Will that unlocked phone work with your wireless carrier? Here’s how to tell

Google Pixel XL
Julian Chokkattu/Virtual Developments

The times of instantly signing up for a brand new instrument when your telephone contract is up are over. This present day, a good smartphone can see greater than a few summers, so why improve when there’s existence within the previous canine but? Switching to a brand new provider along with your present telephone is a superb method to save cash, and due to telephone unlocking, more uncomplicated than ever.

However, up to we hate to be the bearers of dangerous information, there is also causes you’ll’t transfer to a selected provider — and the ones causes is also your smartphone’s bands. Whilst many smartphones are able to operating on maximum smartphone bandwidths to be had within the U.S., there are some that can not, and the very last thing you wish to have to do is lock into a brand new contract after which in finding out your telephone is incompatible with the provider’s collection of bands.

Working out whether or not an off-contract telephone is suitable along with your community doesn’t need to be intimidating, then again. This information will be capable to let you know all you wish to have to understand.

What are smartphone bands?

iPhone 12 Pro
Andrew Martonik/Virtual Developments

First off, it’s essential to understand what bands are. Smartphone “bands” — brief for bandwidth — are the frequencies your provider makes use of to be in contact along with your telephone. Your telephone wishes as a way to be in contact along with your provider to ensure that your telephone’s fundamental purposes to paintings. Bring to mind it like walkie-talkie channels: In case your provider is the use of channel 4, however your telephone can solely get right of entry to channels one to a few, smartly, you’re now not going to get very a long way. Smartphone bands paintings the similar method, and so they govern your telephone sign for texts and calls, your 4G connection, or even your 5G connection — in case you’re fortunate sufficient to have get right of entry to to 5G.


Simply to make issues reasonably extra complicated, the U.S. additionally has get right of entry to to 2 other community requirements, with every provider the use of one, however now not the opposite. The primary, GSM, stands for “International Device for Mobiles” and is used essentially through T-Cell and AT&T. It’s additionally the extra well-liked community usual across the world, that may be one thing to bear in mind in case you’re making plans on venturing out of doors the U.S. along with your mobile phone.

CDMA (Code Department A couple of Get entry to) is utilized by Dash, Verizon, and U.S. Mobile, and out of doors of the U.S., it’s a long way much less not unusual than GSM. However that doesn’t topic a lot throughout the U.S. when the large carriers are break up between GSM and CDMA. Alternatively, with T-Cell’s acquisition of Dash, that provider’s CDMA community is recently being decommissioned, and bands are both being bought off or transferred to T-Cell.

So that is all very informative, however what does it imply for you? Neatly, GSM and CDM don’t play smartly in combination. If truth be told, they don’t play in any respect. In case your telephone is started working on GSM, it gained’t paintings with CDMA, and vice versa. Fortunately, maximum telephones paintings with each when unlocked, however some notable manufacturers solely paintings with GSM — so it’s essential you recognize which your telephone works with.

What’s an unlocked telephone?

In the most simple of phrases, an “unlocked” telephone is a telephone that’s suitable with a number of cell networks.

You could have purchased an unlocked telephone immediately from the producer or store, or you will have unlocked a telephone that was once up to now locked to a unmarried provider. That is normally achieved on the finish of a freelance, and it’s utterly prison to do. We’ve got a complete information on unlocking your telephone if you wish to have a hand with that.

Some great benefits of an unlocked telephone are beautiful transparent — you’ll apply it to any provider you wish to have. Alternatively, don’t make the error of pondering that this implies bands don’t topic. The bands your telephone can get right of entry to are made up our minds through its hardware, and all unlocking does is permit your telephone to do one thing it was once held again from doing thru locking.

The way to test in case your telephone is suitable

All proper, time to get right down to brass tacks: How do you in finding out what your telephone is able to? Neatly, one of the best ways is to make use of an internet database like WillMyPhoneWork to seem up your telephone and meant provider to peer whether or not they’ll play great. Alternatively, that device has its limits, and you’ll in finding the most recent telephones and the ones with 5G compatability lacking. We’re positive the ones gadgets will likely be added ultimately, however within the period in-between, there are different ways to determine which bands your telephone has.

