For those who travel internationally, a SIM unlocked iPhone from Verizon or Sprint may be the answer

Owning up to its ‘Worldphone’ capabilities, Macworld got the SIM unlock policies from Verizon and Sprint which may make the CDMA phone more attractive than one from AT&T that is SIM-locked.

But there’s a new wrinkle that potentially makes the international-roaming experience better on Sprint and Verizon iPhones than it is on AT&T. Sprint plans to sell the iPhone 4S with its micro-SIM slot unlocked; Verizon’s will be initially locked, but if you’ve been a customer in good standing for 60 days, you can call Verizon and ask for an “international unlock.” (A Verizon spokesperson told me that this is Verizon’s standard policy for all world phones—it’s just the first time it’s manifested itself on an iPhone.)

That’s interesting because for instance the Verizon Droid II Worldphone comes with a locked Vodafone (Verizon’s half parent company) SIM card. If you travel overseas you cannot exchange a local carrier’s SIM, you have to use Vodafone. Verizon may unlock these but it was my understanding that it was up to their discretion. Their policy might be two months old now but that could change on a whim (plus, what is “good standing” – seems shady).

AT&T of course won’t let you put in a local carrier’s SIM card and will charge you their high rates for roaming (though they’ve come down a bit over the past year).

When added to Sprint’s unlimited data plans, ol’ Yellow is looking pretty good, especially for those who travel internationally.

Update: Sprint refuted this claim to Ars Technica and says you will get a Sprint SIM and be charged Sprint Roaming charges, like AT&T.

Unlocked iPhone 4S available in November, only works on GSM networks


It’s interesting that you can’t take your unlocked iPhone 4S over to Sprint or Verizon to enable service, at least explicitly. Also, it appears that you can take your unlocked iPhone 4S over to T-Mobile (Apple says “GSM Networks” but doesn’t mention T-Mobile specifically), but only expect to use the EDGE 2G speeds.  Being unlocked also means swapping out micro SIMs when travelling internationally is possible.

The unlocked iPhone includes all the features of iPhone but without a contract commitment. You can activate and use it on the supported GSM wireless network of your choice, such as AT&T in the United States.* The unlocked iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S will not work with CDMA-based carriers such as Verizon Wireless or Sprint.

If you don’t want a multiyear service contract or if you prefer to use a local carrier when traveling abroad, the unlocked iPhone is the best choice. It arrives without a micro-SIM card, so you’ll need an active micro-SIM card from any supported GSM carrier worldwide. To start using it, simply insert the micro-SIM card into the slot on your iPhone and turn it on by pressing and holding the On/Off button for a few seconds. Then follow the onscreen instructions to set up your iPhone.

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Purported iPhone 4S antenna band compared to GSM and CDMA iPhone 4

Here’s something interesting that appeared in our inbox this evening. According to our tipster SulfoDK, the middle iPhone antenna below will be the new ‘iPhone 4S’ antenna band. It appears to simply be the current CDMA antenna with a SIM card tray cut out in a similar spot as the GSM iPhone 4 (and as such could be faked or prototyped fairly easily). With the amount of advertising on these images and the easy in which it could be faked, we are wary.

But the idea works out on some levels and here’s why: If Apple were to build only one ‘iPhone 4S’ for 2011-2012 season, they could sell what is basically the Verizon iPhone 4 with its worldphone Gobi chip and an added SIM tray to every carrier. It would make sense to keep that overall same antenna design since it already works well on Verizon. Earlier cases seem to indicate the same thing.

For clarification below, the frame on top labelled ’4G’ is the current GSM iPhone 4. They are using ’4G’ in the AT&T/T-Mobile sense.

Top and bottom views below:

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Apple requests safe return of its 3G MacBook Pro prototype

We told you a couple weeks ago about the possibility Apple was testing 3G MacBook Pro designs back in 2007 after a prototype popped up on Ebay recently. After reaching nearly $70,000 in bids, it looks like Apple is stepping in and requesting the device be returned.

A report from CNET today sheds a little more light on the current situation of the seller, who was allegedly contacted by Apple to return the machine to local Apple employees after the company had the eBay listing removed citing copyright, trademark, and IP infringement.

A little more back story surrounding the device and it’s eBay auction also emerged in the report… Read more

AT&T to slash international data roaming prices on July 17th

One of the advantages of AT&T’s GSM iPhones (and iPads) is that they  can roam just about anywhere in the world fairly easily.  For that convenience, AT&T charges a hefty – some would say exorbitant – fee (illustrated above, left).

Today, AT&T has announced a significant (2.5-5x) drop in international fees.

You get 2.5 times the data for $25 which is now set at 50MB.  At the high end, you get 4x the data, 800MB, for $200.  And overages used to cost $5/MB(!!); now it is ‘just’ $10/10MB.

It is still far from cheap and smart travelers will continue to pick up a Mifi, unlock and use a local SIM or just stick to Wifi hotspots.  But it is something, right? Read more

T-Mobile USA: We’re now carrying over a million unlocked iPhones


image via BGR

As AT&T tries to swallow up the American wing of the German telekom, many have wondered whether Apple would allow T-Mobile to carry the iPhone.  Apple’s answer so far is a no*, but that hasn’t stopped T-Mobile customers from adopting iPhones.  In huge numbers.

In a meeting with T-Mobile spokespeople today ahead of the NYC Pepcom event, I received word that there are actively over a million Apple iPhones currently on T-Mobile’s network.  When asked for a breakdown, the spokesman said the majority were pre-iPhone 4 but that a significant amount of people had “taken the scissors” to their T-Mobile SIM cards.  T-Mobile doesn’t currently offer a Micro-SIM solution for Apple’s iPhone 4 so people who want to use the iPhone 4 must modify their SIMs into MicroSIMs.  Those using iPhone 4s also won’t receive T-Mobile’s 3G or 4G data speeds because of the radio differences between the networks.

*Apple started selling unlocked iPhone 4s in the US for the first time earlier this month.

When asked to elaborate further on Micro-SIMs, the spokesman told me they are in the works but there was no time frame for release.  Why not wait until the deal with AT&T is over to make MicroSIMs?  Perhaps we’ll have a little surprise come September.

When asked specifically about the possibility of a T-Mobile USA iPhone, T-Mobile said they have nothing to announce at this time. Read more