Taking Another Look At The Current iPhone 5 And How It Works On T-Mobile

Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 11.34.39 AM

Less than 30 hours after T-Mobile’s special media event yesterday, there appears to be a lot of confusion on the current iPhone 5 and what will or won’t work on T-Mobile’s network. So how about we try to clear that up and get right down to the nitty-gritty:

The Current iPhone 5: Model A1428…what will work?

  • HSPA+ 21Mbps on the 1900 band
  • LTE will work on this device, contrary to confusion surrounding some posts yesterday.
  • Apple/T-Mobile send out a .ipcc carrier update to enable LTE, otherwise current iPhone 5 unlocked owners do not need to do anything else.
  • 850/900/1900/2100 HSPA+ capable

The iPhone 5 releasing on April 12th: Model A1428…what will work?

  • HSPA+ 42Mbps on the 1700 band
  • HSPA+ 21Mbps on the 1900 band — this is due to the T-Mobile’s 1900MHz not being DC-HSDPA capable.
  • LTE on the 1700MHz band
  • This is a true worldwide phone and will access everywhere T-Mobile has AWS 1700MHz coverage and 1900MHz refarmed coverage.
  • 850/900/1700/1900/2100 HSPA+

Current iPhone 5 Verizon/Sprint: Model A1429

  • No T-Mobile LTE
  • No AWS T-Mobile 3G or 4G
  • 3G only on T-Mobile in the 1900MHz refarmed areas and 2G/EDGE elsewhere
  • 850/900/1900/2100 HSDPA/HSPA+/DC-DSDPA and CDMA

The iPhone 4 and 4S models…what will work?

  • Will get “4G” on the 1900MHz refarmed areas and 2G/EDGE everywhere else.
  • No LTE support
  • No 1700 AWS support
  • Will only be sold where the 1900MHz HSPA+ 21Mbps refarmed is available or planned.

Hat tip to user Satnam1989 on MacRumors forums for breaking it down and clearing the air.

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  • mdosu

    finally, some clarity, in a nutshell, if you want to access the full T-Mobile spectrum get the T-Mobile’s Iphone 5

    • Waveblade

      Not an error it’s the same model, might be as little as a software update that ‘enables’ it since the chipset supposedly should support it on the iPhone 5.

      • Apparently it’s not a software update because Apple would otherwise be able to simply push it out to all current iPhone 5’s. Instead, the change is only on those sold on April 12th and after.

        • I think the “software update” people are confused about is the Carrier Update that enables LTE on T-Mobile.

        • Fabian Cortez
        • Bud

          thanks fabian

        • Bill

          Yeah, it’s only a software update to add AWS to the T-Mobile version. Apple admitted in their filing to the FCC yesterday that there was no hardware difference between the T-Mobile iPhone and one that is currently sold. Why would Apple want to update the existing phones when it can force those people to buy a new phone if they want AWS.

        • carigis

          yea it is.. they just choose not to roll it out to other devices.

      • taron19119

        the current iPhone cannot support HSPA plus in the aws band it can not be updated by software update its a hardware update that’s needed

        • Will

          incorrect. It is a firmware issue not a hardware. New hardware would have required re-certification from the FCC. Apple only had to get a modification.

        • Fabian Cortez

          Correct. It’s software.

          Straight from Apple to the FCC.

          It’s terrible that they aren’t going to update previous AT&T and unlocked iPhone 5s.

        • Will

          Actually firmware is a static version of software and should not be confused with say the operating system which is also software. Think of it as the brains of the radio. Someone will figure out how to load the newer firmware on the older radio.

        • Winski

          CORRECT !!!! I WILL NOT spend another thousand bucks for another iPhone 5 to get the ‘special’ T-Mumble version.. I just bought a new un-locked one in Dec.

          STONE STUPID.

    • taron19119

      the current iPhone is being replaced with the T Mobile iPhone so from the Time T Mobile releases the iPhone all GSM iPhone will be the same

      • Fabian Cortez

        Not all GSM iPhones.

