iPhone 7 Models From AT&T and T-Mobile Do Not Support CDMA Networks

Choosing which iPhone model to purchase this year should be more carefully considered, as both AT&T and T-Mobile models of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus do not support CDMA networks such as Verizon and Sprint in the United States. Apple confirmed the matter in fine print in the iPhone 7 tech specs and on its LTE page.

iphone-7-carriers
A customer that purchases an iPhone 7 from Apple's website and selects AT&T as their carrier, for example, would be unable to later use the smartphone on Verizon, Sprint, or any other CDMA network, even if the device is unlocked. By comparison, all iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models worked on both GSM and CDMA networks.

A customer that purchases an iPhone 7 from Apple's website and selects Verizon as their carrier, on the other hand, would also be able to use the smartphone on AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, or any other GSM or CDMA network.

It was previously reported that Apple would switch to Intel modems for select iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models, including AT&T models, and Intel modems do not support the CDMA standard in the United States. That is likely the reason why AT&T and T-Mobile models are limited to GSM networks.

iphone-7-wireless

Only Verizon and Sprint models support both GSM and CDMA networks

The same report said Qualcomm would supply modems for the remaining iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus units, including Verizon and Chinese models, and this appears to be the case. Qualcomm modems support both the GSM and CDMA standard, which explains why the iPhone 7 from Verizon and Sprint will work on all carriers.

Qualcomm, which holds patents for WCDMA and CDMA2000 standards, is the main CDMA modem supplier in the United States. The company developed the first CDMA-based cellular base station in 1990, and since then it has licensed its technology to companies like Apple in return for royalty payments.

Until this year, Qualcomm was Apple's exclusive supplier of modems for LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity, which explains why the iPhone 6s and previous generations supported both GSM and CDMA networks regardless of carrier. But with Intel entering the mix, choosing which iPhone to purchase is now more meaningful.

iphone-6s-wireless

All iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models supported both GSM and CDMA networks

The lack of CDMA support in iPhones with Intel modems may be short lived, fortunately, as Intel acquired CDMA assets from VIA Telecom in 2015. It is believed that this acquisition could pave the way for Intel to release its first LTE modem with both GSM and CDMA support as early as 2017 or 2018.

Ultimately, the most obvious choice should be to purchase a Verizon or Sprint model, even if you are an AT&T or T-Mobile customer, especially when considering resale value. However, some customers may have difficulty purchasing from another carrier, depending on their current status with their existing carrier.

Apple should also release an unlocked SIM-free model in the U.S., likely based on the Verizon/Sprint model, in a few weeks based on past launches.

Related Forum: iPhone

Top Rated Comments

ssl0408 Avatar
64 months ago
This is such crap. Just release one damn phone for all the carriers and stop going back and forth on it.
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
garirry Avatar
64 months ago
CDMA should no longer exist. It's literally one of the oldest technologies ever, yet companies like Verizon still use them? So goddamn evil.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WiseAJ Avatar
64 months ago
Well that seems like a step backwards, they should have just not used Intel yet.

They need to just release one model that has everything for all regions. No more of this carrier/region specific capabilities or features. Just one phone to rule them all.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MacBird Avatar
64 months ago
Will the unlocked phones that Apple sells through the annual upgrade program support both standards?
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BruiserB Avatar
64 months ago
Agreed, the obvious choice should be the Verizon or Sprint model so it could be used in any CDMA/GSM network, IF those Verizon or Sprint models are unlocked. Do you know if those come unlocked? i.e. I buy the Verizon or Sprint model and right away in put my T-Mobile chip, will it work?
All Verizon phones with LTE are ALWAYS unlocked. It's the safest choice. You may not be able to order online, but go to the Apple Store on launch day and ask for Verizon "Device Only" and you'll get what you want. And yes, it will work straight away just by putting in your T-mobile SIM.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
avanpelt Avatar
64 months ago
Really, it's asinine that they're still making different iPhone models that each support unique cellular bands. This is 2016, not 2006. You'd think we would be moving toward having one iPhone that works seamlessly across all carriers around the globe by now. They seemed to be moving toward that direction with the 6 and 6s, and now they're going back the other way.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

REC ASA CODE2016 20160601 205816 2745

Elon Musk Reportedly Demanded to Become Apple CEO as Part of Potential Tesla Acquisition [Update: Musk Denies]

Friday July 30, 2021 9:04 am PDT by
Tesla CEO Elon Musk reportedly once demanded that he be made Apple CEO in a brief discussion of a potential acquisition with Apple's current CEO, Tim Cook. The claim comes in a new book titled "Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the Century," as reviewed by The Los Angeles Times. According to the book, during a 2016 phone call between Musk and Cook that touched on the possibility of ...
General Apps Messages

