Will a Verizon Phone Work on AT&T?
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If you’re looking to switch from Verizon to AT&T, you’re not alone.
Many consumers are looking to switch their cell phone service from Verizon to AT&T and want to bring their Verizon phones with them.
But wait, will the phone you purchased through Verizon work on AT&T or will you need to buy an all-new phone when you switch services?
Will a Verizon Phone Work on AT&T?
Depending on your specific phone model, you may be able to switch from Verizon to AT&T without a gap in service or purchasing a new smartphone. Most newer phones will be able to switch from Verizon to AT&T with no problems, but you may also lose certain features like wifi calling and HD voice.
It may come as a surprise to learn that some Verizon phones will work on an AT&T service.
Some argue that most will work.
While it is true that many Verizon phones can work on AT&T, it’s better to check specifically on the phone that you wish to change services with.
To be more specific, AT&T uses a GSM network. Verizon uses both CDMA and GSM.
Verizon’s LTE network is where they use GSM.
Any unlocked GSM phone can be used on other GSM networks such as AT&T.
However, non-branded phones often have no support for advanced features offered by the cellular network carrier.
Can I Switch My Verizon Phone to AT&T?
In general, Verizon LTE devices are GSM compatible and even come unlocked at purchase.
The reason for this is that the Verizon LTE network makes use of GSM network connections.
The good news is that Verizon has changed many of its devices over to the LTE network as LTE offers better performance than their previous CDMA service.
Another bit of good news is that it is easy to find out what network your smartphone uses.
To start off, LTE networks are almost exclusively GSM.
If you purchased your smartphone from Sprint or Verizon’s non-LTE selection, your device is a CDMA phone.
If you purchased your device from AT&T or T-mobile, It’s most likely GSM.
If you’re still unsure, you can find the information you need in your device’s settings. However, it doesn’t explicitly state either CDMA or GSM. Instead, you’re going to be looking for either a MEID, ESN, or IMEI number.
For iPhone, go to the Settings app. Now, click on General, then About. Look for an MEID, ESN, or IMEI number.
For Android, go to Settings. Tap on System, then About Phone. Tap on Status and located the MEID, ESN, or IMEI number.
If your phone has either an MEID or ESN number, It’s a CDMA device. If you instead find an IMEI number, It’s GSM.
If your device is GSM-networked, all you will need to do is replace the SIM card or contact AT&T to activate your new service.
If you have a CDMA device, you will, unfortunately, need to purchase a new device that is GSM-ready.
SIM Types and Compatibility
All this talk about GSM and CDMA likely has you wondering what they even are.
Don’t worry It’s not too complicated to understand.
Like most acronyms used for technology like 3G, 4G, LTE, and now 5G, the letters don’t stand for complicated parts.
Just like 4G means the fourth generation, GSM stands for Global System for Mobile communication.
GSM stands for Code Division Multiple Access.
Both names are just fancy words for describing two different forms of radio technology that smartphones and phone networks use to move your voice and data across wireless signals.
For consumers, there are a few differences to keep in mind between CDMA and GSM networks. The first is the SIM card.
GSM phones always make use of a SIM card to link your phone to its network.
CDMA, on the other hand, has a chip built-in that acts like a SIM card.
CDMA was a favored network by cellular providers who wished to have more control over its network and phones connected to it such as Verizon.
As radio technology moved forward, CDMA became less popular.
LTE, or long-term evolution, networks needed a larger bandwidth and easier access which was provided by GSM networks.
This change is more recent for Verizon, but others like AT&T and T-Mobile required no change at all.
The key is to remember that GSM networked devices do not work with CDMA networks and vice-versa.
GSM devices will show an IMEI number in the About Phone section of your device’s settings.
CDMA will show either a MEID or ESN number.
If you still aren’t sure or your device is not compatible with GSM networks, don’t worry.
There are still options to get you on a network without breaking the bank.
AT&T, and many other cellular network providers, offer device trade-in programs to make it as easy as possible for new customers to choose their network.
Even better, most phones are manufactured for both GSM and CDMA carriers.
This means you’ll be able to trade your CDMA networked device in for a GSM model.
Keep in mind that smartphone technology is a fast-moving consumer market that constantly evolves.
You may want to trade your device in towards a newer and more powerful smartphone than you previously had.
Trade-in programs are not perfect.
Due to the rapid advancement of smartphone components, older smartphones can devalue rather quickly.
It’s typical for smartphone users to want to get an upgrade every two or three years if they want to keep up with the best features available.
You might find that some of the problems you’ve grown accustomed to on your old device are completely solved on newer ones.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between AT&T and Verizon?
AT&T and Verizon operate separate networks.
AT&T has used GSM networks for as far back as I can recall.
Verizon, however, makes use of both CDMA and GSM networks.
At first, they relied on CDMA networks for more direct control over their network and the devices connected to it.
Over time, GSM proved to be a more efficient network that supports larger bandwidth and lower latency.
As 4G, LTE, and now 5G take over the smartphone environment, GSM networks become even more important.
Why would I keep my old phone to change networks?
Some smartphone users become incredibly attached to their devices. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.
Unfortunately, cellular network providers have a habit of changing the prices of their services and promotions all the time.
This can mean that your phone bill is predictable and affordable for only the promotional period you signed up for.
After the promotion ends, your bill can change dramatically.
This change in cost without improvements to service often pressures consumers to switch services to take advantage of better options at a lower price. Unfortunately, cell service providers do not have a history of creating long-term customers better than their new sign-on.
Does my cell service provider affect where I can connect to wifi?
Absolutely not. Your smartphone is essentially a laptop in your pocket.
The wireless modem that is built-in operates separately from the cell service.
This means that should you choose to switch services but not to trade in your old device, you can still use it with WiFi or offline.
With the rise in homemade simple computers like Raspberry Pi, there are plenty of uses for a smartphone with no cellular connection.
With Android and iOs devices, you can quickly repurpose old phones to manage home automation, media libraries, and online services.
Should I trade in my phone to switch from Verizon to AT&T?
If you want to take advantage of specific features like wifi calling and HD voice, you will need to have a branded device that supports it.
The best way to get a branded device is directly from the cellular service provider.
If these features don’t make a difference to you, then there is no need to trade in your device provided it works on GSM networks.
If you have a smartphone that is three or more years old, you may want to consider trading it in towards a new one.