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Nice! Verizon Just Unlocked Everyone's iPhone 4s For Use On US and International GSM Networks

It looks like Verizon has bulk unlocked every Verizon iPhone 4s for use on GSM networks worldwide, including on US GSM operators like T-Mobile and AT&T. A user on Apple's forums posted what is looks like a copy of an internal memo to Verizon customer support representatives announcing the new policy:

"I wanted to share some important updates with you regarding unlocks

We are in the process of bulk unlocking all iPhone 4 & 4s for domestic and international use (iPhone 4 can only be used domestically since it’s not a global capable phone).

What does that mean?

We have asked apple to unlock all the iPhones behind the scenes so that a customer can either take the device to another carrier (technology might still prevent the device from working), or use a third party international SIM. This process is scheduled to be completed no later than 2/11/2015.

If a customer should call you with an iPhone that has already been unlocked, it will provide a message in ACSS that will tell you that the device is unlocked. If they should call prior to 2/11, and it has not been unlocked yet, you might still have to process the request.

Unfortunately, the other 3G devices, such as the Samsung Renown or a Blackberry, could not be processed via bulk, primarily because the customer will have to follow certain steps to enter the unlock code. Your expertise is needed in these scenarios."

I was skeptical of such largess from Verizon until I started seeing multiple users posting on other forums that their Verizon iPhone 4s had unlocked itself. Here are a few:

"Well this was a surprise. I just verified that a T-Mobile sim works in my Verizon 4SHoward Forums user

"My iPhone 4s was just unlocked by Verizon for domestic GSM use. I just ran the update to IOS 8.1.3 and after it was complete, iTunes says my phone 4s is now unlocked. I popped in an AT&T sim and I can make calls." Kitty Forums user

"I have a Verizon iPhone 4S that I got it used off of Ebay about a month ago. I put it straight onto BYO Wireless. I tried my Lycamobile SIM, and sure enough, it now works" Howard Forums user

"To bring this full circle, my 4s connected just fine to Cricket!" Howard Forums user

I'm really pleased with this unexpected consumer friendly move by Verizon. Contrary to what many think they didn't have to do it. There's no law or FCC regulation requiring carriers to unlock phones. The voluntary unlocking agreement that the major carriers signed and that went into effect Feb 11 only requires carriers to unlock phones on customer request and only if the carrier considers the phone fully paid for. Verizon apparently asked Apple to unlock all locked iPhones that were originally Verizon phones, even ones that are running on a Verizon MVNO or don't have active service on any carrier. They didn't have to do that.

The 3G-only iPhone 4s isn't subject to the special rules that Verizon has to follow as a condition for using its 700 Mhz C block LTE spectrum. Those rules require Verizon phones that use the C block, like the iPhone 5 and latter, to be sold unlocked. The iPhone 4s doesn't use the C block and isn't bound by those rules. So Verizon really did go the extra mile for their customers, former customers and even non-customers who bought a used Verizon iPhone 4s. I hope the other carriers, especially TracFone which won't unlock phones at all and Sprint and T-Mobile which appear to be making it as hard as possible to get their phones unlocked, follow Verizon's example. Unfortunately, I doubt they will.

Image: pixabay

67 comments:

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  1. Wait, I currently have a used and locked Verizon iPhone 4S activated with Tracfone. I never bother to request an unlock to vzw as I'm not even the original owner (I bought it from eBay). So, what do I have to do now to have it unlocked? restore from iTunes? nothing?

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    1. I think the answer is nothing -- if you put a T-mobile or AT&T sim in the slot, it should work on those networks immediately.

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    2. Insert a sim, active or not. Just plug into iTunes. Should report as unlocked.

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    3. This happened to me too, i put in a tmobile sim card but it doesnt read the card, what should i do?

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    4. You need to connect to WiFi with the T-Mobile SIM in the phone so the phone can contact the Apple servers to confirm the unlock. If that doesn't work, use iTunes to backup, erase and restore the phone. See How to unlock your iPhone for use with another carrier - Apple Support for more information.

