1. iPhone4NL's Avatar
    Hey guys,
    I was wondering if there is an iPhone 5S model sold in the USA that's SIM lock free. (in the US it's a LOT cheaper than here: around 475 euro compared to 699!)
    My aunt is visiting us next month and she could take one with her.
    On the Apple site there is one option to buy a contract free iPhone, but it also mentions T-mobile.
    Does this mean that it is locked on T-mobile? (or is there a way to remove the SIM lock?)
    On the T-mobile site I can only select an iPhone 5S with a contract + 99 dollar.
    I assume that if you pay the full 649 dollar up front that it is an unlocked phone.
    Is there a difference between buying one online or in store?
    Hopefully an American citizen can enlighten me
    Thanks in advance
    10-13-2013 01:38 PM
  2. rdiddy_25's Avatar
    The Verizon iPhone is unlocked. That will probably be the best bet for you
    iPhone4NL likes this.
    10-13-2013 01:59 PM
  3. BreakingKayfabe's Avatar
    Welcome to iMore.

    Buying the contract-free at full retail model iPhone through Apple makes that phone unlocked. Buying it through T-Mobile through their calling plans actually makes it locked to them.
    iPhone4NL likes this.
    10-13-2013 02:00 PM
  4. warcraftWidow's Avatar
    Paying full price at an Apple store for the Verizon, ATT, or tmobile 5S will get you an unlocked phone.
    M.Rizk and iPhone4NL like this.
    10-13-2013 02:33 PM
  5. iPhone4NL's Avatar
    Wow thank for all your replies
    I thought Verizon phones didn't work with GSM but CDMA (or something like that)
    In Europe we only have GSM as far as I know.
    However on apple.com I can only see one option to buy a 5S for full retail price (contract free T-Mobile)
    If I select the 5C or 4S they do have a SIM-lock free option.. strange
    I'll ask her to check it in an Apple Store.
    Thanks again!!
    10-13-2013 03:12 PM
  6. lui22's Avatar
    Welcome to iMore.

    Buying the contract-free at full retail model iPhone through Apple makes that phone unlocked. Buying it through T-Mobile through their calling plans actually makes it locked to them.
    NOT if you pay it all upfront though
    10-13-2013 03:26 PM
  7. lui22's Avatar
    If you buy iPhone for T-Mobile, it will arrive with a nano-SIM card already installed that you can activate by visiting an Apple Retail Store or a T-Mobile store or by calling T-Mobile. When you travel internationally, you can use a nano-SIM card for iPhone 5s from a local GSM carrier. For details on LTE support, see Apple - iPhone 5 - View countries with supported LTE networks..
    10-13-2013 03:29 PM
  8. iPhone4NL's Avatar
    Hmm.. according to the employees at the Apple Store there is no SIM-lock free iPhone 5S currently available.
    I suppose there is no way to remove the SIM lock?
    All US carriers offer the 5S for the same price, so it doesn't make sense to lock them to a specific network...
    Too bad though
    10-13-2013 04:53 PM
  9. warcraftWidow's Avatar
    Hmm.. according to the employees at the Apple Store there is no SIM-lock free iPhone 5S currently available.
    I suppose there is no way to remove the SIM lock?
    All US carriers offer the 5S for the same price, so it doesn't make sense to lock them to a specific network...
    Too bad though
    They might not have any in stock, but the Verizon and tmobile and ATT phones are unlocked of you pay full price.
    10-13-2013 05:21 PM
  10. iPhone4NL's Avatar
    They might not have any in stock, but the Verizon and tmobile and ATT phones are unlocked of you pay full price.
    I'm sorry for all my questions, but the US carrier locking thing is a little strange for an "outsider"
    I've had a quick chat with both T-Mobile and Apple and both say that the contract free T-Mobile 5S is locked to T-Mobile.
    However, Apple says it can be used abroad without unlocking while T-Mobile says it needs to be unlocked..
    I just don't understand what makes the iPhone locked to a carrier or not..
    If I would be an AT&T costumer and I buy an AT&T iPhone subsidized it would be locked, but if I pay the full price it would be unlocked.
    But when you go to an Apple store you get the same device?!
    Does this mean that the phone is locked depending on your payment? (they lock your phone in the store?)

