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    Unlocking the iPhone 4S - Please, a REAL answer from someone official?

    stuseattle

      I've searched everywhere for this; I've read the other posts with the link to the "unlock confirmation" that's really from the "Droid" page; I've contacted customer service three times . . . each time as I was about to pull the trigger on purchasing a new phone.

       

      I don't know how monitored this community might be but PLEASE, if someone from Verizon's reading this, we need something in writing.

       

      I was about to order the 32GB Black iPhone 4S but suddenly got concerned that I couldn't find ANY official information about unlocking the SIM for travel.  I had seen the "unlock after 60 days" quotes in ALL the magazines and online sites, but found nothing on verizon.

       

      So, I contacted customer service, via chat, where I was told that:

       

      Karen: Verizon does not unlock the sim. 

      Karen: No you cannot swap out the sim.

      Karen: I was told Verizon does not unlock no phones/

        followed by

      Karen: Would you mind holding for a moment while I check that information?

      stu: Again, just to clarify, 'cause it's sort of a strange policy, Verizon will never unlock an iPhone?

      Karen: No they told me no. 

       

      That seemed to end Verizon for me as an option. I'm heading for a month in Europe in June and on a month long trip, with the need/desire for lots of local calls, it's not economically feasible to use the roaming plans.

       

      Then I searched for the press quote again . .finding:

      “It is our standard unlock policy for all Global Phones. You have to have been a customer for 60 days and in good standing (meaning your bill is current) and the phone you want to unlock must be on our network at the time of the request. You call Verizon Wireless before you leave the country and we unlock the SIM. We will honor one unlock every 10 months.” — Brenda Raney, Verizon Wireless Public Relations

       

      So, I thought I'd go back to customer service where this time . . . 

       

      Michael: Yes you can get it unlocked just as the message you sent me said. 

      Michael: The bill would have to current for at least the 60 days before we could unlock it though. 

      stu: Really? You sure? I keep getting conflicting answers. That would be great!

      Michael: I am positive. 

       

      All right! Goodbye ATT . . hello Verizon.

       

      So, a little later in the evening, I'm filling up the shopping cart with the phone and the calling plan and the data plan and . . .wait a minute . . pit of my stomach time.  I STILL haven't seen anything official about this policy. Nothing in writing . . anywhere.  The first rep could be right . . . leaving the cart behind, I decide to check one more time:

       

      Josh B: The 4S is global capable.

      Josh B: You will have to pay the global roaming rates however.

      stu: Right, but the quote above says that, if I keep my account in good standing for more than 60 days, I can get the SIM unlocked.

      Josh B: No, it won't be unlocked. 

       

      He then sent me to the customer agreement, which has nothing about this.  A little bit further down . . 

       

      Josh B: Anything that involves unlocking and/or rooting, is a violation of contract and can be penalized with an Early Termination fee.

      stu: Right, if the customer does it. However, what I was told earlier today, and it's the same thing that the Verizon Wireless Public Relations person said to the press a few weeks ago, was that VERIZON would unlock the SIM after 60 days, as long as the account was in good standing. Is this not true?

      Josh B: It was in a magazine correct?

      stu: It was in Macworld and PCMag and everywhere else on the web. The quote was:

      stu: “It is our standard unlock policy for all Global Phones. You have to have been a customer for 60 days and in good standing (meaning your bill is current) and the phone you want to unlock must be on our network at the time of the request. You call Verizon Wireless before you leave the country and we unlock the SIM. We will honor one unlock every 10 months.” — Brenda Raney, Verizon Wireless Public Relations

      Josh B: So how can you be sure that it was actually one of our PR's? Don't trust anything that isn't on our direct website, or directly at a store location or coming from a Customer Service rep over the phone.

       

      So, now what do I do?

       

      I would like to buy an iPhone.  Verizon is the only one with a policy, at least in press-release form, of unlocking the iPhone eventually. However, I keep getting different answers and I don't want to be locked into a 2  year contract without getting some sort of official confirmation that the policy is 60 days.

       

      Can anyone actually show something, in an official Verizon location, that clearly states the policy?