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  2. Replies
    1. Everyone's iPhone, typo in the title.

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  3. This news just makes Sprint seem like bigger thieves because the party line has always been this domestic unlocking is "technically" impossible... I HATE SPRINT!

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  4. This is great news, even though I don't have an iPhone Hopefully it's another step toward unlocks being the norm instead of a special case. I wonder why Verizon did this?

    Also, thanks for explaining the special rule regarding the 700 Mhz C block allocation. I've never seen it spelled out so plainly before, and my confusion on the requirement caused me to go around and around with Verizon support a while back when I was trying to get my daughter's phone (I forget what model) unlocked. It turns out that my insistence that Verizon was required to provide the unlock was just plain wrong.

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  5. I will not say unlocked, but it does say that their is an update for your [new] carrier and their carrier settings.

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    1. Not correct. The iPhone must be activated by Apple servers with the SIM you want to use installed. If it is active with another carrier before the unlock, you must enter the correct Apple ID and password for that previous activation, whether you activate over WiFi (with later iOS versions) or using iTunes. After the first valid attempt, you may get a message like this: "This iPhone could not be activated because the activation information was not correct. Please try again later." Unplug the iPhone from iTunes and plug it back in, or just re-enter the previous Apple ID and password if you are using WiFi. iTunes will show a splash screen with an Apple logo that reads: "Congratulations, your iPhone has been unlocked." (bold type) Below that: "To set up and sync this iPhone, click Continue."

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  6. No unlocking for android cdma gsm phones such as motorola droid 3?

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    1. Android phones have to unlocked with a user entered code that the operator can provide. Try asking Verizon if they will give you your unlock code. It sounds like they may now be more willing to unlock phones for non-customers.

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    2. Tried to call them and got stuck in a black hole.

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  7. Amazing. At the end of January, I opted to upgrade my seven year old son's iPhone 3GS to a 4S. Verizon models were considerably cheaper than the AT&T versions because they could not be unlocked for domestic GSM networks via the traditional method. I bought a Verizon 4S and a sim interposer to unlock it, but the interposer had its limitations so I ended up buying an AT&T 4S and then having it unlocked anyway. I just now popped in a T-Mobile sim into the Verizon 4S and it works perfectly. Looks like the AT&T one is going back on eBay as now the Verizon version is much more versatile and valuable. Never thought I'd ever be saying this, but "Thanks Verizon!".

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  8. This is the kind of thing I love about this business; you never know what is going to happen next.

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  9. Really cool that big read for once is doing the right thing. In other news I got my Boost Mobile iPhone 5S unlocked Saturday night after hours and hours of attempts.

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    1. How did u unlock ur boost?

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  10. I don't believe this has anything to do with Verizon being a "good" company. iPhone 4 and 4s is old enough that there must be enough of them eligible for unlocking, and the cost for doing each one is Verizon customer service representatives' time. Verizon must have calculated that the labor savings from the mass unlock exceed any possible benefit from deterring the use of locked phones on other carriers.

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    1. Sounds like you don't get the unlocking game. Lol at the warped view you have of how the unlocking process works. You should give it a try. There is absolutely no benefit for Verizon. This is great news. This is amazing news and if what you said was not nonsensical then why hasn't Sprint done the same since they have so much to gain as you claim.

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    2. The iPhone 4/4s was not locked the same way as other GSM phones. By removing the SIM restrictions enforced by Apple's authentication servers, Verizon has obviated thousands of potential unlock requests and therefore thousands of calls to CS. What other GSM phone in "the unlocking game" can you mass unlock in this manner?

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    3. I agree with the OP. Potentially just one request to Apple, versus hundreds of thousands of requests to Apple for each customer request under the unlocking policy. The Apple server has to do the actual unlock.

