Unlocked iPhone 4S Will Work On T-Mobile

T-Mobile didn’t officially get the iPhone 4S this year. But new claims indicate that the unlocked iPhone 4s, which will be available in the U.S. in November, will work on T-Mobile’s GSM network.

One of the big stories gripping the iPhone newswires today is that the unlocked iPhone 4S, due to be released in November, will not work on CDMA networks. AppleInsider reports that “Customers who buy an unlocked iPhone 4S will be able to use the handset internationally on GSM networks. They must obtain a micro-SIM card from a local GSM carrier to put in the handset.”

While CDMA dominates much of the network technologies for mobile carrier in the U.S., the unlocked iPhone 4S’s ability to work on GSM calls into question whether or not it would work on T-Mobile’s network, which is GSM like AT&T’s network. Apple’s own comments avoid mentioning T-Mobile, when they say: “The unlocked iPhone includes all the features of iPhone but without a contract commitment . . . You can activate and use it on the supported GSM wireless network of your choice, such as AT&T in the United States.” However, an astute reader of the iPhone 5 News Blog has done some research and investigating, and has discovered that the unlocked iPhone 4S will indeed work on T-Mobile.


Joel Grissom, known as Green Joe here on the blog, reported the following at the start of this week, once it became clearer that an unlocked iPhone 4S was coming: “I called Apple’s iPhone sales department, and asked if they will make an unlocked version of the 4S, and if so, would work with T-Mobile other than just edge speeds. The answers were definite ‘yes’es.” 

We called Apple as well, not identifying ourselves as journalists, and received the same answers from Apple customer service.

Joel also followed up on his research by contacting T-Mobile as well, and told us on Wednesday, “Today I spoke with more than 7 people in T-Mobile, till I could find someone who had knowledge of their Network in detail. I have it confirmed with Apple and with T-mobile: a jailbroken or unlocked iphone 4S will work on T-mobile with speeds up to the max of the iPhone’s capability. Using the UMTS 1 (HSPA+, 2100MHz) band of the iPhone.”

This was a superb piece of research on Joel Grissom’s part — many thanks for the information, Joel!

Why Isn’t the T-Mobile Capability for the Unlocked iPhone 4S Being Touted?

It comes as a surprise that neither T-Mobile nor Apple have boasted about the unlocked iPhone 4S’s ability to work on T-Mobile’s GSM network, and it begs the question: why? The answer may lie in the anti-trust suit against AT&T and T-Mobile, sensing that the perception that T-Mobile is “getting the iPhone” without a formal contract with Apple may complicate the process. It could also anger new Partner Sprint, who has invested a great deal and risked much of its future on adding the iPhone to its offerings. T-Mobile may have its hands tied in being able to promote and market the fact that the unlocked iPhone 4S will work on their network.

The ability to use the unlocked iPhone 4S on T-Mobile will give AT&T customers the opportunity to jump ship to a new carrier with better customer service and satisfaction, while not having to abandon the speed and versatility of the GSM network.



13 Responses to Unlocked iPhone 4S Will Work On T-Mobile

  1. Anonymous says:

    T-Mobile USA 3g is a 1700/2100 AWS network. I don’t see 1700/2100 “AWS” mentioned in this article, thus I can’t believe the 4S can tap into T-Mobile 3g unless the Apple 4S specs say it has 1700/2100 AWS. T-Mobile overseas is different (Germany).

    Looks like 2g only to me until proven otherwise.

    • Linda says:

      Not quite… T-mobile USA has the “4g” (HSPA+) network, but just limited to its major market areas. As you probably know their unlimited data plans place a limit on how much “4g” bandwidth can be used per month (2g-5g) and then after that has been reached an unlocked iPhone 4S would then operate on the 2g, not a 3g, network as you suppose. As much as I want an iPhone 4s t-o-d-a-y the more I look at the long-term prospects of a network unlocked iPhone…and the forthcoming pre-paid T-mobile $30/month for unlimited data/text…I’m thinking it’ll be worth the wait.

      • IphoneMag says:

        We will see :)

      • Tom says:

        As the previous person pointed out. Their frequency bands for UMTS, HSPA, HSPA+ except LTE are on the 1700 and 2100 frequency bands. If the phone doesn’t list that band it won’t work unless they have a software patch for the phone and the chipset in the phone can operate at that frequency it won’t work. I’m not saying the phone doesn’t have the capability to accept that band. Example of this is the Vibrant from Samsung. It was sold at Tmobile listing only their frequencies. After it was unlocked, it will operate on ATT (850,1900), Tmobile (1700, 2100) or Cincinnati Bells 3G (1700, 2100) bands. All I can say is lets wait and see what the specs are in November when the unlocked version comes out?

