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Verizon-Branded iPhone 5 Ships Unlocked, Works With Other Networks

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the tab-a-slots-b-through-q dept.

Cellphones 100

An anonymous reader writes with this news from Geek.com: "If you're planning to get a new Verizon iPhone 5, there might be a little bonus feature included that neither Apple nor Verizon are keen to admit. As units have started making it out of the stores, it appears that the Verizon version of the device is fully unlocked out of the box and able to connect to any GSM network. Verizon support is apparently confirming to customers that the device is unlocked. At the very least, this doesn't appear to be a mistake. It likely has to do with the way the iPhone's radios are designed along with the implementation of LTE on Verizon. This might make the device a little more palatable to those on the fence about upgrading, especially for anyone that travels."

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100 comments

All Phones Ship Unlocked (-1, Flamebait)

SquarePixel (1851068) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421233)

Everywhere else but the U.S...

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421281)

But here in the US it makes little difference. What are you going to do?

Sign up for AT&T?

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (-1, Flamebait)

SquarePixel (1851068) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421287)

It makes a great difference when you're traveling elsewhere. Oh right, US people...

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421319)

Elsewhere?

What, New Mexico or someplace foreign like that?

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (1)

IAmStrider (1391613) | about a year and a half ago | (#41438677)

That's why they don't have a second thought about breaking their phones in half after every fresh batch of "blue sky".

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (2)

fm6 (162816) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421341)

Most people, U.S. or not, spend most of their time not travelling.

The important difference between U.S. and Europe is that all the networks and phones use GSM. That lowers costs and promotes competition — hence the unlocked phones. When you can move your phone to any network, there's a big market for unlocked ones. With less competition here, carriers can get away with bundling and long-term contracts, which means locked-in phones.

Speaking of which Verizon's network is not GSM. So are these iPhones dual-network or what?

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41421527)

Almost all EU phones with an associated contract/airtime are locked to a network - however there are inter carrier agreements

no the do not just use gsm

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (1)

yacc143 (975862) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421623)

Well it's GSM/UMTS, and yes, European do have contracts and SIM/NET LOCKs, but one can usually remove the locks easily enough.

Enough people travel, and in Europe, if you want to avoid painful roaming costs, that means swapping the SIM to something prepaid and local.

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (1)

Vlado (817879) | about a year ago | (#41430039)

I'm not sure if you're from Europe yourself, or if you are, which country you're from. But there are at least a few countries in EU where locking a phone is prohibited by law and it may actually be an EU directive that prevents that. So in practice, I don't think I've heard of a locked phone now for quite a while.

On the second point, while roaming charges WERE in some cases prohibitively expensive, things are much better now and will continue to improve. Since 2007 there is regulation in effect that forces all mobile providers within EU and EEC countries to have fixed maximum roaming charges. And you know what? Prices are going down every year!
Currently /highest/ prices (without VAT) for roaming within EU (if you have a contract in any other EU country) are as follows:
- Making a call EUR 0,29/min (EUR 0,19/min in 2014)
- Receiving a call EUR 0,08/min (EUR 0,05/min in 2014)
- Sending a text message EUR 0,09/min (EUR 0,06/min in 2014)
- Receiving a text message - free of charge
Source Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulation_on_roaming_charges_in_the_European_Union#Prices [wikipedia.org]

So I don't think that the inconvenience of having to switch SIMs and with that phone numbers is a realistic thing anymore. Especially if you travel on business and even if you travel privately and exercise a bit of care.

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year and a half ago | (#41423479)

Most people, U.S. or not, spend most of their time not travelling.

The important difference between U.S. and Europe is that all the networks and phones use GSM. That lowers costs and promotes competition — hence the unlocked phones. When you can move your phone to any network, there's a big market for unlocked ones. With less competition here, carriers can get away with bundling and long-term contracts, which means locked-in phones.

Speaking of which Verizon's network is not GSM. So are these iPhones dual-network or what?

You didn't even read the summary, apparently.

TFS:

As units have started making it out of the stores, it appears that the Verizon version of the device is fully unlocked out of the box and able to connect to any GSM network.

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (1)

fm6 (162816) | about a year and a half ago | (#41424163)

I did read that. You didn't read my question.

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about a year and a half ago | (#41425139)

So these are verision phones that are able to connect to any GSM network. So through the magic of logic, they are able to connect over verison's cdma and any GSM network. Doesn't that answer your question if they are dual network? Or was there a hidden question invisble to human eyes?

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (1)

fm6 (162816) | about a year and a half ago | (#41425523)

And through the further magic of logic, it's a little strange for a company that doesn't use GSM to be selling phones that do. Hence my question and your rather stupid answer.

