Buying a factory unlocked iPhone is a great way to ensure the phone can be activated on your carrier’s network (since you know ahead of time it isn’t tied to a specific carrier). The problem is “unlocked” still doesn’t mean the phone is guaranteed 100% compatibility with all carrier networks. This is why it’s important to look at the specific model number of the unlocked iPhone you’re looking to buy.
When shopping for an unlocked iPhone 8, there are a few different model variants you’ll want to look out for. While the phones themselves may look identical on the surface, some unlocked iPhone 8 models only support specific networks thanks to different modems inside.
If you’re wondering which unlocked iPhone 8 you should buy for your carrier — in this post we’ll be covering the differences in carrier compatibility, so you can find the right iPhone 8 for Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, or your favorite small carrier (MVNO).
This is part of our Unlocked iPhone Buyers Guide meant to answer all your questions about buying an unlocked iPhone.
The unlocked iPhone 8 comes in two US carrier models: A1863 and A1905. There’s also the A1906 model, but since it’s intended only for Japanese carriers, we’ll be leaving it out of our guide. So then, what’s the difference between the iPhone 8 A1863 and A1905? Let’s find out.
iPhone 8 model A1863
The A1863 is the CDMA + GSM model that works on all US carriers, including AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and smaller MVNOs like Mint Mobile or Cricket Wireless. Since the A1863 model offers full CDMA support, it’s the only unlocked model that offers 100% compatibility with Verizon’s network.
In case there was any lingering doubt, the unlocked iPhone 8 A1863 is sold by Apple as their “SIM-free” model and is also used by Apple for replacement devices. This is also the most popular unlocked iPhone 8 purchased on Swappa. So, if you want a phone that works on all four carriers (which could mean a better resale value and/or quicker sale), you’ll definitely want to go with the A1863 model when possible.
iPhone 8 model A1863 uses 30 network bands, including FDD LTE Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, and 66 (as well as TD LTE bands 34, 38, 39, 40, and 41).
iPhone 8 model A1905
Meanwhile, the A1905 is the GSM-only model — sold as the AT&T and T-Mobile specific variant — and does not fully support carriers using CDMA networks. While the A1905 is fully compatible with AT&T, T-Mobile and other GSM-based smaller carriers, the A1905 does not fully support Verizon’s 2G/3G CDMA network (although it is still compatible with their 4G LTE bands). Although full compatibility isn’t guaranteed, the A1905 could still be a viable option for those who already have a Verizon SIM.
iPhone 8 model A1905 uses 30 network bands, including LTE Bands FDD LTE bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, and 66 (as well as TD LTE bands 34, 38, 39, 40, and 41).
Buy an unlocked iPhone 8 on Swappa
Swappa makes buying an unlocked iPhone safe and easy. Whichever unlocked iPhone you choose, you’ll always find the best deals at Swappa. Our strict no junk policy makes it easy to find an unlocked iPhone that’s ready for activation on your favorite carrier. So what are you waiting for? Use the Swappa widget below to start shopping the best deals on an unlocked iPhone 8 today.