How to perform a carrier unlock on an iPhone 4S
I just unlocked the phone through AT&T's unlock website and received an email confirmation. I have backed up and restored the phone in iTunes and received the "Congratulations, your iPhone has been unlocked" message. My question is, can I use my unlocked iPhone 4s with any of the following carriers: T-Mobile (GSM) Metro PCS (GSM) Verizon (CDMA). Aug 17, · The Verizon and Sprint versions of the iPhone 4S are programmed to predominantly operate on CDMA networks. They can be 'unlocked' for .
Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. It only takes a minute to sign up. Connect and share knowledge within a single location that is structured and easy to 4z. I have backed up and restored the phone in iTunes and received the "Congratulations, your unloked has been unlocked" message. They're using T-Mobile's signal, which works with my 4s. You won't be able to use it on any Ann networks.
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Apr 26, · If your account meets requirements, the carrier can unlock certain models of iPhone so that they can work internationally. These models are still restricted to that carrier in the United States and won't work on any other U.S. carriers. Contact your carrier for more details. Available on iPhone . Nov 21, · Here in the United States, for example, the unlocked iPhone 4S will work on AT&T or T-Mobile, which are both GSM carriers, but not Sprint or Verizon Wireless, which are CDMA carriers. Oct 12, · I am considering an unlocked iPhone 4S (Apple sells in November this year). I would like to have a single device that can make voice calls and integrate well with the other Apple products we have. I do not want to pay $70 or more for voice and data services via the carrier 2-year contract so I plan to use the phone as an ATT GoPhone (Pre-paid.
In this edition of Ask Maggie, I explain why the term "unlocked" doesn't really mean "unlocked" when it comes to the iPhone 4S. But I think the service is too expensive. I unlocked my iPhone 4S a few months ago when I traveled to Europe. Is this true? That doesn't make sense to me! If I cancel my contract and pay the cancellation fee, I should be able to use my phone on other carriers. Please tell me I'm not stuck with Verizon for as long as I have this iPhone!
Dear JD, Here's a short answer to your question. Unfortunately, the iPhone 4S that you bought from Verizon only works on Verizon's network here in the U. This of course is different from most other device launches, where carriers build different devices for different markets and even different carriers, depending on whether they are a CDMA carrier, like Verizon and Sprint are in the U.
In theory, this should mean that a so-called "unlocked" iPhone 4S from any of the three major wireless carriers in the U. Remember it has components that can handle both types of networks. But the reality is that the iPhone 4S is never really "unlocked. This means that it's very difficult, if not nearly impossible, to use an iPhone 4S from Verizon on any other carrier's network in the U. And iPhones sold for other carrier networks in the U.
They can be "unlocked" for international use, which means that certain SIM cards can put in them to get access to foreign carrier's network. Marc Weber Tobias, a contributor to Forbes, wrote back in December that he tried this with a Verizon iPhone he purchased at full price from Best Buy, but was meant for the Verizon network. He explained how he had to jump through a series of hoops just to get his device unlocked from Verizon.
But keep in mind that the iPhone 4S is exactly the same in terms of hardware regardless of carrier. Unfortunately, I haven't heard of a way for consumers to change this.
I'm sure some people have tried. But even if you're successful in breaking the lock on the device, there's a good chance that some of the services may not function properly. This means that you may not be able to send or receive text messages or visual voice mail may be broken.
At any rate, it's not an easy hack and it may render your device useless. To sum up, I'm sad to say that if you buy an iPhone 4S from Verizon, you're pretty much stuck using it on Verizon. They use the same network. Dear Maggie, I just discovered your column. Thanks for all the informative stories. Here's my question. I am a Sprint customer with an iPhone 4S. I've noticed that Virgin Mobile, which uses Sprint's network, now offers the iPhone.
Could I cancel my service with Sprint, pay the early termination fee and take my iPhone 4S? After all, don't they use the same network as Sprint? Dear Ray, This is a great follow-up question to the question I just answered from J. As I described in the previous answer, the short answer is "no.
I have to admit as a consumer I find this fact incredibly annoying. You are absolutely correct about the relationship between Virgin Mobile and Sprint. Virgin Mobile is a prepaid brand that uses the Sprint network to deliver service. It's even owned by Sprint Nextel. The only major difference in terms of the service is the fact that Virgin Mobile only uses Sprint's network.
It doesn't have access to any of Sprint's roaming partners, so it's footprint is slightly more limited that Sprint's coverage. And the Virgin Mobile iPhone cannot roam overseas, since Virgin doesn't have any roaming partners.
Other than that, Virgin Mobile uses the exact same radio frequency and the exact same network to delivers services for its customers as Sprint uses to deliver to its subscribers. The short answer to the question is because Sprint and Virgin Mobile would rather lock customers into those services rather than allow customers to decide for themselves if they want a prepaid service or a subscription service. As I explained in the previous answer, even though every version of the iPhone 4S sold in the U.
And that means that Virgin Mobile, even though it's owned by Sprint and uses the same network as Sprint, has its own lock for the iPhone. This prevents consumers from doing exactly what you want to do, which is to take a device that you have paid for and use it on another network, that offers the exact same piece of hardware.
One easy explanation is that Virgin Mobile and Sprint want to keep customers locked into their services. But a Virgin Mobile spokeswoman said there is more to it. She said that none of the phones that operate on Sprint's network can be used on Virgin Mobile. She said that this is largely due to the different back-end systems running each brand of service.
After all, Virgin Mobile is a separate brand. It's also not a brand that was developed by Sprint. It was acquired by Sprint a few years ago. Still, the "locks" the carriers impose on the iPhone 4S seem ridiculous to me.
As I said before, the hardware is exactly the same. The carriers know how these devices will behave on their networks. So there is no worry that bringing this device from another carrier will adversely affect the network. The only reason carriers block other iPhone 4S's from being used on other their networks is because they want to make it more difficult for consumers to quit their service and go someplace else. Carriers are using these software locks to force customers to stick with their service.
They don't want subscribers to be able to bring their own devices or re-use the same exact device from another carrier on their own networks. What this means for consumers is that if they want to switch carriers they have to repurchase the exact same piece of hardware to use it on another network.
Like the early termination fees that lock customers to a particular service, this type of device "locking" is nothing more than a way to quash consumer choice. Unfortunately, the situation isn't likely to get any better when the new iPhone 5 is released. For one, carriers will likely continue to put software locks on their devices.
And this means that one device may not have the componentry to access all 4G LTE networks. Ask Maggie is an advice column that answers readers' wireless and broadband questions. If you have a question, I'd love to hear from you. Please send me an e-mail at maggie dot reardon at cbs dot com.
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Why you can't take your unlocked iPhone 4S to another U. Marguerite Reardon. Unlocked iPhone 4S now working in some T-Mobile network pockets. Discuss: Why you can't take your unlocked iPhone 4S to another U.