Using a China/HK iPhone 6 in US and UK/Europe?
May 24, 2015 5:08 AM   Subscribe

I've been offered a spare iPhone 6 by a relative (my current US iPhone 4S on a AT&T phone is aging and not always working well) but this iPhone 6 was bought in Hong Kong and was used in China. Is it possible for me to use it on a US carrier plan without too much extra trouble/expense? What about in the UK and elsewhere in Europe ? Will I be able to transfer the iPhone 6 to my US Apple account (with all my iTunes/App Store content) OK? Thanks for your tips, MeFites!
posted by zresearch to Technology (7 answers total)
It should be fine to use a HK/China iPhone anywhere. I think since the 5S all iPhones are the same and can be used anywhere. My Verizon iPhone 6 has never had a problem using random SIM cards in different countries.
posted by foodgeek at 7:26 AM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You'll definitely be able to transfer your iTunes, etc. content to the new phone. You'd just sign in with your Apple ID and start downloading stuff, no problem.

Is the phone an unlocked LTE-compatible phone? If so, you'll be able to use it on at least AT&T or T-Mobile in the US without any problems--just get a SIM card from one of their stores and pop it in. The one thing I'd be concerned about is radio frequency bands, as not all countries use the same LTE frequencies and I know there have been issues with previous iPhone models being limited to 3G or HSPA (the "4G" indicator on the iPhone corresponds to this) outside their home country--or even their home carrier--because the LTE radio didn't match the frequency used by that carrier. I'm having a hard time finding a definitive answer to this in my quick research, so it'd be worth looking into. Not sure if this is even a problem with the 6 (though from foodgeek's comment it sounds like it isn't, which is good).

I think the user experience would still be superior to the 4S (larger screen, faster processor, etc.) even in the unlikely event you couldn't use LTE, for what it's worth.
posted by Kosh at 7:27 AM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Not all iPhones are the same, unfortunately. Here are the three different models. Your potential phone is almost certainly A1586, so you'll be fine in Europe (and almost anywhere in the world), but may not get top speeds in the US.
posted by ssg at 7:51 AM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Correction: You will actually be fine. I failed to read the small print that says the A1586 model supports all the networks listed for the other two models. So no problem!
posted by ssg at 7:53 AM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Nothing to worry about. iPhone 6 and 6+ are "universal". They are the most globally compatible phone in the world. Apple really wanted to make "one phone to rule them all" and they are very very close. The main difference is in LTE support, and US is a very weird situation where our LTE bands are pieced together from a lot of different spectrums because we auctioned off spectrums and takes YEARS to get it back and repurpose, so our "bands" for LTE never seem to match everybody else's around the world. So your phone will work, but it may not work at the highest speed available due to compatibility with the specific carrier's LTE network IN YOUR AREA.

If you don't use data much, or is mostly on WiFi, doubt you'll ever know the difference.
posted by kschang at 9:27 AM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Nothing at all to worry about. The HK iPhone comes unlocked. Get a SIM card in the US from your preferred carrier and you're set to go.

My current iPhone 6 is from Japan, but my previous iPhone 5 was from HK and I used it in the US with no issues. My iPhone 4 before that was from Mainland China, and I also used it in the US.
posted by xmts at 6:39 PM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yay!! Thanks for the great and welcome info everyone
posted by zresearch at 7:13 AM on May 25, 2015

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