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41426395)

Maybe because LTE is based on GSM/UTMS?

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about a year and a half ago | (#41444229)

You're question didn't make any sense at all. It obviously supports both, and verizion has sold phones for both GSM and CDMA for a long time now. So It wasn't clear what on earth you were confused or excited about.

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (1)

fm6 (162816) | about a year and a half ago | (#41444751)

You're question didn't make any sense at all.

And yet other people understood it clearly. Please stop trying to prove whatever it is you're trying to prove.

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about a year and a half ago | (#41449299)

No, everyone else replied in the same way: TFS explained it pretty well. The only people who understood/understand your question are you and maybe other people who didn't respond.

I'm only replying as much because its just bizarre. I still have no idea what you question really was. my best guess is that it was a rhetorical exclamation of surprise after learning that verizon makes cdma/gsm phones, rather than an actual question.

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (3, Informative)

lukpac (66596) | about a year and a half ago | (#41424255)

Speaking of which Verizon's network is not GSM. So are these iPhones dual-network or what?

Yes:

CDMA model A1429*: CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B (800, 1900, 2100 MHz); UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); LTE (Bands 1, 3, 5, 13, 25)

http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html [apple.com]

They just don't work on all LTE bands.

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (2)

Glendale2x (210533) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421491)

You can "travel" quite a bit in the US and never leave the US, whereas a similar distance in Europe might consist of crossing the borders of many different countries. If every US state had a different cell company things might be different, but as it stands now you can go coast to coast with the same provider (including Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico).

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (1)

yacc143 (975862) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421645)

Even if the borders you cross are usually only delimited with a road sign. Often included is also a low speed limit for a couple of hundreds of meters. The only "Europeans" that are used to border controls as a way of life seems to be Brits nowadays.

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (1)

CTU (1844100) | about a year and a half ago | (#41423607)

What about T-mobile? Or any smaller carriers that use any GSM carriers networks?

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41421449)

No, they don't, at least not in most European countries, which is why there are lots of sites that offer 'unlocking' services for specific operators. These include the UK, Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, etc.

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (1)

yacc143 (975862) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421669)

Well, experience in Austria shows that atypical phones even on a contract are not locked. E.g. data centric phones before the iPhone where heavy duty geek stuff, hence sold in small numbers, hence even on contract the carries didn't bother to produce a locked batch.

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421963)

A carrier would have little reason for locking a phone which was under contract. Why would they care? - they get paid whether it's actually used on their network or not. It would be pay-as-you-go phones which they'd want to restrict, assuming they're sold at subsidized prices.

Or do Euro carriers not subsidize phones and have contract early termination fees, as in the US? (in which case there would be no reason to lock them at all)

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (1)

batistuta (1794636) | about a year and a half ago | (#41426319)

In Europe it is common for people to get contracts to just subsidise the phone, but not the data and calls. You often hear people saying "I've bought my high-end phone for 50 Euros", but then pay 20 Euros per month on 24 hour contract, and 40 cents/minute and 20c/SMS. So it is not like in the US that you only get a full package. You can also get full packages in Europe, but once again this is not the rule.

A more economical approach at the moment, at least in Germany, is to buy your own phone at full price and use pre-paid. It is funny, but pre-paid is way cheaper than the contracts and you are not tight to a carrier for two years. This is for me crucial because ALL carriers claim that you can't use your phone for VoIP, and sometimes even for IM. None of them block them that I know (I think the European Laws would hunt them), but I don't wanna have my Whatsapp block one day and be stucked with 12 more months to go.

You can also get pretty good deals for full packages through your employer. If you can live with 24 month contracts, these are sometimes better then pre-paid+full priced phone deals.

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41440235)

And there are anonymous sim cards in austria, to order all your tinfoil from ;.)

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (1)

jopsen (885607) | about a year and a half ago | (#41422499)

If you buy a phone with a subscription/contract, the yes, but if you buy one without a subscription/contract it's typically unlocked. At least that's the case in Denmark, where I've never had any problems buying an unlocked phone.

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (4, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421521)

You might want to revise the "everywhere", because phones are certainly sold locked here in the UK.

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (1)

Pulzar (81031) | about a year and a half ago | (#41422037)

And so they are in Canada, too. Maybe "everywhere" really means "Europe"?

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about a year and a half ago | (#41422163)

I'm pretty sure, the last time I looked, the UK was still considered part of Europe ;)

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (1)

jc42 (318812) | about a year and a half ago | (#41423163)

I'm pretty sure, the last time I looked, the UK was still considered part of Europe ;)

Not by the French. ;-)

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (1)

climb_no_fear (572210) | about a year and a half ago | (#41423403)

Of course, which makes it even funnier when I catch all my British friends over here saying "I'm traveling to Europe for my holidays". They don't even notice until some American expat like myself points this out...

