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'm kind of in the same boat. I was told my phone company would charge higher rates if I used it Mexico and it would not work with a different SIM, but it turned out the phone service would actually not work at all under any circumstances.