Unlocked iPhone 4S Will Work On T-Mobile
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.