       

      stu

       

      Note:  I edited this because of some different information about ATT.  A couple of reps said that ATT would unlock the phone. One said after 4-6 months, the other said after 90 days. When I asked if the policy was written down, she sent me a link which she was then surprised to see contained the following:

       

      http://www.att.com/esupport/article.jsp?sid=KB82027#fbid=5OBPuSVI7XK

      What is the unlock code for my iPhone?

      iPhone cannot be unlocked, even if you are out of contract. If you are traveling internationally, iPhone is a quad-band phone and will work in many countries across the globe. Stay connected while traveling to over 215 countries, plus get discounted rates in over 80 of those countries when you sign up for AT&T World Traveler 

       

      And this:


      http://www.att.com/esupport/article.jsp?sid=55002#fbid=5OBPuSVI7XK

      What is the unlock code for my phone?

      Note: If your phone is an iPhone, the following information does not apply. Please see What is the unlock code for my iPhone? for more information. 

       

      Wireless phones purchased from AT&T generally come with locked SIMs, which potentially makes them incompatible with wireless service from non-AT&T providers. 

       
      To use an AT&T phone on another wireless network, you must unlock its SIM using an Unlock Code.
       
      AT&T will provide the Unlock Code for phones on wireless plans if:

      • Your wireless service has been active for 90 days or longer
      • Your account is current and in good standing
      • Your phone is not sold exclusively by us
      • Your phone's Unlock Code is available from the Manufacturer

      AT&T will provide the Unlock Code for AT&T branded phones on Prepaid plans to customers who have either been on AT&T service for 6 months or longer, or provide a receipt or other proof of purchase. 

       

      AT&T cannot provide Unlock Codes for iPhones and other non-eligible devices.

        • 1. Re: Unlocking the iPhone 4S - Please, a REAL answer from someone official?
          Tidbits

          Actually it's NOT a strange policy. AT&T still doesn't unlock all their iPhones from the original to the 4. Even with the release of the 4S.  Only the 4S seems to be unlockable by all carriers, but there's a catch.

           

          If you use Verizon or Sprint you need to be with good standings through them.  Also you must by from them in order for it to work on their network as they do not accept foreign IMEI's on their database.

           

          If you buy an AT&T version it can be unlocked, but can't be used on any CDMA carrier in the US unless they accept the "foreign" IMEI.  Though I have not seen their official policy on the 4S unlocking.

           

          I believe you are the first to ask.  I have never tried to unlock my wife's 4S.

           

          This is what I understand it to be. Though I believe Sprint was the only carrier that went on record as to their unlocking of the iPhone 4S.  Buy it outright it gets unlocked as soon as you plug it into iTunes, but if you get it subsidized then I believe you need to be in good standing for a period of time before you can ask to unlock it(takes up to 15 days).

          • 2. Re: Unlocking the iPhone 4S - Please, a REAL answer from someone official?
            stuseattle

            ATT has published their "never going to unlock the iphone" rules. (See my edited post!)

            SPRINT has now gone on the record that they will not be unlocking the iPhone 4S anymore.

             

            It's all up to Verizon . . . anyone official out there?

             

            stu

            • 3. Re: Unlocking the iPhone 4S - Please, a REAL answer from someone official?
              kaebfly

              Have you considered buying the unlocked iPhone from Apple? Not sure if it meets your needs but I know that Apple had info on their site stating that in November they would start selling unlocked iPhone 4s. It won't work with Verizon so if having a Verizon iPhone is a must then this isn't an option for you.Go to the following link and start the ordering process to get the link to the "iPhone unlocked and contract free" link and take a look at it http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/shop_iphone/family/iphone/iphone4s

              • 4. Re: Unlocking the iPhone 4S - Please, a REAL answer from someone official?
                stuseattle

                Yeah, I thought about that at one point but it comes down to economics.  The unlocked phone is going to cost $700 - $800 and I still need to secure service.  If I buy the phone via one of the authorized companies, I only have to pay $299 for it.  I know I need to make a 2-year commitment but that's really not such a big deal.  (I can also cancel after a year, pay the penalty, and come away with the phone for $499.)

                 

                The other option is jailbreaking/unlocking the phone, which is legal by the way, but that's a pain 'cause you have to redo it every time you upgrade the operating system and I don't think there's a reliable 4S version yet.