Re:All Phones Ship Unlocked (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year and a half ago | (#41422385)

Not true. There are other places where they ship locked, if you buy them on contract. Canada, for example.

What's up with all this iPhone astroturfing? (-1, Troll)

Zandamesh (1689334) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421239)

This being Slashdot, would it not make sense for there to be more Android articles? Is there just too much Apple astroturfing going on Slashdot or is it just me?

Re:What's up with all this iPhone astroturfing? (1, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421285)

It's not just SlashDot. Pretty much all media outlets do a huge amount of what boils down to free Apple advertising.

Re:What's up with all this iPhone astroturfing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41421415)

They get payed. Almost all of them.

Re:What's up with all this iPhone astroturfing? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41421777)

Yeah! Tech news sites covering news about the biggest tech company in the world? Inconcievable!

Re:What's up with all this iPhone astroturfing? (2)

fm6 (162816) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421391)

Oh please. I'm an Android user, and I'm not noticing a dearth of Android articles. In any case, this is newsworthy.

Re:What's up with all this iPhone astroturfing? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41421747)

Mostly because there is ONE android phone that worth buying the google nexus HSPA+ all the rest are complete and utter crap because of locked bootloaders and never getting OS updates.

Only a fool would buy any other phone than a Direct from Google phone that is unlocked and comes with the promise of updates.

Re:Re:What's up with all this iPhone astroturfing? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41421985)

If you're that bothered about updates for android, you can download and install it manually its no more fuss than getting the update when the manufacturers push it out the door. Besides, unless there is some game changing new feature you can't live without on the new version what's the point in updating anyway? The fool is the person who bases his choice of phone on bullshit.

Re:What's up with all this iPhone astroturfing? (2)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421501)

I'm sorry your delicate sensibilities were offended by an article about the new iPhone on a tech site. My understanding is there are mechanisms available to filter out the news you are incapable of handling.

Re:What's up with all this iPhone astroturfing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41421513)

This being Slashdot, would it not make sense for there to be more Android articles? Is there just too much Apple astroturfing going on Slashdot or is it just me?

Yeah, you're right. I guess on the day after a brand-new iPhone model launches, it would simply be inconceivable to see an Apple article here...

Re:What's up with all this iPhone astroturfing? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41421675)

Waaaa! I'm a little fucking android, I need articles to support my decision to go with fuckdroid. Waaaaa!!!!
 
Come change my open sores diaper!!!! Waaaaa!!!!
 
But... but... but.... its teh Linux!!!!!!onehundredeleven!!!!
 
Go suck another dick fandroid.

Re:What's up with all this iPhone astroturfing? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41421981)

Waaaa! I'm a little fucking iPhone, I need articles to support my decision to go with CrApple. Waaaaa!!!!

Come change my open sores diaper!!!! Waaaaa!!!!

But... but... but.... its teh iOS!!!!!!onehundredeleven!!!!

Go suck another dick fanboi.

Re:What's up with all this iPhone astroturfing? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41422433)

Just like Android and Linsux... copying from everyone else and just putting your name on it. That's all you got.
 
I laugh at you open sores faggots. All talk, no innovation.

Re:What's up with all this iPhone astroturfing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41421709)

Apple is a media darling and gets attention everywhere.

Even Android Central and DroidLife covered the iPhone 5 launch. Why? Guaranteed views. Even those who are against coverage on what is clearly not an Apple-centric site will click and comment on their coverage. You fell right into the trap.

Trolling is a business tactic. Your only weapon against it is apathy.

Re:What's up with all this iPhone astroturfing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41421719)

Hey Rip Van Winkle, this is the internet. It's amazing. We talk about Apple a lot. We've also got books...on tape.

Re:What's up with all this iPhone astroturfing? (2)

niftydude (1745144) | about a year and a half ago | (#41422077)

This being Slashdot, would it not make sense for there to be more Android articles? Is there just too much Apple astroturfing going on Slashdot or is it just me?

I was just thinking that there is a slightly less iPhone astroturfing on Slashdot compared to the iPhone launch in previous years. In the past you would get 3 or 4 stories in a row on the iPhone here.

So IMHO things are improving.

T-Mobile wants you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41421247)

I'll just point out that T-Mobile will sell you a "value plan" for like half the price of AT&T.

sellable without contract and without account? (1)

Espectr0 (577637) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421295)

the real question is that if i can go to a verizon store and buy one without having an account and without contract for people like me that don't live in the US but sometimes visits.

i know that you eventually will be able to buy it online and unlocked at the apple store, but for example in Venezuela you can't spend more than 400$ over the internet in a year.

