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I currently have a locked Sprint iPhone 5c from the US, which I'd like to take on a two-month trip to Australia.

I gather that I can unlock my phone by calling Sprint, then buy a local sim card and swap it in once I arrive.

I'm having a difficult time getting accessible information about compatibility. Will all features of the phone (talk, text, data, etc.) still work with the right prepaid sim card? Or are some components of the iPhone 5c incompatible with other networks?

Edit: Thanks for the help so far! I do indeed have a model A1456. I'm hearing from choster that I should be okay as long as the SIM provider uses LTE band 1,3, or 5 (pretty sure I can figure out how to look that up) and from Johns-305 that it needs to be dual-band (am I okay here?). I'm getting slightly conflicting advice; can someone clarify matters for the technically illiterate? ;).

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FrequencyCheck.com is useful for checking for device and network compatibility.

The model number of your iPhone 5c should be printed on the back cover, but model A1456 is the only one that supports all of Sprint's frequencies in the U.S., so it's reasonable to assume that it is the one you have. The Apple spec sheet shows that it supports the following frequencies:

  • GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
  • CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev B. (800, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz)
  • UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz)
  • LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26)

According to FrequencyCheck, this device would be able to connect to the GSM/EDGE, HSPA, and UMTS networks of the major Australian operators— Optus, Telstra, Virgin, and Vodafone— but only half of the LTE bands, as the phone supports bands 1, 3, and 5 but not 7, 28, or 40.

For another source, see Whirlpool's page on Australian Mobile Network Frequencies.

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The first thing you need to do is Bing or Google the exact model number of you phone to see if it is a dual mode model. Or you can start here: Identify you iPhone model.

Sprint and Verizon use CDMA and there are no CDMA networks in Australia so the device will need to also support GSM to be used there.

You might be able to use you current plan but you'll have to contact Sprint to inquire exactly how you plan will work with international roaming. I don't get local SIMs, too much trouble, but I have an all in plan and only use WiFi calling.

If it's unlocked, the phone doesn't care and will use whatever services the network will allow.

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  • @NateEldredge True, I'll clarity. Still, the most important thing is the phone model. – Johns-305 Jun 1 '17 at 19:13
  • @choster Sorry, but your comment is not correct. UMTS is part of GSM and either way, CDMA and GSM are in no way compatible, even with LTE. I hope that wasn't the reason for the downvote because it's wrong. A Sprint phone will only work in Australia if its dual band which I explained in the Answer. – Johns-305 Jun 1 '17 at 22:13
  • Again, the point is that many iPhones have radios for both UMTS and EVDO. I've posted my own answer. – choster Jun 1 '17 at 22:16
  • @choster No all though so it's worth checking. I would have for OP to discover this only after arriving in Australia. It is 100% good advice. – Johns-305 Jun 2 '17 at 2:24
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    @Johns-305 "Band" isn't the appropriate term to describe what you want, e.g. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Band_(radio). e.g. the 850 MHz band is distinct from the 1900 MHz band, and both can be used for GSM, CDMA IS-95a, CDMA EvDO, UMTS/HSPA, or LTE, yet each remains an individual band. In ham radio we also refer to bands as ranges of frequencies (e.g. 14.000-14.350 MHz is the 20-metre band, whether we use Morse code, single sideband, AM, or any one of dozens of incompatible digital modes). "Dual-tech" would be the correct way to refer to a dual GSM/CDMA device. – Jim MacKenzie Nov 19 '17 at 16:34

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