Are iPhones GSM Or CDMA? Here’s How To Tell

If you’re a pro when it comes to smartphones, you probably know which of the two essential radio technologies — GSM or CDMA — your iPhone is using. But for the uninitiated, how do you figure out if your iPhone uses GSM or CDMA technology?

You can determine whether your iPhone is CDMA or GSM through the Settings app or by searching the phone’s model number. Many iPhone models use both CDMA and GSM technologies. However, CDMA and GSM are steadily being phased out and replaced by 4G LTE and 5G networks.

Let’s take a closer look at what these acronyms signify and how you can figure out which one applies to your phone. We’ll also take a look at whether the answer still matters as the iPhone technology advances.

How Do You Tell if Your iPhone Is CDMA or GSM?

Objects and iphones laying on a black glass table

Smartphones use one of two essential radio technologies: Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and Global System for Mobile communication (GSM). Each of these systems represents older radio systems used in smartphones, otherwise known as 2G and 3G connections.

Most networks have already shut down GSM and CDMA technologies or plan to at the end of 2022. Smartphone manufacturers like Google, Apple, and Samsung are developing devices that are compatible with all options, including CDMA, GSM, and LTE.

Nonetheless, you can use the following methods to determine if your iPhone is CDMA or GSM:

Who Did You Buy Your Phone From?

Generally speaking, you can tell what kind of technology your smartphone uses depending on the carrier you bought it from. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • AT&T and T-Mobile typically offer GSM devices.
  • Verizon utilizes CDMA on its network but typically sells phones that can use both technologies.
  • Factory-unlocked devices or models purchased directly from the manufacturer can normally use both technologies.

Check Your iPhone Settings

You can use your iPhone’s Settings App to determine if it uses GSM or CDMA technology. Here’s how:

  1. Launch the ‘Settings‘ app on your iPhone.
  2. Navigate to ‘General’ and then select ‘About.’
  3. Look for MEID, ESN, or IMEI numbers located at the bottom of the About section.

Your iPhone uses CDMA if it has a MEID or an ESN code. Alternatively, your iPhone uses GSM if it has an IMEI number. If you see both codes, your smartphone supports GSM and CDMA.

Search the Model Code

Another way you can figure out if your device is CDMA or GSM is to use the model number. You can find your iPhone model number printed on the back of the device or in the Settings app. All you have to do is search your iPhone model number to determine if it’s GSM or CDMA.

Does Your Device Have a SIM Card Port?

Removing a sim card out of a smartphone

The easiest way to figure out what kind of smartphone you have is by using the SIM card slot. GSM devices utilize SIM card slots, while CDMA devices don’t require them. That said, some CDMA devices have SIM card slots due to the widespread use of 4G LTE.

This method may not be as valuable anymore, but your device is definitely CDMA if it doesn’t have a SIM card slot.

Which iPhones Are Both CDMA and GSM?

As mentioned earlier, you can use the model number on the back of your iPhone to determine if it uses CDMA or GSM technology. The model number will have a string of numbers after the word “Model.”

You can use the list below to compare your iPhone and determine what technology it uses:

GSM Model Numbers on the iPhone

  • iPhone 5 Model Number: A1429
  • iPhone 5 Model Number: A1428
  • iPhone 4S Model Number: A1387
  • iPhone 4S Model Number: A1531
  • iPhone 4 Model Number: A1332
  • iPhone 3GS Model Number: A1325
  • iPhone 3GS Model Number: A1303
  • iPhone 3G Model Number: A1324
  • iPhone 3G Model Number: A1241
  • iPhone 1 Model Number: A1203

CDMA Model Numbers on the iPhone

  • iPhone 5 Model Number: A1429
  • iPhone 4S Model Number: A1387
  • iPhone 4 Model Number: A1349

Do GSM and CDMA Matter Anymore?

As we mentioned earlier, most networks have already shut down GSM and CDMA technologies. Some networks, like Verizon, also plan to cut off these networks at the end of 2022. GSM and CDMA technologies are a relic of the past — they’re over 25 years old now — and most devices use 4G LTE instead.

These days, GSM and CDMA services are being utilized to support electric meters and vending machines. However, you can still find compatible 2G and 3G devices for sale.

It’s not recommended to buy them, as they’ll probably work pretty poorly and in the future, they may not work at all. If you have an old GSM or CDMA device, it’s time to switch to one that supports 4G LTE or 5G networks.