Apple begins selling unlocked, SIM-free iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models

Posted:
in iPhone edited August 2015
The Apple Store has begun selling unlocked, SIM-free iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models at unsubsidized prices, offering customers the ability to purchase without a T-Mobile SIM card.




In the U.S., customers have been able to buy an unlocked iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus from day one, but it would ship with a T-Mobile SIM card inserted. Starting Tuesday, the Apple Store began offering a SIM-free option starting at the same $649 price for the entry-level 16-gigabyte iPhone 6.

The new unlocked iPhone 6 model is identified as A1586, while the iPhone 6 Plus is model A1524. They are compatible with carriers around the world, and for U.S. customers can be activated on AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon or Sprint.

The new phones are actually different than the T-Mobile unlocked handsets, which are identified as model A1549 for the iPhone 6 and A1522 for the iPhone 6 Plus.

The new SIM-free iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus option may be less confusing for consumers looking to buy an unlocked handset for use with GSM carriers abroad, but who might be thrown off by the inclusion of a T-Mobile SIM. Further obscuring matters, while iPhone 6 units sold from the Apple Store ship unlocked, handsets sold through the carrier T-Mobile are locked to its network.

It's also a new option for contract-free Verizon and Sprint customers looking to upgrade and pay full price for an unlocked handset.

With SIM-free iPhone 6 models now available through Apple's online store, it's likely that units will also begin to show up in the company's retail stores this week. Contract-free iPhone 6 pricing increases to $749 for 64 gigabytes, and $849 for 128 gigabytes, while the iPhone 6 Plus starts at $749 for 16 gigabytes and has $100 price increases for each corresponding capacity increase.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 32
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,712member
    Big news day
  • Reply 2 of 32
    chabigchabig Posts: 640member
    This phone works on AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint in the United States. It has a different model number than the T-Mobile contract-free phone. Details are on the Apple Store website.
  • Reply 3 of 32

    Apple has been selling unlocked, SIM free iPhone 6' in most other markets around the world since day one.  It's the only way to go.  The US is always a step behind on the cellular front due to the power of the telecoms.    

  • Reply 4 of 32
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,740member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by chabig View Post



    This phone works on AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint in the United States. It has a different model number than the T-Mobile contract-free phone. Details are on the Apple Store website.

     

    Unless there was a major policy change at VZW, the "SIM-free" iPhones will not work for Verizon.  Not due to any technical limitations, but because Verizon has had a strict policy to restrict phone activations to only those phones where the IMEI numbers are in their database.  If it didn't start life as a "Verizon phone", they refuse to activate it.

     

    Ironically, Verizon 5S/6/6+ iPhones (even on-contract iPhones) come factory unlocked and will work on basically any other GSM LTE carrier.

     

    Edit, the iPhone 6/6+ website does say this will work on Verizon:

     

    Quote:


    The unlocked iPhone includes all the features of iPhone but without a wireless contract commitment or a carrier installment plan. You can activate and use the unlocked iPhone on the supported wireless network of your choice, such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, or Sprint in the United States.


     

    It also says (emphasis mine):

     

    Quote:


    If you don’t want a multiyear service contract, or if you prefer to use a local carrier when traveling abroad, the unlocked iPhone is the best choice. If you choose T-Mobile, your iPhone comes with a T-Mobile SIM card already installed. You will need to contact T-Mobile or visit an Apple Retail Store to activate your iPhone.

     

    Otherwise, the unlocked iPhone does not come with a nano-SIM card for iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5s, or iPhone 5c so you’ll need to get one from any supported carrier worldwide. To start using your iPhone, simply insert the SIM card into the slot and turn on iPhone by pressing and holding the On/Off button for a few seconds. Then follow the onscreen instructions to set up your iPhone.

     

    Purchasing an unlocked iPhone means you will not qualify for the lower iPhone price associated with a contract or a carrier installment plan. The unlocked iPhone 6 model is A1586. The unlocked iPhone 6 Plus model is A1524. The T-Mobile iPhone 6 model is A1549. The T-Mobile iPhone 6 Plus model is A1522. For details on LTE network support, please see www.apple.com/iphone/LTE.



