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

38849 Views 83 Replies Latest reply: Apr 2, 2014 7:42 PM by Takdriver6 RSS
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dnegreiro Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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Sep 13, 2012 12:22 AM

I am in south korea for a few months and i wanna buy the iphone 5 but i want it to work in the states when i return. My current iphone4 does not work in korea. i heard an iphone 4 purchased in korea will work in the states but not the other way around.

  • KiltedTim Level 8 Level 8 (35,840 points)

    Since there is currently no unlocked iPhone 5 available in the U.S., unless you want to pay International roaming fees to the US carrier, no.

     

    iPhones sold (legitimately) in South Korea are either unlocked or eligible for unlocking if you meet the carrier's requirements according to this: http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1937 so you could use it with a US carrier (the only supported US GSM carrier is AT&T) assuming you had it legitimately unlocked.

  • robinsle Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I have same and question and have been doing research although have not been able to find out anything definitive.

    The Verizon/Sprint phone is CDMA. MAny carriers in South Korea use CDMA. Also this phone contains the same LTE bands that are used in South Korea. I don't know if there is something that still inhibits its use other than the availability of a nano-sim(which is new). You could start the contract and pay the cancellation fee to get the phone. or you can buy this model of phone from Cricket on the 28th. I know its the CDMA model because they piggy back on Sprint. I don't know enough to know why the phone would not work in korea. I have some collegues that brought their phone from U.S. and use them here. What carrier was your phone on in U.S? I assume AT&T?

  • robinsle Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    This sounds like possible good news:

    http://www.extremetech.com/electronics/136199-iphone-5-a-confusing-mess-of-netwo rk-support

     

    It remains to be seen if there is transference of LTE from the Verizon/Sprint phone to KT/SK even though they phones have the same bands. But according to the article you would still be able to use it with a 3G network, so as long as a nano-sim is available it should work. It has been my experience, however, that you have to jump through hoops to get Koreans to understand this info, and they will tell you that it doesnt work even when presented with info.

    If you want to ask, they have a foregner service that is very good at getting back to you. They may not have the exact answer but you can set the research in motion,

    http://twitter.com/olleh_expats

    http://expatblog.kt.com/

  • DennisKim Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    It works. If it is the A1249 model.(am I right?)

     

    Phones from Hong Kong or Australia Works.

    You can get Nano-SIM from KT or SKT owned shops. Only LTE.

  • robinsle Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I bought the Verizon A1249. I will return to Korea next week and try to get a nano sim. Should work. I'll update at that time

  • braineac Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I got the verizon version as well. Any update on the phone's usability in Korea?

  • Okura_hubby Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    First if you buy an Iphone 5 (outright, no contract) its unlocked from ATT and Verizon, as reported elsewhere.

     

    Second, will it work in Korea. If you buy it outright YES. Basically if you buy it outright without contract its unlocked. So you can go with KT/Olieh when you get here. However using it beyond 3G speed is impossible. The LTE freq's are different. Im using my Iphone 4S (AT&T model I got last October (2011) at the Apple store, which is the AT&T model) no-contract out the door for $500ish and it worked no problem on the KT/Olieh network. You can go with a month to month plan here, where you put up $35 to register it in their network, and about $35 a month for service will get you about 300 txt and 300 min and unlim data. Its a monthly pre-pay plan.. I went with a 1 year contract so I dont have to bother going to pay the phone people in person every month. But then I ended up getting a IPAD (ATT Celldata version) and I pay $20 a month and it was $35 up front to register it for like 2 gig of data.But if you have a service with KT you can use their hot spots which are on the train and most major locations such as malls for free and not eat into your data cap.

     

    If I had to buy an Iphone 5, I would buy the Verizon one.. It has the most frequencies of the two.. A Verizon phone will work on ATT, Tmobile and Vierizon networks. a ATT model will work on ATT and Tmobile.  But we are talking on their slower networks. But Tmobile is moding their network to handle all the "Iphones" on their network to work at 3G..

