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Old 04-01-2012, 01:00 AM   #1
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Need to unlock my iPhone 4S for good reason...can it be done?

Hi all,

I've been with Sprint for 12 years. Late last year I moved to rural north-central Oregon. I was told by a Sprint Rep that even though I'd be roaming, I should still be able to use an Airave here so long as I maintain broadband (I have DSL). Unfortunately, two months after moving here and struggling to find out why it won't work, I learned it wouldn't work at all because there aren't even any partner towers here. The closest I can get into any Sprint range is about 30 miles away. So 100% of my calls in my home area are ROAMING. Airave is useless. My location has been confirmed by Sprint on their coverage maps as being nowhere near Sprint range.

Since September, I've been roaming and I use a lot of minutes from my 1500 minutes Everything Data Family plan (the rest of my family is in Sprint areas). Though I can keep the roaming to under the 800 minutes roaming per line cap, there is no way I can meet Sprint's requirement that 50% of the total minutes used by a line has to be in-network in order for roaming to be okay. I learned that it applies no matter how many or how few minutes (that is, 1 minute or 1,000 minutes), the rule applies. I rarely go into town, maybe once a week or every other week and I rarely make calls from there. As a consequence, 90% of my calls are roaming. Thus, I'm getting calls from the Roaming Dept. on a regular basis and the discussion boils down to either I stop using my phone unless I'm in town (nice way to get value out of the $100/mo I spend on my line alone) or I go to AT&T (they said they'd waive my ETF), otherwise I'd get a nice little letter saying I'd be shut down.

So, the plan is to go to AT&T. I thought I had to buy THEIR (GSM) iPhone 4S and then turn around to sell mine to make up for the cost. Also that because my credit isn't so hot, they required a $500 deposit.

However...tonight I chatted with a rep at AT&T about the situation and asked him "what if I bought a refurbished iPhone or an unlocked one?" I require an iPhone 4S because it is the only phone to date that works with my hearing aids' bluetooth technology (Bluetooth 4 A2DP-I'm 100% dependent on my hearing aids for everything). He then asked me if my iPhone 4S has a SIM slot. I said yes, "but it's a CDMA phone." He corrected me by saying "it's a world phone" and said that it CAN be unlocked for use on a GSM network. Because I already HAVE a phone, I wouldn't be required to have a contract, thus no deposit needed. I'd just get a plan and pay it like any other. He said I should contact Sprint to see if they'd be willing to unlock my phone, given my current situation. Since the SIM card in the phone is over 90 days old (I've had the phone since mid-December), I'd have to get a SIM card from them but they can send one. So, currently eyeing a month-to-month 450 minute plan that includes 100% free roaming (no restrictions, only eats the minutes), 3GB total of data (i usually do no more than 1.5 GB/mo) which includes data roaming and unlimited text/media messages plus unlimited calls to other cell phones in any other network for $90/mo. Not too bad. It's not as good as what I have with Sprint now, but it's decent and meets my needs.

SO...my question to all of you is this:

do you think Sprint, given my current situation, would be willing to unlock my phone for me? Or is it a hassle? Or will they not do it at all? Again, I'm in a confirmed 100% roaming, no Sprint service, area where Airave doesn't even get service. I'm a long time customer in good standing. The rest of my family may just migrate off to their own prepaid plans, etc. if I quit Sprint (supposedly would waive the ETF for the other lines as well). I don't want to leave Sprint as I've been happy with it for so long, but there's really no other way. I've talked to supervisors and they just will NOT cut me any slack with regard to the fact that I'm almost completely roaming on my calls here. I don't want to get shut off. The nearest AT&T tower is, literally 2 miles outside of my town and is on a hill within eyesight from my kitchen, thus 100% strong voice and EDGE (no 3G, though) coverage.

On the one hand, I'm sad to leave Sprint, but on the other hand, I'm happy at the potential solution to my problem.

