My experience with an unlocked Note 9 on AT&T

RL786

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First, I'll say I love the Note 9. I came from an AT&T-branded Note 8, and before that iPhones for 10 yrs. The Note 9 is an improvement in areas that mean a lot to me, including the camera, battery life, internal storage, and the pen. Getting $400 for my Note 8, Samsung financing, and the free noise cancelling headphones helped for sure!

I was a bit concerned after I order the unlocked phone. I caught wind on forums about the challenges with bringing an unlocked phone to AT&T (and Verizon, for that matter). Here are my observations:

- The SIM card transferred to my Note 9 easily. Once I inserted the card in the Note 9, the phone rebooted so it could configure to accommodate subscribed voice and data features. As a result, I did not have to identify or program any of the "APN" settings that AT&T recommends on their web site.
- Mobile hot spot works fine and is fast. Works just like the branded phone.
- LTE is available and works fine.
- WiFi calling, video calling, and HD voice are not available, but those are not features I really care about for now.
- There is no visual voice mail (you have to manually dial in to vmail). I fixed this by signing up for a Google Voice number and having unanswered calls and busy calls forwarded to that and use that as voice mail instead. It is much better than AT&T visual voice mail, so I would probably do this even if I had AT&T visual voicemail.
- Despite several threads on the web stating Numbersync wold not work, it is actually working fine between my unlocked Note 9 and Gear S3. It activated without incident and is working as it did with my branded Note 8.

So far, everything else seems to work the same. I will update over the next several days as I come across things. So far, I am happy with the unlocked phone. Feels cleaner and I'm not tied to one carrier.
 

RL786

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Had not heard that. I will look. But I am liking Google Voice a lot. Tells me about missed calls via email and/or text, transcribes voice mails, etc. And it's an extra "disposable" number I can give to vendors, and third parties. Sometimes with AT&T, I would not get voice mail messages until a couple of days after it was left, and other times the notification is pretty non-obvious.
 

piinkRainbowz

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How does wifi calling and video calling not work but your able to use numbersync?

You sure your not just using call forwarding or bluetooth for your calls?
First, I'll say I love the Note 9. I came from an AT&T-branded Note 8, and before that iPhones for 10 yrs. The Note 9 is an improvement in areas that mean a lot to me, including the camera, battery life, internal storage, and the pen. Getting $400 for my Note 8, Samsung financing, and the free noise cancelling headphones helped for sure!

I was a bit concerned after I order the unlocked phone. I caught wind on forums about the challenges with bringing an unlocked phone to AT&T (and Verizon, for that matter). Here are my observations:

- The SIM card transferred to my Note 9 easily. Once I inserted the card in the Note 9, the phone rebooted so it could configure to accommodate subscribed voice and data features. As a result, I did not have to identify or program any of the "APN" settings that AT&T recommends on their web site.
- Mobile hot spot works fine and is fast. Works just like the branded phone.
- LTE is available and works fine.
- WiFi calling, video calling, and HD voice are not available, but those are not features I really care about for now.
- There is no visual voice mail (you have to manually dial in to vmail). I fixed this by signing up for a Google Voice number and having unanswered calls and busy calls forwarded to that and use that as voice mail instead. It is much better than AT&T visual voice mail, so I would probably do this even if I had AT&T visual voicemail.
- Despite several threads on the web stating Numbersync wold not work, it is actually working fine between my unlocked Note 9 and Gear S3. It activated without incident and is working as it did with my branded Note 8.

So far, everything else seems to work the same. I will update over the next several days as I come across things. So far, I am happy with the unlocked phone. Feels cleaner and I'm not tied to one carrier.
 

RL786

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Not sure. The Wi-Fi calling toggle is not on my unlocked phone, so it must be part of the AT&T software. Perhaps numbersync operates outside of the AT&T phone software? I will experiment a little more with it to make sure it is truly fully functional. I guess it is possible that it is just forwarding using bluetooth. I have not used numbersync very much at all in the past, so I may have been too bold in my assertion that it's fully functional.
 

Lepa79

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I thought ATT had a visual voicemail app available on the Play Store... I think I've read threads about it before.
Had not heard that. I will look. But I am liking Google Voice a lot. Tells me about missed calls via email and/or text, transcribes voice mails, etc. And it's an extra "disposable" number I can give to vendors, and third parties. Sometimes with AT&T, I would not get voice mail messages until a couple of days after it was left, and other times the notification is pretty non-obvious.
Yes, available on play store. I have the same exact story as the OP. and using visual voice mail. Everything else works just fine. Loving my unlocked note 9.
 

zavandiver

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My NumberSync didn't transfer from my Note 8 to the Note 9. My Note 8 was unlocked and I had to get ATT to add the IMEI to their database to get it working. Will have to make a trip to the local ATT store to get the Note 9 IMEI in the database.
 

strikeIII

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Yeah you pretty much nailed it on what will and will not work on AT&T. I've been using GV for years and it's the best option for VM since you can access it anywhere.
 

Rjl786

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Re: imei and number sync. That might be it. My Note 9 was confused about Call Forwarding (got a network error when trying to change the setting) since CF had been previously activated on my 8. So I called AT&T and they updated the IMEI to try to fix that. Didn't help that issue, but perhaps that got number sync working. Still cannot activate/deactivate CF from my 9, however.
 

rstites38829

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I canceled my Samsung pre order and ordered an unlocked Note 9 512 on Amazon. No WIFI calling is going to be a problem for me. I work and live in buildings with metal roofs so signal strength is a problem. I thought I saw somewhere that you could turn it on with a settings adjustment. Can anyone confirm?
 

strikeIII

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Re: My experience with an unlocked Note 9 on AT&T

I canceled my Samsung pre order and ordered an unlocked Note 9 512 on Amazon. No WIFI calling is going to be a problem for me. I work and live in buildings with metal roofs so signal strength is a problem. I thought I saw somewhere that you could turn it on with a settings adjustment. Can anyone confirm?
People were saying that it was found in the phone settings using an unlocked device with Sprint but I highly doubt it's there for AT&T. I've never seen it on past devices.

