Phones forum


Can I take an unlocked phone from TMobile to Verizon?

by quilter_gal / June 10, 2013 10:33 PM PDT

Currently have 4 months remaining on TMobile contract w/ 4 phones. Daughter gets NO coverage (not even emergency only calls) on her college campus; phones work in our house about 10% of time. Plan was to sit tight till contract expired and switch to Verizon. But two phones now experiencing problems with keyboard and want to act sooner. Cancellation penalty is $400. Can I buy an unlocked phone, use it on TMobile for duration of contract, then bring it to Verizon? Older posts ('05) talk about difference in technology between the two, but more current posts speculate that problem may no longer exist. HELP!

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All Answers

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Keep in mind
by birdmantd Forum moderator / June 10, 2013 11:44 PM PDT

Verizon and T-mobile devices are not compatible. They use different networks (Verizon=CDMA, T-Mobile=GSM). The only phone that comes to mind that could be used is the iPhone 5. Hope that helps.

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Plan B
by quilter_gal / June 11, 2013 12:07 AM PDT
In reply to: Keep in mind

That's what I was afraid of. I think we'll go with Plan B - buy 2 cheap phones ($40-$50) to just get us through until the contract expires, avoid the early termination fee, then change to Verizon (the ONLY carrier that works on daughter's campus) and get the free or discounted phones when we sign up for a plan there. We won't get any new features, but if we can text and call for the next few months, we'll be better off than we are now!


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How did you end up w/ T-Mo if...
by Pepe7 / June 11, 2013 1:03 AM PDT
In reply to: Plan B

...your current T-Mobile service/phones only work 10% of the time at your home(?) Call me curious Wink

Your plan seems like it would be the most economical, if Verizon is the only way to stay on a family plan with free calling to your college student's cellular line.

T-Mobile does have wifi calling options for improving cellular service inside, FWIW. And if you continue to experience one giant cellular dead spot @ home, you could opt to install an amplifier/repeater solution that works across several different carriers. It's expensive to install (up front costs), but does not require any additional payments to a carrier.

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coverage at home
by quilter_gal / June 11, 2013 2:27 AM PDT

Tell me more about this FWIW. If that could solve the coverage problem we might be able to keep most of us on TMobile (which is cheaper) and leave daughter on Verizon for $50/month (and call it a cost of going to college there).

How'd we end up with TMobile? In the beginning... the coverage at our home was fine. Over time we noticed that we couldn't get bars unless we turned the phone off and then on again. Eventually that didn't work and we'd just have to stand outside on the porch (yes, even in the winter) to make calls. Receiving calls was a problem - they'd go right to voice mail and I'd get the tone that I had message and a missed call - but it never rang. In the last few weeks going outside hasn't helped, so either there is too much competing with the signal, or it is part of my (and hubby's) phone giving up the ghost. Daughter is already on a prepaid Verizon phone - and we still pay the $5/mo to keep her line to avoid paying a penalty to move her number. So she got a new number - she's a teenager - she'll get over it.

Took an informal survey in our neighborhood. Some neighbors cannot have Verizon because of where we are located (people directly across the street from me!), but I've had two people plus daughter test their phones at our house and it's good. Some can't use Sprint for similar reason - we have dead zones in our neighborhood. And, no, we're not in the boonies, we're in a well-established, thoroughly populated suburb of Baltimore.

Now that my phone is giving me trouble in my office, I'm having difficulty waiting until Oct to change. I work part time so I don't give out my work phone; I don't want friends, doctors, family, etc bothering the folks at work when I'm not there. So my cell phone is my phone at work. But now the conversations are garbled. And the keypad types pretty much what it wants (multiple letters, ignores ALT key, skips some letters, skips spaces)

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Repeater & femtocell solutions
by Pepe7 / June 14, 2013 3:07 AM PDT
In reply to: coverage at home

Two common solutions come to mind.

1) Amplifier/Repeaters

With an antenna mounted externally, and hardware that supports both the 850/1900 frequency bands, you can pull in a weak signal from outside into your home. It boils down to how adequate the signal is outdoors. T-Mobile is the worst unfortunately, since they use 1700/2100 for data and have only partially completed adding 1900 for data in some areas. In this regard, it may only help you w/ cellular voice calling. 850/1900 would let you use this equipment w/ the other carriers though w/o data issues, provided you did not require LTE. Example:

2) Femtocell

It's a device that connects to your home broadband connection. T-Mobile is the odd man out again unfortunately, and does not offer one like the other carriers. (Unless this has changed, of course.)

*edit* I just learned (two minutes ago) of a T-Mobile compatible solution called Cel-Fi. Here:
It will supposedly only work if you have at least one bar inside though. For $500 I would opt for the Wilson solution above.

T-Mobile apparently does allow wifi calling too. See if you can find an updated link to this one, which seems to be dead-

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thanks for info
by quilter_gal / June 14, 2013 10:38 PM PDT

Good info. Checked with T-Mobile and they have amplifiers that are free to users - but they're out of them right now. Oh, and they charge you $15 for the shipping; and require a two-yr extension on the contract. Need to decide if we want to stay with them badly enough to fork out $200-$500 to see if this will resolve the problem.

At least I know what my options are.

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How would the iPhone 5 help? (n/t)
by Pepe7 / June 11, 2013 12:59 AM PDT
In reply to: Keep in mind


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Maybe you didn't get the memo....
by birdmantd Forum moderator / June 11, 2013 4:52 AM PDT

The iPhone 5 from Verizon can be used with At&t. The device has both CDMA and GSM bands.

