What does "GSM Unlocked iPhone" mean?

Updated on June 28, 2023

Find out what it means if an iPhone is GSM unlocked

What is a GSM unlocked iPhone?

To best explain what a GSM unlocked iPhone is, we'll first need to get a little technical. If you’re not a huge tech geek, you probably won’t know that all carriers in the United States use one of two different technologies for transmitting their signal: GSM or CDMA. T-Mobile and AT&T use GSM while Verizon uses CDMA. If you were doing some online shopping and found a deal on a GSM unlocked iPhone, chances are this phone will only properly work on the listed GSM Networks like T-Mobile and AT&T. This may not be a problem for you, but if you ever intend to switch to Verizon, keep in mind that you’ll probably need to buy a new iPhone.

But don't worry, just because you're using an iPhone on a GSM network doesn't necessarily mean that it won't work on Verizon. How can you be sure? Read this article about whether an unlocked iPhone can be used on Verizon to find out :)

Now that we know what "GSM unlocked iPhone" means...

Now that we know what it means if your iPhone is GSM unlocked, we should talk about if it still makes sense to buy one. And what's the answer? Well, that depends on who you are. If you are a devoted & loyal T-Mobile or AT&T user, then perhaps a GSM unlocked iPhone will meet your needs. But if you are thinking about switching to Verizon and like the freedom of swapping carriers anytime, get an unlocked iPhone that has both GSM and CDMA antennas.

Our favorite cheap unlocked iPhones to buy right now? The unlocked iPhone 8 and unlocked iPhone X. And if you want something a little newer that will last you longer, consider buying the unlocked iPhone 11 or unlocked iPhone 11 Pro.

Do you now know what "GSM unlocked iPhone" means?

Did we help you better understand what it means to have a GSM unlocked iPhone? We hope so! But even if we didn't, let us know below :)

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Written by Miguel Garza

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