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iPhone 4S verizon unlocked for overseas use without roaming

161554 Views 183 Replies Latest reply: Apr 6, 2014 7:29 PM by debifromfl RSS
  • Entropee Calculating status...

    Stephen,

     

    You're correct, If the phone is currently on the Verizon network and you want to roam abroad, you can take the existing SIM card out of the iPhone and use a local SIM card if the SIM card slot has been unlocked (the Verizon iPhone 5 being the exception since it comes unlocked, apparently). However, I was using an iPhone 4S that was no longer on the Verizon network while in China. In other words, I could no longer use the phone in the US. So, I still do not understand why I was able to use a SIM card from a CDMA carrier in China but not from a GSM carrier. The only thing I can surmise is that, in order to use a Verizon iPhone 4S abroad (a 4S that is no longer on the Verizon network), a SIM card from a CDMA carrier must be used in the phone - which perhaps would make sense since the phone was originally created for a CDMA network (Verizon). But, as you point out, I guess a SIM card is not necessary in order for the 4S to work on the Verizon network. Anyway, it seems that GSM SIM cards will not work in this phone IF it is no longer connected to the Verizon CDMA network.

     

    Tim,

     

    I owe you an apology. I'm very sorry. It was someone else who was ranting before I left for China, not you.

  • Stephen Longworth Calculating status...

    Entropee, I was thinking along the same lines. Do you know if your 4S was "SIM unlocked" before it was de-activated from the Verizon network?  If it wasn't unlocked by Apple at Verizon's request, then it's still "locked" which may be why the GSM SIM cards didn't work, but it may still allow a SIM card similar to the roaming SIM from Verizon to work. The China Telecom SIM may be similar enough to Verizon's.  NOTE: I'm simply speculating about why the China Telecom SIM worked, I don't really know.

     

    However I am close to certain that the phone remains unlocked unless and untill you actually get Verizon to initiate what Apple for some reason calls "unbricking" . . . not sure how you'd get it unlocked now, if it's off Verizon's network, but there must be a way.

  • Entropee Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)

    Yeah, I had Verizon unlock the SIM card slot a few months ago and confirmed with them that it was still unlocked before I removed it from the Verizon network, just prior to this most recent trip. I also called Apple and spoke with someone in their upper tier technical support department. They said that they could see, from their computer system, that my iPhone 4S was still locked to the Verizon network but that it was possible to unlock it from the Verizon network by connecting the phone to iTunes and restoring the phone. I did this and received a message telling me " congratulations, your phone has been unlocked". Now, I have no idea what this accomplished, but perhaps this was the reason why I was able to use the phone abroad even though it was no longer connected to the Verizon network. I'm also spectulating here, but I'm assuming that, since the phone was made for a CDMA network, it can only work with a SIM card from a carrier on a CDMA network. I had brought the 4S to China with me on a previous trip and I was able to roam and use a carrier there even though I had not changed the SIM card. So there was at least one carrier that seemed compatible with the phone, but I don't remember if I was roaming on China Telecom's network or with another carrier.

  • Stephen Longworth Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Unless your 4S is radically different from mine, which I doubt, I can tell you for sure that an unlocked 4S can connect via a GSM SIM card to whatever carrier has a network in the country you're in.  I use mine all the time when visiting the UK.

    My SIM slot is always empty when in the US, using Verizon's network, but when I get off the plane in the UK I just pop a T-Mobile GSM SIM card, which I purchased in the UK, into the slot and connect within seconds to T-Mobile in the UK and pay local rates for voice and data.

      I'd try connecting to iTunes again and go through the unlocking process. Maybe for some reason it didn't work, even though iTunes said it did.

  • KiltedTim Level 8 Level 8 (36,005 points)

    Stephen Longworth wrote:

     

    Unless your 4S is radically different from mine, which I doubt, I can tell you for sure that an unlocked 4S can connect via a GSM SIM card to whatever carrier has a network in the country you're in.

    This is correct. There is one exception that needs to be made clear, just in case.

     

    The Verizon iPhone 4S, even with the SIM slot unlocked, will never work on any U.S. carrier other than Verizon. it will not work on AT&T, T-Mobile in the U.S. etc. It will work in the US if you have a non-U.S. SIM card in it. In other words, a UK T-Mobile SIM in an "unlocked" Verizon iPhone 4S will allow it to work, but you'll have to pay international roaming fees.