  • robinsle Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Good info and really useful on the Korean side. However, there are two things that make the Verizon iPhone 5 different than a 4s. The first is that it comes unlocked out of the box. No need to get it unlocked by the company. You can buy it outright and take overseas or cancel your contract, pay the cancelation fee and take it to Korea( which I did today). The second is something I will have to try out next week. The Verizon phone A1249 and the international phone A1249 are identical aside from the CDMA antenna. The LTE band for Verizon and those of KT and SK are the same bands! So theoretically with a Korean nano sim, which I have been told by KT global now exists in Limited quantities, one should be able to use LTE in Korea. I will find out for sure next week and post a conclusion to this thread.

  • Okura_hubby Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Here is the tricky thing about Korea.

    When I got here a year ago. I knew my Iphone4S was unlocked. It had not hit the streets here in Korea yet. The place where I get my info from originally told me my phone was not unlocked. But it was. But to make the phone work had to be put into their network (not just sim install) it had to be put into by serial #. Anyway, I took it to a different KT dealer (one on the Military base), and this is what is unique about Korea. They said, $35 to try, if not work, you are stil out $35.

     

    Since then, I been talking to the original KT place for the entire year, I was looking at getting KT as my home internet provider if I stayed a 2nd year. Then I would have gotten Fiber to the house with blistering speeds. Anyway with the Iphone5 coming out I talked to him about it. Mostly when they would get, and how outside phones would work on it. He told me that 3G connection no problem. LTE is going to be the problem due to differences in networks and require a specially tooled Iphone5. A troop of mine just got here, she had a Samsong phone that was from ATT and was supposidly LTE capable. Again as I was told $35 and we can see, no refund. She ended up getting a Galaxy II something that was 3G.. because it was cheaper to get that phone vs the attempt on her old phone.

     

    If it does work with LTE, please advise, so I can relay to the two KT shops here that I deal with as they deal with 100's if not 1000's of American customers who have various phones from states. I am really curious if the LTE Works.

     

    As for your statement about the International Iphone5 and the Verizo Ipone5. I saw a post somewhere showing the various frequences in the phone. The Verizon model had more than the International one. Both had some unique coverages that were not duplicated with each other but both had a majority. i woudl say they had 85-90 percent identicle frequences but there was 10-15 percent difference.

     

    The key thing I can tell you is when you UNDO the process to leave Korea and go home, is to make sure you stop by the KT shop and have them remove it from their "database" network so it becomes "unlocked" again. If not that phone could become locked to their network. Not sure that makes sense but that was what was key in making it work here, is they put my phones serial in their database.

  • robinsle Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Look at this link. http://www.apple.com/iphone/LTE/

    The Verizon model and international model both have bands 1, 3, 5. KT and SK use these bands. I know how big of a pain it is to convince people in Korea. The KT global center I've been in contact with seems to be promising it will be okay. But it remains to be seen. t the very least ill be able to use 3G and wifi everywhere.

  • robinsle Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    The Verizon iphone 5 does indeed work on South Korean LTE networks. Went to SK telecom today. Bought nano sim. Put it in and have full LTE coverage no problems. I went with SK because we have family service plan with them already; however, if you are a foreigner and don't have a korean to help you through the process i would reccomend KT telecom global centers. I stopped by after getting my phone connected at SK and had a chat with them and have been informed several people have done this there as well. The guy even told me of I'd be willing to sell my phone he knew people that would pay over $1500 dollars for it! Anyway here's a photo for proof....

     

    IMG_4354.jpeg

  • gravityron Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thank you so much for this information~!  This is EXACTLY what I have been looking to know.  Thank you soooooo much.  The iPhone 5 with GSM (SIM) and LTE in Korea AND CDMA and LTE in America.  Now, off to buy the Verizon iPhone 5 (A1429).

  • gravityron Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thank you for at least trying.  I have read many of your posts throughout the boards, you are always so ... helpful.

  • braineac Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks for the info! I was successful today in activating iphone 5 (verizon) at kt olleh next to the US embassy.

    At first the workers told me it wont work, but I convinced them to try it and everything worked out perfectly, including getting LTE!

    So if you get an iphone 5 from verizon, i can assure you that it will work in korea as well as get lte coverage with the purchase of a nanosim card.

    Also, I was informed that currently only the kt store next to the embassy and one in gangnam carry nano sims at the moment.

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