Any thoughts on this?
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Old 04-01-2012, 01:07 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by mtnmedic View Post
Hi all,

I've been with Sprint for 12 years. Late last year I moved to rural north-central Oregon. I was told by a Sprint Rep that even though I'd be roaming, I should still be able to use an Airave here so long as I maintain broadband (I have DSL). Unfortunately, two months after moving here and struggling to find out why it won't work, I learned it won't work at all because there aren't even any partner towers here. The closest I can get into any Sprint range is about 30 miles away. So 100% of my calls in my home area are ROAMING. Airave is useless. My location has been confirmed by Sprint on their coverage maps as being nowhere near Sprint range.

Since September, I've been roaming and I use a lot of minutes from my 1500 minutes Everything Data Family plan (the rest of my family is in Sprint areas). Though I can keep the roaming to under the 800 minutes roaming per line cap, there is no way I can meet Sprint's requirement that 50% of the total minutes used by a line has to be in-network in order for roaming to be okay. I learned that it applies no matter how many or how few minutes (that is, 1 minute or 1,000 minutes), the rule applies. I rarely go into town, maybe once a week or every other week and I rarely make calls from there. As a consequence, 90% of my calls are roaming. Thus, I'm getting calls from the Roaming Dept. on a regular basis and the discussion boils down to either I stop using my phone unless I'm in town (nice way to get value out of the $100/mo I spend on my line alone) or I go to AT&T (they said they'd waive my ETF), otherwise I'd get a nice little letter saying I'd be shut down.

So, the plan is to go to AT&T. I thought I had to buy THEIR (GSM) iPhone 4S and then turn around to sell mine to make up for the cost. Also that because my credit isn't so hot, they required a $500 deposit.

However...tonight I chatted with a rep at AT&T about the situation and asked him "what if I bought a refurbished iPhone or an unlocked one?" I require an iPhone 4S because it is the only phone to date that works with my hearing aids' bluetooth technology (Bluetooth 4 A2DP-I'm 100% dependent on my hearing aids for everything). He then asked me if my iPhone 4S has a SIM slot. I said yes, "but it's a CDMA phone." He corrected me by saying "it's a world phone" and said that it CAN be unlocked for use on a GSM network. Because I already HAVE a phone, I wouldn't be required to have a contract, thus no deposit needed. I'd just get a plan and pay it like any other. He said I should contact Sprint to see if they'd be willing to unlock my phone, given my current situation. Since the SIM card in the phone is over 90 days old (I've had the phone since mid-December), I'd have to get a SIM card from them but they can send one. So, currently eyeing a month-to-month 450 minute plan that includes 100% free roaming (no restrictions, only eats the minutes), 3GB total of data (i usually do no more than 1.5 GB/mo) which includes data roaming and unlimited text/media messages plus unlimited calls to other cell phones in any other network for $90/mo. Not too bad. It's not as good as what I have with Sprint now, but it's decent and meets my needs.

SO...my question to all of you is this:

do you think Sprint, given my current situation, would be willing to unlock my phone for me? Or is it a hassle? Or will they not do it at all? Again, I'm in a confirmed 100% roaming, no Sprint service, area where Airave doesn't even get service. I'm a long time customer in good standing. The rest of my family may just migrate off to their own prepaid plans, etc. if I quit Sprint (supposedly would waive the ETF for the other lines as well). I don't want to leave Sprint as I've been happy with it for so long, but there's really no other way. I've talked to supervisors and they just will NOT cut me any slack with regard to the fact that I'm almost completely roaming on my calls here. I don't want to get shut off. The nearest AT&T tower is, literally 2 miles outside of my town and is on a hill within eyesight from my kitchen, thus 100% strong voice and EDGE (no 3G, though) coverage.

On the one hand, I'm sad to leave Sprint, but on the other hand, I'm happy at the potential solution to my problem.

Any thoughts on this?
I don't believe unlocking your iPhone will let it use AT&T services. You may be better off trying to sell your Sprint iPhone on ebay and using that money to pay for your new AT&T iPhone.

I am moving this to the Apple discussion......

