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Thread: What does "locked" mean in the Apple world?

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    What does "locked" mean in the Apple world?

    I'm looking at an old iPhone 4s on eBay that I'm thinking of buying just to play with. (Yes, I know it's obsolete and I will not be able to use many apps and I'll be limited to 3G. I'll only use it to talk and text if in fact I buy it.)

    In the About This Product section I read: This device is locked to Verizon and compatible with Virgin Mobile, T-Mobile, TracFone, AT&T, Straight Talk, metroPCS, Boost Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Xfinity, Sprint, Cricket Carriers.


    From my non-iPhone perspective, that's an oxymoron. This information is from eBay's boilerplate item details based on the model number, not from the seller. There's nothing in the description about it having been unlocked. So how can a phone be locked to Verizon yet compatible with all those other carriers?
    My smartphone is a lot smarter than I am.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Relztrah View Post
    I'm looking at an old iPhone 4s on eBay that I'm thinking of buying just to play with. (Yes, I know it's obsolete and I will not be able to use many apps and I'll be limited to 3G. I'll only use it to talk and text if in fact I buy it.)

    In the About This Product section I read: This device is locked to Verizon and compatible with Virgin Mobile, T-Mobile, TracFone, AT&T, Straight Talk, metroPCS, Boost Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Xfinity, Sprint, Cricket Carriers.


    From my non-iPhone perspective, that's an oxymoron. This information is from eBay's boilerplate item details based on the model number, not from the seller. There's nothing in the description about it having been unlocked. So how can a phone be locked to Verizon yet compatible with all those other carriers?
    You would need to ask the seller. It’s either unlocked or not unlocked lol. It’s probably locked I would assume though and the wording is to confuse buyers.




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    Because this device goes back a few years my understanding is likely a bit shaky, but some basics should be brought out.

    This era (pre-LTE) of Apple device is a little different. It was, of course, like other 3G CDMA devices in that it did not use a SIM card for holding account info.

    But it did have a SIM slot whose primary purpose was for using the device while travelling overseas, where GSM networks are the norm (now legacy, I suppose).

    If you wanted to use it with a U.S. GSM carrier (AT&T or T-Mobile and MVMOs) I believe that yes, it did have to be SIM-unlocked.

    I don't know if this device was affected by the big agreement VZW made in obtaining certain frequency spectrum, which would have auto-magically unlocked the SIM capability, or if that was only for later LTE equipped SIM devices. I'm sure others will chime in as they awaken.

    But it could be unlocked as described by the current seller. You'll have to inquire.

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    Last I heard, years ago, was that while these devices were sold SIM locked, Verizon unlocked all the pre-LTE (iPhone 4S) models to match the unlock policy of the later ones.

    I did try this, again years ago, and found it to be true. But beware, if it’s not unlocked it’ll be a brick since Verizon won’t activate a non-LTE phone anymore and it would be hard to get it unlocked. But it should be OK to use.

    I guess it just depends how much it costs and if you’re willing to take the gamble.


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    The GSM side of a Verizon 4s is usuable, been there done that used 2 on Tracfone at&t years ago as our first byop.

    Don't figure on getting any apps to work as most are unsupported by now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Relztrah View Post
    I'm looking at an old iPhone 4s on eBay that I'm thinking of buying just to play with. (Yes, I know it's obsolete and I will not be able to use many apps and I'll be limited to 3G. I'll only use it to talk and text if in fact I buy it.)

    In the About This Product section I read: This device is locked to Verizon and compatible with Virgin Mobile, T-Mobile, TracFone, AT&T, Straight Talk, metroPCS, Boost Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Xfinity, Sprint, Cricket Carriers.


    From my non-iPhone perspective, that's an oxymoron. This information is from eBay's boilerplate item details based on the model number, not from the seller. There's nothing in the description about it having been unlocked. So how can a phone be locked to Verizon yet compatible with all those other carriers?
    From the way they worded that they are absolutely confused about carrier locked. lol Maybe the seller is confused about carrier locked and icloud locked but if it was icloud locked it couldn't even be used with wifi if I understand it correctly.

    That whole issue has put me off from buying a secondary iphone on ebay or CL especially CL. I believe these are the most stolen phones (not that model but iphones) due to the high resale values.

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    The Verizon iPhone 4S is commonly mis-understood.