     

    If you look at the iPhone LTE page linked above, it specifically says the A1586 and A1524 models are the TD-LTE (bands 38-41) versions which are supported by Sprint, but not Verizon.  Curiouser and curiouser...

     

    I'd also be very curious to see if a "SIM-free" iPhone was still unlocked after being activated on the Sprint network.

  • Reply 5 of 32
    chabigchabig Posts: 640member

    The 1586 and 1584 models supports Sprint's bands in addition to Verizon's. These are truly the world phones.

  • Reply 6 of 32
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 13,001member
    john.b wrote: »
    Unless there was a major policy change at VZW, the "SIM-free" iPhones will not work for Verizon.  Not due to any technical limitations, but because Verizon has had a strict policy to restrict phone activations to only those phones where the IMEI numbers are in their database.  If it didn't start life as a "Verizon phone", they refuse to activate it.

    It was just VZW being hard headed. ESN/IMEI numbers could always be put into the system manually, they just refused to do so. In this case it seems they're willing to bend a little.
  • Reply 7 of 32

    not sure how the sim-free unlocked iphone 6's differ from the previous unlocked iphone 6's.  they're the same except for the included t-moble sim in the previous unlocked iphone 6's.  both are unlocked and can be used with any gsm carrier.  

  • Reply 8 of 32
    chabigchabig Posts: 640member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jcallows View Post

     

    not sure how the sim-free unlocked iphone 6's differ from the previous unlocked iphone 6's.  they're the same except for the included t-moble sim in the previous unlocked iphone 6's.  both are unlocked and can be used with any gsm carrier.  




    They are different models. The previous T-Mobile contract free phones were Verizon models, which support AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. The "new" unlocked iPhones are the Sprint phones, which support AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint.

  • Reply 9 of 32
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 13,001member
    jcallows wrote: »
    not sure how the sim-free unlocked iphone 6's differ from the previous unlocked iphone 6's.  they're the same except for the included t-moble sim in the previous unlocked iphone 6's.  both are unlocked and can be used with any gsm carrier.  
    .

    What part of 'can be activated on AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon or Sprint.' didn't you understand?
  • Reply 10 of 32

    On the Apple page http://www.apple.com/iphone/LTE/ it doesn't list Verizon or AT&T under the LTE support column for A1586 or the A1524.  Does that mean that there is only 3G support on Verizon and AT&T for these new unlocked iPhone 6's?

     

  • Reply 11 of 32
    chabigchabig Posts: 640member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bruce View Post

     

    On the Apple page http://www.apple.com/iphone/LTE/ it doesn't list Verizon or AT&T under the LTE support column for A1586 or the A1524.  Does that mean that there is only 3G support on Verizon and AT&T for these new unlocked iPhone 6's?

     


    No. That page tells you which phone you get if you are a subscriber with those carriers. Phones require specific frequency bands to support each carrier. Older phones (and iPhones) had to be built specifically for certain carriers. As technology and chip manufacturing has advanced, successive generations of iPhones support more more bands in each model. The iPhone 6 comes closest so far to supporting all carriers with just a few models. However, if you are an AT&T subscriber and you tell Apple or AT&T that you want a new iPhone, you get the GSM model. But the Verizon an Sprint models also support the same LTE bands that the AT&T phone supports.

  • Reply 12 of 32
    My Plus came without a sim weeks ago? Maybe that's because a friend at the Apple store ordered it for me?
  • Reply 13 of 32
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by chabig View Post

     

    No. That page tells you which phone you get if you are a subscriber with those carriers. Phones require specific frequency bands to support each carrier. Older phones (and iPhones) had to be built specifically for certain carriers. As technology and chip manufacturing has advanced, successive generations of iPhones support more more bands in each model. The iPhone 6 comes closest so far to supporting all carriers with just a few models. However, if you are an AT&T subscriber and you tell Apple or AT&T that you want a new iPhone, you get the GSM model. But the Verizon an Sprint models also support the same LTE bands that the AT&T phone supports.


     

    Got it.

    We're thinking about visiting the UK and Europe over the next couple of years.  I'm a Verizon subscriber.  I understand that Europe and the UK is largely GSM.  Will I be able to get a sim card there and be able to use the LTE networks even if CDMA is not supported?