Edit: I don't believe a deposit is based on getting a device at a discounted price. I think it is just to be able to have a service that is not prepaid. I may be wrong, but that is how it has always been.
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Old 04-01-2012, 01:10 AM   #3
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I don't believe unlocking your iPhone will let it use AT&T services. You may be better off trying to sell your Sprint iPhone on ebay and using that money to pay for your new AT&T iPhone.

I am moving this to the Apple discussion......
As I understand it, the iPhone 4S is a world phone and has a SIM card slot on the side. From what I've heard, this is GSM and CDMA, and that Sprint would unlock it for international useupon request. Can anyone confirm this?

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Old 04-01-2012, 01:16 AM   #4
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As I understand it, the iPhone 4S is a world phone and has a SIM card slot on the side. From what I've heard, this is GSM and CDMA, and that Sprint would unlock it for international useupon request. Can anyone confirm this?

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They will contact Apple who will unlock it for international use. LIke many Sprint "world" phones, I believe they basically blacklist AT&T and T-Mobile from the carriers the phone will even connect to.

I could be wrong though, and if I am all the better for you. The only other option would likely be a jailbreak
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Old 04-01-2012, 01:17 AM   #5
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I am moving this to the Apple discussion......

Edit: I don't believe a deposit is based on getting a device at a discounted price. I think it is just to be able to have a service that is not prepaid. I may be wrong, but that is how it has always been.
not sure why this is an "Apple" discussion when it's mostly about unlocking, CDMA, GSM, etc but I'll go with it. :-). Maybe someone in the Apple discussion will have more insight.

According to the rep I spoke with at AT&T, the deposit is for having a contract. If I wanted an iPhone, I would have to get one on contract. They do not offer iPhones as part of their non contract services.

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Old 04-01-2012, 01:20 AM   #6
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not sure why this is an "Apple" discussion when it's mostly about unlocking, CDMA, GSM, etc but I'll go with it. :-). Maybe someone in the Apple discussion will have more insight.

According to the rep I spoke with at AT&T, the deposit is for having a contract. If I wanted an iPhone, I would have to get one on contract. They do not offer iPhones as part of their non contract services.

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I figured more apple customers who had gotten their iPhones unlocked would have the best info on what carriers work on an unlocked SIM slot as opposed to what can be done if you can jailbreak it.
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Old 04-01-2012, 05:30 AM   #7
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You are able to use your Sprint iPhone on AT&T if you buy one of these: http://applenberry.com/store/gevey-s...tra-s-for-cdma

Your iPhone will need to be on iOS 5.0 or 5.0.1, because you will need to jailbreak your iPhone.

Beyond using the Gevey SIM, there is no way to get your Sprint iPhone working on AT&T at this time. Sprint will unlock your iPhone but the unlock will only work on GSM carriers outside of the US.

Since your are facing a deposit for AT&T, you should look into Straight Talk. Its GSM and will work with the Gevey SIM + your current Sprint iPhone. They use AT&T as their MVNO network so you'd be getting unlimited AT&T service for much cheaper and with no deposit.

Hope that helps!
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Old 04-08-2012, 08:13 AM   #8
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I have a jailbroken iphone4 running 5.01... so i can unlock it to straight talk?? im tired of paying this high a** sprint bill.. that continues to get higher and higher with hidden and new sprint fees every other month
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Old 04-08-2012, 05:04 PM   #9
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I have a jailbroken iphone4 running 5.01... so i can unlock it to straight talk?? im tired of paying this high a** sprint bill.. that continues to get higher and higher with hidden and new sprint fees every other month
It would have to be a 4S, since the 4S is a world phone and includes GSM bands. The iPhone 4 is CDMA only, so there is no unlocking it for straight talk or any other GSM carrier.

If you really want though, the iPhone 4 should be able to be flashed to Cricket or MetroPCS, since they are both CDMA.
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Old 04-08-2012, 05:30 PM   #10
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It would have to be a 4S, since the 4S is a world phone and includes GSM bands. The iPhone 4 is CDMA only, so there is no unlocking it for straight talk or any other GSM carrier.