                 

                I actually have no problem committing to a company, using their services, paying for their services.  It's the absolute greed and lack of consideration that gets to me.  If it's the policy to not unlock phones, fine. There it is. Nothing you can do about it.  However, if it's the policy to unlock World Phones BUT you exclude one phone 'cause you might make more money, not only does it not make sense, it's simply wrong.  You are disabling a specific feature of a desirable phone and it actually will cost you money in lost customers and fees.

                 

                Right now, it would be easier for me to take an extra phone to Europe and get a local SIM. However, I'm willing to pay a bit more for the convenience of having my normal phone with me there but will not sign a contract without seeing the terms in writing.

                 

                Lastly, what I find so exasperating is that I can't get a consistent answer!  Different people tell me different things; the head of corporate relations has a quote out there that a customer service rep says is wrong; another rep says is exactly right. However, it's not written anywhere so, if I go ahead and purchase the phone/contract, anyone can just say "oh, they were wrong . . we won't do that" and I have no recourse.

                 

                I'm not asking for a change to a policy. (Yet)  All I'm asking is to be directed to where the policy is written!  I think that's a reasonable request when signing a contract worth a few thousand dollars.

                 

                stu

                • 5. Re: Unlocking the iPhone 4S - Please, a REAL answer from someone official?
                  kaebfly

                  Try writing the corporate headquarters so that you can get a written response. Then you will have what should be considered accurate and correct info as proof just in case something comes up "wrong" after signing a new contract. Otherwise, I really can't think of anything that will really help you. Even if a VZW rep responds on here you will still be dealing with the possibility of incorrect info (sorry if that offends any of the VZW reps but in the past some of you have provided incorrect answers to these threads...mostly due to lack of knowledge of the device when first released). You could also try visiting your local VZW (or whichever carrier you wish to use) store and speaking with a manager...and if you like what you hear and decide to sign a contract then making sure that what was discussed is noted on your account while you are there. Basically, you have to decide which is the best choice for you...the economics of an unlocked device may be high but if it something you will use often and truly need it may be worth the cost. Consider it this way...you aren't guaranteed to be able to afford to break contract 1 year from now (I say this because unless you are very well off and there is very little chance that a major economic hit can occur to you then you just don't know what can happen in a year). Even if you pay the higher upfront cost of an unlocked device you can sale it in a year if you like for well more than the current 2 year contract price...assuming you keep your device is excellent condition you may even be able to sell it for more than you would pay in ETF plus the current 2 year contract price or at least very close to that amount (you qouted $499 as being your cost after 1 year if you went with the method you seem to be leaning towards). Of course, there is no guarantee to that either but Apple does have a pretty consistent higher than normal resale value for the iPhone versus many other devices. I'm not trying to sway you to paying the higher price (I personally don't think any phone is worth paying several hundred dollars for when it is basically for personal use and can not be written off as a business expense, but that's just my own personal opinion)...it just seems that it might be the most problem-free immediate solution for you with no risk of being given incorrect info while being stuck in a contract due to that info. Otherwise, going to the highest possible level with the company you wish to have service with may be the best route to getting that info. Don't  rely on forum posts for complete accuracy...not even those that claim to be the most official of answers.

                  • 6. Re: Unlocking the iPhone 4S - Please, a REAL answer from someone official?
                    rcschnoor

                    Are you a current Verizon customer? Is your account in good standing for the past 60 days?

                     

                    If yes to both questions, you will get a quicker response if you purchase the phone and then follow the instructions listed here or here.

                     

                    If they do not unlock the phone, then you return it. $35 restocking fee and then go buy the unlocked iPhone from Apple. You have until Jan 15 to return any phone purchased from now until Dec 28 according to Verizon.

                     

                    Otherwise, you can continue to wait for for an official answer from Verizon which will never come.

                    • 7. Re: Unlocking the iPhone 4S - Please, a REAL answer from someone official?
                      stuseattle

                      First, unfortunately (I think), I'm not a current Verizon customer.  I'm trying to become one, though . . . I'm trying to leave ATT . . . isn't that what Verizon wants?  So, I can't just buy the phone and then try the unlock thing . . . it'll cost me a fortune to cancel and we all know that I'll bump into the "I don't know who told you that but that's incorrect information" thing.

