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will a US iphone5 work in south korea? will a south korean iPhone 5 work in the US?

39100 Views 83 Replies Latest reply: Apr 2, 2014 7:42 PM by Takdriver6 RSS
  • robinsle Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    When I first came here they wouldn't even sell a foreigner an iPhone. Seriously. I think someone at apple stepped in on that one after a series of very vocal complaints.

  • chuckishere Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    robin,

    I went to the Gangnam Service Center, talked someone from SK Telecom's Data Services dept, and Apple's support here in Korea. I still don't have LTE.

     

    I don't have an ARC card (yet), so actually a friend is helping me out with this as well.

     

    The Apple Support and the SKT data person were trying to be helpful. They actually wanted me to try some stuff, and asked me to follow up with them because they want to know the answer.

     

    I told them I had a "friend" who was able to get LTE on SKT with the same Verizon iPhone. They asked me for their IMEI or other identifiers so they could look it up to see if it was set up differently from mine. I told them I didn't have that information, and that my "friend" was no longer using SKT and wasn't on LTE anymore.

     

    The lady at the service center just ran through her regular diagnostics and then told me that there was nothing more she could do. It was the phone's fault, apple's fault, but she had done everything. I persisted and told her that my phone's LTE works fine. I've reset all network settings. It is either my phone's settings or SKT's setup of my phone is faulty. She eventually called the data services where a more helpful girl tried to help me out. We did the troubleshooting, but eventually she came to believe my situation. She's contacted Apple support a few times. Even Apple Korea's support has a case number for me, but they are telling me Verizon's phone can't do LTE on their network, etc. Which is all not true.

     

    According to Apple Korea, my Verizon iPhone 5 is locked or there is some carrier restriction that Verizon needs to free up. I will call Verizon (tonight / tomorrow) to figure that out.

     

    Only other solution may be to try doing a restore on my iPhone to return it factory settings and see if that helps it set the "profile" etc correctly.

     

    I am doing the restore right now -- figure I could do this before calling, because from my understanding Verizon's iPhone is FULLY unlocked. However, I do know that it is unlocked for gsm / sim usage but there are definitely carrier differences (I can't access the APN settings on Verizon's iPhone).

     

    I don't want to be the guy with the iPhone 5 on a 3G connection. I will keep you posted. Hopefully I find a resolution and this can help some other foreigners getting their LTE up and running on their iPhone 5.

  • chuckishere Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Okay. The RESTORE iPhone worked. This isn't a factory reset, but a factory restore (done by connecting your iPhone to you computer, clicking on iPhone inside iTunes, then clicking "Restore iPhone..."

     

    This WILL erase everything, so please back up.

     

    When my iPhone first started up, I chose my language and location as South Korea. I don't know if that changes anything, but I figured it wouldn't hurt (since those can be changed via menu later). Within seconds the setup LTE popped up right next to SKT.

     

    WOOHOO!

     

    One thing. Even after restoring my backup, I'm not seeing some of my apps. I think they need to be re-downloaded. Boo. Just an inconvenience.

     

    --

     

    UPDATES and other helpful notes

    - FREE WIFI HOTSPOTS -- If you are using SKT or KT most of their plans that include data have free wifi (on subways and all over) when you connect to T-wifi or Olleh respectively. These are security protected wifi zones that need you to register your MAC address at the service center. The little stores (dae-ri-jum) tend me less knowledgeable. It is better to go directly to the main service center like the one in GangNam. Set this up as it will mitigate data usage.

    - Yea, I restored and got my backup so all my data is here but the apps did not install so manually needed input it. Also surprisingly my iCloud backups were gone. Becareful and always do a hard backup!

     

    Hope this help!

  • robinsle Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Nice work. I never had to go through the hard reset. But I purchased my handset outright from verizon and immediately cancelled service. This was before the 5 was released in Korea so maybe they changed some "rule". Anyway, this is a great moral. DO NOT TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER in Korea. As you found out customer service here is very very polite but blissfully ignorant of anything outside the box.

