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On international travel with my iPhone 4S, can I use the local sim card instead of sprint roaming?

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Journeyman

Re: On international travel with my iPhone 4S, can I use the local sim card instead of sprint roaming?

Here's my latest update:

1) I purchased my Sprint iPhone 4S at launch, so it "should" have already been unlocked for Internationa roaming based on what I'd read previously, however I never actually tested this to confirm prior to asking Sprint to do the unlock.

2) After getting bounced around a few times on the phone, I finally got in touch with a nice woman that seemed to know what she was doing, except for the fact that she said I just needed to sync my iPhone to get the unlock instead of a Restore (but I already knew I needed to do a restore). She said it would take one hour before the unlock was ready so I should do the sych (Restore) after waiting.

3) I did the restore, but I never got the message saying my phone was no unlocked, like others have reported.

4) I contacted Sprint again a couple of weeks later and they I talked to also knew what he was doing. He checked and said the unlock was "pending", so he resubmitted the request again, saying that once the unlock is submitted, it may "expire" after 8 hours if you don't perform the Restore within that timeframe. He said to wait an hour and then attempt the Restore with the next 8 hours. He also said he'd call me back the next day to confirm that everythign worked.

5) When I got home a few hours later I did the Restore, but still didn't get a message from iTunes confirming the unlock. I tried it a second time and still didn't get the message.

6) Today I got my callback from the guy and he said that he checked the system and my phone was unlocked. He was even able to confirm the time it had unlocked (about 10:30pm), which was around the time I had been screwing around with my phone. I mentioned that I hadn't received the message in iTunes and he said that you don't always get that message.

NOTE: I'm thinking that I may not have received that message because my phone was presumably unlocked for International roaming when I bought it. Maybe only newer purchasers, without the initial International roaming unlock, get the message from iTunes?

7) I took an old expired UK T-Mobile SIM (I had cut it down to micro-SIM using a cutter) and plugged it in. I then got a "Carrier" menu option "Location Services" in the Settings app. From there I could disable Automatic and then I was able to pick T-Mobile as the carrier. Under "General/About" it also showed T-Mobile as the Carrier, but since the card was expired I still only had "No Carrier" at the top of the screen.

8) I then tried inserting an active US AT&T SIM from my iPhone 4 (my work phone) and, after restarting my iPhone it said I needed to activate the phone. When I tried to do so, it said I couldn't activate with the current SIM card and to insert the SIM card I got with the phone. I'm guessing this means that the current Sprint unlock only unlocks the phoen for International roaming and not for US carriers.

Conclusions
1) Even though my Sprint iPhone 4S was presumably unlocked for International roaming, it did not appear in their/Apple's systems as "Unlocked". That doesn't mean I couldn't have used an International SIM card, but I'll never know because I didn't test it before requesting the unlock.

2) After getting through the unlocking process with Sprint, my phone now shows up in their/Apple's ystem as "Unlocked", though it appears that it is only unlocked for International roaming.

3) Using a Sprint iPhone 4S with other carriers in the US does not appear to be possible at this time, even if your Sprint iPhone 4S has been unlocked. Unlike the AT&T unlock (which is a full unlock, allowing usage on any carrier), the Sprint unlock only lets you use the phone with a non-US SIM card.

Master

Re: On international travel with my iPhone 4S, can I use the local sim card instead of sprint roaming?

For Israel, the prices are as listed,

Voice Pricing: $2.49/minute

Special Voice Pricing: $1.99/min. with SWW Voice add-on

Data Pricing: 1x/Ev Data: $0.004/KB

Special Data Pricing: International Data Pack Add-on

Text Pricing: Send: $0.50/recipient; Received: $0.05/msg

For more detailed Sprint charges, click at the Link: http://internationalroaming.sprint.com/IntlCoverage/WelcomeRoaming.do

To clear this out, for the cheapest thing, unlock your phone, and use a local sim, and before you leave US, install Google Voice. It's not as complicated as it seams.

I'm also not sure how the data plans are in the Israel, but Google Voice works with data also, so if they are not that expensive, it will work better for you.

I'm sure that WIFI is more available then what you think too.

Journeyman

Re: On international travel with my iPhone 4S, can I use the local sim card instead of sprint roaming?

Dj_Damjano wrote:

8Bits wrote:

1) Contact Sprint to add some international plan on the phone for voice and data- I will likely pay a hefty rate for this usage

2) Contact Sprint and attempt to have them unlock the phone.  Seems as though this is a YMMV on (a) the ability to do this and (b) ease of them doing it!

If they are able to unlock the phone then I have the option of buying a SIM card from a cellular provider (in Israel).  This will result in much lower rates for voice+ data usage.

Negative, you DO NOT need to add an international plan in your account. Just call Sprint International, and they will unlock the phone for you (no hassle if you have been with them for more then 1yr)

The whole process is very easy, they will set it up on the network, and what you will do is just connect your phone to the computer, and that's it, Itunes does the rest.

Also while in Israel, you might want to install Google Voice, so you can make free calls to any US number (while on WIFI).


- If I get a new SIM I will get a new phone #, correct?

- What happens to those that try to call/text my Sprint given phone #?  Will they not go through?  Will they go through but billed at the exceedingly high international rate?

Correct, you will have an Israeli phone # in your iphone. you will not be able to receive any calls or txt from US for as long as the US sim card is not in your phone, so you will not be charged for anything.

The solution for this is: if you install Google voice, you will get your own personal number (same as any other US number, 10 digits), if they call that number, you phone will receive calls and you will not be charged by Sprint or anyone else. If you need to send and receive txt to US, you can use Skype, text+, or other free txting programs out there. (except Skype, the txting programs will assign you an US number too)

Thanks for the reply Dj_Damjano,so merely the act of contacting Sprint Intl and having them unlock the phone is all that is necessary. But your subsquent answers actually clouded this issue a bit more:

1) What if I didn't want to bother with an Isreali SIM card- would I then need an international plan from Sprint?

