Ever since the Let’s Talk iPhone event, when Apple unveiled their hotly anticipated fifth generation iPhone, readers have asked us about network switching, roaming, availability and pricing of the unlocked iPhone 4S etc.. So if you’re one of them, we hope this post answers some of your questions.
We thought that since iPhone 4S was a world phone, which means that it supports both GSM and CDMA network, switching carriers would finally be a viable option with iPhone 4S. But according to the iPhone FAQ on Apple’s website, it is not going to be possible.
If you choose AT&T as your wireless carrier, your iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S will use only GSM cellular technology for voice and data services, and it can roam internationally on 200 GSM carriers around the world.
Here’s another note in a small print on Apple’s website on the Compare iPhone webpage:
CDMA available only if iPhone 4S is sold and activated for use on a CDMA network.
You should also remember that you may not be able to switch network even if you’ve completed your contract obligations. The FAQ says:
The iPhone model you purchase is subject to your wireless service provider’s policies, which may include restrictions on switching service providers and roaming, even after conclusion of any required minimum service contract.
The world phone also doesn’t mean CDMA iPhone 4S user can buy a GSM SIM card in the country you’re travelling, so that you can pay cheap local rates instead of the expensive roaming rates. The FAQ says:
If you choose Sprint or Verizon Wireless as your wireless carrier, your iPhone 4 will use only CDMA cellular technology for voice and data services. An iPhone 4S activated on Sprint or Verizon Wireless will use CDMA technology too, but it also has the ability to roam internationally on GSM networks using the provided GSM micro-SIM.
This is expected as you’ve bought a subsidised CDMA iPhone 4S and hence it is locked to the network. But it will be possible with an unlocked iPhone 4S, but please note that there is no such thing as unlocked CDMA iPhone 4. The FAQ says:
If you have selected an unlocked GSM phone, you will need to acquire a micro-SIM from the supported GSM carrier of your choice and activate it in order to use your iPhone.
Apple revealed earlier today that the unlocked GSM iPhone 4S will be available in November. Contract-free GSM iPhone 4S will also be available in November.
Get iPhone unlocked and contract-free. Coming in November.
The 16GB unlocked iPhone 4S will be available for $649, 32GB unlocked iPhone 4S for $749 and 64GB unlocked iPhone 4S for $849.
Hope this answers all your questions. If you’ve any other questions feel free to drop us a line and we’ll try to answer it.