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I meant...
by birdmantd Forum moderator / June 11, 2013 10:02 AM PDT say it could be used with T-mobile because they also use GSM.

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Would be fine for voice, just not LTE
by Pepe7 / June 12, 2013 6:51 AM PDT
In reply to: I meant...

That would be the only kicker, since the Verizon iPhone 5 has different LTE frequency bands than the ATT/T-Mobile version(s). The following article sums up why it's tricky w/ data currently on T-Mobile bringing in a 5

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that is true.....
by birdmantd Forum moderator / June 12, 2013 7:38 AM PDT

but it will operate on the 3G data network.

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pls do it
by xedapgap / November 7, 2013 3:55 PM PST
In reply to: Keep in mind

I think we'll go with Plan B - buy 2 cheap phones ($40-$50) to just get us through until the contract expires, avoid the early termination fee, then change to Verizon (the ONLY carrier that works on daughter's campus) and get the free or discounted phones when we sign up for a plan there. We won't get any new features, but if we can text and call for the next few months, we'll be better off than we are now!

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Not possible
by jayzor74 / June 12, 2013 4:30 PM PDT

It's not possible.. T-Mobile uses GMS phone while Verizon is CDMA. You can however use the phone with AT&T which is GSM provider.

Yes, you can buy an unlocked phone right now and use it with your current T-Mobile plan.

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Huh ?!?!
by birdmantd Forum moderator / June 12, 2013 9:41 PM PDT
In reply to: Not possible

What is GMS ? T-mobile and At&t both use GSM.

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by jayzor74 / June 13, 2013 10:36 AM PDT
In reply to: Huh ?!?!

typo. I mean GSM.

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by birdmantd Forum moderator / June 14, 2013 6:19 AM PDT
In reply to: typo

Wasn't sure, but those things do happen. No offense meant.

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Read the entire thread again
by Pepe7 / June 13, 2013 1:19 AM PDT
In reply to: Not possible

You might learn something.

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sure did
by jayzor74 / June 13, 2013 10:52 AM PDT

yep, thanks.

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Changing from T-Mobile to Verizon
by DogsCatsHorsesBirds / October 25, 2013 10:11 AM PDT

I have a similar problem! I was checking out Amazon and realized that I might sign up to Verizon with them and purchase the same phone with a two-year contract (I like my HTC One, just am disappointed with T-Mobile's coverage and service which has caused all kinds of weird no-voicemail notification, no signal and then power the phone off and back on and now a strong signal, and more similar ones like your post describes). Anyway, then I can sell my used HTC One to Amazon and they'll give me a $300 Gift card credit while purchasing a Verizon-compatible one with the contract for $79. So I can recover the purchase price, activation fee AND have a Verizon phone. I know from reading your posts that your contract is up this month, mine is up in Feb 2014. I learned from that next month I'll be within 90 days of my contract's expiration date so my early termination fee will have dropped to $50. Hopefully, you'll already have a solution to your problem or have stuck it out so you son't have ANY cancellation fee but check out Amazon anyway because you may be able to unload your (now worthless) used phones. Good Luck!

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This is an update to my earlier Answer
by DogsCatsHorsesBirds / October 25, 2013 1:05 PM PDT

After a long and somewhat frustrating communication with Amazon they are not "Trading In" my T-Mobile HTC One. They suggested for me to sell it on line (I guess with them or on Ebay) which is a good idea but more trouble that just being able to trade it in. They will take Verizon or AT&T HTC Ones, and maybe they will take whatever model you got stuck with. For Amazon's Trade In page go to: and search for your model in the box "Find the Items You'd Like to Trade In". You don't have to make a purchase to trade in items, but you will be paid in Amazon Gift Card credits. Anyway, good luck!

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Something to consider
by Coutee2014 / June 11, 2014 2:41 PM PDT

I have been experiencing a similar issue and have done quite a bit of research on this. T-Mobile is using a system know as GSM. This is the technology use to transfer data to and from their towers. Likewise Verizon uses a technology known as CDMA. Most phones that are used by these carriers have the technology that allows them to be used on their respective systems. There are, however, some phones (such as the Samsung Note 3) that have a selector which allows them to be used on either system. Be sure to check with the phone manufacturers to find out if their phone will work on both systems and you should be fine. On a side note, the carriers for each phone will not divulge this information so don't waste your time with them. I hope this she'd some light on your question.

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This was basically covered in the above thread
by Pepe7 / June 12, 2014 12:53 AM PDT
In reply to: Something to consider

You did however bring up one important issue though. Frequency bands, how they vary by phone/hardware, and how each carrier allocates their available services at any one location/region.

What does this mean? Well, for starters, if you plan on using a Note 3, keep in mind that there may be more involved than going into the menus and switch from CDMA to GSM (or vice versa). Given there are different versions of the Note 3, one version may actually lack the appropriate frequency band(s) used by another carrier in a particular location. For example, T-Mobile is the odd man out, and uses 1700 for data in the U.S. While they are refarming their 1900Mz in many locations, it is still recommended to use a phone w/ 1700 for T-Mobile- especially if you plan on travelling within the US. Also, if you have any desire to utilize the LTE (faster speed) data network, make certain that the correct LTE frequency bands are also contained on any handset that can handle basic CDMA/GSM providers. I can't tell you how many times I have heard folks complain about buying a handset on ebay but be immediately disappointed that it couldn't access high speed cellular data on another carrier ;(.

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