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Can I Bring My GSM Device to Ting? Compatibility and Unlocking Guide

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Last updated by Isabel M

If you're hoping to bring a GSM device to Ting, this guide will help you figure out if it's generally compatible. To be absolutely sure about your specific device though, you'll want to check its IMEI on our compatibility checker.

For general information on the Ting GSM network, click here.

GSM Device Compatibility

For a simple answer to that question, check out the carrier-specific information below. If you'd like to know the nitty, gritty, geeky stuff though, read on.

There's a good possibility you'll be able to bring your device to Ting but there are a few different things to look for if you're digging through phone specs.

When checking the specs of the phone you want to bring to Ting, you'll want to check which bands it supports and compare that information to the table below to see what level of compatibility it has with Ting on the GSM network.

 

2G + voice and text

3G

4G (LTE)

GSM/EDGE

UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+

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 may be the primary LTE band in select markets

 

 

700MHz

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.

 

For example, if you have the supported GSM version of the iPhone 5c (model A1532), its cellular/wireless specs are:

  • GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
  • UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz)
  • LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 17, 19, 20, 25)

Since the phone supports the 1900MHz band for GSM/EDGE you'll get 2G data, voice and text.

Since the phone supports the 1700/2100MHz (AWS) band for UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA, you'll get 3G data.

And finally since the phone supports Band 4 for LTE, you'll get LTE data where available.

Of course the easiest way to check a specific device is by using our compatibility checker, or you can look at the more general compatibility information by carrier below.



A Note About LTE Bands

In most markets where our GSM network partner offers LTE service, they do so primarily on band 4, with bands 2 and 12 acting as back up. However, in a few markets (e.g. Cincinnati, OH) LTE data is only offered on band 2 and in some rare cases, only on band 12.

If you're purchasing a device you should note that:

  • Band 4 - Good. You get LTE data in most markets.
  • Bands 2 and 4 - Great. You get LTE data in almost all markets.
  • Bands 2, 4 and 12 - Best. You get LTE data in every market and you are prepared for the future of the network.

To determine if LTE is on band 2 or 12 in your area, check our coverage map. If you see the note like the one pictured below on the map, then LTE data in your area is only offered on band 2 or 12. Click the "View Here" link to see compatible devices.

A Note About LTE Bands




Compatibility by Carrier

AT&T Devices

Many AT&T smartphones will work on the Ting GSM network, but run your IMEI through our compatibility checker to confirm your specific devic.

You'll need to have AT&T unlock your device before porting out your numbers or canceling your account.

You can start the process of getting your AT&T device unlocked here.

Note:  Some devices have been modified by their original carrier to hide or disallow changes to some or all APN settings, even after the phone has been unlocked. These devices may not be fully functional on the network of our GSM partner. Some customers choose to successfully modify the ROM of the devices to restore full functionality, but because of the risks of modifying your device, we are unable to provide assistance with rooting or alternative ROMs.

 

T-Mobile Devices

Just about any device sold for T-Mobile should be ready to go on the Ting GSM network.

You'll need to make sure the device has no outstanding balance or financing owed on it.

If your device is locked, you may want to have it unlocked by T-Mobile before porting your number or canceling your account, however, unlocking a T-Mobile device is not required.

 

Verizon Devices

Most Verizon devices that meet the following criteria will work on the Ting GSM network:

  • smartphone
  • LTE-capable
  • released on or after September 2012

Smartphones from Verizon that meet these criteria will likely be automatically unlocked for domestic use on other carriers and should be ready to go for use on the Ting GSM network. However, the level of compatibility will vary pretty widely.

That means some devices, like the iPhone 5 for example, will be mostly compatible with Ting but won't get LTE service on our GSM network. On the other hand, Verizon iPhone 5c, 5s, 6 and 6 Plus should have full compatibility with the Ting GSM network.

To know for sure which services you'll have, you'll want to check your device's IMEI in our compatibility checker.

Note:  Some devices have been modified by their original carrier to hide or disallow changes to some or all APN settings, even after the phone has been unlocked. These devices may not be fully functional on the network of our GSM partner. Some customers choose to successfully modify the ROM of the devices to restore full functionality, but because of the risks of modifying your device, we are unable to provide assistance with rooting or alternative ROMs.

 

Sprint®* Devices

If you have a Nexus 5 or Nexus 6, it should work on the Ting GSM network and they do not need to be unlocked.

Any other Sprint®* devices can be used on our CDMA network.





Other Compatibility Criteria

Unlocked iPhone Devices from Apple

The answer is generally yes for any device since (and including) the iPhone 5c and 5s. Earlier models have varying levels of compatibility with the Ting GSM network and in those cases you'll want to check your device's IMEI using our compatibility checker.

 

Devices from Big Box Stores and Other Retailers

If you purchase a GSM device at Best Buy, WalMart or some other retailer it's probably made to run on one of the major networks. Refer to the corresponding carrier compatibility and unlocking information above to figure out if you can use your device on the Ting GSM network. If the phone isn't for one of the carriers listed above, you'll need to check that IMEI first.

 

Devices from Third-Party Carrier (MVNOs)

If you're using a device activated with an MVNO, refer to the corresponding major carrier above for compatibility information. If you're not sure of which network your MVNO uses, get in touch with them to find out.

For unlocking information, you'll need to contact your MVNO directly.

 

Feature or Non-Smart Phones

The carrier information above still applies and our compatibility checker will tell you even more. However, for some features phones our checker may indicate that the phone will get 2G data when it will actually only get voice and text. That's because these phones have hard coded data settings that can't be updated after activation in order to make them fully compatible with our GSM offering. You'll need to try an activated SIM card in the phone to know for sure.

 





More GSM Information

If you're still not sure if Ting on GSM is right for you, check out this article.

Ting on CDMA or GSM:  Which network is right for me?

Have more questions about GSM devices on Ting?

FAQ: GSM Devices on Ting

Need to check on the compatibility of a GSM device that you already own?

Device Compatibility Checker

Want to know about GSM iPhones on Ting?

GSM iPhone FAQ

Have questions about bringing your GSM device to Ting?

GSM BYOD:  Supported Devices & FAQ

Need help getting your GSM device activated on Ting?

Completing Your Activation

 

*Sprint is a trademark of Sprint

Have more questions? Submit a request

Comments

  • Avatar
    Bruce Osborne

    I ran my iPhone 5 that is working on T-Mobile. It fails too. 

  • Avatar
    Justen Burdette

    Hey guys,

    We rely on an industry association database for the data.  We've found it to be pretty accurate, but there are some outliers.  The general rule is that any given device supports GSM 1900, UMTS Band IV (with HSPA or HSPA+), and LTE Band 4.  I am reviewing the results regularly and checking them against other databases to override any issues we find in the shared industry database.  (For example, for some reason, any Verizon iPhone 5s, 5c, 6, or 6 Plus tends to not indicate that it supports HSPA or HSPA+, which they do — a simple Google search can confirm, and we've tested and verified it ourselves.)

    Thanks for the head's up, by the way.  I'll talk a look at the Metro F6 and iPhone 5 entries and try to get those updated today!

  • Avatar
    Bruce Osborne

    Jason,

    Contact me by email if you need the details.

  • Avatar
    Joseph Kanowitz

    Looks awesome, but this is a "pre-check" here in December 2014 pending actual availability of GSM service in February 2015, right?

    Is there a short list of "Sprint devices that work now and should work or be-unlockable-to-work dual network later"?  Or are all devices on the list presently locked subject to the chance that Sprint is courteous enough to unlock them when SB 517 goes into effect as Public Law No: 113-144 in ... does that mean it's been in effect since 08/01/2014?  My most recent observation is that Sprint says pre-8/1/2014 models of iPhone (at least) can't be unlocked because they were built to be 'effectively impossible to unlock' back when this law didn't exist to be complied with?

    I'm pretty satisfied with Sprint coverage and speeds but if I'm about to drop hundreds on a handset obviously future-proofing that investment is nice. :)

  • Avatar
    Bruce Osborne

    SB 517  means nothing to CDMA network because the network is locked, not the phone. They are already unlocking their phones for International use.

  • Avatar
    Felipe S

    Hey Joseph,

    At the moment, Sprint phones can only be unlocked for international use, so they wouldn't be able to connect to a domestic GSM carrier.

    Devices sold after February 11, 2015, however, will be capable of being unlocked domestically.  We're still unsure on how that will affect phones sold prior to that date, but we hope that carriers will be willing/able to unlock them.

