How to tell if an unlocked GSM phone will work on Ting
Looking to bring an unlocked GSM phone to Ting? Good choice, if we do say so ourselves. Around 80% of smartphones released in the last few years will work with Ting. This post will give you general tips to determine if a phone you have or are thinking about getting can make the move.
Before we begin
The surefire way to know if a device will activate on Ting on a GSM network is to enter its ESN, MEID or IMEI number in our compatibility checker. If you already have an unlocked GSM phone, just run these numbers to confirm your device will work on Ting. Assuming your phone is good to go, grab a GSM SIM and start the activation process once you have both in hand.
It’s not always possible to get an IMEI number. No retailer lists the IMEI number of phones it sells. Sellers in used markets may be hesitant to share this information too.
In this situation, there are two other ways you can verify whether a device will work on Ting on a GSM network:
- The specific device model (e.g a Nexus 5 or an iPhone 6 Plus) and which carrier it’s coming from (e.g AT&T or T-Mobile).
- The specific “bands” (measured in MHz and GHz) the device will work on.
Many device models from most carriers will activate on Ting on a GSM network. To help you out, we’ve listed all the major carriers below with their device compatibility info in very general terms.
T-Mobile – All
All T-Mobile devices will work on Ting on a GSM network, assuming there’s no outstanding financial commitment on said device. Easy!
AT&T – Most
Most AT&T devices will work with Ting on a GSM network. First, though, you’ll need AT&T to unlock your device (learn more about AT&T’s unlocking policy here). The level of network compatibility varies with each specific device (see below).
Verizon – Some
If you purchased a Verizon LTE device on or after September 2012, Verizon will unlock that device with no intervention required as soon as your contract terms have been met. Again, the level of network compatibility varies with each specific device (see below).
Sprint – Few
Some Sprint devices (including the Nexus, Pixel and iPhone) will activate on the Ting GSM network, assuming there is no financial obligation tied to the phone.
Many Sprint devices that have GSM support built-in are still not unlocked. Sprint has stated that they will not unlock the domestic GSM capabilities of phones that were launched in the market before February 2015. Newer models may be eligible to be unlocked for domestic GSM use.
You can always activate your Sprint device on Ting’s CDMA network if you’d like to go that route.
Manufacturers – All
If you purchased an unlocked device from the Apple Store, Google Play, Motorola Shop, or another manufacturer, chances are very good that it will activate on Ting on a GSM network. The exact level of network compatibility could still vary with each specific device, but any North American-edition Nexus 5, Nexus 6, iPhone 6, or iPhone 6 Plus would be fully compatible.
Buying a new Ting-ready device
If you’re shopping for a device to activate on the Ting on a GSM network, ensure that it supports Ting on a GSM network frequency bands (see below). Ensure you’re buying an unlocked GSM phone, not one that’s tied to a specific carrier or prepaid service.
Buying online – Many (research required)
Online retailers like Amazon will clearly list whether a phone is unlocked or tied to a carrier. Search only for unlocked phones to make things easier.
An important note: Do not buy a phone that’s being discounted by the carrier. Carrier discounted phones will be locked to that carrier’s network unless an early termination fee (ETF) is paid. In the case of a prepaid carrier, discounted devices are locked until that device has been active on the prepaid carrier’s network for one full year.
Brick and mortar retailers – Few
We cannot guarantee devices bought from a retail outlet will activate on the Ting GSM network. Only devices that are sold unlocked and that offer compatible bands (see below) will work. Carrier discounting of devices sold at major retailers make brick and mortar shopping for a Ting-compatible device more difficult than it should be. Therefore, we don’t recommend going this route unless you’re very confident in your abilities to navigate the retail gauntlet of phone service offers and carrier locked devices.
Ting’s GSM service is provided on a nationwide 3G, HSPA and LTE network. It is compatible with 2G, 3G and 4G (LTE) mobile speeds. As we use the same bands and frequencies as T-Mobile, any unlocked phone that works on the T-Mobile network will work with Ting on a GSM network.
The easiest way to find out which bands are compatible with both your device model and the Ting GSM network is by getting its IMEI number and entering it in our compatibility checker.
If that’s not possible, you’ll need to take a good look at this help article detailing the specific bands and technologies that Ting on a GSM network uses before you buy.
That’s a look, in general terms, at which devices will work with Ting on a GSM network. Want some recommendations? Here are some of our favorite GSM phones that are available right here in the Ting Shop, as well as five inexpensive GSM smartphones with flagship performance.
If you have questions, please feel free to ask below. We’ll do our best to help people out individually but more to the point, we’d appreciate your help in identifying where we can improve the process of bringing your own unlocked GSM phone to Ting.