Sprint and Verizon to offer iPhone 4S unlocked for use overseas with a micro-SIM card

Sprint and Verizon will offer the iPhone 4S with an unlocked micro-SIM card slot according to information given to Macworld. The iPhone 4S is the first iPhone that can be classed as a world phone which means it has a GSM and CDMA radio. This is particularly useful if travelling overseas where CDMA networks are few and far between.

In simple terms, this means that users of Sprint or Verizon who buy an iPhone 4S and travel overseas will have the ability to install a local micro-SIM card in their phone; to use on GSM networks. AT&T will still offer the iPhone 4S with a locked micro-SIM card slot; which means users can roam on overseas GSM networks but do so via AT&T agreements with local carriers. This leads to a huge increase in call and data charges with this method.

If you use Sprint or Verizon and travel overseas, having an unlocked phone could save you a considerable amount of money. The downside however is that your number will be different when using a local micro-SIM card. Sprint’s iPhone 4S will be unlocked from day one but Verizon will do it on request after 60 days; as long as your account is in good standing.

Source: Macworld


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Reader comments

Sprint and Verizon to offer iPhone 4S unlocked for use overseas with a micro-SIM card


Agreed! This is a huge move for Verizon and Sprint, and is making me think twice about renewing my contract with AT&T...

Sprint! if the coverage in your area is the same for both carriers why would you limit yourself on Big Red and pay more money for it???
*in MY experience sprint coverage is very good anywhere i go. YMMV though.
~Sent from my Sprint Epic 4g

If there was any doubt, that pretty much makes my decision for me. Being able to communicate via the Sprint iPhone while on tour in Europe will save me tons of cash. The number change won't be a big deal. Way to go Sprint. Thank GOD I am not with AT&T since last December.

I'll be very curious to see if you can use a AT&T or T-Mobile PAYG chip in this phone, here in the US. That way, I could switch to Sprint to save money over the long term, and if their coverage is weak in certain spots, I could swap over to use the AT&T/T-Mobile network temporarily.
Very interesting...

If it's true, it's really a great change for international travelers - no more roaming at $1.20 per minute, no need to jailbreak and unlock, or no need to bring along a cheap feature phone with a local SIM...
Just hope it's true.

I was wondering how Verizon was going to handle this. 60 days wait is fine with me. I'll be unlocking the first day that I can.

It definitely emphasizes that there's no perfect carrier. I guess I'll choose simultaneous voice and data (AT&T) over the unlock since I only travel a week or two a year.

When I was ordering my 4s from the Verizon website I was asked whether or not I wanted a world phone instead. I checked yes out of curiosity and my options for my plan now forced me to include Verizon's ridiculous pricing for global roaming/data. Knowing that I really wouldn't be traveling I opted to not add those onto my plan... was super tempting though.
Not sure if it's because I'm a long time customer or if everyone was shown this option with Verizon.

Everyone was offered that. I called and asked customer service about that this morning and they said that option was for people who wanted to travel globally right out the box. You can still add it later or drop a local sim in the slot, which I plan to do.

On AT&T I get texts internationally for free (I can send for 50 cents if I want). I turn off my 3g data and forward my AT&T calls to Google Voice and GV is smart enough to not forward it back if someone calls. So if I have an emergency, I do have a working phone with me.
If someone calls, GV will e-mail and text me the message (with text recognition) so I know they called, so I just check the voicemail the next time I'm on the computer (or if it looks important, specifically go to a computer). And I can call home with Skype or GV from the hotel or if it looks important I can call home for $2.29(?) a minute if I'm miles away from WiFi.
In your case, I'm wondering if they just would have sent you a microSIM with the phone?

So I have a question that I haven't seen the answer to. If I were to buy the unlocked Verizon iPhone, could I put in a AT&T chip and have service through both companies at the same time?

The most absurd thing abut AT&T keeping the iPhone locked is that it really doesn't have any competition in the U.S. They have you under a contract, to start with, then who do they think you'll jump ship for, T-Mobil? As attractive as that prospect is, T-Mobile doesn't have the network and/or coverage that AT&T has.... plus the jury is still out on whether or not T-Mobil may soon become part of AT&T. So, they are only being mean-spirited in not providing an unlocked phone. So, what else is new, after all, they are AT&T?

Although I don't need it, I'm disappointed we still have locked phones. Too bad the carriers can't compete on price and features alone.

The phones are indeed unlocked, but only for international travel. Meaning you can purchase a local international micro sim card and use it in your iPhone, allowing you to take advantage of the low rates in that particular country.

Even though they will be unlocked, I wonder if they will be 100% unlocked. Maybe they will block AT&T and T-Mobile SIMs?

UPDATE via @Engadget:
Our SIM does not come out of the device - I believe the same is true of Verizon's iPhone but you would need to confirm that with them. Customers can sign up for one of our international rate plans and use this phone all over the world. When traveling internationally, there is a setting that must be turned on within the device to connect to GSM. The phone will work with a SIM that is provided within the device out of the box. International voice and data charges are on a pay-as-you-go basis and vary based on the country where the customer is using their phone; a list of rates is available at www.sprint.com/international.

The sim card in both the Verizon & Sprint iPhones 4s are removable. Only AT&T sim card can't be removed therefor forcing you to used there international rates. This is the big advantage Verizon & Sprint iPhone 4s have over AT&T version of the iPhone...You are allowed to remove the original sim and install a local international sim and take advantage of the low rates in that country.

you would have to be a fool to pay apple the full price for unlocked I phone.. If you can get it now unlocked with verizon or sprint...

yes ATT screwed us over for many years :( The have no mercy I have a business account with them even with telling them I will cancel my account the did not want to remove the sim lock... The always blame it on Steve Jobs. But when you call Apple the blame it ATT. The make US customers to Idiots... I just hope the government does not approve the merge with T-mobile...

Unlike AT&T that locks the micro-SIM slot making the phone workable only on AT&T networks, Sprint and Verizon’s services will work more pocket-friendly too.

This is very good work. You have done a lot of homework on this topic and it certainly shows in the way you have represented your material. I enjoyed this article and appreciate your viewpoints.

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