Unlocked phones on CDMA (Sprint) network?

DarkTlaloc

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May 21, 2013
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I'd like to get my girlfriend a new phone, but we've got a year until she can upgrade, so I'd rather get her an unlocked phone. Plenty of great unlocked phones out there, but they all claim not to work with Verizon/Sprint due to being GSM phones.

My question is, why can't I use an unlocked GSM phone on a CDMA network? My CDMA phones work fine via GSM (Note 4, for example), since you can just switch out the SIM card for another, and the phones support world band. Is there any technical reason I can't purchase (for example) an unlocked Nexus 6, and get Sprint to activate it, or is it just their policy not to activate devices with an unknown IMEI?


Thanks!
 

Rukbat

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Feb 12, 2012
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My question is, why can't I use an unlocked GSM phone on a CDMA network?
Kind of like why tiy can't watch TV on a radio. Different technology, so it requires different hardware.

My CDMA phones work fine via GSM (Note 4, for example), since you can just switch out the SIM card for another, and the phones support world band.
It's not the bands, it's the encoding used to put the signal on the air. Like an FM radio trying to receive AM.

Is there any technical reason I can't purchase (for example) an unlocked Nexus 6, and get Sprint to activate it, or is it just their policy not to activate devices with an unknown IMEI?
Both.The N6 will do CDMA as well as GSM, but Spring won't (normally) activate phones not on their list of ESNs or IMEIs. Neither will Verizon normally. (The SIM card doesn't activate the phone, it gets you 3G/4G data.) On a GSM phone, the SIM is activated and any phone you put it into that has the right bands is "yours".
 

DarkTlaloc

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Thank you, this makes a lot more sense now. Back when CDMA didn't have SIM cards it was easy enough to write that off as the reason, but with newer phones that support multiple bands, SIM cards and whatnot, it's a little more murky. Thank you!