What is the difference between SIM-free unlocked iPhone 6/iPhone 6 Plus models and T-Mobile models?

iPhone 6 Plus

Earlier today, Apple finally started selling unlocked SIM-free versions of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in the U.S.

Some readers did not get what was the big deal as the T-Mobile iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models were unlocked and could be used with any carrier. 

They also cost the same starting at $649 for the 16GB iPhone 6 model and $749 for the 16GB iPhone 6 Plus model.

I initially thought that the only difference between the SIM-free unlocked models and the T-Mobile models was that the later came with T-Mobile SIM, which wasn’t a big deal as you could remove the SIM and use a SIM from your preferred carrier.

Looks like I was wrong like many blogs reporting about the unlocked iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus launch (thanks to our reader for pointing it out). The T-Mobile and SIM-free unlocked models are different. From Apple’s website:

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.

So what does it mean?

The T-Mobile iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus support the following frequencies and bands:

  • CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B (800, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz)
  • UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz)
  • GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
  • LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29)

The unlocked iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus support the following frequencies and bands:

  • CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B (800, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz)
  • UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz)
  • TD-SCDMA 1900 (F), 2000 (A)
  • GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
  • FDD-LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29)
  • TD-LTE (Bands 38, 39, 40, 41)

As you can see the major difference (highlighted in bold) between the unlocked and T-Mobile models is the support for TD-SCDMA and TD-LTE Bands, which is required to be able to use the devices on the Chinese carriers such as China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom.

According to Apple’s website, the unlocked models supports many more carriers than the T-Mobile models, which is intriguing as the only difference in the frequencies and bands that I can spot seems to be related to China.

So to conclude, if you prefer to use a local carrier when travelling abroad especially to China then it would be prudent to buy the unlocked iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus models from Apple’s online website rather than the T-Mobile iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus models, especially for LTE.

If you’ve been using the T-Mobile iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus while travelling abroad then it would be great if you can confirm if it works on any other carriers that hasn’t be mentioned below.

Carriers supported by T-Mobile iPhone 6 (A1549) and iPhone 6 Plus models (A1522)
United States

  • Aio
  • Alaska Communications
  • AT&T
  • Consumer Cellular
  • Cricket
  • Family Mobile
  • GCI
  • Net 10
  • Straight Talk
  • T-Mobile
  • Union Wireless
  • Verizon

Aruba

  • SETAR

Bahamas

  • BTC

Brazil

  • Claro
  • Nextel
  • Oi
  • TIM
  • Vivo

Canada

  • Bell (including Virgin)
  • eastlink
  • MTS
  • Rogers (including Fido)
  • SaskTel
  • Telus (including Koodo)
  • Videotron

Cayman Islands

  • LIME

Chile

  • Claro
  • Entel
  • Movistar

Colombia

  • Claro

Costa Rica

  • Claro
  • ICE
  • Movistar

Dominican Republic

  • Claro

Guam

  • DOCOMO PACIFIC
  • GTA
  • iConnect

Mexico

  • Telcel

Puerto Rico

  • AT&T
  • Claro
  • Open Mobile
  • T-Mobile

Peru

  • Claro
  • Entel
  • Movistar

Uruguay

  • Antel
  • Claro
  • Movistar

 

Carriers supported by Unlocked iPhone 6 (A1586) and iPhone 6 Plus models (A1524)
United States

  • Appalachian Wireless
  • Bluegrass Cellular
  • Boost
  • C Spire
  • Cellcom
  • Chariton Valley
  • Chat Mobility
  • Defense Mobile
  • MobileNation
  • Nex-Tech
  • NorthwestCell
  • nTelos
  • Pioneer Cellular
  • Sprint
  • STRATA Networks
  • Syringa
  • Thumb Cellular
  • United Wireless
  • US Cellular

Angola

  • Unitel

Australia

  • iiNet
  • Optus (including Virgin)
  • Telstra
  • Vodafone

Austria

  • 3
  • T-Mobile

Bahrain

  • Batelco
  • VIVA
  • Zain

Belgium

  • Base
  • Mobistar
  • Proximus
  • Telenet

Brunei

  • DST

China

  • China Mobile
  • China Telecom
  • China Unicom

Croatia

  • Hrvatski Telekom

Czech Republic

  • O2
  • T-Mobile
  • Vodafone

Denmark

  • 3
  • TDC
  • Telenor
  • Telia

Estonia

  • EMT

Finland

  • DNA (including DNAPro)
  • Elisa (including Saunalahti)
  • Sonera

France

  • Bouygues
  • Free
  • NRJ
  • Orange
  • SFR (including La Poste Mobile)

Germany

  • Deutsche Telekom
  • O2
  • Vodafone

Greece

  • Cosmote
  • Vodafone

Greenland

  • TELE-POST

Hong Kong

  • China Mobile Hong Kong
  • CSL
  • 3
  • SmarTone

Hungary

  • Telenor
  • T-Mobile

Iceland

  • Nova
  • Siminn
  • Vodafone

Ireland

  • 3
  • Meteor
  • Vodafone

Isle of Man

  • Manx Telecom

Israel

  • Cellcom
  • Orange
  • Pelephone

Italy

  • 3
  • TIM
  • Vodafone

Japan

  • KDDI
  • NTT docomo
  • Softbank

Korea

  • Olleh
  • SK Telecom
  • LG U+

Kuwait

  • Ooredoo
  • VIVA
  • Zain

Latvia

  • LMT

Lebanon

  • Alfa
  • Zain

Liechtenstein

  • Orange

Lithuania

  • Omnitel

Luxembourg

  • Orange
  • POST
  • Tango

Macedonia

  • T-Mobile

Malaysia

  • Celcom
  • DiGi
  • Maxis

Mauritius

  • Orange

Malta

  • Vodafone

Moldova

  • Orange

Monaco

  • Monaco Telecom

Montenegro

  • Crnogorski Telekom

Namibia

  • MTC
  • Telecom Namibia

Netherlands

  • KPN
  • T-Mobile
  • Vodafone

New Zealand

  • Spark
  • Two Degrees
  • Vodafone

Norway

  • NetCom
  • Tele2
  • Telenor

Oman

  • Omantel
  • Ooredoo

Philippines

  • Globe
  • SMART

Poland

  • Orange
  • Play
  • T-Mobile

Portugal

  • MEO
  • Optimus
  • Vodafone

Puerto Rico

  • Open Mobile
  • Sprint

Qatar

  • Ooredoo
  • Vodafone

Romania

  • Orange
  • Telekom Romania
  • Vodafone

Russia

  • Beeline
  • MegaFon

Saudi Arabia

  • Mobily
  • STC
  • Zain

Singapore

  • M1
  • SingTel
  • StarHub

Slovakia

  • Slovak Telekom

Slovenia

  • Telekom Slovenia

South Africa

  • Cell C
  • MTN
  • Vodacom

Spain

  • Orange
  • Telefonica
  • Vodafone
  • Yoigo

Sri Lanka

  • Dialog

Sweden

  • 3
  • Comviq
  • Tele2
  • Telenor
  • Telia

Switzerland

  • Orange
  • Sunrise
  • Swisscom

Taiwan

  • APT
  • Chunghwa Telecom
  • FarEasTone
  • Taiwan Mobile
  • VIBO

Thailand

  • dtac
  • True Move

UAE

  • DU
  • Etisalat

United Kingdom

  • 3
  • EE
  • O2 (including Giffgaff)
  • Vodafone
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