        • Tom says:

          I will say again. The specs have not changed for the 4s unlocked version and the phone for all I know will not work on Tmobile or Cincinnati Bell’s 3g network, edge only. You need both 1700 and 2100 mhz bands to work on 3g. One is transmit and the other is receive. Most providers require both frequencies to achieve 3g speeds. In the early days of 3g, providers did offer download speeds of 3g and they used the upload bands of gsm at edge speeds. After software upgrades to the cell tower radios that feature is gone. This would also interfere with the ability to talk and surf at the same time since you are uploading on the spectrum that you talk on. That is why your edge data stops when a call comes in because you use the same bands on edge to send data and talk. When on 3g, you would use the 1700 and 2100 bands while the phone call comes in on the gsm 850,900 1800,1900. This is a Tmobile example. Cincinnati Bell’s voice uses 1900 mhz, data is on 1700 and 2100 for 3g. Like I said before unless a software update comes out or the chipset in the phone has the ability to work with 1700 mhz the phone won’t work with Tmobile of Cincinnati Bell’s 3g network. I know this sucks. I don’t want to admit it either because I like the phone myself but we will have to see.

  2. It is good getting several in-depth phone calls, but..

    There is no report of an unlocked (or “Off Contract” AT&T phone) actually working on T-Mobile data faster than Edge. None. And the specs say that should be the case due to TMo using AWS rather than UMTS.

    This is a trivial test, and ATT will sell you an off-contract phone today. So why have no users reported 3G TMo data?

    Note: you need to use itunes to restore your ATT phone to get the unlocked mode
    Owen Densmore recently posted..SFX CS590, WebGL, and Shaders

  3. Russell says:

    Off-Contract phones are factory unlocked in US, at least in NYC. I have already tested several with my own T-Mobile sim card and it works perfectly fine. Can’t attest to 3G speeds as that will be another test later on. No need to wait till November, get them now, if you can.

  4. Patel says:

    I just came back from the local tmobile shop. I asked them if the Unlocked Apple iPhone 4S will work on 3G or Edge. I was told that it will only work on Edge because iphone does not support the 3G Network of tmobile. Hope this answers all your questions and allieviates your curiousity. Bummer though…coz I’d rather stick with tmobile no matter what.

  5. Meng says:

    I am so angry at American big corp, every one of them are the same.
    Apple charge you an arm and a leg for unlock iphone, but they left out the CDMA and AWS even know the chip they use are capable!

    AT&T charge you sky high for service and contract, then they will not unlock your phone even you finish and paid in full for you contract.

    Sprint. Seem to be difference, but NO, they have real umlimited data but so slow, i think they label 2g as 3g

  6. Meng says:

    Verizon will unlock for you but they price so high and customer service are horrible, i sent them email week ago, till now NO reply!

    Law maker! Where are you?
    Dont you think the day of SIM LOCK are over?
    When will we catch up with the rest of the world?
    And when the plan said “unlimite” it should mean just that!

  7. kal says:

    I just got iphone4s from apple store which they say unlocked worldphone as they claim it works on GSM as well as CDMA; i got the T-mobile 60$ monthly plan to test and it only works on Edge, Siri does not work at all on wifi or edge, then i tried hooking that phone to verizon CDMA network, i called the Rep and gave her the IMEI code from iphone4s and she was not able to use that on my accout, so seriously speaking if i am paying 649+taxes for just the hardware, it should be worth the cost, siri will not work and it only works on edge, while i am paying for 4g service with t-mobile, so its rather better to buy a t-mobile android phone, and just use on their network, and while internationaly use it on other GSM networks.

  8. Sam says:

    I am using my 4S in Egypt and when coming back to the USA soon will get the $60 plan from T- Mobile we’re it is TJE cheapest and best deal. AT&T , Verizone & Sprint are highway rubbers with there plans . Contracts ETC. I will never get a contract anywhere even if any of TJE above companies will drop there prices to One Dollar a month I will never ever use them . For so many years I got ripped off by Verizon and then AT&T and lately Sprint were I will not pay them the bill cause they lied to me and I have to pay $1220.00 but icare less they can go to collection by then I will file Bankruptcy cause I am tiered of getting ripped off by them and the credit card companies . But back to TJE main story T-Mobile is the best choice out there in the market andmy unlocked 4S will work.

  9. HSIM says:

    I have a few unlocked iPhone 4 and 4s. In my house, located near the t-mobile buildings (not sure if that is the key factor), I oftentimes do see 3G indications on my unlocked iPhones. Other than this area, I never was able to get 3G on my iPhone. Not sure what makes the difference…

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