    1) The phone is dual mode CDMA and GSM, and the CDMA portion was activatable on Verizon and the GSM SIM was originally locked to Vodafone Netherlands (the international roaming partner of Verizon back in the day, when Vodafone owned a large percentage of Verizon wireless). Since it is a pre-LTE device, it doesn't have Band 13 LTE support, and thus is not required to be sold unlocked.

    2) From what I understand, Verizon did a mass-unlock of the 4S devices several years ago, so they should now have their GSM SIM slot unlocked. Apple unlocks are via their server, so when you put a SIM card into an iPhone, it checks with Apple's servers to determine whether the SIM is supported. So the unlock is fully remote -- nothing whatsoever is done on an iPhone itself to unlock.

    So, unless there is something odd about this particular device, it should be fully unlocked for GSM usage on 3G. As you already know, the 4S is a pre-LTE device.

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    Quote Originally Posted by high technology View Post
    The Verizon iPhone 4S is commonly mis-understood.

    1) The phone is dual mode CDMA and GSM, and the CDMA portion was activatable on Verizon and the GSM SIM was originally locked to Vodafone Netherlands (the international roaming partner of Verizon back in the day, when Vodafone owned a large percentage of Verizon wireless). Since it is a pre-LTE device, it doesn't have Band 13 LTE support, and thus is not required to be sold unlocked.

    2) From what I understand, Verizon did a mass-unlock of the 4S devices several years ago, so they should now have their GSM SIM slot unlocked. Apple unlocks are via their server, so when you put a SIM card into an iPhone, it checks with Apple's servers to determine whether the SIM is supported. So the unlock is fully remote -- nothing whatsoever is done on an iPhone itself to unlock.

    So, unless there is something odd about this particular device, it should be fully unlocked for GSM usage on 3G. As you already know, the 4S is a pre-LTE device.
    So what does icloud or activation locked vs carrier locked mean? I thought it meant that if someone reports their ios 7 device or later lost or stolen that no one will be able to log into the device at all never getting to the point of whether its carrier locked or not.

    https://www.imore.com/how-check-acti...ng-used-iphone

    At least according to this if the phone was ever reported lost or stolen it would never work regardless of whether the phone is able to work on a carrier.

    Is that wrong?

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    When we refer to locked here, we typically assume someone is referring to a carrier lock. A carrier lock means that the phone will only lock onto a cellular signal if a SIM from an allowable carrier is inserted. This was the way that subsidized phones are limited to being used on only cute carrier who so,d the phone at a subsidized price.

    Activation locked, or iCloud locked is a different concept, which you have correctly defined above. Since iPhones activate via Apple servers, Apple can shut down the ability for any particular device to be activated. So if it is reported stolen, or had Find My iPhone on, you’ll need the Apple ID credentials to activate it. This was something Apple implemented to reduce iPhone theft. Most listings indicate the phone is not iCloud locked or list it as ready for activation. Conversely, any phone with an iCloud lock should be listed as such, and indicated as being for parts only. If not, you have a very good case for getting a refund for an item not being as described.

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    iPhone 4 soon will be used only as a cheap iPod. CDMA/GSM networks are being deactivated to make room for the newer technologies, 3G is also left to die.

    Not related, but Android 7 and higher also can be locked on the Google account. If one account was present on device before factory reset or re-flashing, it will still ask for the password at activation.

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    Thanks for the replies and explanation. On a related matter, for an iPhone 4 or any iPhone, what do I ask the seller about iCloud and Find My Phone? I read here that any iPhone that ever had an iCloud associated with it needs to be somehow disconnected from that account or it is useless. Same goes for Find My Phone. It's like the FRP on an Android, even a factory reset will not allow another person to use the phone and an unsuspecting buyer will end up with an expensive paperweight. Is there a way to make sure a used iPhone has been disconnected from the previous user's Apple account?

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    The user should turn “Find my iPhone” OFF — that is what results in the iPhone being locked to an iCloud account. In other words, turning this off disassociates it from any previous owner’s iCloud account and frees it up for activation.

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    What to do before you sell, give away, or trade in your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch?. They should have done all the things mentioned in this article.

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    This gives a pretty good step by step.

    https://www.imore.com/how-check-acti...ng-used-iphone

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