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Why You Should Choose a Verizon iPhone, iPad Over an Unlocked Model Regardless of Service



If you’re looking at buying an unlocked iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPad Air, or iPad mini with Retina Display this year and are expecting to pay full retail–not subsidized–pricing for those models, it may be best to look at Verizon’s hardware over the standard unlocked model, regardless of which carrier you want service with.

The reasoning here is that Verizon’s models of the 2013 cellular-enabled iOS hardware will allow users to readily swap out the nano SIM card and either use Verizon’s, AT&T’s, or T-Mobile’s voice and/or data service in the U.S. The Verizon hardware is also fully unlocked, so if you travel internationally, you should be able to roam onto a GSM or CDMA network, or even use a local domestic SIM and avoid paying roaming charges.

This could be an important consideration for holiday shoppers who want to gift an iPhone or a cellular-enabled 2013 iPad model to their loved ones, but may not be sure what cell service the recipient of their gift uses.

ip5sChoosing Verizon’s iOS hardware will give you the most flexibility for the future over choosing a standard unlocked iOS hardware. While choosing one carrier today may suit your needs now, in a few months or a year or two, your needs may change. T-Mobile’s service today may be great, but a year from now if you move to an area without T-Mobile coverage, you may find yourself longing to switch to Verizon. And Verizon’s service today may be awesome, but if you find that your job moves you to a major city, the carrier’s 4G LTE speeds may be lackluster and you may be itching for AT&T’s service in major metropolitan areas.

READ: iPhone 5s: Which Carrier Is the Best?

In contrast, the unlocked GSM model will readily work on AT&T and T-Mobile’s 3G and 4G LTE services, but don’t expect the unlocked phone to work on Verizon. The main reason is that Verizon’s 3G CDMA service is locked down and you won’t be able to use an AT&T iPhone to make a voice call on Verizon’s network with a Verizon SIM card attached.

While most Americans won’t be frequently swapping SIM cards between any of those two or three carriers unless you have active SIM cards and services on multiple carriers, if you do change service the Verizon hardware will serve you best. For people who may have a Verizon account for work and an AT&T account for personal use, you can pop in your Verizon SIM during the day for work and when you get home you can swap to AT&T service and use the same hardware as another example.

Essentially, with Verizon’s device, you can use a SIM from Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile whereas an unlocked GSM phone will only work on AT&T and T-Mobile. If you’re commitmentphobic to which carrier you want to sign up with, Verizon’s hardware will give you the most flexibility.

Also of note, neither the Verizon nor the unlocked GSM model (which is sold in the U.S. as T-Mobile’s hardware) will allow users to use Sprint’s service as Apple makes a completely separate device for Sprint’s 4G LTE service in the U.S.

For an iPhone purchase, many people will likely buy their phones with a two-year contract, which brings the price of the entry level iPhone 5s down to just $200 from $649, which means this strategy won’t mean much. However, if you’re looking at unlocked pricing where you’re paying full price for the hardware in lieu of signing a long-term contract, your best bet is Verizon’s hardware and whatever service you choose unless you decide to choose Sprint as your provider.

With the iPad, it’s a bit more straightforward as users can sign up for a prepaid data bucket every month and the iPad tablets are not typically sold with a contract to begin with. For this reason, I chose Verizon’s iPad hardware. When I travel, I prefer Verizon’s service as coverage is generally the most robust as Verizon has a larger 4G LTE footprint than any U.S. carrier. However, when I am in San Francisco and if I need mobile data, I usually opt to pay for AT&T’s prepaid service as AT&T’s speeds in major cities are generally much faster than Verizon’s.

The only major caveat with the iPad is if you want the 200 MB of free data a month. If you do, T-Mobile is the only one with such an incentive and if this is important to you then you will need to choose T-Mobile’s iPad hardware at the onset.




