I'm shopping for a used iphone here in U.S. to take to Brazil. I’m not sure how to evaluate if I want to prioritize GSM or CDMA for this area.

Is there advice or references that can help me decide?

  • 1
    Welcome to Ask Different. What does your carrier of choice in Brazil recommend? This seems entirely like a question for cellular carriers, but perhaps with an edit we can help explain where Apple documents in excruciating detail which frequencies each of the dozens of models of devices support.
    – bmike
    Jun 14 '20 at 16:43
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    Does this answer your question? Does iPhone need to be Unlocked GSM to work in Cuba?
    – Allan
    Jun 14 '20 at 18:24
  • The dupe link, while about Cuba specifically, contains a link to GSM Arena where you can select the country of your choice. The answer written covers all questions of this nature - what version (radio) should you get.
    – Allan
    Jun 14 '20 at 18:26
  • @Allan I would prefer we answer this and vote it up if it’s a duplicate. Put in the answer how the duplicate covers this - then VTC after voting up. I just don’t get a down vote for something clear enough to identify a dupe. It’s clear and relevant and on topic - no matter how vague it might look, seems +1 to me. It still might end up closed as dupe, but it will help to have an answer either way here and not just comments.
    – bmike
    Jun 14 '20 at 20:34

I'm shopping for a used iPhone to take to Brazil. Should I buy GSM or CDMA?

This answer applies to any country and (technically) any phone. Therefore, I’m writing it as a canonical answer for future queries of this nature.

You need to find out what type of technology is being used.

The best place would be to contact the local carrier. In Brazil, it’s Vivo, Claro, TIM, and Oi. You will want to check with them because different carriers use different technologies. Here in the US, AT&T uses GSM, while Verizon uses CDMA, for example.

However, you can get a good idea of what technologies are being used in a country with the help from the web site GSM Arena. They maintain a fairly comprehensive database of the different radio types and frequencies used in a particular country. Below is a screen grab of their entry for Brazil.

Brazil GSM Arena

Here we can see that for 2G they use GSM, 3G they use UMTS and for 4G the use LTE. CDMA is nowhere to be found.

It’s always best to check directly with your provider (whether it be cell services, email hosting, or even personal services) rather than with “the guy from the Internet.” My information is accurate today, but I’m not a representative of the company and all of it can change tomorrow. I’d rather you know how to obtain the correct info rather than hope the info is still correct.

  • 2
    Many of the iPhones unlocked on CDMA fully support GSM as well, so if I was OP I would pay the little extra to get an unlocked CDMA phone. As an aside, when I was in Paraguay on Claro it used GSM. Great info Allan! I wish I had this before I sweated up a storm before my trip. Jun 15 '20 at 3:41

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