I have an iPhone 4S with Verizon, and I wanted to know if it would be possible for me to buy an iPhone 5 for the off-contract price and then ship it to my brother in Austria and let him use it there on the GSM network.

The reason I think this might be possible is because the GSM part of the Verizon iPhone 5 comes unlocked.

One obstacle that might stand in the way is if I have to activate the iPhone 5 with Verizon before I send it to him.

  • 1
    I thought that off contract phones were unlocked? But even contract Verizon iPhone 5s are unlocked and will remain so.
    – duci9y
    Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 17:08
  • The phone would just be full-price $649 because I do not want to use my upgrade, so I guess maybe its not considered off contract, just unsubsidized. Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 17:15
  • 1
    I'd advice to purchase the iPhone in Europe. If you send it from the US, you should have to pay an import tax I think. Throughout Europe Apple has already started selling off-contract iPhone 5s. Your brother might then later sell the iPhone before he leaves.
    – gentmatt
    Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 18:07
  • 1
    No - buy the phones here so we get more stock next year :) Kidding aside, of course @gentmatt is correct in saying to get it as close to home as you can. Reward people that open up shop close to you with your business.
    – bmike
    Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 18:13
  • Good point. After tax the phone isn't much cheaper in the US. Have you guys heard that the price of the unlocked iPhone 5's will go down sometime in November? I read it on a few sites the day they made the announcement of the iPhone 5. Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 18:31

1 Answer 1


Yes, for Verizon phones in the US, neither the month-to-month contract (unsubsidized) phones (when they become available) nor the subsidized phones are in any way carrier-locked.

I tested this by establishing AT&T service on my subsidized iPhone 5 before I did anything with the Verizon side of things and it has worked with both data and cellular provisioning on the nano-SIM from AT&T.

The Apple LTE page will guide you to know which frequencies are available for which model of iPhone 5. The model of each phone is conveniently printed on the back plate of each device.

The carrier you intend to get service from is in the best position to guide you in picking a US model to import, but Apple's documentation show no difference in the GSM 3G capabilities of any of the three phones available at launch, namely the A1428 (GSM), A1429 (CDMA or GSM).

  • That is awesome to hear. So really I could just buy the unsubsidized iPhone 5 from verizon and ship it directly to my brother in Austria. Then he could just pop in a nano-sim from his GSM carrier, Drei, over there and it would work like a dream? Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 17:29
  • @novicePrgrmr, assuming the Austrian LTE network uses the frequencies that the Verizon iPhone 5 model supports, then the answer is yes. But check with your brother to see what the LTE specs are and cross-reference that with the Apple LTE page that bmike posted.
    – JW8
    Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 17:42
  • Nothing is a dream with respect to US cellular carriers these days, but the GSM coverage for non-LTE bands appears to be identical in all of the US based phones and an authorized unlock on these is better than in the past where we couldn't use competitors here, but overseas you could.
    – bmike
    Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 17:50
  • I think my bro is planning on using hspa network since the lte is not really built out in Austria. Thoughts on that working out? Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 17:58
  • @novicePrgrmr In Europe DC-HSDPA is widely available which supports a theor. max of 42 Mbit/s. He should be fine with that.
    – gentmatt
    Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 18:10

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