    One thing that might have changed is when i initially got LTE I had that problem where everything i was doing over wifi was being counted against my LTE. There was a firmware fix for this from verizon initially. I just changed to unlimited 3G just to not have to hassle with it. This might be why the reset is necessary?

    Please post a picture of LTE working on your phone if you can. Like the one earlier in this thread.

    Question. Did you have to change to the korean itunes store? You don't want that.

  • robinsle Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    The free wifi hotspots are everywhere in Seoul. I have a friend here who pretty much gets by using only those and doesnt even use cellular data. I never use them because I have the unlimited 3G.

  • chuckishere Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Yea, regardless of whether you purchase your phone outright, the Verizon model should be unlocked. I think the only time it may be locked or problematic is if your account is delinquent or phone is stolen.

     

    I'll monitor my wifi vs LTE usage, but I think that issue is resolved as you said. I think the Restore iPhone worked, because the carrier settings were conflicting (APN, OMD, etc). So doing a factory restore allowed local carrier settings to be freshly pushed on to the phone (while installing a window asked to push those carrier settings).

     

    One good thing is that since my data was backed up. Even though I need to organize my apps and reinstall, I don't have to re-login / authorize all my apps (a pain if you have Google 2 Step verification set up). So re-installing Google apps and dropbox, etc. All work without re-logging in from backed up data.

     

    Nope! American iTunes entact. I know there are limits / differences with Korea's iTunes account. Although I heard you can log in / out of both to gain access to some apps that are only in Korea.

     

    Here is a screen capture of LTE working on my Verizon iPhone 5.

    xllhHxTBsqApPewK7PMlaCd4QLEyeUPScb_y1GELdPU.png

     

    Now I'm wondering when the iPhone 5S comes out next month if it will be able to use the LTE-A. Haha, that is a problem / issue for another day though. Thanks again robinsle! I appreciate all your help.

  • execcomp Calculating status...

    Good for you!!!

     

    I bought my Verizon Iphone 5 in January, and brought it back to Korea.

     

    I chose a LTE plan from SKT and LTE didn't work.

     

    I was only able to use 3G service, and I thought it's not a big deal, as I stay in Seoul only couple days a month.

     

    But then, my friend told me his Verizon Iphone 5 from US can use LTE in Korea and HK.

     

    So I tried my phone also in HK using my friend's SIM card, but it won't work.

     

    I went back to Korea and spent hours and hours talking to SKT customer service, the one in Gangnam and in Yongsan, Talking to Apple Support in Korea, visited three Apple authorized service centers, but no one was able to solve the issue. All they said was, as you mentioned earlier, that it's the hardware problem. I got a lemon from Apple.

     

    I tried all factory reset, factory restore, netweork restore, and every possible steps, but nothing worked.

     

    I am trying to get a refurb when I get back to States next month. What a pain in the ***.

  • chuckishere Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Most likely the carrier settings are not being pushed to your phone. When you're doing the factory restore (the one where you have to be connected to the computer via iTunes), you need to make sure carrier settings are freshly pushed to your phone. The reason why my phone wasn't working is because the (APN, OMD) were conflicting (SKT vs Verizon). Make sure you connected it to iTunes, backup, factory restore, and carrier settings were installed properly.

     

    Did you ever use LTE in the U.S.? I would review what you mean when you say factory reset? vs factory restore? vs network restore? The ones in the iPhone menu are different from what you do when you connect it to iTunes with a computer to factory restore. That is the only way mine was able to get SK LTE. It literally worked right when it booted. They tried to tell me that some areas LTE coverage is weaker / hardware difference in models. This is not true.

     

    If you are still in Korea, I could help you troubleshoot. SKT, Apple, etc. will usually point the finger and tell you that it is not their fault. If your LTE works in the states, then it IS NOT a hardware problem. Period.