If you really want though, the iPhone 4 should be able to be flashed to Cricket or MetroPCS, since they are both CDMA.
im gonna definitely check it out.... probably gonna go with metro if they can flash it
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Old 04-09-2012, 03:14 AM   #11
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You are able to use your Sprint iPhone on AT&T if you buy one of these: http://applenberry.com/store/gevey-s...tra-s-for-cdma

Your iPhone will need to be on iOS 5.0 or 5.0.1, because you will need to jailbreak your iPhone.

Beyond using the Gevey SIM, there is no way to get your Sprint iPhone working on AT&T at this time. Sprint will unlock your iPhone but the unlock will only work on GSM carriers outside of the US.

Since your are facing a deposit for AT&T, you should look into Straight Talk. Its GSM and will work with the Gevey SIM + your current Sprint iPhone. They use AT&T as their MVNO network so you'd be getting unlimited AT&T service for much cheaper and with no deposit.

Hope that helps!
Thanks. Well a lot has happened since I posted. I chatted with AT&T reps online and was told that I could just get an unlocked iPhone (AT&T) from Apple at full price and could then use it off-contract, thus no deposit was needed. I could sell my Sprint iPhone 4S for a nice sum to make up for most of the cost of the unlocked one. So, I ordered one, being told that I would have to still get a SIM from AT&T for it. With a three day shipping time, I drove to the nearest AT&T store...1 hour away, to get a SIM card. When I arrived, the folks at the AT&T vendor said I would still have to pay a $500 deposit. What? I spoke with a supervisor. According to them, I couldn't have an iPhone on AT&T without a contract and it won't work with any of their GoPhone plans. Even if it's an unlocked AT&T iPhone 4S from Apple. I reiterated what I'd gotten from a rep in previous chat and they said it didn't matter. Nothing could be done. I was furious. And exasperated. I really needed my iPhone 4S-any iPhone 4S-(because it's the only phone that will work with my Bluetooth enabled hearing aids) on AT&T as I was being targeted by Sprint for shutdown because of all the roaming in my home area (no Sprint for 35 miles, not even a partner tower and no Airave coverage). So I finally buckled and just got an iPhone 4S from the vendor, ported my number over, signed the contract, ponied up the deposit and left. Then advertised my Sprint iPhone, which is no longer on-network (I still have it). Needless to say, I'm royally pissed.

FWIW, Apple says that, according to THEIR records, my iPhone 4S is unlocked. Not sure how much that matters at this point, being that Sprint supposedly locked the SIMs back in November (I bought it in December) and they refused to unlock it, despite me no longer using that phone with them.

Anyway, I contacted Apple to have the new factory unlocked iPhone intercepted during shipment and returned. They've received it back and I'm awaiting a refund of the $650.

It's only been a few days and already I have my first bill. Apparently they bill ahead. My plan is $70/mo for 450 rollover minutes and 3GB of data, with 20 cents per text and 30 cents per media message (I rarely use either,map no sense in paying $20/mo for it). I have a 30 day window for return and release from contract, minus $35 restock fee.

I am so sick of the unregulated corporate greed that locks and railroads consumers into expensive, one-sided contracts with all of their "gotchas" and ever-changing policies. 12 years of faithful business with Sprint has gone down the toilet because of their ridiculous 50% in-network calls rule for roaming. I'm giving some serious consideration toward an unlocked iPhone for use on AT&T towers, particularly with Straight Talk's prepaid $45/mo plan. I thought about your suggestion regarding the Gevey SIM, etc with my Sprint iPhone 4S. However, I'm not into jailbreaking as I like all of the great updates Apple provides plus I'm satisfied with the App Store offerings. I like having no complexities when it comes to servicing, warranty, replacing, etc. I don't want to have to hassle with jailbreaking vs iOS updates. I don't want the risks of issues with performance, reliability and compatibility when it comes to jailbreaking, as few as they may seem to be. Then, as I've read, there are issues with getting the Gevey SIM to work right. It just seems like a big hassle. I don't want to have to tool around with my phone so much just to get it to work on AT&T towers on a prepaid plan like Straight Talk. So an unlocked phone from Apple may be the best, simplest solution. That is, unless I can get compelling reasons why I should jailbreak and use a Gevey on my current Sprint iPhone 4S and just return thus AT&T one.