Re:sellable without contract and without account? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41421499)

That has always been possible, you just have to pay the 'off contract' price which is $600-$1000 for an iphone. It is my understanding that these phone usually come unlocked (although make sure you confirm with the store before you pay for it...)

Unlocked or useful? (2)

quiet_guy (681438) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421301)

TFA doesn't make sense. "Able to connect to any GSM network...." No kidding. That's what my unlocked gen 1 phone does. Connect and not be 'roaming' status - that's different.

They gloss over the real point, which is dropping a new SIM into it while traveling so you are always local.

Re:Unlocked or useful? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421451)

Well the weird thing is that Verizon is a CDMA network....

Re:Unlocked or useful? (1)

shakezula (842399) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421571)

Exactly what I was thinking--does the iPhone 4 have a CDMA and GSM radio in it?? That'd be a boost to its already ridiculous market domination...and might make me consider one when my current Android gives up the ghost...

Re:Unlocked or useful? (5, Informative)

Cimexus (1355033) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421715)

Yep it's dual radio. From Apple's offical tech specs page, Verizon model iPhone 5 (A1429) supports:

CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B (800, 1900, 2100 MHz);
UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz);
GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz);
LTE (Bands 1, 3, 5, 13, 25)

Re:Unlocked or useful? (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421813)

I'm fairly certain. The sim size is different from my iP4, so I can't test it (I'm not willing to chance damaging my old SIM just yet). However, this is an evolution from the "new" verizon iPad, which I did verify would connect with my AT&T GSM SIM just fine (and I used it for the remaining 20 days on my AT&T prepaid) as well as the Verizon LTE network. I was a bit disappointed that the iP5 couldn't do LTE for both V and AT&T bands, but having GSM fall back is nice for use where there is no CDMA (like the US Virgin Islands).

FWIW, the iPhone5 is nothing special. The screen A/R adds nothing but makes the handset a bit less balanced. The glass on the front but not back also makes it seem less balanced when compared with my 4. To top it off, the aluminum back is going to be a scratch-magnet (just like my iPod classic), and I'm going to have to get a case - or at least a skin - for the back. *sigh* On the other hand, the connector is, in fact, robust - if supremely annoying in it non-standard and doesn't-fit-anything-I-own-ness, and they didn't even include an adapter. I'd kill Steve Jobs for this if he wan't already dead.

That said, it's perfectly functional, and my corporate plan had a pricing error that got me the phone for $149 ($157 with tax, activated and shipped to my office). I also get a small voice plan, 250 texts (I'm not a teen), and unlimited data (yes, really), for $47/month. Oh, and it's got a new battery in it, so I don't have to worry about that expense on my iPhone4. I consider it a "handset swap" with a new radio, a new battery, and a refreshed warranty for $150; a fair trade, but not much upgrade.

Re:Unlocked or useful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41423099)

"I'd kill Steve Jobs for this if he wan't already dead."

You make it sound like a terrible phone, but still you "upgraded" to it for $150. How strange.

Re:Unlocked or useful? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year and a half ago | (#41422003)

The iPhone 4S has both radios; however, in the US, they have been locked to a carrier. The iPhone 4 had separate models for separate radios.

Re:Unlocked or useful? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year and a half ago | (#41426141)

Exactly what I was thinking--does the iPhone 4 have a CDMA and GSM radio in it?? That'd be a boost to its already ridiculous market domination...and might make me consider one when my current Android gives up the ghost...

Not the iPhone 4. There are two models of iPhone 4 - the GSM (Infineon chipset) and CDMA (Verizon iPhone 4 - Qualcomm chipset). The GSM part is not enabled on the Qualcomm chipset, so it's Verizon-only. (You can tell the difference by looking at the back - the Verizon one lacks all the regulatory markings other than FCC (the others were EU or Asia regulatory markings).

The iPhone 4S, though, is "universal" - it used a Qualcomm chipset that went on any network - CDMA or GSM. The only thing it lacks is support for 3G on the AWS band.

The iPhone 5 I believe is universal for 3G and below (still no AWS, though I think), but LTE is only on a few supported frequencies (it's one of those how many antennas and amps can you stuff in there problem).

I wonder how badly detuned the antennas are - a lot of the bands aren't running at an optimal wavelength on the antanna (they're "close enough").

Open Access rules (5, Informative)

Raenex (947668) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421303)

You can thank Google for pushing for Open Access [gpo.gov] rules during bidding for the spectrum:

"(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." [bold mine]

Verizon recently got smacked down [gigaom.com] according to these rules and had to permit tethering without a fee.

Re:Open Access rules (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41422897)

How do you explain AT&T's phones being locked then? And what about some of the Android phones even Verizon sells?

Re:Open Access rules (1)

TheCow (191714) | about a year and a half ago | (#41422941)

AT&T didn't get any of the specturm during the FCC auction that Verizon uses for their LTE network. Remember AT&T is still using 3G data service, just at what they call 4G speeds...

Re:Open Access rules (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41423701)

AT&T has LTE just like VZW does (although not as much yet). HSPA+ in some places, though.

Re:Open Access rules (1)

JakiChan (141719) | about a year and a half ago | (#41424249)

Right, but AT&T is doing LTE, just as VZW is, on different bands. Their "4G" HSPA+ rollout is much larger than their HSPA+ network, but eventually you'll probably see two pretty strong LTE networks. VZW just has a headstart.

Having the two biggest networks on the same technology is nice - someday, if they both do LTE only (and get rid of their legacy networks) then you could have a multi-band NA handset that you really could take between carriers.

AT&T not having bought any of the new spectrum makes them even harder to swallow now. They can be as anti-consumer as they want. I wonder if VZW being forced to be pro-consumer will make AT&T start to relax a bit?

Presumptious (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421331)

you're planning to get a new Verizon iPhone

No I'm not.

Even the quality of the copy-and-pastes is declining around here.

How about Sprint? (4, Interesting)

ClaraBow (212734) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421495)

From a technical perspective, would this mean that the iPhone 5 on Sprint would be unlocked too? It would be nice.

Re:How about Sprint? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41422291)

No, sprint does not use SIM authentication for LTE

Re:How about Sprint? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41428807)

yes they do, but they call it an "embedded sim"

On the Galaxy Nexus, the verizion version has a SIM card and slot and the sprint version does not, but the system still reports having one.. I assume they just store the values in the NVRAM somewhere.. Anyways, I imagine it's still probably programmable.. the Nexus uses a funky VIA radio chipset instead of the more common Qualcomm and they are still working out the programming kinks...

I would imagine though you could just program the IEMI number to match your sim card and all would be well

This seems inconsistent with Verizon's usual stanc (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41421595)

The SGS III was bootlocked, the Galaxy Nexus was essentially neutered, but Verizon allows the iPhone to be used on other carriers?

I assume Apple greased a few palms...

What about the different iPhone 5 models? (4, Informative)

lukpac (66596) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421663)

Something doesn't make sense here. My understanding was that while the iPhone 4S had a universal radio (CDMA and GSM), there are different iPhone 5 models for different networks (CDMA and GSM). And while they all support LTE, they support different frequencies:

Where the iPhone 4S was a dual GSM/CDMA device, meaning one model for all carriers, the LTE-enabled iPhone 5 comes in two separate GSM models and one CDMA model. This means that consumers will have fewer choices when switching carriers, and that LTE access will be limited when traveling abroad.

Since carriers utilize different radio frequencies (also known as frequency bands) for LTE service, Apple has had to diversify its iPhone 5 portfolio. This largely has to do with the fact that 4G LTE is still in the early stages of development, compared to more mature networks like 2G and 3G. It’s a messy situation that Android handset makers like Samsung and HTC have been dealing with when it comes to their 4G LTE devices. For example, the Samsung Galaxy SIII comes in nine model variants, five of which are specific to North American carriers.

The three iPhone 5 models include: GSM model A1428 that supports LTE Bands 4 and 17; GSM model A1429 that supports LTE Bands 1, 3, and 5; and CDMA model A1429 that supports LTE Bands 1, 3, 5, 13, and 25.

In layman’s terms, this means an iPhone 5 user who wanted to jump from, say, AT&T to Verizon or vice versa, would have to buy a new handset, since AT&T runs a GSM network and Verizon is CDMA. And where owners of GSM handsets previously enjoyed wide compatibility with foreign networks, LTE fragmentation means that AT&T customers using an iPhone 5 in Europe, for example, won’t be able to take advantage of LTE speeds while abroad and will instead get kicked down to the 3G network.

More at the link:

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/09/iphone5-lte-model/ [wired.com]

Is the Wired story incorrect? Is there more to this? Or is "able to connect to any GSM network" totally bogus?

More details here, including this blurb from Verizon:

UPDATE: Verizon got back to us, and said "Verizon Wireless plans to enable global LTE roaming on the iPhone 5 in the future. As there are many LTE frequencies currently being deployed around the world, Verizon will be surveying which markets line up best with the frequencies available in our version of the iPhone 5."

http://arstechnica.com/apple/2012/09/want-global-lte-roaming-on-iphone-5-dont-buy-it-from-att/ [arstechnica.com]

Perhaps this should read "able to connect to any LTE network that runs on compatible frequencies"?

Re:What about the different iPhone 5 models? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41421867)

It is a gsm/umts world phone (supports all carriers of gsm & umts on both models) the LTE bands are split between the two. So yes the Verizon version will work on all gsm networks, same as the AT&T version. Only the LTE bands will not be available on the wrong network. It's just to possible to cram all the LTE bands on one antenna. If a company can avoid two sku's they will.

Re:What about the different iPhone 5 models? (2)

lukpac (66596) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421975)

Ok, I did miss this:

The CDMA phone, however, is more of a global device. It supports the same three LTE bands as the non-U.S. GSM phone, as well as the two main bands used by U.S. carriers Verizon and Sprint. Another benefit to the CDMA phone is that it supports GSM/EDGE radio frequencies, while the GSM phones do not support CDMA frequencies. Unfortunately, that GSM support is limited to international use for stateside customers. What is oddly missing from all three phones is LTE support for a large portion of Western Europe, which uses LTE Band 7.

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/09/iphone5-lte-model/ [wired.com]

And:

CDMA model A1429*: CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B (800, 1900, 2100 MHz); UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); LTE (Bands 1, 3, 5, 13, 25)

http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html [apple.com]

I actually looked into that the other day but I guess I missed that portion. Sorry for adding to the confusion...

Re:What about the different iPhone 5 models? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41422981)

Great detailed comment... but I'm still confused by one fundamental question having to do with the difference between physical/hardware limitations (frequency plan, tuning of antennas, etc.) and what I'll loosely call "logical" limitations (different modulation schemes coded up in the radio chip's firmware, carrier locking, etc.).

Suppose I get the CDMA A1429 iPhone 5, is it physically possible to get this phone to work on both Sprint's and Verizon's (separate?) CDMA networks and T-Mobile and AT&T's GSM networks in the US? I understand that doing so would probably involve/require jailbreaking, unlocking, and the like.

So my question basically boils down to this: which of the (in)compatibilities among carriers are due to physical limitations (and thus not really possible to overcome), and which are due to logical limitations (which are possible to get around with appropriate hacking/firmware/software)?

Thanks in advance.

-C

Re:What about the different iPhone 5 models? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41424625)

Slight correction: T-Mobile USA does UMTS at 1700MHz, which almost no device other than those intended for that network supports. So it's not fair to say "supports all carriers of ... umts" - you'll get EDGE speeds on T-Mobile US.

(They are, however, turning on 1900MHz UMTS in some areas.)

Re:What about the different iPhone 5 models? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year and a half ago | (#41422039)

There's a difference between "can support GSM and CDMA carriers" on the same phone which the iPhone 4S and 5 can do and "the carrier will not lock you to their network or lock you out of their network".

Not a huge surprise (3, Informative)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421713)

Why would Verizon care? The V phone won't work on almost any other network at LTE speeds, because the antenna/firmware hasn't been tuned to allow it to work on ATT bands. Your minimum contractual commitment is 24 months at $50+/mo, even for high end corporate clients, so $200+1200>>sales price, and if you go anywhere else with the phone you're not using their network so it's like free money.

FWIW, this is identical to the way Verizon iPads are provisioned. I can drop in a Verizon SIM or an AT&T SIM and it works with both carriers (though on the 3G/GSM network for AT&T). It's why I bought the Verizon iPad to begin with.

Of course, you'll have to go cut down a SIM to fit in the !@#@#^ microsim slot if you want to switch.

Odd bit of trivia: did you know that really big corporate clients get unlimited data on the iPhone (well, probably any phone) for $20/mo? Strange but true.

Re:Not a huge surprise (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about a year and a half ago | (#41424245)

I find it strange that all phones sold on some plan and subsidised aren't unlocked. In theory having every phone unlocked simply increases the amount of money available to companies as consumers make rash decisions and take their service elsewhere.

I can't magically stop paying my telecom company if I wanted to switch. I would either need to keep paying the monthly rate or buy out the contract at some extortionate amount which covers the cost of the handset + many months worth of now unused calls.

It makes no sense. A carrier subsidised prepaid phone without a contract on the other hand is where I could see simlocks making sense.

Re:Not a huge surprise (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a year and a half ago | (#41426301)

did you know that really big corporate clients get unlimited data on the iPhone (well, probably any phone) for $20/mo? Strange but true.

No, I did not know that. But why not? If they have a big corporate contract, they're probably paying a crap load of money per month anyways of recurring revenue. Those are contracts you simply do not want to let go of. Unlimited data is just throwing them a bone.

Re:Not a huge surprise (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year ago | (#41431745)

You'd think so. Many "industry" groups have negotiated rates for their members, which are often small shops (1-8 phones), so the only advantage is one of marketing. My current deal is $27/mo per phone plus $20 for unlimited data. That's it - $47/mo. For that I get 200 minutes per phone on my plan in a pool (2 phones = 400 shared minutes, about what we use), 250 texts per phone (neither of us are teenagers), and - as mentioned - unlimited internet.

I just find it odd, given how stingy they are with unlimited, that they'll just throw it out there for a pittace (relatively speaking).

Re:Not a huge surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41431797)

Why is this modded up. The firmware is no different on the Verizon ones. Stupid FUD.

and yet.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421723)

The bastards will NOT unlock any of the iPhone4S phones. Verizon is still scumbags because of this.

Re:and yet.... (4, Interesting)

yossie (93792) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421971)

Sure they will. Call and ask for global-access or something like that. Assuming you've had the phone for more than 60 days, they will unlock it and you can use a SIM card in it to get GSM/3G access when outside the US - simple and easy. They do "claim" that you can't use the SIM card while in the US - that Verizon CDMA will take preference - this may be true - I didn't test it. I sounds like the iPnone5 doesn't have that (potential) limitation. I think the unlock is permanent, or mostly so, since when I upgraded my iPhone4S to IOS6, the first message to pop up on iTunes was 'congratulations, your phone is unlocked now.'

Re:and yet.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#41427507)

I did that and it is still locked from US GSM carriers. in fact many people online also have and posted articles about how the Verizon 4S works great in GSM outside the usa, but put in a USA carrier sim and it's "unsupported sim"

SO they refuse to unlock the iPhone 4S, a partial unlock is still not an unlock. And it still makes them scumbags for keeping my personal property hostage.

unlock or selectable (1)

fermion (181285) | about a year and a half ago | (#41421733)

I read recently that the phones as shipped can choose a network, but can't be changed ofter. This is hardly unlocked. It is like the DVD drives that ship to play in any region, but once one is selected it is locked. It was also my understanding that the ATT phone would work with more international locations. I can't find the article right now, so I don't know if i recalling correctly.

Re:unlock or selectable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41422675)

While DVD drives can be locked, some DVDs can be designed to have a region of 0, which would play in any drive.

Why can't they design networks to have a region of 0 and lock the hardwar...oh wait, money. Right. Gotcha.

No simultaneous voice and data with the iPhone 5 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41421891)

The iPhone 5 only has one antenna so it can't do simultaneous voice and data over cellular on Verizon or Sprint, only AT&T.'

Every LTE Android phone on Verizon has the two antennas needed to do this.

Re:No simultaneous voice and data with the iPhone (2)

Miamicanes (730264) | about a year and a half ago | (#41422763)

That's a mostly accurate summary of the outwardly visible effects a nontechnical end user who only wants to "surf and talk" might see, but it doesn't quite describe the actual problem. If you know exactly what's going on behind the scenes, there ARE ways to do simultaneous voice + data on Sprint (though most of them require spending more money for thirdparty services and doing an end-run around Sprint itself).

Let's start with voice calls. If you want to terminate a voice call through Sprint, there's exactly one way it can happen: via circuit-switched CDMA. The call travels between Sprint and whomever is at the other end of the call over the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Between Sprint's switching center and the phone, the call is transported via CDMA2000 voice.

No Sprint phone I'm aware of can simultaneously handle an active CDMA voice call and IP data using either EVDO or 1xRTT. It's physically impossible due to the way both are implemented on Sprint's phones. HOWEVER, in most of Sprint's recent phones, there's no hardware reason why you can't have an active voice call AND use data via Wimax, LTE, and/or wifi. Some Sprint phones have shipped with firmware that disabled data use during voice calls, but that was mainly due to tech support and demographics. Basically, they didn't feel like dealing with less-technical users who couldn't be assumed to understand the difference between the different data modes, be aware of their connectivity from minute-to-minute, and actively manage their data connection mode in order to do both at once.

That said, there's nothing (besides battery life and added subscription cost) to stop you from acquiring VoIP service from someone besides Sprint, running a SIP client on your phone, and making simultaneous VoIP calls while using any working data mode, including EVDO and (maybe, bandwidth permitting) 1xRTT. You can even use call forwarding to forward your incoming Sprint calls to the VoIP number. The downside is that your phone will drain the battery a LOT faster, because you'll have to actively poll for incoming calls (normal incoming calls are handled by having the phone poll Sprint's towers via the same mechanism used for text messages; with VoIP, the phone is polling twice as much, and has to maintain an active data connection to do it). One compromise is to make your outgoing calls via VoIP, but let your incoming calls continue to come in through Sprint (losing EVDO/1xRTT data connectivity when it happens).