    The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act (August 1, 2014) undoes a previous piece of legislation that made it illegal to unlock your phone yourself for domestic use, so although that's not illegal anymore, it doesn't require carriers to unlock your device for you.

    As mentioned before, we hope they do unlock those, as we're not fans of locking customers and devices to any carrier.

  • Avatar
    Joseph Kanowitz

    @Felipe S: "With the exception of the Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 because because those are Sprint-capable yet also special-case magic work-everywhere phones because Google is the one company that got their way with that?"

    If that's my understanding and it's correct I think that's why you've got to qualify this stuff a little better - it's hilariously confusing for someone just-trying-to-get-a-phone-that-works right now.

    Meanwhile if my read of my read of 133-144 is correct it's not limited to "yourself", it's "yourself" or "another person at the direction of the owner, or by a provider of a commercial mobile radio service or a commercial mobile data service at the direction of such owner or other person, solely in order to enable such owner or a family member of such owner to connect to a wireless telecommunications network, when such connection is authorized by the operator of such network" - meaning potentially Ting or any other operator, I think - but that says nothing about how otherwise technologically / cryptologically / copyright-law impossible the path to unlocking may actually be.  As someone who works in a more boring and small side of legal who doesn't get to deal with these [i]interesting[/i] and [/i]useful[/i] problems daily I do feel your pain.

    My last communications with Sprint(?) made it sound like there was something special about the iPhones (like maybe lack of a secondary world SIM slot that could eventually be software forced into be a plain old secondly-everywhere-SIM slot if US regulations forced it) but I'm still thinking LTE band limits are the killjoy points nobody realizes unless all they want to do are make voice calls, right?  Due to the way LTE band numbering schemes work the last time I tried to figure out US bandplan overlap between carriers I started looking at a chart but ran away screaming.

  • Avatar
    Joseph Kanowitz

    @Bruce Osborne: It's almost like someone still wants to call them SIM cards and not UICC cards... #CheckYourPrivilege? ;)

  • Avatar
    Felipe S

    Hey Joseph,

    The Sprint versions of the Nexus 5 and 6 should work without problems as they're factory unlocked, but other Sprint phones that are locked to Sprint can't be unlocked domestically by our network partner at the moment.

    By "yourself", we mean that you can unlock the device, or have someone unlock it as that's not illegal anymore. The carriers are not, however, required to do so.  We rely on our network partner for any device unlocking, so our unlocking options are limited to what they can do. At the moment, domestic unlocking through them isn't available, but that will be possible for all Sprint devices sold after February 11, 2015.  We still don't know if that will be possible for phones sold prior to that, but we do hope that becomes a reality.

    We're not familiar with that iPhone exception, however, we'd love to test any options as soon as we can start activating GSM devices.

  • Avatar
    Mary Smith

    I have an unlocked Nokia Lumia 521. When I search for it, it says that it would get 2G/3G on Ting, but not 4G. Is that correct? I get 4G with my current carrier (but not LTE).

  • Avatar
    Jason Williams

    Hello. I'm hoping somebody that knows about these things can help me. I currently have a HTC Windows 8X 4LTE on Verizon. The BYOD feature indicates that the device will be compatible with Ting once the GSM services come on in Feb. It also says that only 2G services will be supported. Basically, I hoping for some advice: do I wait a month or so and just hook this device up, or will it just be so slow with data so as to be worthless etc? Thanks! 

  • Avatar
    Ting Help

    Hey Jason!  Just answered your question in the HTC 8X thread.  For all others reading, you can check your device on our BYOD page to see whether it will work with the new GSM network.

  • Avatar
    Nolan Clark

    If the phone already has a T-mobile SIM, do you have to buy a seperate Ting SIM or can you just reuse the T-mobile SIM?

  • Avatar
    Justen Burdette

    Hey Nolan,

    You'll need an authentic, state of the art, unused, bright blue Ting GSM SIM ( model X1 to be precise).  We're aiming to have them available for preorder sometime in January, so stay tuned!

  • Avatar
    Nolan Clark

    Thanks Justen! In addition to the previous question, for a device with an Apple SIM (currently the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini 3) can you use the Apple SIM or do you still have to purchase an X1 SIM?

