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?…