    If you buy the contract free T-Mobile version which comes with a SIM card installed, would that mean I should not use that SIM to activate the phone to prevent locking?
    Just throw the T-Mobile SIM away and insert my own (European) SIM and go through the activation process?
    My aunt has a Dutch T-Mobile nano SIM card, could she use that one to see if the phone is unlocked?

    Again sorry for all the questions, there are a lot of contradictory posts on the internet.
    And nobody wants a nice beautiful phone that cannot be used due to carrier restrictions
    10-14-2013 05:05 PM
  11. warcraftWidow's Avatar
    I'm sorry for all my questions, but the US carrier locking thing is a little strange for an "outsider"
    I've had a quick chat with both T-Mobile and Apple and both say that the contract free T-Mobile 5S is locked to T-Mobile.
    However, Apple says it can be used abroad without unlocking while T-Mobile says it needs to be unlocked..
    I just don't understand what makes the iPhone locked to a carrier or not..
    If I would be an AT&T costumer and I buy an AT&T iPhone subsidized it would be locked, but if I pay the full price it would be unlocked.
    But when you go to an Apple store you get the same device?!
    Does this mean that the phone is locked depending on your payment? (they lock your phone in the store?)

    If you buy the contract free T-Mobile version which comes with a SIM card installed, would that mean I should not use that SIM to activate the phone to prevent locking?
    Just throw the T-Mobile SIM away and insert my own (European) SIM and go through the activation process?
    My aunt has a Dutch T-Mobile nano SIM card, could she use that one to see if the phone is unlocked?

    Again sorry for all the questions, there are a lot of contradictory posts on the internet.
    And nobody wants a nice beautiful phone that cannot be used due to carrier restrictions
    I'll try again. Hope this helps.
    1) any Verizon iPhone 5S is carrier unlocked for GSM and LTE. It is locked to Verizon for CDMA but that won't affect your usage of GSM and LTE
    2) a tmobile phone is unlocked when purchased from the Apple store although they may tell you otherwise. It wouldn't hurt to never activate it on the tmobile network
    3) an ATT phone purchased full price from the Apple store is also unlocked per reports on this forum. Again it won't hurt to never activate it on the ATT network.
    Any of these will work on GSM anywhere.
    But you do need to check the LTE bands in use in your intended country and carrier to see if it lines up with the LTE bands on iPhone 5S (LTE bands are the same in the Verizon, ATT, and tmobile 5S).
    10-14-2013 05:39 PM
  12. trmoney24's Avatar
    I'm sorry for all my questions, but the US carrier locking thing is a little strange for an "outsider"
    I've had a quick chat with both T-Mobile and Apple and both say that the contract free T-Mobile 5S is locked to T-Mobile.
    However, Apple says it can be used abroad without unlocking while T-Mobile says it needs to be unlocked..
    I just don't understand what makes the iPhone locked to a carrier or not..
    If I would be an AT&T costumer and I buy an AT&T iPhone subsidized it would be locked, but if I pay the full price it would be unlocked.
    But when you go to an Apple store you get the same device?!
    Does this mean that the phone is locked depending on your payment? (they lock your phone in the store?)

    If you buy the contract free T-Mobile version which comes with a SIM card installed, would that mean I should not use that SIM to activate the phone to prevent locking?
    Just throw the T-Mobile SIM away and insert my own (European) SIM and go through the activation process?
    My aunt has a Dutch T-Mobile nano SIM card, could she use that one to see if the phone is unlocked?