        The GSM iPhone 5 sold in Europe and the rest of the world is the Verizon/Sprint model with CDMA disabled.

  • Morty

    I have an Iphone 5 factory unlocked in Las Vegas and still only have 3g displayed on my phone. What do I need to do to get LTE working on the phone

    • Julian C. Taborda

      I believe you have to wait for the Apple Carrier Update that will enable LTE on Tmobile

      • Morty

        Thanks.. Thats what I was assuming…

      • Will

        Or manually install the carrier file in iTunes or Xcode. If you don’t want to learn to create your own, the file can easily be found using Google.

        If you create your own in Xcode, you can change the carrier name and a few other goofy items. Personally, I am changing mine to “1234” .

        Be forewarned that the next update from Apple can wipe any custom carrier files, although it should read your sim card and pull the correct one from the iOS base files.

    • Will

      The original (old AT&T) iPhone 5 will display 3G in the display even if it is connected at HSPA or LTE. Apple has a history of doing this with iPhone. On AT&T they modified the iPhone display to say 4G even though it was really only faux-4G. My sister still thinks she has LTE on her iPhone 4 because it says 4G. Don’t believe the display.

  • Thatcher Ford Volz

    Visual voicemail?

    • The ipcc update sent out should make this work.

  • Milad

    What about the Verizon iphone 5
    A1429 …!?!?

    • taron19119

      It won’t get hspa+ on the aws band

    • No LTE.
      No DC-HSPA+ 42Mbps on the 1700MHz (AWS) band.

      If you are in an area that’s been refarmed then you will get HSPA+ 21Mbps on the 1900MHz side.

  • Bobby Digital

    Out of curiosity, if I bought this and I then, for whatever reason, used it on AT&T instead of T-Mobile service, what if any would be the difference? In other words, would this newer iPhone 5 work exactly the way the current iPhone 5 (pre April) model? Thanks.

    • taron19119

      Yes it well work perfectly on T Mobile an AT&T

  • adeedew

    Thanks for clarification. So a factory unlocked apple purchased iphone 5 IS different ha? Bummer

    • Depends on when you get it…

      • adeedew

        Already own it. So the current factory unlocked 5’s won’t get all the coverage without having to rebuy it so it seems

        • Then yes – it’s different.

          It will work where T-Mobile has refarmed 1900MHz 21Mbps HSPA+ as well as on T-Mobile LTE, but not 1700MHz 42Mbps HSPA+.

        • adeedew

          Bummer. Thanks. Was the only damn reason for buying an unlocked. Oh well

  • Milad

    Current iPhone 5 A1429 (Verizon/Sprint Model)
    – 850/900/1900/2100 HSDPA/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA & CDMA
    – LTE: Verizon, Sprint and Carriers World Wide
    – No AWS T-Mobile 3G/4G Support & no T-Mobile LTE [Sprint iPhone 5 Cannot be used within USA on any Network]
    – Will Only get 3G while on T-Mobile (Incl. MVNO’s) in 1900MHz Refarmed areas & 2G/EDGE everywhere else

  • Milad

    I don’t know why you didn’t mention that Verizon iphone 5 !?!

    • It’s in there now.

      • Milad

        Thank you :)

  • nwtrekker

    So, after 4/12, I could purchase an unlocked iPhone 5 from Apple and it would work on all T-Mobile frequencies? If this is just a firmware change, couldn’t that be applied to iPhone 5’s prior to 4/12?

    • taron19119

      don’t waste your money by the iPhone street from T Mobile it well be 30 dollars cheaper

      • nwtrekker

        Will TM be selling the 32 and 64GB versions?

        • According to @davidtmonews:disqus the 32GB & 64GB will be available via Online only (initially) and the stores will only have the 16GB variants in stock.

        • taron19119

          yeah on line only and its 30 dollars cheaper

    • Yes, if purchased from Apple or T-Mobile after the 12th it will work on **everything**

      It is **not** a firmware change – it is a physical addition of the 1700MHz frequency for HSPA+ data.