2) If I did get the Isreali SIM, you are saying that I couldn't receive any calls from the US with that Isreali number?  I want to ensure my kids/family members that ARE in the US can get a hold of me as easily as possible.  Since I am not counting on having WIFI availability I am don't want to rely on GoogleVoice or Skype- I don't mind paying a bit for service, I just don't want to get slammed hard with multi-hundred dollar bill for the 2.5 weeks I'll be away.

Thanks again!

Master

Re: On international travel with my iPhone 4S, can I use the local sim card instead of sprint roaming?

8Bits wrote:

1) Contact Sprint to add some international plan on the phone for voice and data- I will likely pay a hefty rate for this usage

2) Contact Sprint and attempt to have them unlock the phone.  Seems as though this is a YMMV on (a) the ability to do this and (b) ease of them doing it!

If they are able to unlock the phone then I have the option of buying a SIM card from a cellular provider (in Israel).  This will result in much lower rates for voice+ data usage.

Negative, you DO NOT need to add an international plan in your account. Just call Sprint International, and they will unlock the phone for you (no hassle if you have been with them for more then 1yr)

The whole process is very easy, they will set it up on the network, and what you will do is just connect your phone to the computer, and that's it, Itunes does the rest.

Also while in Israel, you might want to install Google Voice, so you can make free calls to any US number (while on WIFI).

  

- If I get a new SIM I will get a new phone #, correct?

- What happens to those that try to call/text my Sprint given phone #?  Will they not go through?  Will they go through but billed at the exceedingly high international rate?

Correct, you will have an Israeli phone # in your iphone. you will not be able to receive any calls or txt from US for as long as the US sim card is not in your phone, so you will not be charged for anything.

The solution for this is: if you install Google voice, you will get your own personal number (same as any other US number, 10 digits), if they call that number, you phone will receive calls and you will not be charged by Sprint or anyone else. If you need to send and receive txt to US, you can use Skype, text+, or other free txting programs out there. (except Skype, the txting programs will assign you an US number too)

Journeyman

Re: On international travel with my iPhone 4S, can I use the local sim card instead of sprint roaming?

Sorry for what is perhaps more preliminary information.  Could someone please verify the information is correct with my current Iphone 4S as I will be traveling to Israel for 1 month.

1) Contact Sprint to add some international plan on the phone for voice and data- I will likely pay a hefty rate for this usage

2) Contact Sprint and attempt to have them unlock the phone.  Seems as though this is a YMMV on (a) the ability to do this and (b) ease of them doing it!

If they are able to unlock the phone then I have the option of buying a SIM card from a cellular provider (in Israel).  This will result in much lower rates for voice+ data usage.

Here are my question WRT #2:

- If I get a new SIM I will get a new phone #, correct?

- What happens to those that try to call/text my Sprint given phone #?  Will they not go through?  Will they go through but billed at the exceedingly high international rate?

Thanks!

Journeyman

Re: On international travel with my iPhone 4S, can I use the local sim card instead of sprint roaming?

One way to make sure everything stays in place, is calling Spring International, (be patient enough) and have the officer verify the "unlocked" status of the phone. It will show in their computers as part of the status of your account, but I doubt there is any way to reverse the unlocking.

I am an Apple/Macinstosh user for almost 20 years now, and I can not ever recall one single firmware update applied to any hardware being reversed at all. The warnings received right before installing firmware (on computers) clearly indicates there will be no way back.

On the contrary, once a firmware is applied, some features of older software, including operating system and apps, may cease to work (requiring update) and there is no turning back. It all goes forward.

What I understand, is that there is no way to test the unlock with local ATT or T-mobile GSM SIMS, since, by definition, Sprint would not let them connect to their network, which seems like a reasonable business decision to me.

Jorge

Journeyman

Re: On international travel with my iPhone 4S, can I use the local sim card instead of sprint roaming?

no."future firmware update or a restore would not break the unlock"

Journeyman

Re: On international travel with my iPhone 4S, can I use the local sim card instead of sprint roaming?

since the unlock is pushed through the firmware do you think a future firmware update or a restore would break the unlock if performed while abroad?

Journeyman

Re: On international travel with my iPhone 4S, can I use the local sim card instead of sprint roaming?

GATORMOM624 wrote:

I did back my Iphone to my computer but am afraid to do the restore!!!

That is always something I dread and one reason I was very pleased my 4S was shipped already unlocked.  The big question will be what happens when/if Sprint allows full unlocking like AT&T does now for off-contract phones.

I still question why a backup/restore needs to be done to unlock.  There have been reports of people who have simply connected to iTunes, synced and been told they are unlocked.  Also, if you put an unauthorized SIM in your phone now (in my case either a T-Mobile or AT&T SIM), the phone switches to a setup screen and attempts to contact the mothership for unlocking approval which is always denied.  My question is, if Apple's database says your device is now unlocked based on carriers instructions, will it unlock in that setup screen or is iTunes and absolute must?  The setup screen looks for a WiFi signal and steps through an activation process.  It just never completes because domestic SIM's are prohibited.

Journeyman

Re: On international travel with my iPhone 4S, can I use the local sim card instead of sprint roaming?

Thanks for the info.  I called Sprint again and got a different answer.  The guy I  talked to today said I would get more help from Apple.  Why would you sell a phone you can't explain>  I am going to call International again and see what they say,.  I did back my Iphone to my computer but am afraid to do the restore!!!