Beware: AT&T's iPhone 6s Limits Your Carrier Choices


The plot thickens. According to analyst Tin Nguyen, FCC documents show that AT&T's A1633 model of the iPhone 6S does have a CDMA radio, but Apple's spec sheets (on all its global Web sites) show that it doesn't, and carriers are pointing me to Apple for comment on the issue.
I will continue to update as I hear back from Apple.


Also, a little trivia - there are two more models, A1699/1700, which will only be sold in China. The spec sheet for that model appears to be the same as A1687/88.
Original story:
Apple made a frustrating decision with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. There are two models: one for AT&T and one for the other three carriers. Most notably, the AT&T model cannot connect to Sprint's or Verizon's 3G or 2G networks.
To some extent, this mirrors what happened with the iPhone 6. The iPhone 6 came in two models. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon sold a model (A1549/A1522) that worked on those three carriers, but had limited LTE speeds on Sprint. Sprint and Apple sold a model (A1586/1524) that worked well on all four carriers. 

With the iPhone 6s, AT&T confirmed that it's selling the model (A1633/34) with its new Band 30, which will speed up AT&T LTE service across much of the country. But that model doesn't appear to have a CDMA radio, which is needed to make calls on the Sprint and Verizon 2G/3G networks.

All the other carriers are selling model A1687/88, an Apple retail rep told me. T-Mobile confirmed it is selling the 1687/88, as well. That includes support for all four carriers, including the LTE bands AT&T has installed until now, just not the brand-new Band 30. So A1687/88 will work fine on AT&T, but in the future it may get somewhat slower LTE speeds on that network than A1633/34.

Both models will work the same on T-Mobile and on foreign networks.

There are still a few questions out there. Most notably, you might be able to make Verizon voice calls on the AT&T unit using Verizon's "advanced calling" voice-over-LTE system, which the phone supports. That's unclear right now (I asked Verizon and haven't heard back), but even if it works, it's not a perfect solution. Verizon has excellent LTE coverage, but you'd lose the ability to eke out that last bit of 3G when you go into a basement or out into the woods.

It's also unclear why Apple didn't just make one unit, but we asked the same question last year, too, and never got a satisfying answer.

If you want to pre-order an iPhone 6s, you have to choose a carrier unit.

If you really want the freedom to switch between carriers, wait a few weeks for the formally unlocked phones to appear. Right now, Apple tells me it is not selling formally unlocked iPhones by pre-order. "Apple may add it, but as of right now it is not available," a retail rep said.

However, all Verizon phones are sold unlocked, so if you absolutely need to pre-order the unlocked A1687/88 model, purchase a Verizon unit at full price.

Source: pcmag.com
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