  1. Patrick

    11/21/2013 at 6:18 am

    This isn’t entirely accurate. I know of many people who have had no issue getting an unlocked 5s activated on Verizon, as it’s the same hardware. Also, I personally have an “AT&T” ipad air, but it happily accepts t mobile and verizon sims as well. I even get the free 200mb’s when I use a tmobile sim. Essentially, unless you want to use sprint all the hardware is now the same. Of course if you buy a phone on AT&T at a discount in exchange for a contract it will have a subsidy lock, but once AT&T removes the lock, it is just as universal as the verizon model.

  2. Larry

    11/21/2013 at 9:15 am

    Very great post there choung!!! Finally a post that a writer put worth reading๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘ I’m sick of all the stupid gaming crap they are worse than apple fans at store lines, but said, verizon lags as of LTE coverage in the Ontario area of so Cali area and Fontana , Rialto and t mobile works the best everywhere I go!! It’s funny this topic came to read I just ditched verizon for lack of coverage!!! And t mobiles best coverage using my verizon iphone 5S and yes all I did was pop in the t mobile nano sim and I was all good!! Thanks verizon the only good out of verizon and due to coverage lack I got out of my contract and no ETF fees and saved $$$ so ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘to the big purple T and ๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿ‘Ž to the big Red VZW!! And best of all no contract!!

  3. notafan

    11/21/2013 at 11:48 pm

    biased much?

    T-Mobileโ€™s service today may be great, but a year from now if you move to an area without T-Mobile coverage, you may find yourself longing to switch to Verizon. And Verizonโ€™s service today may be awesome, but if you find that your job moves you to a major city, the carrierโ€™s 4G LTE speeds may be lackluster and you may be itching for AT&Tโ€™s service in major metropolitan areas.

    • Larry

      11/22/2013 at 9:05 am

      Your right I am moving but where I am moving t mobile is still fine!! Los Angeles all carriers are fine there but t mobile don’t break the bank like VZW but yes true some carriers work better in one city to the next but for me VZW is not worth there service price AT&T & Sprint are rated worst customer happy in my area even metro pcs will beat them but metros phones are so last year or walmart cheap no way!!

  4. Silk Skirt

    11/22/2013 at 10:02 am

    Just to make this clear:
    If you bring your iPad to T-mobile, you get that free 200MB/Month. In other words, you don’t have to buy it from T-mobile. As a matter of fact, if you buy it from t-mobile but opted to pay monthly for 24 months, you DO NOT get that free 200MB data. T-mobile forces you to pay $20 if you opt to stay with T-mobile for 2 years. I don’t see any logic there, but that’s what T-mobile does.

  5. Suliman

    11/22/2013 at 10:46 pm

    Your are right this great information by you .Now by the GSM unlocked cell phones in affordable prices When originally manufactured, all GSM cell phones are unlocked.For more details, you can visit our website and contact us if you have any query regarding anything.

  6. Toby Tyler

    11/24/2013 at 3:31 am

    I purchased iPad Mini Retina and specified Verizon when placing my online Apple Store order. I picked up the device at nearby Apple Store. I asked the clerk if it would work on T-Mobile (I knew it would). The clerk said it will only work on Verizon.

    I stood in the store, removed the Verizon nano sim, inserted T-Mobile nano sim, created my account, and left the store with my 200 mob free account working.

    • Larry

      11/24/2013 at 9:41 am

      That’s a LIE from apple, I went to apple store with a t mobile nano sim and I ask and they said no, only verizon on my 5s iphone so I asked the guy for his sim tray pin opener and I did the same, and it worked wen I was at the geneouse bar and other apple store workers saw that I made it work and so did customers and I show them the model number and the verizon sim. Card too, and I said loud enough why do you guys lie, and the guy shrugged his shoulders!! They always don’t know all that!! So it does work on a t mobile SIM card!! Fully function too!! I told the guy you need to work as a car salesman that lies not at apple!! BUT, that’s apples greed to force you to buy something more than what you have….

  7. Nam T Nguyen

    11/25/2013 at 9:53 pm

    HI chuong khong biet chau co doc duoc chu Viet Nam kh? co mot cai dien thoai samsung galaxy nexus sch i515 verizon co muon unlocked de go TMobile co duoc khong please cho co biet if you can Thank you

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