1. FollowingChrist's Avatar
    Hi,
    I am new to the forum and am new to IPhones but have a question(s) to ask in general about unlocked phones. If I have an IPhone with AT&T does it need to be unlocked before it can be used with any carrier or is it automatically unlocked? If I have a Verizon IPhone that is clean esn what does clean esn mean? Can it be used with any carrier? Can an unlocked Sprint IPhone be used with any carrier? In other words what is the difference between carriers? Is there a difference between clean esn and unlocked? Is a Verizon IPhone locked into Verizon or can it be used with Sprint for example as well? I know this is a complex question and I apologize if I am too vague

    God bless,
    Caleb Jefferies
    Nakia Johnson1 likes this.
    02-20-2015 07:12 PM
  2. warcraftWidow's Avatar
    An AT&T 5S would need to be unlocked unless you paid full price for it, in which case it should be unlocked. It could then be used on any other GSM carrier (T-Mobile in the US). LTE may or may not work depending on the frequency bands the other carrier uses for LTE.
    A Sprint 5S is not unlocked and they are very stingy about unlocking it. If you have an account in good standing, it is possible they may unlock it for use on international gsm carriers only. It could theoretically be used on Verizon, but Verizon won't provision CDMA (what is used for voice and 3G data) on any phone not originally sold for their network.
    A Verizon 5S would be unlocked and could go to any GSM carrier with the same possible restriction on LTE as above. It could theoretically be used on Sprint but like using the Sprint phone in Verizon, they just won't do it.
    Not quite sure on ESN but I think that is just how Verizon identifies a phone in their system and can flag it if reported lost or stolen.
    FollowingChrist likes this.
    02-20-2015 07:49 PM
  3. kch50428's Avatar
    Not quite sure on ESN but I think that is just how Verizon identifies a phone in their system and can flag it if reported lost or stolen.
    correct... A "clean" esn/meid means it's not reported lost/stolen or isn't otherwise on a past-due account or one that's purchased on subsidy and not able to be activated on other accounts.
    FollowingChrist likes this.
    02-20-2015 08:03 PM
  4. FollowingChrist's Avatar
    Thanks a lot for the quick response guys. So GSM is a universal network more or less except for Sprint? A Verizon IPhone is basically automatically unlocked to GSM? Can a unlocked IPhone work on T-Mobile too? Are Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile all GSM carriers? What is the difference between CDMA and GSM? Does CDMA take SIM cards and GSM not? When a carrier, say AT&T for example, unlocks their phone why was it locked into the carrier in the first place? Couldn't you just take the SIM card out of another phone and stick it in that phone and it would work or are SIM cards programmed to the specific phone they came from? Are Verizon phones automatically unlocked? Again thanks. I know about nothing and just have so many questions to ask
    02-20-2015 09:03 PM
  5. metalchick719's Avatar
    I have one small thing to contribute to this conversation: absolutely avoid the Sprint iPhone like the plague unless you're with that carrier! One of my best friends got a Sprint iPhone 4S for her son awhile ago (either sometime last year or the year before). I don't know how, but he was using it with no problem on their family plan on T-Mobile...up until the last week and a half. He updated it to iOS 8 and that locked the phone back up. If you were to get a Verizon iPhone 5S, those are GSM unlocked so you would be able to use it on any GSM carrier or MVNO. Same for an unlocked AT&T iPhone or unlocked T-Mobile one. Verizon is a CDMA carrier, but a Sprint iPhone wouldn't work on Verizon, as far as I know.