                       

                      The other thing is that I keep seeing people reference the "here and here" pages.  Those are, at best, misleading.  They both pertain to the Droid.  Even the one that says iPhone is quoting information from the "Droid" page, without including the lines about the Droid.  It even self-references to support the information.  There is no official statement, as far as I can find, about the iPhone. ATT has a "world phones" page that specifically excludes the iPhone.  ATT and Sprint will both unlock the Droid; Verizon has official pages about unlocking certain phones. 

                       

                      Anyway, I would definitely take advantage of the return policy if I was an existing customer but, like I said, I'm just someone trying to buy something from a company that won't tell me what I'm buying.

                       

                      stu

                      • 8. Re: Unlocking the iPhone 4S - Please, a REAL answer from someone official?
                        rcschnoor

                        stuseattle wrote:

                        First, unfortunately (I think), I'm not a current Verizon customer.  I'm trying to become one, though . . . I'm trying to leave ATT . . . isn't that what Verizon wants?  So, I can't just buy the phone and then try the unlock thing . . . it'll cost me a fortune to cancel and we all know that I'll bump into the "I don't know who told you that but that's incorrect information" thing.

                         

                        The other thing is that I keep seeing people reference the "here and here" pages.  Those are, at best, misleading.  They both pertain to the Droid.  Even the one that says iPhone is quoting information from the "Droid" page, without including the lines about the Droid.  It even self-references to support the information.  There is no official statement, as far as I can find, about the iPhone. ATT has a "world phones" page that specifically excludes the iPhone.  ATT and Sprint will both unlock the Droid; Verizon has official pages about unlocking certain phones. 

                         

                        Anyway, I would definitely take advantage of the return policy if I was an existing customer but, like I said, I'm just someone trying to buy something from a company that won't tell me what I'm buying.

                         

                        stu



                        But there is at least one Verizon employee which confirms that it is available on the iPhone 4S(here) and there are posts which state that it has been done on their phone. It is up to you, though whether or not you believe them and want to make the switch. It will be a long wait, though, if you are waiting for a press release from Verizon.

                         

                        Since you are not a current Verizon customer, though, it may be safest to go with the unlocked version from Apple.

                        • 9. OFFICIAL RESPONSE!!!!!   Re: Unlocking the iPhone 4S - Please, a REAL answer from someone official?
                          stuseattle

                          So, I'm sitting in the office and my boss forwards me an email. (I've been doing research on the iPhone for both of us.)  It seems that last night he wrote to Brenda Raney, the Executive Director of Corporate Communications, to ask her about her quote and the iPhone.  She just replied to his email, which is really amazing.  She's already getting one new customer, he's on the site right now buying his first iPhone, and I plan on getting one later tonight. (I do have to actually do some work around here. I put that in 'cause I know he's going to read this.)  

                           

                          Here's her letter followed by the reference quote:

                           

                          I apologize for the inconvenience and the misinformation you received.  I have forwarded your email for training purposes so the next time you or anyone else calls, they get better information about our Global SIM unlock policy.  The quote you included in your email from me is accurate; we will unlock the SIM for global use as long as the criteria are met. The policy isn’t on our website primarily because CDMA technology doesn’t typically use SIM cards and with the introduction of 4G LTE devices which do use SIM cards (that can’t be unlocked), we felt we would confuse customers.  

                           

                          When you travel internationally, you need to call Verizon Wireless before you leave the country and request to have international calling added to your account profile and if you want the SIM unlocked, you can request that option at the same time.  Even if you choose to not unlock the SIM, you need to call before you leave the country and add the international calling feature to your phone (there is no charge because this just provides the capability, not a plan).  For global data, you will need to add a data plan.  Keep in mind, that if you choose to purchase a local SIM while out of the country, the SIM brings with it a different phone number so those using your Verizon Wireless number will not be able to reach you directly unless you give them the new phone number.

                           

                          Here is the link to our Global Services: http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/explore/?page=why-verizon&section=international-services#international-services

                           

                          Again, please my apologies for the confusion.

                           

                           

                          Brenda Boyd Raney
                          Verizon Wireless
                          Executive Director
                          Corporate Communications

                           

                          -----------------------------

                          “It is our standard unlock policy for all Global Phones. You have to have been a customer for 60 days and in good standing (meaning your bill is current) and the phone you want to unlock must be on our network at the time of the request. You call Verizon Wireless before you leave the country and we unlock the SIM. We will honor one unlock every 10 months.”

                          — Brenda Raney, Verizon Wireless Public Relations

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