Then there's my concern as to whether Straight Talk's web/Internet access will be any good for my purposes. I don't use a great deal of mobile Internet access from my phone (typically 1 GB worth every 1-2 months at most). I'm usually at home in Wi-Fi range. There is an AT&T tower 2 miles from my house which gives full strength voice and EDGE. AT&T has 4G in the Bend/Redmond, OR area, over an hour from here, which I visit once a week. I use mobile Internet there and on-the-go fairly often when I'm away from home (using my iPad or iPhone). I enjoy listening to my sports broadcasts, web surfing, apps, etc. via mobile Internet while in town and driving home after a long day of errands. One concern I have with Straight Talk is voice roaming and data roaming, both of which Sprint and AT&T do provide as part of a contract. I don't know how they handle roaming at Straight Talk. Then I read about how Straight Talk is really 2G in 3G areas, SMS doesn't work as in regular fashion (unless using the iMessage app, but few people I know have iOS devices), etc.

So, a little education is in order. I love the idea of paying $45/mo for unlimited talk, messaging and Internet (again, I'm a fairly light web user) and would love to see that work on an iPhone 4S out here in my area.

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Old 04-09-2012, 12:14 PM   #12
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mtnmedic, you don't need an unlocked iPhone to use it on AT&T.

The way I would have done it is,

1. Trade your iPhone 4S for an AT&T iPhone 4S, adding $ if necessary. This way you don't pay the inflated MSRP, which is mostly inflated because the phone comes to you unlocked.
2. Call AT&T corporate and ask them to send you a SIM card, mentioning you want to start a non-contract plan, if they ask.
3. Insert SIM in your phone and activate through iTunes.
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Old 04-09-2012, 12:44 PM   #13
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mtnmedic, you don't need an unlocked iPhone to use it on AT&T.

The way I would have done it is,

1. Trade your iPhone 4S for an AT&T iPhone 4S, adding $ if necessary. This way you don't pay the inflated MSRP, which is mostly inflated because the phone comes to you unlocked.
2. Call AT&T corporate and ask them to send you a SIM card, mentioning you want to start a non-contract plan, if they ask.
3. Insert SIM in your phone and activate through iTunes.
Hmmm...

1) My iPhone 4S is SPRINT. Trade to whom? Doubt AT&T-why would they want any CDMA phones? Apple for their unlocked AT&T iPhone 4S? Someone on craigslist? What do you mean there, exactly? Never thought of trading it in.

2) I was told by a manager in a phone call that I couldn't GET any kind of plan with data on the iPhone 4S without a contract, thus it didn't matter if I had an unlocked phone or not, I would still have to pay up the deposit and GoPhone plans don't work with the iPhone 4S. That's what they told me. That's why I became so exasperated and got an AT&T contract iPhone 4S. Fortunately, I have a 30-day window to return it for refund of purchase and deposit (minus the $35 restock fee).

3) Sounds simple enough.

I have to be super careful with all of this and the information I get from people because the NEAREST AT&T store is 1.5 hours from here (I got the AT&T phone from a franchiser called Activate Cellular, 1 hour away). I don't want to go through all of this B.S. of driving 60-70 miles only to find out that what I was told is incorrect....again.
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Old 04-10-2012, 02:24 PM   #14
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Hmmm...

1) My iPhone 4S is SPRINT. Trade to whom? Doubt AT&T-why would they want any CDMA phones? Apple for their unlocked AT&T iPhone 4S? Someone on craigslist? What do you mean there, exactly? Never thought of trading it in.

2) I was told by a manager in a phone call that I couldn't GET any kind of plan with data on the iPhone 4S without a contract, thus it didn't matter if I had an unlocked phone or not, I would still have to pay up the deposit and GoPhone plans don't work with the iPhone 4S. That's what they told me. That's why I became so exasperated and got an AT&T contract iPhone 4S. Fortunately, I have a 30-day window to return it for refund of purchase and deposit (minus the $35 restock fee).