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    4. "The only thing mitigating in favor of the cell phone companies is that they do have to put up far more towers to get good coverage in the US compared to Korea and the compact countries in Europe."

      This has been used as an excuse, but it does not wash out at all. There are larger countries than the US, and also other very large ones, that have much lower cell phone rates than the US.

      And then you look at the ones that don't bother to put up many towers at all, like US Cellular (they've chosen to have a compact area) And they also have their rates very high.

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  11. Mine is now unlocked. No software changes required. All you have to do is pop in a SIM. It is on a vz mvno.

    While I'm glad they did this, it wasn't completely benevolent. Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, told the CTIA if they didn't start unlocking phones voluntarily, he was going to put some hefty regulations in place and make them do it.

    Also, don't forget that it was the carriers who lobbied the librarian of congress to scuttle the exemption to the DMCA for unlocking, making it illegal for consumers to unlock their phones without carrier permission.

    Also don't forget that Verizon lied (and Sprint is still lying) saying that it was impossible to domestic unlock the 4s. Turns out all that had to be done was ask apple to mark the serial numbers as fully unlocked in their activation server.

    The only reason new vz phones are unlocked is because the FCC put vz in a headlock during the 700mhz spectrum auction.

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    1. That is about right. Don't forget, most of us are paying at least 10 times more than we should for broadband.

      Let them big boys collude and sock the end consumer like there is no tomorrow.

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    2. Anon: True, we are being rooked. Just compare US broadband data rates to those in other countries.

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    3. The only thing mitigating in favor of the cell phone companies is that they do have to put up far more towers to get good coverage in the US compared to Korea and the compact countries in Europe.

      An extreme example of that is here in Alaska, where ATT has put up a whole string of new and upgraded towers on the highway from Fairbanks to Anchorage, one of which sits across a river from our remote homesteader community. With Group Save Cricket plans, we have rocketed from CB radio isolation to 21st century broadband connectivity, at a very reasonable cost.

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    4. Are you saying AT&T has better coverage in your area at a lower price than Verizon? It can't be.

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    5. It's possible. While AT&T and Verizon are giants with two midgets nipping at their heels, the extensive coverage of one is not the same as the extensive coverage of the other. So you will get areas with better Verizon than AT&T and vice versa.

      As for the "lower price" part, AT&T based/subsidiary Cricket smokes all the competition.

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  12. I don't understand why people are still giving their money to Verizon or Sprint away. After Verizon burnt me for $350/month for 1 phone because I travel quite extensively due to military obligations, I dropped them 2.5 years ago. There are better options out there in my opinion anyway.

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    1. $350 per month, what did they charge you for?

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    2. They charged for not paying attention. Overage and overseas roaming rates are expensive on a Verizon contract. They could have just called and asked for their contract service and payments to be suspended while on deployment. Both Verizon and Sprint unlocked the GSM slot for overseas carrier use with a foreign SIM (Sprint still does). At most they would have asked for a copy of the deployment orders. Sprint also suspends contract accounts for DoD civilians deployed to war zones.

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  13. Ladies and Gentlemen. Purchase one on Amazon or Ebay. Comes unlocked already. No need to be at the monopolistic carriers mercy when it comes to unlocking.

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  14. Verizon has cut data plan prices, but there is a catch. for existing customers it is NOT automatic. the only way you get it is by calling customer or by resetting your existing data package at your online account.

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    1. Yeah... although I loved Verizon's CS, they were well-trained and could always take care of stuff quickly, I hated finding out later that everyone who called in and requested, got a new, improved, and cheaper plan, they had been playing me for a sap and I had been paying much more... Bad business... makes the customer feel that "they're not on my side."

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    2. I guess those Verizon CS that you "loved" and we're "well-trained" we're looking out for Verizon. They trained to look after Big Red.

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    3. " ...I hated finding out later that everyone who called in and requested, got a new, improved, and cheaper plan, they had been playing me for a sap and I had been paying much more... Bad business..."

