- Hollis Johnson
- Apple started offering a new SIM-free unlocked iPhone X as of Monday that works with any carrier.
- It’s similar, if not equal, to the Verizon and Sprint iPhone X model, which also lets you use any carrier you want, including AT&T and T-Mobile.
- AT&T and T-Mobile iPhone X models aren’t compatible with Verizon or Sprint’s networks.
- AT&T and T-Mobile customers should buy the Verizon model with the iPhone Upgrade Program, or the SIM-free unlocked model if they want the most flexibility of changing carriers.
Without fanfare, Apple started offering the unlocked, SIM-free model of the iPhone X on Monday, which can work on “any carrier that provides service to iPhone,” as Apple puts it.
A SIM card is the tiny chip inside smartphones that allows wireless carriers to identify and authenticate the device on their networks. Many people take their SIM card with them when they upgrade phones, inserting their old SIM card into their new device. For those that travel or work in other countries, it’s also possible to swap in a SIM card from a local wireless carrier instead of opting for an international smartphone plan.
When you buy a SIM-free unlocked iPhone X, you’re free to insert a SIM card for any US carrier, and it’ll even work with foreign SIM cards in other countries that support the iPhone, too. It’s perfect for those who want the flexibility to switch to any carrier of their choice.
The SIM-free unlocked iPhone X technically works more like the existing Verizon and Sprint models, which are compatible with Verizon and Sprint’s CDMA network, as well as GSM networks like AT&T, T-Mobile, and many other carriers around the world. With that in mind, AT&T and T-Mobile customers should opt for the Verizon model if they’re buying it with the Apple iPhone Upgrade Program, or buy the new SIM-free unlocked model, if they ever want the flexibility of switching carriers.
AT&T and T-Mobile customers should buy the Verizon iPhone?
If you chose AT&T or T-Mobile as your carrier when you buy the iPhone X with Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program, you’ll get a model that’s only compatible with GSM networks. That means that if AT&T or T-Mobile customers ever wanted to switch over to Verizon or Sprint, they’d have to get a brand new iPhone X. That’s why Apple says “AT&T and T-Mobile customers may need to visit an Apple Store to switch carriers. See a Specialist for details.” It’s so that you can get set up with a new Verizon/Sprint-compatible model.
Apple guarantees that you can switch between any carrier with the iPhone Upgrade Program, so AT&T/T-Mobile customers looking to switch can get Verizon/Sprint-compatible models for free, albeit with the hassle of going to an Apple Store to make the switch.
Funnily enough, if an AT&T customer switched over to Verizon and got a new Verizon-compatible iPhone X in the process, that customer would be able to switch back to AT&T without getting a new iPhone because the Verizon model is compatible with AT&T’s GSM network.
AT&T and T-Mobile customers can buy the Verizon or Sprint iPhone X models using the iPhone Upgrade Program without a Verizon or Sprint account.
- Getty/Carl Court
What if you’re not enrolled in the iPhone Upgrade Program?
Your best bet it to buy the new SIM-free unlocked iPhone X model to avoid buying a whole new iPhone X if you ever wanted the flexibility to switch to Verizon or Sprint.
Unfortunately, the SIM-free unlocked iPhone X isn’t part of the iPhone Upgrade Program, so you’ll have to buy it outright instead of paying for it in installments. If you’d rather pay for an iPhone X that works on all carriers in installments, your best bet is to sign up for the iPhone Upgrade Program and select Verizon or Sprint as your carrier.
At the end of the day, this isn’t a big deal for most. It’s only worth considering if you want that flexibility of switching to Verizon or Sprint. The AT&T/T-Mobile variant of the iPhone X – which uses GSM – still works with the majority of networks around the world, which also use GSM.