Currently Being ModeratedDec 4, 2012 11:27 AM (in response to nichol8)
Verizon will not unlock an iPhone for use with another US carrier - the GSM functionality will work only with non-US carriers - so if you buy a Verizon-model iPhone, you're stuck with them as long as you're in the US. If you want to use T-Mobile, you'll need to purchase an unlocked iPhone, currently only available for certain from the online Apple Store though retail Apple Stores may have them now or soon.
Note that T-Mobile is not a supported carrier for the iPhone, so any issues that may arise will be T-Mobile's to solve. Apple will not be able to help with connection issues or problems with carrier-based features.
Currently Being ModeratedDec 4, 2012 12:09 PM (in response to nichol8)
The Nano-SIM slot on the Verizon iPhone 5 is unlocked and can be used with other US carriers. This is a result of rules placed on Verizon after winning an auction for spectrum in the U.S.
That said, using an iPhone on T-Mobile in the U.S. is, in my opinion, silly. Their network is not fully compatible with the iPhone. There are a number of known problems, including basic features such as MMS messaging, problems activating facetime and iMessage, and the real killer... the fact that you will only get EDGE data speeds in most of the country.
If you don't want to end up with a contract, but actually want the benefits you can get from an iPhone, look into one of the regional / national carriers that offer pre-paid service like Virgin Mobile.
That, or just save yourself a buttload of money... keep whatever phone you're using now and buy an iPod Touch.
Currently Being ModeratedDec 4, 2012 12:20 PM (in response to KiltedTim)
Can you point to documentation on that, Tim? I've seen contradictory information on the point, and while I don't doubt you, I'd like to see concrete information so I can correctly advise people around my place of work when they ask.
Currently Being ModeratedDec 4, 2012 12:25 PM (in response to varjak paw)
I'll have to do some digging. It's been widely reported reported in the tech press, but I haven't tried finding the relevant FCC documents on it myself.
From Information Week:
Verizon Wireless's version of the iPhone 5 already comes with an unlocked SIM card tray (per FCC regulations).
My understanding is that in exchange for the right to purchase spectrum in the U.S. Verizon is not permitted to restrict the use of any new "world phones" to non-US carriers.
Currently Being ModeratedDec 4, 2012 12:29 PM (in response to nichol8)
If you do want to use T-Mobile, then at least buy the model A1428 GSM unlocked iPhone 5. That at least will be compatible with T-Mobile's LTE network as they roll it out (the Verizon phone will not be). Otherwise, you'll effectively be using an iPhone 4 in an iPhone 5 case, as far as network data access goes.
Currently Being ModeratedDec 4, 2012 12:44 PM (in response to KiltedTim)
Thanks. Verizon made so many conflicting statements that I don't trust them pending some sort of official statement, not just reports from the news outlets many of which just quote each other and offer no citation from Verizon themselves. If you happen to come up with anything, I'd be grateful to know about it.
Currently Being ModeratedDec 4, 2012 1:35 PM (in response to varjak paw)
I don't believe Verizon wants it publicised for obvious reasons.
I believe this is the relevant document: http://cfr.vlex.com/vid/network-access-for-block-and-mhz-bands-285369323
Specifically, this section:
(e) Handset locking prohibited. No licensee may disable features on handsets it provides to customers, to the extent such features are compliant with the licensee's standards pursuant to paragraph (b)of this section, nor configure handsets it provides to prohibit use of such handsets on other providers' networks.
This document sets out the rules that must be followed by the carrier that wins the auction for Block C devices in the 746-747 and 776-787 MHz bands. Verizon won that auction and now... low and behold... new devices sold for use on their network are appearing with completely unlocked SIM slots. Not just unlocked for use with foreign carriers...
Currently Being ModeratedDec 4, 2012 1:42 PM (in response to KiltedTim)
Thanks again. That happened in 2008, though, and at least through the iPhone 4S Verizon was still not allowing use of iPhones on other US carriers, so I'm still a bit distrustful of them. Hence if it were me I wouldn't buy a Verizon iPhone if I knew I was going to want to use another US carrier. But perhaps the FCC put pressure on them for the iPhone 5 and all will be well.
Currently Being ModeratedDec 4, 2012 1:48 PM (in response to varjak paw)
The rules for the auction were laid out then. It was only concluded recently... (the government doesn't exactly move quickly on these things)
Personally, I can't see any point at all in someone in the US buying a Verizon iPhone 5 with the intent of using it on a different carrier. There are basically only 2 carrier choices for GSM service... AT&T and T-Mobile. T-Mobile is a poor choice all the way around, and the Verizon iPhone 5 won't work on the AT&T LTE network, so what's the point in that?
I'd be interested to hear from the android community if they are seeing the same thing with the newest phones on Verizon... I'll lay odds they are.
Currently Being ModeratedDec 4, 2012 1:59 PM (in response to KiltedTim)
The big purchase in the Block C auction by Verizon closed in March of 2008:
There may have been an additional auction since, but the rules were adopted in 2007, so they should have applied, I would have thought, but they did not. So again, I'm distrustful, though there might have been some FCC-approved delay in Verizon conforming to those rules.
As you say, though, T-Mobile is a poor choice for iPhone users and will remain so until they roll out an appropriate LTE band, but people do seem to use them regardless.
Currently Being ModeratedDec 4, 2012 2:24 PM (in response to nichol8)
Terrific feedback. Very informative. Sounds like I could do what I propose but with serious limits to the data function of the Iphone. I'll have to weigh those drawbacks.
Thanks for everyones help.