So... you might be wondering... if end users can get simultaneous voice+data, even over CDMA data modes, by using VoIP service acquired independently of Sprint... why can't Sprint itself do it? Basically, their switching equipment can't handle it. Nothing that couldn't mostly be hacked around, but it would have been expensive, likely to cause problems (witness the thrashing many wimax Sprint phones do when they can't make up their mind between EVDO and wimax, and just keep breaking the data connection and thrashing wildly between the two), and would have still left Sprint with compromises compared to HSPA+.

For what it's worth, these problems are nothing new... GSM networks went through the exact same hardware problem 10 years ago when they transitioned from TDMA-based GSM/GPRS/EDGE to WCDMA-based UMTS/HS(D|U)PA(+). The main difference is that European phone companies actually WERE able to buy off the shelf switching equipment to deal with it, whereas Sprint would have had to cobble its own half-baked solution in-house. Qualcomm WAS actually working on SVDO to replace EVDO (doing more or less the same thing as HSPA+), but most CDMA carriers in other countries decided to skip EVDO and just transition to UMTS/HS(D|U)PA(+) instead. Sprint and Verizon couldn't do that, because they didn't have the pair of 10MHz uplink and downlink channels in all of their markets.

Sprint AND Verizon together would have been enough to motivate Qualcomm to finish development of SVDO, but Verizon hoped to strike a deathblow against Sprint by formally abandoning SVDO. Verizon planned LTE as a long-term strategy, and decided that it could deploy HSPA with 800MHz uplinks and 1900MHz downlinks in most parts of the country if push came to shove. However, without SVDO as an option, Sprint was just plain screwed and SOL. Verizon hoped that the news would devastate Sprint's stock price, and pave the way for them to buy them up for a pittance (or at least allow them to acquire most of Sprint's spectrum, then spit out the carcass as a still-independent company to keep the FTC happy.

At the end of the day, American cellular is a huge soap opera of dysfunctional, corporate "families" who are all evil or insane in slightly different ways, but largely in agreement that they should have an absolute right to screw American consumers as they see fit. Verizon is a narcissistic control-freak with good technology, but a determination to cripple consumers for no reason in particular besides desire to maintain absolute control. AT&T is a stingy miser who'd rather spend its money destroying competitors than building up its own infrastructure. T-Mobile is the blacksheep bastard child of a nouveaux-riche father adopted by one of Europe's wealthiest old-money families, struggling to make a name for itself and prove its worth. Sprint is the halfwit child of wealthy investment bankers who won the lottery at a young age, then went partying in vegas for a few years while its property deteriorated from neglect, and is still trying to recover from metaphorical drunken decisions made in haste at 3am (like the stupid decision to drop wimax from new phones entirely, instead of giving us a year or two of dualmode LTE+wimax phones, and concentrating on deploying LTE *first* to places that had no wimax at all, instead of just pulling the plug and leaving customers who buy new LTE phones with no meaningful data service in most parts of the country for the next year or two).

Re:No simultaneous voice and data with the iPhone (1)

petermgreen (876956) | about a year and a half ago | (#41425257)

GSM networks went through the exact same hardware problem 10 years ago when they transitioned from TDMA-based GSM/GPRS/EDGE to WCDMA-based UMTS/HS(D|U)PA(+).

Hmm

My understanding was that UMTS has mostly the same protocol stack as GSM (with a new physical layer) so from the networks point of view there isn't much difference between a phone moving between 2G and 3G than there is with a phone moving between cells. Is that understanding wrong?

Locking was pointless anyway. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41422273)

Realistically, it never made much sense to lock the phones anyway...the customer is already contractually obligated to pay you for service over a long enough period to repay the cost of the phone, or pay an early termination fee that, again, covers the cost of the phone. Locking them to prevent carrier changes was unnecessary.

Words have meanings (2)

Plumpaquatsch (2701653) | about a year and a half ago | (#41422289)

"neither Apple nor Verizon are keen to admit" "Verizon support is apparently confirming to customers that the device is unlocked"

Fuck, why bother?

Over the fence (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41424057)

This might make the device a little more palatable to those on the fence about upgrading

There's no way in hell I'd consider an iPhone an "upgrade."

Did I just read that right?? (0)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about a year and a half ago | (#41426603)

One of the worlds newest phones uses *GSM*??

While we sufficiently technically advanced to not require hill beacons for communication are in the middle of deploying 4G...

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