There are some things you’ll wish to know. First is, in fact, your telephone’s fashion. Relying at the telephone, it can be value understanding your telephone’s fashion quantity. You’ll be able to in finding that through going on your Settings, then hitting About Telephone. You’ll be able to then normally in finding the guidelines you wish to have subsequent to Type Quantity.

Then, head over to a web page like GSMArena. From there, seek for your telephone and get right of entry to GSMArena’s access on your telephone. In case your telephone has other configurations for various fashion numbers, then you definately’ll be ready to choose person fashion numbers above the spec sheet. Choose your fashion, if required, then open the drop-down listing for Era beneath Community. This may listing your entire telephone’s community bands. After that, it’s merely a case of cross-referencing with the community bands your preferred provider supplies.

Right here’s the listing of 3G bands presented through the 4 primary carriers within the U.S.:

Service Community 3G Bands 3G Frequencies
AT&T GSM/UMTS/HSPA+ 2, five 850, 1900
Verizon CDMA zero, 1 850, 1900
T-Cell GSM/UMTS/HSPA+ 1, 2, four 1900, 1700/2100
U.S. Mobile CDMA five, 2 850, 1900

Right here’s a chart that incorporates the 4G bands and frequencies of all 4 primary U.S. carriers:

Service 4G LTE Bands 4G LTE Frequencies
AT&T 2, four, five, 12, 14, 17, 29, 30, 46, 66 700 B/C/D/E/PS, 850, 1700/2100, 1900, 2300, 5200
Verizon 2, four/66, five, 13 850, 1900, 1700 F, 700 C
T-Cell 71, 12, 13, five, four, 66, 2, 25, 41, 48, 46 600 DD, 700 A/B/C, 850, 1700/2100, 1900, 2500, 3500, 5200, 2.five GHz
U.S. Mobile five, 12, four, 2 850,  700 A/B/C, 1700/2100, 1900

Be aware: Bolded bands within the 4G LTE Bands segment are the provider’s primary bands, and your telephone will wish to be suitable with a minimum of such a bands to be suitable with the community.

In spite of everything, in case you’re fortunate sufficient to have get right of entry to to 5G on your house and feature a 5G-capable telephone, right here’s the era your telephone will wish to get right of entry to every provider’s 5G community.

Service 5G Bands 5G Frequencies
AT&T n2, n5, n260 850, 1900, 39 GHz (mmWave)
Verizon n5, n66, n2, n261, n60 850, 1700, 1900, 28 GHz (mmWave), 39 GHz (mmWave)
T-Cell n71, n41, n261, n260 600, 2500, 28 GHz (mmWave), 39 GHz (mmWave)
U.S. Mobile n71 600

A be aware on Dash


You could have spotted that Dash is lacking from the tables above. That’s as a result of, because of T-Cell’s acquisition of the emblem, Dash’s networks are recently within the technique of being decommissioned, and the band get right of entry to will both be bought to different manufacturers or folded into T-Cell’s protection. We’ve got integrated the ones bands shifting to T-Cell within the tables above.

Dash’s use of CDMA can be close down, so Verizon or U.S. Mobile will likely be your solely possible choices in case your telephone has CDMA-only get right of entry to.


Should you’re anyone who’s recently the use of a cell digital community operator or MVNO, the method of figuring out your smartphone’s adaptability is similar … for essentially the most phase. Suppliers reminiscent of Metro PCS, Cricket, and Google Fi retail carrier atop better telecoms, driving at the backs of primary networks like T-Cell and Verizon. After you already know which community your MVNO makes use of to accomplish carrier, regarding that guardian community’s frequencies and bands is essentially the most unswerving and most secure option to conclude whether or not or now not your unlocked handset is supported.

Editors’ Suggestions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *