A reader Adam asks
Two questions. First, I’m buying an iPhone 5 from someone else. It was originally on Verizon, but was unlocked and he has been using it on T-Mobile. If I want to use net10, how can I get the PIN if requested? What info will I need? Do I go to Verizon or T-Mobile? Anything else needed? Second, and likely more important, you mentioned in an earlier post that it may be possible to use net10 on a Verizon iPhone 5. This may solve a lot of problems. How do I do it? What is needed? If Verizon / CDMA doesn’t use SIM cards, will I need one for net10? I’m sure there’s a lot more to discuss, and I’m confident you can anticipate requirements. I await your response. Thank you.
He also added..
Are you sure about Straight Talk and Verizon?
See, http://www.straighttalk.com/wps/portal/home/h/byop/registration, and specifically the note above the input fields: “We need to collect some information from you in order to determine if your phone can be registered with us.”
I don’t have direct experience using Verizon iPhones on Straight Talk or Net10 but I have researched it for smartphonematters.com in the past as well as with other readers so here is what I can share with you.
First to answer your primary question. You should be able to use a Net10 or Straight Talk SIM in the Verizon iPhone 5 without the need for an unlock PIN.
The Verizon iPhone 5 runs on their CDMA network. The phone also has a nano SIM slot on the side and can be used on a GSM network, eg AT&T or TMobile. The iPhone 5 is GSM unlocked, meaning you can put a ATT or TMobile SIM in the phone and use it. This is only true for the iPhone 5. If you had an iPhone 4s, you would need to get Verizon to unlock it for GSM use and they only would do that for use of International GSM networks for customers who want to use a local network when traveling abroad.
When you sign up for Straight Talk or Net10 you will have to choose either an ATT network or T-Mobile network SIM. For most people, the ATT SIM card is the better choice. in general, the iPhone has better compatibility with the ATT network meaning you will get 4G HSPDA (Not 4G LTE) data speeds. T-Mobile is working to build out their network with better support for the iPhone so in many areas they have upgraded and iPhones will get 3G, 4G HSPDA, and sometimes even 4G LTE service. The bad news is that if you are not in one of these areas you will end up with 2G Edge data service which is painfully slow. I used T-Mobile with my iPhone 5 for a short time and the data was unreliable for Apple and Google Maps requiring data from the network. In the Boston metro area, some locations had great service, others not so much.
Now for Verizon issue. Both Straight Talk and Net10 both offer iPhones. The iPhones that Straight Talk sells use the Verizon network and I am pretty sure the same holds true for Net10 (which more recently started selling iPhones). The Verizon service they offer is only on Verizon’s 3G network, not the super fast 4G LTE network. One of the big features on that iPhone 5 you are thinking about buying is that it is a 4G LTE phone. Straight Talk also offers a BYOP plan for CDMA phones. (net10 might too, I haven’t checked). Instead of buying a SIM you give them the phone’s ESN and they activate it on their network. I think they charge you $15, kind of the equivalent of making you buy a SIM. If you look on the Straight Talk website, it says
We need to collect some information from you in order to determine if your phone can be registered with us. Note: This program will not work with 4G LTE technology phones, iPhones, Blackberries or branded Straight Talk, TracFone, Safe Link, NET10 Wireless, and Telcel America phones.
This leaves us with two issues to consider. Which of the three networks is better? Better in terms of speed and usability. Is an ATT or T-Mobile 4G HSPDA connection faster than a Verizon 3G connection? I don’t know. I would guess yes. Also, I think that Verizon has a limitation about using voice and data at the same time.. I have never been a Verizon customer. The second issue, is whether or not Straight Talk or Net10 will even activate the phone for you. I have no direct experience. I have read some claims in forums that some people have been able to do this.
If you do decide to buy this Verizon iPhone 5 here are a few other things to keep in mind.
- Compare the price of the Verzion iPhone 5 to similar GSM iPhone 5 on eBay or Craigslist. The GSM models generally sell for more so if you are not getting a better price you might want to consider another purchase.
- On Sept 10, Apple is supposedly introducing new iPhone models. When the iPhone 5 is not longer the top of the line, you may see the price of the iPhone 5 go down.
I hope this helps. Let me know what you end up doing. Keep your eye on smartphonematters.com. If I find out more about using a Verizon iPhone on Straight Talk or Net10 I will post an article.