Why not pay the ETF?
May 8, 2012 9:22 AM   Subscribe

Is there a reason not to buy an iPhone from AT&T, pay the ETF, and get it unlocked, instead of paying for an unlocked phone?

$199 (cost) + $325 (ETF) + $39 (activation) + one month of service comes to about the same as the $649 Apple charges for an unlocked device. Maybe you save a few bucks, but not much. However, I do need one month of service while in the US from someone, and this way it's included.

I don't like in the US, so I really need it unlocked.

Web searches seem to indicate that AT&T has no problem unlocking phones once the ETF has been paid.

Is this just asking for trouble?
posted by Nothing to Technology (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I do like the US, I don't, however, live there. Sorry for the typo. (I do have a US address, credit rating, etc, necessary to sign up, if I went that way.)
posted by Nothing at 9:23 AM on May 8, 2012

Biggest problem I see is what if when you try to cancel/unlock, AT&T says no? Even if their policy seems to be otherwise, if the store you go to refuses to do it, and you have a plane to catch the next day, you might be SOL. So maybe go for it, but just give yourself some extra time to get it unlocked, accounting for trips to multiple AT&T locations?
posted by Grither at 9:25 AM on May 8, 2012

The reason I brought up them saying "no" as a possibility was because I could've sworn I'd seen a question here asking what the heck to do since the asker's local AT&T store wouldn't unlock their phone, but for the life of me I can't find it.
posted by Grither at 9:35 AM on May 8, 2012

From AT&T's requirements, you'll have to have service for at least 60 days.
posted by wongcorgi at 9:55 AM on May 8, 2012

An unlocked phone from Apple has both GSM and CDMA capabilities, but that might be moot because no US CDMA provider will accept an unlocked phone on its network.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:00 AM on May 8, 2012

...no US CDMA provider will accept an unlocked phone on its network.

IIRC, both Cricket and WalMart's StraightTalk service use CDMA, and allow unlocked phones.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:39 AM on May 8, 2012

Ah, good to know, thanks.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:42 AM on May 8, 2012

I believe that AT&T will only unlock it for international use, not for other GSM carriers in the US.* If you buy it unlocked from Apple, it will be fully unlocked.

*this is also the case if you get it from Sprint or Verizon and get it unlocked, you won't be able to use it with T-Mobile, for example.
posted by frijole at 1:13 PM on May 8, 2012

I don't think that AT&T will sell you a phone for $199 (with contract) if you don't have US credit history.
posted by zeikka at 1:59 PM on May 8, 2012

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