First, a little bit of background. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s were a bit miraculous. Just about any iPhone from those generations that was sold in the United States could move to and from any of the major networks. That made switching to Ting pretty straightforward.
The iPhone 7 has many incredible new features, but its compatibility with Ting is a bit trickier.
If you want to buy an iPhone 7 to bring directly to Ting, our recommendation is that you look for model A1660 (or A1661 for the iPhone 7 Plus). There are Sprint and Verizon versions of this model, but you may want to go with the Verizon version, since it will already be domestically unlocked and won’t carry the same risks of having an outstanding financial liability that make some second-hand Sprint devices a bit of a hassle. (Of course, always be sure to check the IMEI in our compatibility checker before you buy.)
The upside to choosing model A1660 (or A1661) is that, although it is advertised as a CDMA model, it really is a hybrid and fully supports our CDMA and GSM networks. You can easily switch it to Sprint or T-Mobile, or even to Verizon, AT&T, and U.S. Cellular if you ever move outside Ting coverage.
For the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s, we linked directly to the SIM-free version (which also happened to be the T-Mobile model) on the Apple Store from the Ting shop. You could buy that pretty easily and pretty quickly and get up and running with Ting once you had the right SIM card. The same isn’t true with the iPhone 7, unfortunately: to buy the CDMA version of the iPhone online, you need a Sprint or Verizon account. That means walking into an Apple Store might be your only option to get the right model for now.
There is some speculation that an “unlocked” iPhone 7 CDMA (with GSM as an added bonus) may be added to the Apple Store in the next few weeks. We’ll update this blog post once that happens.
So what’s the reason for this apparent step backward? Apple ships hundreds of millions of each generation of iPhone within pretty short periods of time. Having some redundancy for the internal components makes a lot of sense, as a result. If your chip, touchscreen, or battery manufacturer runs into a manufacturing delay, for example, you have a backup plan.
Qualcomm supplied the hybrid CDMA and GSM modem for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s generations. But for the GSM iPhone 7, Apple will be sourcing a GSM and LTE modem from Intel for the first time — but with no CDMA support. Intel acquired VIA Telecom, presumably to be able to add CDMA support down the road, which we hope becomes a reality in time for the iPhone launching later next year. But, in the meantime, there’s a bit of a schism between the iPhone models that are sold for AT&T and T-Mobile and the iPhone models that are sold for Verizon and Sprint.
Now that you know way more about this than you probably ever wanted to know, just in case you manage to get your hands on the GSM-only model A1778 (or A1784 for the Plus), you can still use it on our GSM network. You’ll just need our X1 SIM.
But, the bottom line is that the best iPhone 7 model for Ting CDMA or Ting GSM is model A1660 (or A1661 for the Plus). If you can find one in an Apple Store, go for the Verizon model (if you purchase it at full price, you shouldn’t need any Verizon account information). And don’t forget to pick-up the right CDMA SIM (it’s the C6) or GSM SIM (it’s the X1)!