Check out the updates to this post at the end. Story may be changing:
CDMA iPhone 4S customers (Verizon, Sprint) are getting a little bit of a better deal on the iPhone 4S when it comes to international roaming.
We all know that the iPhone 4S will be both CDMA and GSM-compatible. That means that the same handset can be sued on both networks, depending on who you choose for service. GSM is the technology used throughout most of the world, which means if you have an AT&T phone you can simply use your handset (paying roaming fees of course) most places you might travel, connecting to one of AT&T’s partners in the country.
CDMA phones are little more tricky, and according to MacWorld, the micro SIM slot in the Sprint CDMA handsets it sells will be sold unlocked, allowing you to insert the SIM from any carrier you choose while you’re traveling. Verizon micro SIM slots will not be sold unlocked, however, can be unlocked for customers in good standing after 60 days by calling Verizon customer service and asking for an “international unlock.”
Both sides of the coin have their pluses and minuses. Sprint and Verizon customers can purchase prepaid SIM cards in a country they’re traveling in, which are considerably cheaper than international roaming charges. With an international SIM you’ll also get an international number; however, making it so you have to pass that number out to those who need to keep in touch.
AT&T customers can simply use their phone like normal while traveling, keeping the same number, with international roaming charges applying. The micro SIM slot on AT&T phones will be sold locked to AT&T, preventing you from purchasing a SIM card from another carrier.
UPDATE: According to ArsTechnia Sprint will NOT be selling the iPhone 4S unlocked “However, while Sprint will now support international roaming on GSM networks with the appropriate monthly plan, the company will not be selling the phone unlocked for use with international microSIMs. Ars asked Michelle Mermelstein, a Sprint wireless device public relations representative, to confirm that the Sprint iPhone 4S would not work with international microSIMs. “That is correct,” Mermelstein said. “I believe Verizon’s device works the same way.”
MacWorld’s original post states that “Verizon’s will be initially locked, but if you’ve been a customer in good standing for 60 days, you can call Verizon and ask for an “international unlock.” (A Verizon spokesperson told me that this is Verizon’s standard policy for all world phones—it’s just the first time it’s manifested itself on an iPhone.)”
Did any of you order an iPhone 4S? What carrier did you choose? Did you take international travel into account when making your purchase?