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New Member
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎01-13-2022

Never buy an "unlocked" iPhone from Best Buy.

On August 16, 2019, I decided to buy an unlocked iPhone XR from Best Buy for my wife. I had a Best Buy credit card, so I preferred to use it rather than buying the phone from Apple. The price was the same anyways. I buy unlocked phones because we travel, and we like to use our phones in other countries. Also, I like the freedom to change carriers whenever I like. Going to Best Buy to purchase this iPhone XR ended up being the worst mistake I have ever done! When I purchased the phone, we were using a Prepaid phone plan by H2O Wireless which uses AT&T networks. Everything was fine until in July 2021, we decided to change the carrier and go with Spectrum mobile, which uses Verizon networks. We are already using Spectrum for internet, so their plan was interesting, specially because it supports Apple watches. When we switched to Spectrum, we discovered the trick that Best Buy did to us 2 years earlier. Best Buy sold us a “Universal” iPhone not an “Unlocked” one! Nothing is written on the box, and the receipt has “UNV” written somewhere. Of course, as a customer, when I saw “UNV”, I thought it is unlocked, exactly like what I asked for and what BB guy told me. BB never actually say anything about universal phones. They just say unlocked. I believe some of the sales guys don’t even know the difference, exactly like me in the beginning. Universal phones lock themselves to the first carrier once the first SIM card is inserted! So, our phone was locked with AT&T! After hours of calling H2O, Apple, and BestBuy, and after vising the store twice, I discovered this trick, so I called AT&T to ask them to unlock the phone. Since the phone was already paid off, AT&T unlocked it. So, the phone was able to work with Spectrum/Verizon carrier and make calls or send text messages. However, cellular data never worked! So, if I am away from WiFi, there is no way that I can go online! When we were using AT&T network, the cellular data was working fine, but now with the new carrier, no more! I thought it’s an issue with the carrier, but my iPhone 11 which went through the exact same transition, has cellular data with no problems! I spent hours talking with Spectrum and trying to resolve this issue assuming it is from their side. I did everything that could be done: I got 3 new SIM cards, I reset the network settings multiple times, I restarted the phone many times, everything that could be done was done, but still no hope! I also did a factory reset once. Now we are stuck! The phone is only 2 years old. My wife took very good care of it by keeping it in a water-resistant case at all times. So, it’s in a like new condition. The manager of the Best Buy branch said that it has been 2 years and they can’t do anything now. They asked me to call BB customer service. I called BB customer service 3 times and made a case. Weeks passed and they never responded to the case. All calls with BB ended the same way: they ask me to be placed on a hold and I wait for a long time, then they hang up! So frustrating and disrespectful! Spectrum can’t do anything! AT&T can’t do anything! Verizon can’t do anything! Apple can’t do anything! And the poor customer is stuck! I need help to get cellular data to my phone.

Trusted Contributor
Posts: 2,718
Registered: ‎02-07-2011

Re: Never buy an "unlocked" iPhone from Best Buy.

There are only 2 places that can unlock this.

1. It locks to the first sim installed. In this case it sounds like H2O wireless.

2. Apple. (They won't want to but they can)

The retailer in this case bestbuy, does not have the capability to do it.
New Member
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎01-13-2022

Re: Never buy an "unlocked" iPhone from Best Buy.

Thanks for your comment!

AT&T (which is the network that H2O uses) has already unlocked it, so I am using the phone for calls and text, but cellular data is not working at all whatever I do. Apple said they have nothing to do with this problem, and they told me that it is BB's mistake that they sold me a universal phone not an unlocked one. This is my main concern, which was mentioned by other BB customers who purchased iPhones from BB before. The customers are not told that the iphone is not unlocked but it is universal. This should not be happening from BB!

Posts: 11,115
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Registered: ‎11-10-2008

Re: Never buy an "unlocked" iPhone from Best Buy.

As a test if you're willing to do it, purchase a SIM from Tracfone, an ATT or T Mobile compatible one (they are only $1) and then purchase the basic plan of 9.99 which gives 90 minutes / 90 texts and 90mb of data and see if there is a difference in the way the phone works. Supposedly Tracfone SIM cards can work with ATT and T Mobile compatible phones via SIM swapping.

Best Buy Forums Super User since 2008. Please note I am not employed by Best Buy and I answer questions on my own time. If you find something helpful please add kudos to it. Should something solve your issue please remember to mark inquiries as solved.
Trusted Contributor
Posts: 2,718
Registered: ‎02-07-2011

Re: Never buy an "unlocked" iPhone from Best Buy.

Be relentless with apple....
New Member
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎01-13-2022

Re: Never buy an "unlocked" iPhone from Best Buy.

Thanks for suggestion! 

I tried another SIM card that uses T-mobile network and the cellular data worked fine. I called Spectrum again but they said since you didn't purchase the iPhone from us, and that we did all possible tests including sending you a new SIM card and resetting the network settings, we can't do anything. 

Again, BB told me that they are selling an unlocked phone while in reality it wasn't unlocked, it was a universal phone! BB didn't give me the right product that they claimed to be selling! Now all these unexpected behaviors are happening because of that! 

Posts: 11,115
Topics: 1,809
Kudos: 915
Blog Posts: 0
Solutions: 351
Registered: ‎11-10-2008

Re: Never buy an "unlocked" iPhone from Best Buy.

Personally I like to avoid these big carriers if possible and go with an MVNO which is the same service without all the outrageous fees. Yes some cable companies offer their service but it's no better than if you used the brand name up front.

 

I have Tracfone which uses the Verizon Network using my iPhone 6S. I get Unlimited Talk and Text plus 1GB of data that rolls over from month to month if I don't use it and it's $20. Best Buy is a retailer that carries their sim cards and services.

 

 Simple Mobile use  T Mobile for their cell service and has a $60 plan for Unlimited Talk and Text plus you have 15gb to use for your mobile hot spot feature on your phone.

 

https://www.bestbuy.com/site/simple-mobile-60-prepaid-payment-code-digital/6368109.p?skuId=6368109

 

FYI Simple Mobile seems to be a good value but only if you get T Mobile Service.

 

Here is a link to the SIM Card:

 

https://www.bestbuy.com/site/simple-mobile-keep-your-own-phone-sim-card-kit/6444056.p?skuId=6444056

Best Buy Forums Super User since 2008. Please note I am not employed by Best Buy and I answer questions on my own time. If you find something helpful please add kudos to it. Should something solve your issue please remember to mark inquiries as solved.
New Member
Posts: 8
Registered: ‎08-27-2020

Re: Never buy an "unlocked" iPhone from Best Buy.

 my phone was locked too and I went to the Apple center and they fixed that. Now I have Verizon on my phone.