    Again sorry for all the questions, there are a lot of contradictory posts on the internet.
    And nobody wants a nice beautiful phone that cannot be used due to carrier restrictions
    and people have reported being able to put their t-mobile or at&t sim into a verizon iphone 5s and were able to get LTE. an at&t person also verified they were able to talk and surf at the same time on 4G. So if your cell carrier's LTE service over seas uses the same bands, LTE should work there as well.
    10-15-2013 03:26 PM
  13. iPhone4NL's Avatar
    Thanks again for your answers.
    I just wanted to double check it to prevent ending up with an unusable iPhone.
    And I've also heard that it is hard to buy a Verizon 5S for the full price without being a costumer, but I'll try the T-Mobile one
    What does the contract free T-Mobile mean? I know it's not a 2 year contract, but do you need to fill in a form / become a registered T-Mobile costumer in order to buy it?
    And all the LTE bands match with the European ones except for band 7 (which isn't being used by my provider )
    10-15-2013 04:52 PM
  14. warcraftWidow's Avatar
    Thanks again for your answers.
    I just wanted to double check it to prevent ending up with an unusable iPhone.
    And I've also heard that it is hard to buy a Verizon 5S for the full price without being a costumer, but I'll try the T-Mobile one
    What does the contract free T-Mobile mean? I know it's not a 2 year contract, but do you need to fill in a form / become a registered T-Mobile costumer in order to buy it?
    And all the LTE bands match with the European ones except for band 7 (which isn't being used by my provider )
    You shouldn't need to be a tmobile customer to buy it at an Apple store. And contract free simply means full price just like you would buy a phone in Europe.
    10-15-2013 05:17 PM
  15. lui22's Avatar
    Just buy the tmobile one the apple site clearly say it will come preloaded with an unactivated tmobile sim but you can use any other company
    10-15-2013 06:50 PM
  16. thereus's Avatar
    Just bought the T-mobile without contract using vodafone-nl and it works without any problems. I activated in the Netherlands for the first time. Next week I am going back to the US and will see if it is also working in the US. Do not forget that you have to add sales tax if you buy in US. I was ending up paying 540 for the 16 gig
    11-17-2013 07:01 AM
  17. mfldmike's Avatar
    My Verizon 5s is/came sim unlocked
    11-17-2013 11:15 AM
  18. LP_Belgium's Avatar
    I have the same questions actually.
    But on the apple store site i can select also a sim free iphone.
    So there are 5 options: The ones with a wireless service plan: verzion, att and sprint. And the ones that are unlocked and contract free: there I can choose T-mobile (ships with a t-mobile sim) or SIM-Free (requires a gsm-compatible sim)

    Which one would be the best one for me?
    It seems to me that the sim-free one would be the best, but in these posts this option is not mentioned.
    11-25-2013 11:32 AM
  19. warcraftWidow's Avatar
    I have the same questions actually.
    But on the apple store site i can select also a sim free iphone.
    So there are 5 options: The ones with a wireless service plan: verzion, att and sprint. And the ones that are unlocked and contract free: there I can choose T-mobile (ships with a t-mobile sim) or SIM-Free (requires a gsm-compatible sim)

    Which one would be the best one for me?
    It seems to me that the sim-free one would be the best, but in these posts this option is not mentioned.
    That's because the SIM free versions just showed up on the Apple online site here in the US late last week. So there was no discussion because it wasn't available.
    11-25-2013 11:40 AM
  20. LP_Belgium's Avatar
    Have you bought your iphone now? Which one did you buy and does is work? I also want one from the US and have the same information problem.
    11-25-2013 11:42 AM
  21. LP_Belgium's Avatar
    Interesting!
    So the sim-free version would be the better option for me?
    11-25-2013 11:43 AM
  22. warcraftWidow's Avatar
    Have you bought your iphone now? Which one did you buy and does is work? I also want one from the US and have the same information problem.
    I have one locked to contract to ATT. But certainly in past years many people get the sim free iPhones and I've never heard reported problems that they didn't work.
    11-25-2013 01:21 PM
  23. warcraftWidow's Avatar
    Interesting!
    So the sim-free version would be the better option for me?
    Well assuming based on your username that you are located in Belgium, then yes.
    But since you are buying a US version, I would still suggest that you compare the LTE bands offered on this one with the LTE bands that your intended carrier uses so that you can ensure that it will work at LTE speeds. It will definitely work at 3G gsm speeds because that is only one band worldwide.
    11-25-2013 01:23 PM
  24. LP_Belgium's Avatar
    Well assuming based on your username that you are located in Belgium, then yes.
    But since you are buying a US version, I would still suggest that you compare the LTE bands offered on this one with the LTE bands that your intended carrier uses so that you can ensure that it will work at LTE speeds. It will definitely work at 3G gsm speeds because that is only one band worldwide.

    Thank you very much! This helped a lot
    11-25-2013 01:39 PM
  25. vietalogy's Avatar
    I can confirm that the T-mobile contract free version off apple.com is unlocked. Just received it today and put in my at&t sim and it worked both with at&t and t-mobile sim.
    11-25-2013 08:33 PM

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