BTW, my company just ordered a 512 Blue AT&T version from the Samsung site and it's on Backorder until the 23rd of September. And AT&T stores are doing what other carriers are doing with not carrying it in store and only available to order.
 

rstites38829

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Re: My experience with an unlocked Note 9 on AT&T

People were saying that it was found in the phone settings using an unlocked device with Sprint but I highly doubt it's there for AT&T. I've never seen it on past devices.

BTW, my company just ordered a 512 Blue AT&T version from the Samsung site and it's on Backorder until the 23rd of September. And AT&T stores are doing what other carriers are doing with not carrying it in store and only available to order.

Forgive the rookie question. This is my first unlocked device. If it's in the unlocked phone settings, would it matter what carrier it's used with?
 

Mdm23

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What exactly is the advantage of an unlocked phone? Missing those features would be an absolute deal breaker for me.
 

anon(1733)

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What exactly is the advantage of an unlocked phone? Missing those features would be an absolute deal breaker for me.
For some it's the ability to use the device on any carrier. It's more portable that way for people who travel or switch carriers. Others like not having any carrier bloatware on their device.

I'm with you. I need WiFi calling on my device so getting a unlocked phone is a no go for me as well.
 

tomcat777

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I must say after having my last two phones unlocked on at&t that my new Note 9 (carrier branded) is way better on the at&t network. my issue was with 4g coverage. if you went into a bad area, the unlocked phones dropped to a hspa+. For some reason it was hard to get the phones to jump back to LTE. I tried multiple things with both phones.... I stayed in forums constantly. I purchased my wife a unlocked s9+ and it did the same thing.... she was coming from the iphone x and was really ready to change. she used the s9+ for a few weeks and went back..... all due to the signal issue. she loved the phone. I will probably never get her back. 🙄
the other issue is with number sync. it worked for the better part of a year, no issue and then it didn't. multiple calls into at&t with no luck... they changed esn and sent new SIM cards...... I finally give up on that also.
now my NEW note 9 is at&t and I am truly loving it. signal is by far the best I've had so far.... number sync worked out of the box and wifi calling is awesome when I need it.
I'm NOT an at&t fan..... FAR FROM IT! I would and will jump ship when something better comes along that works in our coverage area. I have loved ALL of my phone's. when they worked they were great, but I do believe they are not tweaked to be at peak performance like a carrier model.
 

rsmin

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Re: My experience with an unlocked Note 9 on AT&T

I must say after having my last two phones unlocked on at&t that my new Note 9 (carrier branded) is way better on the at&t network. my issue was with 4g coverage. if you went into a bad area, the unlocked phones dropped to a hspa+. For some reason it was hard to get the phones to jump back to LTE. I tried multiple things with both phones.... I stayed in forums constantly. I purchased my wife a unlocked s9+ and it did the same thing.... she was coming from the iphone x and was really ready to change. she used the s9+ for a few weeks and went back..... all due to the signal issue. she loved the phone. I will probably never get her back.
the other issue is with number sync. it worked for the better part of a year, no issue and then it didn't. multiple calls into at&t with no luck... they changed esn and sent new SIM cards...... I finally give up on that also.
now my NEW note 9 is at&t and I am truly loving it. signal is by far the best I've had so far.... number sync worked out of the box and wifi calling is awesome when I need it.
I'm NOT an at&t fan..... FAR FROM IT! I would and will jump ship when something better comes along that works in our coverage area. I have loved ALL of my phone's. when they worked they were great, but I do believe they are not tweaked to be at peak performance like a carrier model.
Tomcat777.. Now you have me rethinking this. Shoot... My coverage is not great. Wonder if I flashed Att firmware if that would make it better?
 

xchris5442x

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I'm running the same setup. Nore9 unlocked with AT&T. So far so good but I really wished Wi-Fi Calling worked because my house has poor interior cell coverage. So far my only solution is buying the weboost signal booster that arrives Thursday.
 

strikeIII

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Re: My experience with an unlocked Note 9 on AT&T

Forgive the rookie question. This is my first unlocked device. If it's in the unlocked phone settings, would it matter what carrier it's used with?
Yes it matters as it's the carriers network that will unlock the features that they will allow on their network.
 

RL786

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What exactly is the advantage of an unlocked phone? Missing those features would be an absolute deal breaker for me.

Well, for me it was supposed to be the ability to switch to Verizon this fall. AT&T is terrible in the Albuquerque/Santa Fe area, so I had a grand plan to get the free headphones and $400 for my Note 8 and then switch the whole family over (iPhone users) in October. I had no idea of the issues with losing features until after I had ordered the phone and the pre-order deals went away. It was then then I started coming across posts about unlocked phones, and that they are even worse on Verizon.

So, it seems to be working fine for me so far (we'll see how it goes when I travel in rural areas) and I plan on sticking with this phone for the next year. AT&T is so bad out here that I might not notice a difference! If it goes fine, I will stay with unlocked for the flexibility. If nothing else, I'll know a lot more about unlocked phones! Still might switch to Verizon this fall...
 

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