    • Fabian Cortez

      You could also buy it from AT&T as well as they’ll be selling the exact same phone as T-Mobile and Apple on and after the 12th.

    • Will

      Yes but I would make sure to have the Apple store tech activate the device with a T-Mobile sim in the store to make sure that it is not one of the “old” ones hanging around. That will save you a trip back to the Apple Store. I would also advise against buying it from an AT&T store as they probably won’t let you leave the store without activating (and thereby locking the device on the At&T network. If that happens you have to go through AT&T’s unlocking process before it will recognize non-AT&T networks.

  • Sok

    Where can i get the iphone 5 update to enable LTE?

  • Anonymouse

    maybe ill pass this one and wait what Apple brings to the table this summer for the iPhone5s. Hopefully, there will be one GSM model with LTE bands in NA,EU and Asia. At least that is what the article below says:

  • nwtrekker

    Will it be possible to get T-Mobile iPhone 5 and their prepaid $30/month, 100 min/5GB plan?

    • taron19119

      Yeah if you buy at full price

    • mdosu

      yes, buy the phone outright on April 12, then pop in your prepaid sim.


    Goodness dude, chill with these, too many articles for an old out of date stale product from last year. You all got your panties in a bunch over this Junkie phone and iPhone 5s is about to be announced. Why I complain? Because I’m subscribed to your website and receive all your articles on my desktop, you’re welcome, but damn dude, we get that you are excited about this, but chill, we don’t need to know every detail about this old ass pos. Give us some news similar to this about the HTC One, or Galaxy S4, which are much better devices than this icrud

    • Guest

      Go read last year’s archive full of Samsung news.


        When it was a new device? Like I said, all this hype for an old piece of poop. An iPhone 4 with an aluminum back, that’s all this phone is, oh yeah, don’t forget the 200 new features. Lol

        • taron19119

          old news to the world new news for T Mobile

    • taron19119

      For the 1million people on T-Mobile wit a iphone this is informative


        How so, if you have a 1st gen iPhone, you know all you need to know about the iPhone 5 lol

        • taron19119

          not at all we all want to know about the band witch it runs on

        • Fabian Cortez

          You think every iPhone customer on T-Mobile is using the original iPhone?

      • Fabian Cortez

        2 million now.

    • Bobby Digital

      Unsubscribe angry troll. Hilarious iPhone 5 news gets YOUR panties up in a bunch. Your Pathetic.

    • Mirad77

      You make a valid point. The only thing tho’ is that I hope it helps with t-mobile ‘s churn and get to third place. HTC one and S4 are new devices as opposed the i5 that’s been there for a minute.

    • wilde_ride

      Leave troll

  • mdosu

    For the most part if you can live with HSPA 21 and LTE, then don’t change your Iphone 5.

    • Will

      Since the models share the same FCC ID and the only difference is in the firmware for the radio, it is likely that the hacking community will find a way to enable it on the “old” unlocked version using the developer releases of the “new” firmware. However, since the new one is not available to clone, this is only speculation. Either way you only lose the ability to go HSPA 42 (but not 21). Most likely people won’t even notice since I live in D.C. and my iPhone never even stays on 3G. Welcome to EDGE people until T-Mobile has better coverage.

      For those that one even more proof than what I offer, a highly respected blogger AnandTech provides more technical explanations than can be put in a comment:


      • mdosu

        yeah, that’s what I’m getting at. Personally, I would prefer to have a LTE phone that can fall on the wider HSPA+ nets T-Mobile offers. I’m also in DC Metro, and I’m using a Note 2, so overall service is fantastic. (expect for pockets on K St where I get very spotty 4G reception on the same block as a T-Mobile store)

        • Will

          I can see the Tower from one of my rental houses in Columbia Heights, yet it constantly switches from 3G to EDGE. It looks like it is having a mental breakdown. I have to manually turn off 3G to keep it from switching so often and dropping the call. If I have the free time I will investigate because it may actually be trying to switch from LTE to 3G or EDGE since calls do not happen over the LTE connection and it falls back to a slower speed. So it may just be a question of bad coverage and no way to lock out LTE. One thing to note is that it will not show LTE even if you are connected on the old unlocked iPhone since it has not been updated to show LTE in the display. So the 3G will show both for 3G and LTE coverage.

      • Fabian Cortez

        You only lose the ability to access the DC-HSPA+ network due to T-Mobile using a single carrier on PCS. This will change once the merger completes.

        In the future, HSPA+ will be limited to a single carrier (21 Mbps) on AWS for legacy devices that only supported AWS and PCS will gain an extra carrier for 42 Mbps HSPA+.

        • Will

          parrtially correct. The radio is capable of HSPA+ 42 but the current “brains” (to make it simple for everyone) will only allow it to initiate a connection on the 1900 band. The newer “brains” knows how to initiate a connection on the 1700 and 1900 band. But as has been pointed out before the radio can do both.

        • Fabian Cortez

          Huh? What “brains” are you talking about?

          The phone will default to the highest radio technology with the highest power output. The power output is determined by the carrier.

          Nothing more, nothing less really.

        • Will

          The firmware for the radio is different on the newer model. Since most people have no idea what firmware is or what it does, it is easier to describe it to non-developers as “brains”.

        • Fabian Cortez

          And what does that have to do with HSPA+ and DC-HSPA+ on T-Mobile’s end?

          You do know that as of today, pre-MetroPCS merger, T-Mobile has enough spectrum in select markets to provide DC-HSPA+ on PCS and AWS and provide LTE on AWS?

          EDIT: All of this along with GSM.

        • Will

          Nothing. We were talking about the radio’s firmware not the carrier’s bandwidth. And no carrier has enough bandwidth for Washington D.C. Traffic congestion is not just limited to the Beltway it also applies to the cell towers.

  • Imhuman2

    What about visual voicemail, will it work?

    • Fabian Cortez

      Oh course. They’re an official carrier now.

      I cannot wait to see the official carrier bundle and see what I was missing to get visual voicemail working completely.

  • Aurizen

    so i just need a carrier update to get my iphone 5 tmobile and LTE compatible.

    • Will

      You can just manually create the profile yourself. From memory, I believe the APN is fast.t-mobile.com .

      • Guest

        No, he needs the carrier update. That will be the correct APN though.

        • Will

          You can modify the current T-Mobile carrier file or create your own in Xcode. Very simple for those that want to do it. But if you simply wait, it will be pushed to the device like all carrier updates or installed through iTunes.

  • nwtrekker

    What does all this mean to TMobile’s refarming effort?

    • Fabian Cortez


      • Unregistered

        I hope not. It still needs a ton of work.

        • Fabian Cortez

          I agree. It is business as usual for the refarming.

          Why? Well what comes with the refarming is LTE. This is because the 1900 MHz WCDMA/HSPA+ equipment is actually a dual mode antenna: AWS LTE and PCS WCDMA/HSPA+.

        • Unregistered

          I just learned something – thanks for the good news.

      • ….

        I’d much rather have hspa +21 than Edge so it means something

  • nwtrekker

    I had read that the T-Mobile iPhone 5 won’t support WiFi calling. Is that correct?

    • Will

      Yes. And it does not work with the signal booster. So if you have horrible T-Mobile coverage, get an Android device with Wifi Calling.

    • Out of the box no. But T-Mobile says they’ll release an app for it on iTunes store at a later date.

      • kk888

        It’ll probably be integrated with the LTE IMS system support

    • Nearmsp

      Here is a quote from endgadget: “…..The carrier also announced that its version of the iPhone 5 will not initially support T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi Calling technology. Speaking with Engadget, Sievert said that Wi-Fi Calling “is not coming” at launch. Pressed on the issue, Sievert said that T-Mobile “loves its Wi-Fi Calling feature, and I’ll have to leave it at that.”