    Just my two cents.
    FollowingChrist likes this.
    02-20-2015 09:45 PM
  6. warcraftWidow's Avatar
    Verizon and sprint use CDMA for voice and 3G data. Does not use a SIM. For LTE, Verizon and sprint have a SIM.
    T-Mobile and AT&T use GSM for voice, 3G data and LTE.
    If a phone is locked, it means that you cannot just swap the SIM out for one from a different carrier.
    02-20-2015 11:11 PM
  7. FollowingChrist's Avatar
    I have a IPhone 4s Sprint that is unlocked(I actually have one I am fixing). Could it be used with Verizon? Is the IPhone 4s LTE capable? It has a SIM card.
    02-21-2015 09:12 AM
  8. kch50428's Avatar
    I have a IPhone 4s Sprint that is unlocked(I actually have one I am fixing). Could it be used with Verizon? Is the IPhone 4s LTE capable? It has a SIM card.
    No, any device OEMed for Sprint can not be used on Verizon. Nor is the inverse possible.
    02-21-2015 09:23 AM
  9. warcraftWidow's Avatar
    I have a IPhone 4s Sprint that is unlocked(I actually have one I am fixing). Could it be used with Verizon? Is the IPhone 4s LTE capable? It has a SIM card.
    The 4S is not LTE capable. And the SIM would be used for GSM networks. However Sprint usually only unlocks the SIM for international use so I would be very surprised if it worked on AT&T or T-Mobile.
    02-21-2015 10:53 AM
  10. FollowingChrist's Avatar
    So it being unlocked just means in the US that it can be used on only Sprint's network or can it be used on any GSM network? Is there any place where I can find out 'how' unlocked it is. Is there any chance this IPhone could be used on any GSM network?
    02-21-2015 11:01 AM
  11. metalchick719's Avatar
    The 4S is not LTE capable. And the SIM would be used for GSM networks. However Sprint usually only unlocks the SIM for international use so I would be very surprised if it worked on AT&T or T-Mobile.
    Not sure how at all, but my friend's son's Sprint 4S worked fine on T-Mobile until he updated to iOS 8. Of course, my friend's boyfriend warned them against getting that phone because he knew what would eventually happen.
    02-21-2015 02:13 PM
  12. natasftw's Avatar
    So it being unlocked just means in the US that it can be used on only Sprint's network or can it be used on any GSM network? Is there any place where I can find out 'how' unlocked it is. Is there any chance this IPhone could be used on any GSM network?
    They've answered that first question for you several times. It's pretty much exactly how it sounds. A phone gets "locked" to a carrier. Unlocking it allows it to be use by different carriers. Stop focusing so much on Sprint and Verizon. You've been told those are CDMA carriers that work differently. Locking is a term specific to GSM.

    Instead of asking 30 questions that help you eventually get to your answer, why don't you ask us exactly what you want to know. If you don't already have a device, you're looking to purchase one for a carrier. What carrier? It appears you want LTE. That means you'll want to look at devices 5 or newer. If you already have a device, the easiest way to tell if it can be accessed by a network is to slide the SIM card in and see what happens.

    Here's a cheat sheet for you:

    Sprint - can only be used by Sprint.
    Verizon - can only be used on Verizon or GSM networks (AT&T, T-Mobile).
    Other - if paid in full, can be unlocked by the carrier to be used on other carriers. Otherwise, can only be used on the carrier it was originally on.

    CDMA - no SIM (The 5 and newer will use a SIM for LTE data)
    GSM - SIM

    Given that cheat sheet, you have the Sprint 4S. It's not LTE capable. It's locked from US GSM networks. Is there any chance? Minimal, at best.
    02-21-2015 07:38 PM
  13. FollowingChrist's Avatar
    Thanks so much natasftw, you explained it very well. With my IPhone 4s when I bought it on Ebay it had a Simple Mobile SIM card in it the previous owner could not get out(You could see he had been trying to get the tray out like a sliding door.) Simple Mobile runs on T-Mobiles network. I have a friend that has a T-Mobile phone which is where I could get a SIM to test it but my dad worries it will mess something up in the SIM when we switch phones and when it goes back into the phone it came from it will not work right. Is this nothing to worry about? One more question. Will all the features of the previous phone, such as internet, texting, and voice calls work on the test device if it is unlocked?
    Thanks so much,

    God bless,
    Caleb Jefferies
    02-22-2015 08:22 AM

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