3) Sounds simple enough.

I have to be super careful with all of this and the information I get from people because the NEAREST AT&T store is 1.5 hours from here (I got the AT&T phone from a franchiser called Activate Cellular, 1 hour away). I don't want to go through all of this B.S. of driving 60-70 miles only to find out that what I was told is incorrect....again.
I'm glad you got everything figured out, although not in an optimal manner.

To answer you trading question, there are many websites online that will pay you for used electronics, but I only use Amazon. They have a trade in program where they will give you a Amazon gift card for your stuff. For example a 16GB Sprint iPhone 4S is worth $400. You could then buy your new phone on Amazon with the gift card. There are other websites that will give you cash but I like the process and reliability of Amazon's service.


About Straight Talk, I can tell you that data works just like a normal AT&T phone, if you have HSPA+ (4G) available, you will get 4G speeds. If not, you will be on EDGE. You do have to be on AT&T's towers though, Straight Talk customers do not have access to what would be Roaming/Partner coverage for AT&T customers, so that may be a problem.

I feel your pain though. Where I live, Verizon is the only the only major wireless company. AT&T here is roaming, NO T-Mobile coverage at all, and Sprint is roaming on Verizon. I also got kicked off of Sprint for too much roaming.

So I now have to pay Verizon $91.60/month for 1 line with 450 minutes, 500 text messages (and unlimited Verizon to Verizon text messages), and 2GB of data. Talk about a rip-off!!!

I am moving in May 2013, and where I am moving to has Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T! I cannot wait to have some choices over who my carrier is, but I'm seriously thinking Straight Talk is the way to go.

But good luck!
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Old 04-10-2012, 06:35 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by andre141

I'm glad you got everything figured out, although not in an optimal manner.

To answer you trading question, there are many websites online that will pay you for used electronics, but I only use Amazon. They have a trade in program where they will give you a Amazon gift card for your stuff. For example a 16GB Sprint iPhone 4S is worth $400. You could then buy your new phone on Amazon with the gift card. There are other websites that will give you cash but I like the process and reliability of Amazon's service.

About Straight Talk, I can tell you that data works just like a normal AT&T phone, if you have HSPA+ (4G) available, you will get 4G speeds. If not, you will be on EDGE. You do have to be on AT&T's towers though, Straight Talk customers do not have access to what would be Roaming/Partner coverage for AT&T customers, so that may be a problem.

I feel your pain though. Where I live, Verizon is the only the only major wireless company. AT&T here is roaming, NO T-Mobile coverage at all, and Sprint is roaming on Verizon. I also got kicked off of Sprint for too much roaming.

So I now have to pay Verizon $91.60/month for 1 line with 450 minutes, 500 text messages (and unlimited Verizon to Verizon text messages), and 2GB of data. Talk about a rip-off!!!

I am moving in May 2013, and where I am moving to has Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T! I cannot wait to have some choices over who my carrier is, but I'm seriously thinking Straight Talk is the way to go.

But good luck!
Thanks for the info. I appreciate it. Found a local buyer who will take my Sprint iPhone 4S for $425 so I'm happy about that. Could put that into a new locked AT&T phone or perhaps an Apple unlocked one to give me a little more flexibility, then return this contract AT&T phone, get my $700 there back (minus the $35 restock fee). Very interested in Straight Talk as that should suffice for my needs.

Pardon my ignorance but...I thought that in going from a 4G area into a 3G area, you would just drop to that speed. And down to EDGE if you go out of a 3G area, etc. Like my AT&T iPad 3 does.

The AT&T iPhone 4S isn't a 4G device anyway, but it's a bit faster than 3G phones (although the recent iOS update gave it a funky 4G indicator where the 3G one was, which is misleading). I get good 3G when I'm in a 3G or 4G area. So if I'm on Straight Talk using AT&T towers in a 4G or 3G area, won't I just get 3G or would I really drop to EDGE because the 4S isn't a true 4G phone to take advantage of HSPA+? That would suck. I can see EDGE in a rural area.

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