  • Entropee Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)

    Yes, Tim. I agree with you. I do have a couple of questions, however. I am assuming that what both you and Stephen have written above applies only to an iPhone 4S that is currently connected to the Verizon network, yes? Once it is taken off the Verizon network, as mine is, it would no longer work with GSM networks in either the US or abroad, correct? Although I've only tested this out in China, it seemed like I was unable to connect to any GSM networks using a SIM card. Perhaps this is something that involves the networks in China?

  • Stephen Longworth Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Entropee, as I understand it, a 4S that is no longer associated with a Verizon account AND is SIM unlocked will certainly work with any GSM SIM card and network.  It makes no sense that the ability to work on a GSM network would be deactivated when the Verizon phone is delinked from a Verizon account. It makes no sense technically or economically. Once you've deactivated your Verizon phone and settled with Verizon financially they have no further interest in what you do with the phone or what you use it for. In effect it would mean that the once unlocked iPhone was somehow re-locked at the point of departure from Verizon.  I suspect something entirely different is/was going on with your 4S in China.  IF you ever get out of China again, simply buy a cheap SIM card in some other country and see if it works.  Or double check that the 4S is indeed unlocked by calling Apple again and have them verify from their end.

  • KiltedTim Level 8 Level 8 (36,005 points)

    Entropee wrote:

     

    Once it is taken off the Verizon network, as mine is, it would no longer work with GSM networks in either the US or abroad, correct?

    No. It will never work with any US carrier other than Verizon. It will work on any compatible GSM network outside of the US IF you had the SIM slot unlocked for roaming before you terminated your Verizon service.

  • Entropee Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)

    Thanks Tim. That's strange then because I did have the SIM slot unlocked (I confirmed this twice with Verizon) and yet my 4S didn't seem to work with any GSM carrier in China (well, at least the 2 that I tried). It would only work with a CDMA carrier. I'm not sure what this means.

  • KiltedTim Level 8 Level 8 (36,005 points)

    Not having a Verizon phone, I'm not sure if it's possible to force it to use GSM. Verizon is a CDMA carrier. My understanding when the 4S first came out was that it would always give precedence to a CDMA network if one was available.

  • Meg St._Clair Level 8 Level 8 (37,475 points)

    KiltedTim wrote:

     

    Not having a Verizon phone, I'm not sure if it's possible to force it to use GSM. Verizon is a CDMA carrier. My understanding when the 4S first came out was that it would always give precedence to a CDMA network if one was available.

    When it first came out, you were forced to use CDMA in countries in which Verizon had roaming agreements even if you had it unlocked and had a local SIM. I've forgotten which upgrade included the ability to turn off that "feature". However, you are correct in that, in the U.S., CDMA will always have precedence.

  • Reddles Calculating status...

    Can anyone give me any input on to why my unlocked verizon iPhone 4s is not working on the Telstra network here in South Australia?

  • deggie Level 8 Level 8 (44,870 points)

    Did Verizon respond to you directly with a message when you went through their unlock process? Did you follow the instructions you received in that message?

  • Reddles Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    This was the message I received after asking them if they did indeed unlock my iPhone 4s

     

    "I certainly understand how important it is to stay connected while you are traveling outside of the US. My name is Cassie and I will be happy to pick up where Amy left off regarding your account.

     

    Verizon Wireless works with several of our manufacturers to provide options for using third party international SIM cards with your Verizon Wireless device. Since there are generally several carriers located in more than 200 countries which may potentially utilize our phones, we are not able to keep a list of SIM cards that we will work with our devices.

     

    At this point in time, I would actually recommend reaching out to Telstra directly for assistance with their SIM card. If you attempted the activation through iTunes when you received the error, you may also want to contact Apple for additional support with their device. The only thing Verizon Wireless can do in this situation is unlock your phone which I have confirmed was done."

  • deggie Level 8 Level 8 (44,870 points)

    Did you connect your iPhone to your computer, Restore it as new, and get a message, "Congratulations, your iPhone is now unlocked?"

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