  • Reply 14 of 32
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,740member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

     
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jcallows View Post



    not sure how the sim-free unlocked iphone 6's differ from the previous unlocked iphone 6's.  they're the same except for the included t-moble sim in the previous unlocked iphone 6's.  both are unlocked and can be used with any gsm carrier.  




    What part of 'can be activated on AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon or Sprint.' didn't you understand?

     

    Awaiting confirmation...   ;-)

     

    (Also, the four additional LTE-TD bands that some networks will partially depend on, i.e. Sprint, US Cellular, many "overseas" networks).

  • Reply 15 of 32
    fracfrac Posts: 480member
    bruce wrote: »
    chabig wrote: »
     
    No. That page tells you which phone you get if you are a subscriber with those carriers. Phones require specific frequency bands to support each carrier. Older phones (and iPhones) had to be built specifically for certain carriers. As technology and chip manufacturing has advanced, successive generations of iPhones support more more bands in each model. The iPhone 6 comes closest so far to supporting all carriers with just a few models. However, if you are an AT

    Got it.
    We're thinking about visiting the UK and Europe over the next couple of years.  I'm a Verizon subscriber.  I understand that Europe and the UK is largely GSM.  Will I be able to get a sim card there and be able to use the LTE networks even if CDMA is not supported?

    I think I understand your question...the answer is yes. You can pick up a PAYG sim for free almost everywhere and chose the best package. Typically, around $15 for 3GB data with unlimited calls and texts usable for a 30 day period on 3G with LTE a bit more. Three UK network even gives you unlimited 4G and no roaming charges.
  • Reply 16 of 32
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,740member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bruce View Post

     

    Got it.

    We're thinking about visiting the UK and Europe over the next couple of years.  I'm a Verizon subscriber.  I understand that Europe and the UK is largely GSM.  Will I be able to get a sim card there and be able to use the LTE networks even if CDMA is not supported?


     

    If I were buying an unsubsidized (full price) iPhone 6/6+ today, I would definitely pick up one with CDMA support for the same money.  Up until yesterday, that would've been the Verizon models.  If it turns out Verizon is actually activating these new unlocked A1586/A1524 models*, the CDMA version of those would definitely be the one to get as they also include bands 38-41 (LTE-TD) that the Verizon models don't support.

     

    *Since these are available today at retail Apple Stores, we should know pretty quickly whether Verizon is "whitelisting" the IMEI numbers on the unlocked A1586/A1524 models.  Stay tuned!

  • Reply 17 of 32

    Why do people think Apple actually builds different models for different carriers?

     

    It's the same hardware.  It's a software-defined radio.

  • Reply 18 of 32
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,740member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by DarkVader View Post

     

    Why do people think Apple actually builds different models for different carriers?

     

    It's the same hardware.  It's a software-defined radio.


     

    Because Apple does build different models for different carriers?

     

    Here's a fun activity you can do with your hands:  Break open your T-Mo or VZW iPhone 6 and find the CDMA chipset/antenna.

  • Reply 19 of 32
    Apple is late in the U.S. Market by two months. Now; can someone tell me the difference between the the new official "UNLOCKED" model and that of the Verizon and T-Mobile full pay models?
  • Reply 20 of 32
    First and foremost most of people commenting are missing that Verizon and Sprint phones are not only GSM and LTE but also CDMA. Yes that's dual and yes Verizon uses SIM cards for CDMA as well.

    Also the difference in specs is huge between unlocked phones and phones for T-Mobile (USA) as they have different bands and frequencies. T-Mobile phone will have problems working in part of Europe while Verizon phone will work in all Europe and because it is dual system and has LTE channel 3 it will cover probably 99% of world (contracts or temprary SIM cards may apply).


    I have bought Verizon phone just for this reason and I was able to navigate using cellular data nad make calls in Eastern Europe thatuses GSM and LTE (channel 3). Not so with T-Mobile USA version phones.

    There is huge difference between GSM in the USA with some providers and in Europe for example and it is on frequencies. From my thorough research (and I am also electronics degree) it is worth to buy Verizon or Sprint version of mobile devices (that includes iPad's) to have trully unlocked world mobile device. It is just enough to study detailed stards specs and pay attention to numbers and protocol names.

    And for the record I bought number of suc devices in the USA for my family in Europe so I can communicate using SKybe, Facetime and else.
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