      I don't think it's up to the company to contact each customer individually just in case they're offering a better deal. That sounds impossible. All they can do is publish their new plans and it's up to the customer to contact the provider. I used Verizon Wireless for over 10 years and made it a habit to call in at least once a year to see if there was a better plan for me. More than half of those 10 years, I scored,

      Since owning a Verizon iPhone 5 which is unlocked for AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon networks out of the box, I'm now extra vigilant as there seem to be new offerings every other month.

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  15. Well... yes...but, if it's something that everyone would want, such as an increased High Speed Data allowance at no extra cost, the company should just automatically give it to everyone -- like Cricket did a few days ago.

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    1. Cricket and GoPhone both automatically added the increased data allowance to their customers plans. I guess AT&T, including Cricket, is more committed to customer satisfaction than Verizon is.

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    2. Haha. The only thing they are committed to is increasing prepaid customers. GoPhone and Cricket combined lost 180,000 customers in the fourth quarter of last year, despite the low prices and higher data amounts on Cricket. People are just not switching to the AT&T prepaid plans (lots leaving GoPhone), despite their great network. Cutting prices and adding data is all they know about customer satisfaction, apparently. Maybe they need to hire more bloggers? ;-)

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  16. Good condition Verizon 4S 16GB are selling for $90 on Swappa, versus $119 for AT&T or unlocked in good condition. Glyde 4S 16GB Verizon models in excellent condition are selling for around $90, or $80 for a newer 8GB model in good condition. AT&T 4S models are selling for $95-$105 on Glyde.

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  17. Does this also apply to the Verizon Prepaid CPO iPhone 4s, or just contract iPhones?

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  18. Is it possible to use a Verizon-based service and one that uses a SIM card on the same iPhone simultaneously?

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    1. No. The following is an excerpt from a post on howardforums:

      "Once you stick a *foreign SIM into the phone it completely disables CDMA and switches to GSM mode." "There is currently no GSM/CDMA toggle in the settings of the 4S but it's not needed as the moment you insert a SIM card (with the exception of the Verizon-Vodafone global roaming SIM) the iPhone functions just like any other GSM iPhone with no CDMA capabilities."

      *note that this post predates the bulk unlock when you still couldn't use a U.S. SIM in an "unlocked" Verizon 4s, but the phone behaves the same way with any SIM other than Verizon's.

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    2. Has anyone used their iPhone 4S, 5 or 5S with a sim card bought for use Internationally and had it work?

      Verizon has told me that all these phones are now 'unlocked' and can be used with other international carriers. When i told them that is good since it's been signed into law by Obama first of the year.... no comment. I don't understand why this is not being well covered in media or forums...

      My concern is that how do I REALLY now my phone is 'unlocked' and ready to use Internationally before I get there and purchase a sim card? Verizon tech said "...no way to double check, basically trust me..."

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    3. There isn't any law that requires carriers to unlock any phone. TracFone and their brands won't unlock their phones no matter how long you have paid for the service and that's perfectly legal.

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    4. Anybody try this? Put in a GSM SIM card , works. And is it still work with CDMA service? I hope it work on both net work then consumer has more choice.

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    5. Unlocking the GSM side has no effect on the ability to use a Verizon phone on Verizon.

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  19. My Verizon 4s not only works on tmobile, it connects at 4G in Fla. I thought this only got 3G speeds

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  20. Okay so, I here you guys talking about putting sim cards into a verizon 4 s. How? It has a built in sim. Am I missing something?

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    1. All versions of the iPhone 4s are dual mode CDMA/GSM phones and have a removable SIM for the GSM side.

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  21. Just plugged in my verizon 4s and message pop up said it was unlocked ! I put in a Ting sim (Tmobile ) and it's working ...

