I have tried the Google and there is just so much info about this, I can't find the answer to my question. I live in Denmark but am in the US for a few weeks. I want to buy an iPhone to take back to Denmark with me, but I don't want to jailbreak it - I hope it's possible to just pop in my Danish sim card and be ready to go. Is it possible with a phone from any of the US distributors of the iPhone? It worked that way with my AT&T first-generation iPad. I actually stupidly bought a Verizon iPhone 4 without doing proper research and found that it didn't even have a SIM card slot that I could access, thankfully I was able to return it for a refund.
All the links I could find involved jailbreaking it, so I'm guessing that might be my only option if I want to buy one while I'm here, but the members of this forum have bailed me out with some crucial info before. Thanks for any help.
AT&T vs Verizon The first thing you need to know is that only GSM iPhones sold by AT&T, T-Mobile and Apple in the USA use the mobile phone technology found in Europe and many countries around the globe. Verizon’s CDMA iPhone 5 and 4S add GSM capability so they will also work in Europe. (Verizon’s older CDMA version of the iPhone 4 will not work in Europe or anywhere else that uses the GSM mobile system.) All GSM mobile phones around the world, including the AT&T iPhone, use a SIM card that CDMA cell phones do not have. If you have a Verizon iPhone 4, please see our main cell phone page for more information about your options in Europe.
So if I'm understanding right, as long as I buy one of the phones with GSM capability, I should be safe. Is that correct?
If only it were that simple. Yes, GSM phones (AT&T, T-Mobile) use the same technology as 99% of the world. But they need to be unlocked in order to use the phone anywhere other than the USA. Even if you pay full retail cost for the iPhone in a AT&T or T-Mobile store, you will have to call customer service to get it unlocked. I'm assuming that you want a brand new phone. Your best options for getting a phone and bringing it back to use are: 1. Buy a Verizon iPhone 5 or newer. This seemingly goes against everything you quoted, especially about CDMA vs GSM. But all Verizon iPhones 5 and newer have both CDMA and GSM radios, as the link says, and come 100% unlocked. They are unlocked due to Verizon's agreement with the FCC over the use of LTE bands. I just bought a US Verizon iPhone 5C, brand new full retail, that works over here without any issue. I use T-Mobile here, I trimmed my SIM card, popped it in, and it started right up. The other option is to buy an unlocked iPhone directly from Apple, either from a retail store or from their online store. I went with the Verizon option because I like the future ability of being able to use Verizon and keeping my same phone.
I actually just did a ton of research on this exact topic. I go back to the USA often enough and I don't plan on staying in Germany forever. If you have more questions or need clarification, I'm happy to help.
Thanks a lot, that's very helpful. I'm actually looking for a used phone though, because of the lower cost. So a Verizon 4S wouldn't work? Any other suggestions if an iPhone 5 is out of my price range? I'm not 100 percent opposed to unlocking a phone, but would really like to avoid it if possible.
The verizon 4S wouldn't work because it's not LTE capable, so there's no FCC agreement and it's not unlocked. For a used phone eBay, amazon, and Craigslist would be your best bets. But the prices aren't that great comparitively with new tech. You would save maybe $50-100. At that point, I'd rather buy new than to pay less and hope the previous owner didn't mess the phone up too badly. If you're gonna get a 4 or a 4S, the prices should be more manageable from those places. I was using a 3GS for over a year and had enough of the latency and older OS but YMMV. Another option is the Nexus 5. Sold through the Google Play store, it's $349 unlocked and GSM. It looks like a great phone and when you factor in the cost, I don't think there's a better deal out there. I know that you asked specifically about the iPhone but the Nexus might be worth looking into. I don't know your feelings about android, but I know mine so I paid more for the 5C. If you go with the Nexus, only get it from the Google Play store. All other retailers, including amazon, have a markup of at least $100.
Thanks a lot for all the info. It's pretty much just an iphone for me - my family all have iphones, and now that Apple has made FaceTime voice-only calls possible, it's the best way for me to stay in touch with them. I agree a used iPhone 5 doesn't make much sense - guess I'll have to break the bank and get a new one. Thanks again, this was super helpful!
I used to build my own, but have just bought the last two outright, largely because you can get ones more than satisfactory for most users cheaply. The only upgrades I've done to my current and previous ones were upping the memory.