Is Samsung’s Galaxy S3, which is about to be launched, going to be the phone one can use with both Verizon as well as AT&T? This question mainly arises because until now it has been difficult to swap a phone between two different networks due to differences in technology they use. Verizon and Sprint opt for CDMA while AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM.
Even in the 4G world, though both the carriers use LTE, they broadcast their signals in varied parts of the radio spectrum, making it impossible for a Verizon phone to run with AT&T. However, Verizon recently stated that an upgrade in software would enable their phones to run globally, indicating the presence of a GSM radio inside Verizon phones, hence also allowing the device to run on AT&T.
Carriers often have wildly diverging speeds on supposed high speed networks like LTE. AT&T suffers from slow 4G and 3G speeds in many parts of the country, even though their 4G LTE service is supposed to be much faster. Verizon has often come out with ‘global’ handsets before which can work on several bands of CDMA as well as GSM networks, and many critics have suggested that many phones actually have global capability which is restricted by carriers. The removal of such restrictions will make it possible to use a Verizon phone on AT&T’s 4G LTE service or the other way around. Of course, this is highly unlikely unless a phone is bought unlocked, which is a rarity in the United States.
Samsung’s Galaxy S III supposedly will work on both the carriers, except the network and carrier specific services that have been pre-loaded into the device. However, since most carriers push only contract devices, it is highly unlikely users will be able to access an unlocked version of the S III without buying the phone from other sources. Users often tend to pose queries like if they paid the full price, will the phone be unlocked and open for use on other carriers as well? Will the phone also work on LTE networks? Verizon has been questioned on the manner in which they will unlock phones for their customers outside of US and their response has been tentatively positive, raising the possibility of them unlocking the S III.
For most users under contract, changing carriers usually results in them buying a new phone. However, if they could switch carriers easily, it would lead to the growth of a competitive market, much to their own advantage. For the S III especially, it could boost sales by allowing users of networks not carrying the Galaxy S III to buy the device.