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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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  • 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.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      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...)

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

      • by shakezula (842399)
        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...
        • by shakezula (842399)
          Oh damn, I meant iPhone 5, obviously.
        • 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)

        • 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 CDM

        • 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.
        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          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 regu

  • 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.

  • 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? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ClaraBow (212734) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @12:04PM (#41421495)
    From a technical perspective, would this mean that the iPhone 5 on Sprint would be unlocked too? It would be nice.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No, sprint does not use SIM authentication for LTE

  • 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"?

    • 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 (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 thegarbz (1787294)

      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

    • 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.

      • 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 unlimit

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

    • Re:and yet.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by yossie (93792) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @01:05PM (#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.'

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

    Fuck, why bother?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    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."

  • What will they think of next?
    I still don't want one.

  • 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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