Unlocking the Verizon iPhone 4S - MD278LL/A

Before you buy that unlocked Verizon iPhone 4S, you might want to read this.

After considerable research, I conclude that Verizon's "unlocking" program does not actually unlock the iPhone 4S.

Instead, Verizon's program seems to merely bless specific non-American 3rd party SIMs to be used with your iPhone.  It looks like American 3rd party SIMs from AT&T and T-Mobile USA are locked out forever, even after the Verizon "Unlock".

In fact, within Apple's "Wireless carrier support and features" knowledge base article ht1937, Apple itself says that Verizon "offers unlocking on certain iPhones, some with certain restrictions."

That's certainly ominous.  It reads like Verizon might be willing to unlock the deadbolt on your iPhone, but the security chain is still attached so only some SIMs can come through.  To me, that isn't an unlock.  That's a lock with exceptions.

Do you want to use an AT&T or T-MobileUSA SIM in your Verizon iPhone?  That's Verizon's choice.  And from everything I understand, Verizon will say "no" - they will not unlock the SIM for these carriers.  Your iPhone is still locked.

Even though its your phone.

And you paid for it in full.

And you've been a good customer for years.

And the device has all the technology it needs.

Maybe the best way out is to get yourself a brand new, inexpensive "contract" smartphone like this inexpensive Nokia on T-Mobile.   I use something like that as my travel/emergency phone.

1 comment:

Aardvark said...

"AT&T will unlock their formerly locked iPhone 4S devices. But Verizon can't? Is Verizon a technical laggard, or lazy, or just jerks?"

All indication is that Verizon, like Sprint, are being jerks. Both carriers are claiming the iPhone 4S will not work with domestic carriers, or cannot be unlocked due to special firmware or (insert made up excuse here). People have successfully had their 4S iPhone's from both Sprint and Verizon "serviced" by small cellphone shops and they work fine with domestic SIM's. There has been lively debate on Sprint's forums regarding this very issue and Sprint's refusal to unlock the phones. At least for Sprint, it appears they will not unlock iPhone 5's either even though it is proven they can be because Verizon ships theirs fully unlocked.

Recently the four major carrier and the CTIA entered into an agreement with the FCC that says they will fully unlock customer devices once all contract obligations have been met. So far, Sprint is still claiming it is a work in progress and nothing further will happen until they "study" the agreement. At the very least, Apple is going to need to step up and clarify all this once and for all. They have been strangely silent on the whole matter.

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