  • Mirad77

    Much luv and respect David for all you do with tmonews. But I’ve got to ask you this tho, is it just your inbox or is that you are just as excited about your beloved phone ( and you’ve been waiting to do this for a while too ) or just doing what you doi everyday? Your secret is safe with me. C’mon………

  • Lmao so hspa 21 is 3g….but hspa 42 is 4g l lol funny

    • taron19119

      In T-Mobile world’s its all 4g

    • Mirad77

      Hspa 21 theoretically is 3.5g while haps 42 is theoretically 4g based on new standards which dc-hspa+( hspa42) is capable of. All in all is theory not real world.

  • Winski

    Any idea when Apple/T-Mumble will send out the .ipcc update to enable LTE on the current devices ?

    • Nate3399882

      I feel sorry for the people who bought the unlocked iphone 5. The new T-Mobile iPhone 5 is truly pentaband +42Mbps + LTE on 1700

      • Winski

        I AM pretty PO’D about this as well !!

      • Marc Sabatella

        I don’t know, I’m loving HSPA+ 21 now, betting downloads speeds above 10Mbps as it is, and I dont use mobile data much – mostly WiFi. I can’t see how a new phone that gets marginally better speeds (at a cost in battery life) when away from WiFi is going to make me like my current phone any less.

      • loopyduck

        As a current owner of an iPhone 5, you can keep your pity to yourself. I got to use the phone for a solid six months already (most of it in a refarm area), and there’s going to be a new iPhone in a few more months anyway, which will undoubtedly have full T-Mobile support. I’m going to feel sorry for anyone who buys this updated model in the next few months when they realize in September or October that its already been superseded by an even newer model.

  • Dave

    David nice post. Think I will wait since I have a 4S and just now starting to get a little 3G in HI.

  • tomnewtn

    I won’t pick this up with a 5s around the corner. Even that probably won’t come to TMO right away, but maybe it will. So it seems that the timing of this release isn’t the best if it’s not the 5s.

  • BahamasGeek242

    Hats off to T-mobile for getting the Apple finally on the team. I will always be a Nexus user but its nice for the other people who want the I-phone

  • youchew

    I was going to complain about not getting HSPA+42; When i realized I’m on wifi all day & my area supports HSPA+21on the 1900 band; Though I only did get it a week ago. Nothing to rustle my jimmies over~

  • doubleatheman

    How much is the down payment for the iPhone 4 And 4s going to cost on tmobile?

  • Mike

    only downside of the iphone 5 on t-mobile is apple just fixed where you can’t jailbreak the iphone 5 with the 6.1.3 ios update. I’m

  • Randall Lind

    Iphone was so yesterday

  • OZ

    Do Verizon/Sprint phones support GSM SIMs?

  • conservative_motorcyclist

    Since the iPhone 5 “update” is only a baseband firmware radio change, I wonder if a DFU restore to the next iOS version that comes out will enable HSPA+ AWS?

  • THP523

    So should I return my factory unlocked iPhone 5 to apple and get a updated model come 4/12? I still have about 14 days to return and I mean the only difference is the fact that the new model will have HSPA+ 42Mbps right? Let me know what you guys think..

  • THP523

    So should I return my factory unlocked iPhone 5 to apple and get a updated model come 4/12? I still have about 14 days to return and I mean the only difference is the fact that the new model will have HSPA+ 42Mbps right? Let me know what you guys think..

  • Francisco Ortiz

    Great, but is there a list where TMO has reframed it’s 2g into 3G?



  • Ruben James

    Thanks for clearing all of that up. I bought the most recent version of the iPhone 5, and it’s nice to know that once Denver gets LTE, I will already be running on it. After getting an idea of how fast it will be, I am even more excited about LTE. A little while ago, I took a little vacation from my job at DISH and got to try out LTE in Vegas. On the trip, I was able to keep up to date with my shows using the DISH Anywhere app on my phone, and as a result of using the speedier network, streaming quality was awesome.