Android iMessage Competitor Puts Pressure on Apple

Friday July 30, 2021 3:15 am PDT by
Google and the three major U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will all support a new communications protocol on Android smartphones starting in 2022, a move that puts pressure on Apple to adopt a new cross-platform messaging standard and may present a challenge to iMessage. Verizon recently announced that it is planning to adopt Messages by Google as its default messaging...
Apple watch series 5 new case material made of titanium 091019

Titanium Apple Watch Series 6 Models Currently Widely Unavailable

Sunday August 1, 2021 6:21 am PDT by
Models of the Apple Watch Series 6 with titanium cases part of the "Apple Watch Edition" collection is currently widely unavailable for pick-up in several of Apple's retail stores in the United States and is unavailable entirely for delivery in major markets. Noted by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman in the latest edition of his "Power On" newsletter, titanium models of the Apple Watch Series 6,...
ifixit iphone12 mini

Apple to Make Space for Larger Batteries in iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks By Adopting Slimmer Peripheral Chips

Monday August 2, 2021 2:12 am PDT by
For future iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks, Apple plans to use smaller internal components in an effort to increase the size of the device's battery, according to DigiTimes. Image Credit: iFixit Specifically, Apple plans to "significantly increase the adoption" of IPDs or integrated passive devices for the peripheral chips in its products. These news chips will be slimmer in size and allow for...
Flat 2021 MacBook Pro Mockup Feature

Unreleased Apple Macs and Apple Watches Listed in Eurasian Database Ahead of Fall Product Launches

Monday August 2, 2021 9:34 am PDT by
Apple is preparing for a slew of fall product launches according to new filings that showed up today in the Eurasian Economic Commission database. There are listings for new Mac and Apple Watch models, all of which have previously unknown model identifiers that indicate that they're upcoming devices. There are six new Apple Watch identifiers, including A2473, A2474, A2475, A2476, A2477, and...
a15 chip

iPhone 13 and Redesigned MacBook Pro Chip Production Hit With Gas Contamination

Friday July 30, 2021 5:44 am PDT by
The most important TSMC factory that manufactures Apple's chips destined for next-generation iPhone and Mac models has been hit by a gas contamination, according to Nikkei Asia. The factory, known as "Fab 18," is TSMC's most advanced chipmaking facility. TSMC is Apple's sole chip supplier, making all of the processors used in every Apple device with a custom silicon chip. Industry...
iPhone 13 Wi Fi 6E feature update

Wi-Fi 6E Explained: What It Could Mean for iPhone 13 and Beyond

Monday August 2, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 is widely expected to come with Wi-Fi 6E capabilities, and while it may seem rather nuanced to the average consumer, with only improved speeds and being "up to date" in the realm of Wi-Fi technology, it's actually a fairly significant improvement, laying the groundwork for much of what we know the future holds. To truly understand Wi-Fi 6E, MacRumors sat down for an exclusive...
youtube premium lite

YouTube Tests Cheaper 'Premium Lite' Subscription for Ad-Free Viewing

Monday August 2, 2021 3:22 am PDT by
YouTube is piloting a new cheaper subscription tier in Europe called "Premium Lite," which offers ad-free viewing minus YouTube Premium's other features. First spotted by a user on ResetEra and subsequently confirmed by Google, the "Lite" plan means users who aren't interested in offline downloads or background playback can still enjoy YouTube videos on web and mobile app without being...
iPhone 13 Always On Feature

iPhone 13 to Bring Over a Major Feature From the Apple Watch

Wednesday July 28, 2021 2:21 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone 13 lineup will feature an always-on display akin to the Apple Watch Series 5 and Series 6, according to recent reports. In his weekly Power On newsletter, Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman, who often reveals accurate insights into Apple's plans, said that the iPhone 13 may feature an Apple Watch-inspired always-on mode. The Apple Watch Series 5 and Apple Watch...
COVID19 Digital Wallet Apple Wallet

Australian Government Now Offering COVID-19 Digital Vaccination Certificates for Apple Wallet

Monday August 2, 2021 12:04 am PDT by
The Australian government has introduced support for adding COVID-19 vaccination digital certificates to Apple Wallet via the Express Plus Medicare app on iOS. Image credit: Tap Down Under As spotted by Tap Down Under, users who have received two doses of either the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine now have access to the digital certificate through their Medicare online account or via the Medica...