I currently have verizon and I'm looking to upgrade my phone. If I buy the phone from this page http://www.apple.com/shop/buy-iphone/iphone5s and choose the "SIM-Free" option (below), will that work for me? or do I have to click the verizon button and put my account info in? Also, I currently have an android phone, that requires a verizon sim card. Can I just put my old simcard into the new iPhone when it arrives? Thanks in advance.
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3 Answers 3


There are two different iPhone 5s models sold in the US -- the CDMA model for Verizon or Sprint (which also supports GSM connectivity for international use) and the GSM model. The unlocked phone is the GSM model, so it won't support CDMA and won't talk to Verizon's network (except perhaps for data (not voice) on 4G/LTE, where Verizon uses GSM like the rest of the world). So you can buy an unlocked phone and put a Verizon SIM in it, but it will at best only work with Verizon for data, and only in areas where they have 4G coverage.

Just look at the bottom of the page you link to in your question, where it says:

If you buy a SIM-free iPhone, you will need to purchase a GSM-compatible nano-SIM card separately. In the United States, you can purchase such a SIM from AT&T or T-Mobile.


This is an old question, but I've seen similar questions about the iPhone 6, 6s and SE now, which are all offered "SIM-free". You can buy a SIM-free and it will work on Verizon or AT&T, and possibly on Sprint (depends on phone and model). The days of CDMA (Verizon and Sprint) vs GSM (AT&T and most others) are almost gone. There are still some 3G and older phones being used. CDMA with Verizon is considered a "legacy" system to support those old phones and it will likely still be in place for a while. The last iPhone which had different CDMA and GSM versions was the iPhone 4. Starting with the 4S the phones were the same with both CDMA and GSM, but Verizon locked the GSM in theirs for only overseas use outside the USA (it's possible to get this unlocked). Starting with the iPhone 5, they're the same and can be switched at will, provided it's not locked to a contract. You can buy an unlocked SIM-free iPhone 5 or newer and all you need is a SIM card for your carrier (a nano SIM card; the iPhone 4S uses a larger micro SIM card). Should be noted there are different models for different regions of the world because some different bands are used in different regions. Be certain you get a USA model if you're in the USA and buy a used phone. I verified that the same exact model of my iPhone 5S was sold and used for AT&T and Verizon in the USA; the only difference is the SIM card. Same applies to the iPhone 6, 6S and SE. You can buy a SIM-free and either use the SIM card in your old phone (provided it's a nano size SIM and not a micro or mini size), or you get another SIM from your carrier for it. You're still responsible for any contractual obligations that remain on the old phone which may present some hurdles such as having to pay an early contract termination fee, or require paying off the phone completely. With Verizon, you can switch phones on a particular line at will, provided all the contractual obligations with the existing one have been satisfied (e.g. if you had a 2-year contract on it, you've finished the 2 years). You do not have to use the "upgrade" path in the on-line Apple store for which Verizon now charges a $20 upgrade fee (I don't know what AT&T, Sprint or others charge). Note: the SIM-free iPhone SE will work on AT&T or VZW, or a host of other networks in the USA, except Sprint which requires a different model of the iPhone SE.

  • This answer directly contradicts the accepted answer regarding the 5S, leaving me confused. Do you have a source for this info?
    – stone
    May 28, 2017 at 5:32

I'd just call a Version representative on the phone, go to a Verizon store, or contact Apple in either of those ways if you want a definitive answer.

That being said, I'd imagine that that SIM-free iPhone would work with Verizon or the other three carriers due to you not having to specify which one you wish to you the iPhone on. I couldn't be sure, though.

Also, as long as your SIM in your old phone is a nano-SIM card, then it will fit your new iPhone perfectly. That's all you should have to do to activate your iPhone, too, is just put that SIM card in it.

P.S. If you intend on keeping your iPhone for a couple years, you'd be better off either buying a new iPhone 6S or a used iPhone 5S or iPhone 6, not a new iPhone 5S. While a 5S is certainly fine today, in a couple of years it will feel kind of dated (like using an iPhone 4S, today), this is especially bad since it costs at least $550, depending on what model you get. The same configuration iPhone 6S is $200 more, but it'd be worth it, and you'd really appreciate buying a newer model in a couple of years. If you'd don't want to spend any more than what a new 5S costs, though, you could just buy a used iPhone 5S for around $300 on eBay, and a couple hundred or so more for a used iPhone 6. I'd take a used iPhone 6 over a new iPhone 5S any day, but maybe that's just me.


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