Buying or bringing a phone to Ting

Whether you're bringing a phone that you already love to Ting, or are looking to purchase a new one, we have a couple of pointers to help out. We strongly encourage you to use our compatibility checker to validate a phone before starting. It’s the only way we can ensure 100% that it can activate with Ting and will also link to the specific Ting SIM card that you need.

If you're unable to get a device ESN, MEID or IMEI before purchasing, the tips in this article will help you buy a phone that will work on Ting and confirm the GSM frequencies used.


First, check your coverage and your phone number

Ting offers service on two networks—CDMA and GSM. These networks each use a different technology, which means that each has a different set of compatible devices, a separate coverage area, and sometimes you can only bring your phone number to one network.

Before you start shopping for devices, please check our coverage maps to see which coverage works best for you. We recommend looking up a few areas, like your home, work and school, where you'll travel frequently.

Next, we recommend checking your phone number. There are sometimes limitations to being able to move your phone number from your old carrier to Ting, and before you decide on a network for your device, it's best to make sure that it will work with your phone number. 


Keywords to look out for

A "clean" device

If a seller doesn't describe the phone they're selling as having a "clean" ESN or MEID; you should not buy it. A device that's called clean is generally an indicator that:

  • The phone is not marked as lost or stolen.
  • The device is not attached to an account with an outstanding balance.

CDMA devices that don't have a clean ESN will be rejected right away when you try to bring them to Ting. GSM devices that don't have a clean ESN or IMEI may initially activate but will eventually be flagged for removal by the network.

Non-stock ROM or flashed devices

You should not purchase devices described as having been "flashed," "modded," or "running a non-stock ROM," because they may not function on the network at all.

In many cases, you'll be able to go through the online activation process only to find out later that the device will not function or have limited functionality. Since this process can take time to determine, you may end up with a phone that you can't use, and you also can't get refunded because your return window has closed while the phone was going through the activation process.

Rooted or jailbroken devices

Unless you're quite technically savvy, you should avoid a rooted or jailbroken phone. Rooting or jailbreaking can limit our ability to troubleshoot issues that might arise with your phone down the road. 


Network specific purchasing tips 

Once you've decided if you should be shopping for a CDMA phone, a GSM phone or a multi-network, there are some factors to keep in mind. 

CDMA devices

Sprint-branded or multi-network phones

Our CDMA service uses the Sprint®* network, so if that's the network that offers you the best coverage in your area, you should purchase a Sprint-branded phone.

You can also use unlocked multi-network devices on our CDMA network. A lot of manufacturers are moving towards multi-network phones, like iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and Motorola X, as they offer their customer more versatility. Just look for phones advertised as working on all the major networks, or are labeled as "Multi-network" on Ting's shop.

Ensure it passes a Sprint financial eligibility check

If you're not able to get the ESN or MEID of the phone you plan to purchase to validate it in our checker, then you need to confirm the following details to help make sure the phone will pass a Sprint financial eligibility check:

  • The service agreement or ETF has been paid in full for a device on a postpaid account.
  • The device has been active for 12 consecutive months or longer if it was on a prepaid account, was purchased from a big box store or purchased from a Sprint retail store outright.

If you purchase a phone from a third party, and it fails the financial eligibility check when you try to activate it with Ting, contact the seller right away so that you can arrange for a refund.



GSM devices

A network-unlocked device

If you're trying to activate on our GSM network, your phone will need to be unlocked by the previous carrier or be a carrier free phone when you purchase it. 

Although phones coming from T-Mobile do not need to be unlocked to activate on Ting, ensuring that you've unlocked your phone before changing service help ensure that you have the freedom to move the phone to any network, including traveling internationally.

Important: Our checker cannot determine a device's unlock status, and Ting cannot unlock GSM devices from other carriers. 

GSM network compatibility

GSM devices offer more freedom and variety than CDMA devices. Any unlocked GSM device can be brought over to Ting, but depending on the hardware installed in the phone and the specific coverage in your area, you may run into some issues. 

Generally speaking, T-Mobile devices work best on our network, with AT&T devices being a great second choice. Verizon devices are typically designed for a CDMA network and have the most issues unless the phone was developed as a multi-network device. 

We strongly recommend using our compatibility checker to confirm that your GSM phone will work with our GSM network since it's easier and helps to take a lot of the guesswork out of bringing your phone. If you can't use our checker, or if you like to know all the technical details, we have the chart below with our network specifications.



2G + voice and text




4G (LTE)




GSM 1900MHz (PCS)

1700/2100MHz (AWS)

Band IV*

1700/2100MHz (AWS)

Band 4*

Usually the primary LTE band in markets where our GSM network partner offers LTE data



1900MHz (PCS)

Band 2

Usually supplementary, but can be the primary LTE band in select markets




Band 12

Usually supplementary; still rarely used

Up to 128Kbps

Up to 21Mbps HSPA

Up to 42Mbps HSPA+

Up to 150Mbps

Note:  Within the industry, you'll often see non-LTE bands written in Roman numerals rather than regular digits. We've listed them the same way here to make comparisons between our chart and your phone's specs a little easier.


*Sprint is a trademark of Sprint

Was this article helpful?
179 out of 208 found this helpful