  • RajaRani Level 4 Level 4 (1,395 points)

    Try the following as already suggested by chuckishereabove:

     

    1. Backup in iTunes
    2. Restore in iTunes to current iOS again, Setup as New
    3. Select location and language as Current, Korean.
    4. Observe working including of LTE

     

    iTunes Store and Language can be changed subsequently.

     

    Cheers

  • execcomp Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thank you so much for your reply.

     

    Yes I used LTE in US for about ten days right after I bought this Iphone. And tht's why when LTE didn't work for SKT when I first bought SKT LTE plan, I ruled out the possibility of hardware issue, and thought there's something beyond my Iphone level that's preventing the LTE to work in Korea. Until I saw my friend's Iphone being capable of using SKT LTE.

     

    After reading your post, I tried to restore Iphone from Itunes, but I cannot get it to work. Whenever I try to restore the following message pops up.

     

    There was a problem downloading the software for the iphone " My iphone". The requested resource was not found.

     

    I am not sure why I see this message.

     

    And, thank you for your offer but now I am China.

  • chuckishere Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    That error you are getting is specifically a downloading problem. Most likely means there is a problem with Apple's server or you are having trouble because of China's firewall.

     

    I would try again later. Good luck.

     

    The other good news is that you are in China. China has actual apple stores. Korea doesn't. You could always try there.

  • Takdriver6 Calculating status...

    Chuck, I just got to Korea (Yongsan area) last week and ran into the same problem (3G only) when I set up my Verizon 5s here on KT. I went through the steps you outlined, but when I restore it still is only 3G and I am not prompted to push carrier settings. Any ideas on what I'm doing wrong? I know that you are on SKT, but it should work the same on KT right?

     

    The only other thing I can think of is that I signed up for the unlimited 3G plan and because of that they locked my phone out of LTE. Could that be the case?

     

    Thanks.

  • chuckishere Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hey Takdriver6,

     

    Some questions:

    1. Take your phone to the KT Global Store. robinsle recommended this. Even for me, I took it to the main SKT service center and they were able to try more things. Just go with everything backed up and tell them to factory reset your phone.
    2. Does your phone's 3G work? Sorry, I was a bit confused. You need to sign up for LTE plan to get LTE. I would sign up for a LTE plan to test and change after. I think they have a term in which you can change your plan without penalty.
    3. Did you purchase it at full price from Verizon / Apple Store? iPhone 5 and 5s come unlocked from Verizon at full price. But when you are going overseas, it is good to check with them.

     

    I just received a Verizon 5s. I haven't had a chance to activate it yet. I'll post here once I get my iPhone 5s running. There shouldn't be any difference between 5 and 5s.

  • Takdriver6 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Here is what happened so far:

     

    Yesterday I was in the shop on base and purchased a SIM card. I had read this thread before I left the US so I knew I should be able to get LTE so I asked them to try. The lady helping me said she would try but she didn't think it would work. She supposedly tried to get LTE and showed me that it was only on 3G for what that's worth. So I just bought the 3G plan thinking I would do more research and continue trying. I suppose it didn't work in the store because the verizon carrier info was not reset. Maybe if I go back in the the global store as you suggest it will work now. 3G does work fine and my phone is unlocked and free from contract at Verizon.

     

    I did attempt factory restore from iTunes 3 times but was never prompted to push carrier settings.

  • chuckishere Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Just went to SK during lunch. My Verizon iPhone 5s is activated and running LTE.

     

    How are you attempting the factory restore? Don't restore from a backup. Make sure it is a full factory restore. The only other thing I can think of is that your APN settings are not correct. You should get all the prompts like when your phone was turned on for the first time. The fact that your phone works on 3G means that everything is working.

     

    I would take it to the global store and make sure they put the correct APN settings in. This was not done properly for me the first time I went to a smaller store. Those settings can be pushed automatically (as part of carrier settings) or can be entered manually.

     

    I would switch your plan to LTE first though. There is no way to verify if LTE works or not without having a LTE plan.

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