Sprint to Lock iPhone 4S SIMs Starting November 11th


Sprintfeed reports that Sprint will be SIM locking their iPhone 4S SIMs starting on November 11th.

Starting tomorrow, all iPhone 4S devices will have the SIM locked. The locking occurs during the activation process and is invisible to the customer (no extra action is needed by customer or rep).

The status of the Sprint iPhone 4S SIM slot has been the subject of some confusion. One early report claimed that the Sprint iPhone 4S SIM slot would be ship unlocked. While true at launch, Sprint then clarified that they would be locking the SIM shortly after launch.

Indeed, the Sprint iPhone 4S will ship with its micro-SIM slot unlocked. However, Sprint now says that it will be locking that slot “shortly after launch” via an update pushed to those devices. After the slot has been locked, Sprint says that it will allow customers in good standing to unlock the SIM for international use in the future.

Curiously, the new memo notes that "this SIM lock update will not impact any current iPhone 4S customers (activated prior to 11/11/11)." Taken at face value, that suggests that those who purchased and activated an iPhone 4S prior to 11/11/11 will be able to keep their unlocked SIM slot.

An unlocked SIM slot allows customers to use different SIM cards from other networks in their iPhones. This is most frequently used when traveling abroad where local SIM cards can be purchased to avoid international roaming fees. Meanwhile, Apple has stated they will be officially selling unlocked iPhone 4Ss sometime in November.

Top Rated Comments

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114 months ago
So, Sprint is struggling, but unwilling to differentiate itself in a way that can lure many customers (travelers) toward them. Sprint would make a lot more money by having such customers sign-up with them than they would by keeping it locked, having such customers sign-up Verizon or AT&T, and then nickel-and-diming the much smaller number of travelers who use Sprint's extremely expensive international roaming.

American carriers are so greedy that it blinds them from many profit opportunities.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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114 months ago
Ugh. I hate how they lock the phone into a carrier. How in the name of God is it a "World Phone" if you're locked to one carrier and forced to use their outrageous International Roaming Plans?

In an ideal world, we should always have unlocked iPhones: if you buy it with a contract, then pay your monthly dues until the contract is up (or you pay the ETF), but you still get to have an unlocked iPhone. That way, the carrier gets its monthly fees, you get the freedom of where and when to operate it, and everyone is happy.

But this business of forcing you into using only that carrier is so damn frustrating.

And don't even get me started on how they can't unlock iPhones that have finished serving their 2 years. :mad:
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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114 months ago
oh you americans, and your silly contrats
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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114 months ago
I can't help but wonder how many people are going to read this article and think that the SIM slot is physically locked, and then post something along the lines of "MINE IS UNLOCKED. I GOT IT OPEN WITH A PAPER CLIP"
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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114 months ago
If the companies don't do it on their own we should ask for a law that mobile devices have also unlocked to be offered.

I'm fine with locked once when the customer to decide to get support from carrier with subsidization. But please: offer globally unlocked devices for those who want them (and yes: more expensive as there is no sponsor)

SIM-lock: dislike and not fitting into a free world and free markets.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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114 months ago
recapping the facts to help answer common "unlock" vs. "locked" questions...

If you have a non-US SIM card, it should work. The "unlocked" Sprint version is still country-locked so as not to accept AT&T or T-Mobile USA SIM cards.

You are wrong.

Opened my Sprint iPhone 4S and there is a Sprint sim card in it.
Although after I took it out, I could still send and recieve calls.
There was just a pop-up about not having a sim card installed.

I tested a TIM (Italy) SIM and indeed the Sprint iPhone 4S recognized it and i was able to get on AT&T's network. AT&T must be TIM's roaming partner in the US.

Each of the assessments above are true.

I quoted those exchanges so that people can understand better the heart of the issue and to help answer some F.A.Q.'s of an "unlocked" vs. "locked" iPhone 4S at a glance.

In more detailed summary:

[LIST=1]
* The iPhone 4S is a world phone (it can be used on both GSM & CDMA networks).

* The iPhone 4S on Sprint (a phone carrier in USA), prior to 11/11/11, was automatically shipped "unlocked" meaning you can use it internationally with another carrier's SIM card.

* Bear in mind that Sprint still "country locks" the SIM in the iPhone 4S to only recognize it's SIM card within the USA, i.e. AT&T and T-Mobile SIM cards will not work on this phone, nor would Verizon (since it's CDMA).

* Same is true with Verizon iPhone 4S, except it already shipped "locked" from the initial 10/14 launch date.

* However, both Sprint & Verizon have publicly stated that they will "unlock" the iPhone 4S for international use for customers under contract that have been in good standing after two consecutive billing cycles (i.e. 60 days of on-time and in-full payments). But the phone will still remain "country locked" to the specific USA telecom carrier from which the subsidized iPhone was originally purchased through.

* All of this contrasts with AT&T's current policy: under no circumstances will AT&T unlock the iPhone for customers, even when your 2 year contract is over with them. This is a business decision on their end to behave this way and has nothing to do with Apple's policies. So, if you want an "unlocked" iPhone 4S under contract with AT&T then you will have to resort to a "jailbreak" of the phone to accomplish this.

* If you elect to buy an "unlocked" iPhone 4S from Apple directly (i.e. you're willing to pay the full price of the unsubsidized phone upfront) then this version of the iPhone 4S is both "unlocked" and not "country locked" meaning you can use a SIM card by any GSM based carrier both within the USA and Internationally.

* The only limitation with the contract-free "unlocked" iPhone 4S that Apple offers customers directly is that you won't be able to use it with CDMA networks. But since 90% of the world uses GSM networks this doesn't pose a problem for most people concerned.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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