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  22. I have an IPhone 4S which is locked through AT&T. I watched countless YouTube videos and tried all the steps made available (nothing worked). I researched several "hack" companies (nothing worked). I even purchased a sim card kit from Walmart (it did not work). I tried the "take the original sim out, put the phone on airplane mode fiasco, then put in new sim and turn the phone back on" (did not work). I was so frustrated!!! What worked for me was a Straight Talk "Bring Your Own Phone Activation Kit" for $59.99 with unlimited talk, text, etc. for 1 month. THIS IS THE ONLY THING THAT WORKED ON MY PHONE. After going through the steps provided in the activation kit, I now have service.

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  23. I unlock my iPhone 5S locked under AT&T here and now use T-Mobile carrier. So if your iphone doesn't support sim - check your iPhone - may be its locked!

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  24. Just plugged in my verizon 4s and message pop up said it was unlocked....and now use TELCEL carrier!! thank you

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  25. My iphone 4s Verizon does still not work with Simple sim card by Tmobile.
    It gives me a message saying call your carrier to unlock or contact Apple.
    The sim card does not support by my carrier. Should I call Verizon again, or call Apple?
    Someone has any ideas?

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    1. Make sure you're connected to wifi before inserting your simple sim card.

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  26. Coming late to the thread. I have a 4s. Will it work with a EU purchased SIM?

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  27. I'm so glad this worked. Just put the sim and activation screen came up and just had to put in my iCloud id and zap.. thanks Verizon :)

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    1. can you please tell me how do i unlock mine ?

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  28. I'm using a Verizon locked iPhone 4s in India , hwo can i unlock it? One of my relatives sent it to me.. im running ios 9

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    1. You have to call Apple and give them your iphone's IMEI or Serial Number. Then pay them $29.95 for the warranty plan so they can give you technical support. Apple is the only one that can unlock or fix your phone from their server; the carrier such as Verizon, Sprint or ATT is not legally responsible and will not help.

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    2. Apple will only unlock a Verizon iPhone if Verizon authorizes it. They will tell you if it's unlocked for free so there's no reason to pay for support.

      The Verizon iPhone your relative sent you should already be unlocked provided your relative's account with Verizon was not flagged for non-payment.

      What happens when you put an Indian SIM in the phone? Unless you get a "The SIM card that you have currently installed in this iPhone is from a carrier that is not supported under the activation policy that is currently assigned by the activation server" message your iPhone is unlocked.

      If you get that message, connect your phone to iTunes with the Indian SIM in it choose the option to restore firmware/software/OS. At the end of that process you should see the message "Congrats your iphone is unlocked" message. If you don't have your relative call Verizon and ask why the phone is not unlocked.

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  29. Cricket's website says they will not flash a Verizon iphone 4s . . .is this not correct?

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    1. No , it will work fine

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  30. There's a company called "Imei phone unlock" site: https://imeiphoneunlock.com and they unlocked my iphone 5s. If u guys need unlock I recommend this guys:)

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  31. READ THIS IF YOUR IPHONE IS STILL LOCKED

    I was trying to move my dad's iPhone 4s from Verizon to Total Wireless (Verizon MVNO). Upon giving Total Wireless the IMEI number they said it was still locked! (Contrary to this article saying that all are unlocked). I called Verizon and got nowhere. I then called Apple tech support who looked up the IMEI number. He confirmed that it was STILL LOCKED because... the phone needs to be backed-up + restored via iTunes for the unlock to occur. My dad confirmed that he hasn't connected it to iTunes in over a year (ha!).

    So, if you are having trouble switching your iPhone to a different network, first try backing it up and restoring it via iTunes. If that doesn't work, call Apple and have them check the IMEI. Don't pay for an online IMEI check... Apple will do it for free.

    One more note... prior to the iPhone 4s, the iPhones only had 1 radio in them (CDMA or GSM), so even if unlocked you are limited to which networks they can be switched to. An iPhone 4s or later should be able to switch to most any US network (will require swapping your SIM card).

    -AO

    Oct 2016

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