unlocked Stories October 9, 2015

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PSA: Apple’s iPhone 6s CDMA spec change makes AT&T’s model its best worldphone

When Apple introduced the iPhone 6s at its September 9th special event, it billed the new model as the “best phone for traveling around the world,” thanks largely to support for “23 bands of LTE wireless networking.” But that day, the new iPhone’s tech specs page told a more complex story: Apple advertised a seemingly U.S. and Puerto Rico-specific A1633 iPhone 6s with 23 LTE bands (including AT&T’s exclusive band 30) but no CDMA support, while Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and every international carrier outside China got an A1688 iPhone 6s with 22 LTE bands and CDMA support. Clearly, the “best phone for traveling around the world” would be the international A1688 version, right?

Wrong. This week, Apple started selling a SIM-free, unlocked iPhone that works with “any supported carrier worldwide, such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, or Sprint in the United States.” Hidden inside a text link titled “Learn more about the SIM-free iPhone,” Apple notes that the SIM-free iPhone 6s is model A1633 — the AT&T version, not the one sold internationally. How could this make sense?…

unlocked Stories March 31, 2015

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German Apple Stores have dropped Vodafone and O2 contracts for both iPhones and iPads, offering them only with Deutsche Telekom contracts or SIM-free. The change affects only post-paid contracts: pre-paid SIMs remain available on Vodafone. expand full story

unlocked Stories July 3, 2014

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Apple confirmed today that it has released an unlocked variant of its cellular iPad in Japan allowing users to buy the device and use it with their carrier of choice. expand full story

unlocked Stories November 29, 2012

Following our report from this morning, Apple made the much-awaited unlocked iPhone 5 available in the United States on its online store this evening. The unlocked device’s price range is set at $649, $749, and $849 for 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of storage, respectively. Apple has offered an unlocked version of the iPhone 5 in several countries around the world since the device first launched in late September —including Canada and in Europe. However, as it has done in the past, Apple delayed the U.S. unlocked launch.

Additionally, we learned from several retail sources Apple will sell the unlocked iPhone 5 in its chain of retail stores in the coming days—perhaps as soon as tomorrow. The devices have begun arriving in large quantities to Apple stores over the past couple of days.

The unlocked version is GSM only, which supports AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S., and will not work on CDMA bands. If you hate contracts, like swapping the nano SIM, and taking the device abroad is your thing, this is the version of the iPhone 5 for you. To avoid scalpers, Apple is limiting two per customer.

From Apple:

 “The unlocked iPhone includes all the features of iPhone but without a wireless contract commitment. You can activate and use iPhone on the supported GSM wireless network of your choice, such as AT&T in the United States. The unlocked iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 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 does not come with a micro-SIM card for iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, or a nano-SIM card for iPhone 5, so you’ll need to get one from any supported GSM carrier worldwide. To start using it, simply insert the 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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unlocked Stories April 3, 2012

When 9to5Mac brought you the story about Tim Cook convincing AT&T to unlock an iPhone on a customer’s behalf, we knew it would cause a bit of controversy because of AT&T’s questionable unlocking policies. Confusion among consumers regarding inconsistent policies for unlocking iPhones that have finished contractual obligations is nothing new. As witnessed in our original story, the carriers often make special exceptions for some customers while redirecting others to Apple. In many cases, they simply flat-out refuse to unlock iPhones.

It is not clear if AT&T is getting ready for a full-fledged policy change, but it looks like your best shot at getting an iPhone unlocked is by emailing Apple’s chief Tim Cook. A significant number of readers reached out to us since our original story that confirmed AT&T is continuing to unlock iPhones at the request of Cook’s office. expand full story

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