  • Avatar
    Justen Burdette

    For now, the Apple SIM on the GSM side is only compatible with the retail sides of AT&T and T-Mobile, but it doesn't support GSM MVNOs, unfortunately.  Although we'd love to support the simplicity of the Apple SIM, we're still waiting for a call back from Cupertino on that one.  ;)

  • Avatar
    Christopher Beyer

    Does the above table show the full list of bands compatible with the Ting GSM network?  Is band 4 the only band for LTE?

  • Avatar
    Justen Burdette

    Hey Christopher,

    We've begun seeing testing of LTE on band 12, and there are plans to eventually repurpose part of the spectrum to allow for LTE on band 2.  But, right now, band 4 is the only officially supported band for LTE on our GSM offering, yes.

  • Avatar
    Bruce Osborne

    For Sprint devices, you say "f you have a Nexus 5 or Nexus 6, it should work on the Ting GSM network and they do not need to be unlocked." but we had a case here in the forums where somebody bought a Sprint Nexus 5 from Best Buy. He activated it in Ting CDMA and found our the phone was locked to the Sprint network when he tried to leave.Apparently,

    It was confirmed that the Nexus 5 bought at Best Buy had different firmware, locking it to the Sprint network.

  • Avatar
    Justen Burdette

    Hi Bruce,

    In the course of investigating that case, Bruce, we were told by both Google and Sprint that there is no mechanism for a Nexus 5 to be locked after shipped.  The devices sold by Best Buy were no different from devices sold by Sprint or elsewhere — they were, in fact, unlocked.  I believe the customer there was running into a different issue.  There was a known problem in some 4.4.x versions that made switching from CDMA to GSM more complicated that it needed to be.  That has been fixed in Lollipop.

  • Avatar
    Amy Button

    My T-Mo phone, with your IMEI checker, came up as 2G and 3G only, despite currently getting 4G LTE on T-Mo's network.  All the info I can find on its radios (including from LG's site) suggests it should be compatible based on the table above (Band 4 LTE, 1700 MHz).  Can you please double-check (and hopefully update!) the database entry for the LG Optimus F3 (T-Mo variant, model LG-P659)?  I suspect your database info may be based on the Sprint LS270 model, which would necessarily have different radios.  I'd like to come over to Ting with my currently-Sprint fiancé, to share reasonably-priced buckets.

  • Avatar
    Bruce Osborne

    thanks for the update Justen. The other forum postings lacked some of that information. Sorry for adding to the confusion.

  • Avatar
    Ken Poole

    What does the locking? If I decide to go with a third-party rom for my Samsung S5 (Cyanogenmod) would that allow me to bring the phone to the GSM network? and would it have LTE?

  • Avatar
    Bruce Osborne

    Installing a custom ROM does not unlock the phone, but you may need to be on the stock ROM to get it unlocked, assuming it is a T-Mobile or ATT S5. 

  • Avatar
    Ken Poole

    It is a Sprint/Ting s5 ... and one of the areas I go to regularly is a dead zone for sprint/verizon towers - so no voice there - but that area has great att/t-mobile coverage ... so looking to see if way to bring my Ting S5 to GSM ...

  • Avatar
    Justen Burdette

    Hey Ken.  Every device is different, and there are also differences between carriers.  Because you have a device designed by the manufacturer and the network operator to work primarily on CDMA, simply flashing another ROM (generally) won't result in your device being SIM unlocked.  We can have your S5 unlocked for international use, but devices locked to Sprint (including those we sell) cannot currently be unlocked for use on other domestic carriers.  The wireless industry has agreed to change that practice starting in February, but we're dependent on Sprint implementing that change (and we don't yet know if it will apply to devices sold before February 2015).

  • Avatar
    Donner Castro

    I have an iphone 5S from Verizon. I have never done any geeky stuff to it such as unlocking it. I am very eager to be part of Ting. What are the steps that I need to follow? Do you have a February date as of yet? since it is only 11 days away? Thank you.

  • Avatar
    Bruce Osborne

    In another thread, a Ting staff member mentioned middle to late February for GSM.

  • Avatar
    Samantha C

    Hey Donner, Bruce is right we are aiming for mid-February. To have your phone unlocked you will have to reach out to your current carrier to request your phone be unlocked. 

  • Avatar
    Donner Castro

    Hi Samantha and Bruce. I appreciate your help. Will Verizon be able to do this even though I have not had service with them in over a year? I currently do not have any service providers....

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