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Verizon-Branded iPhone 5 Ships Unlocked, Works With Other Networks 100

Posted by timothy
from the tab-a-slots-b-through-q dept.
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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Verizon-Branded iPhone 5 Ships Unlocked, Works With Other Networks

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  • Open Access rules (Score:5, Informative)

    by Raenex (947668) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @11:44AM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 22, 2012 @12:01PM (#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.

  • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice@noSPAM.gmail.com> on Saturday September 22, 2012 @12:10PM (#41421521)

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

  • by lukpac (66596) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @12:26PM (#41421663) Homepage
    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"?

  • Not a huge surprise (Score:4, Informative)

    by Overzeetop (214511) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @12:32PM (#41421713) Journal

    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.

  • by Cimexus (1355033) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @12:33PM (#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)

  • by lukpac (66596) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @06:55PM (#41424255) Homepage

    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.

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