one package.



     


    Why do you (personally) think they couldn't fit all the bands into one phone? I thought that was part of the big deal waiting for these new LTE chips, you know?

  • Reply 17 of 27


    Nano sims aren't just smaller , they are thinner as well and the pads are actually smaller than the micro.. you can't just cut them down without making them thinner somehow...

  • Reply 18 of 27


    Originally Posted by Core2 View Post

    Nano sims aren't just smaller , they are thinner as well and the pads are actually smaller than the micro.. you can't just cut them down without making them thinner somehow...


     


    X-acto knives and sandpaper seem to be what people are using for that. Not sure about the latter myself, and you already have the former out for the cutting in the first place.

  • Reply 19 of 27
    I currently have a Verizon iPhone 4 and was planning on waiting to upgrade until Apple put an unlocked iPhone 5 on sale. Would there be any benefit of still waiting, or is the unlocked iPhone 5 from Verizon exactly what I would get from Apple? Is there a "lock" on CDMA?
  • Reply 20 of 27


    Originally Posted by urungus View Post

    Is there a "lock" on CDMA?


     


    Yes, for no logical reason. The unlocked iPhone for which we must wait will only be unlocked for GSM providers, anyway. Getting a Verizon iPhone right now would at least let you use it with one more provider, but then again, you have to pay for a month of service and the ETF.

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