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DROID ULTRA Can Connect to AT&T’s HSPA Network Out of the Box

DROID ULTRA AT&T

Well, this was a semi-surprising revelation. I chopped down an AT&T micro SIM into a nano SIM, inserted it into my DROID ULTRA, and sure enough I had connectivity. As you can see from the picture above, the ULTRA is running quite well on AT&T’s HSPA network. Sure, I’m not seeing record breaking speeds since it’s not on LTE, but in a pinch or should you have secretly been craving an ULTRA on AT&T, it does work. Better yet, the DROID MAXX should have the same ability since it’s the exact same phone as the ULTRA but with a bigger battery. So if 48 hour battery life has been filling your AT&T dreams over the last couple of weeks, then look out. 

DROID ULTRA AT&T

We should point out that both the new ULTRA and MAXX are supposed to support global HSPA networks on 850/900/1900/2100 bands. AT&T uses 850 and 1900, so it sort of makes sense that the phone has the ability to connect to their network. I think what’s surprising is Verizon leaving it open. And with that in mind, I wouldn’t be surprised if Big Red shut off connectivity to AT&T towers before long. Before you run out and grab a MAXX with sights set on using it exclusively with AT&T, I’d wait to see if Verizon meant for this open connectivity. A future update could cut you off permanently.

Then again, we did see the HTC 8X on Verizon work well on AT&T and T-Mobile. Maybe times are-a-changing?

As of right now, I’ve had success placing calls and using data to download apps or browse the web. No APN changes were needed – it just worked.

Update:  I’ve been told that you can do this with the Galaxy S4, Note 2, and DNA as well. I promise to pay closer attention in the future. Still, MAXX on AT&T!

DROID ULTRA AT&T

  • http://andymerskin.com/ Andy Merskin

    The heck?! What are ya doing in Cheyenne, WY? I grew up there!

  • http://www.youtube.com/lordstickmax LordStickMax

    i hope a verizon moto X works on all networks like the iPhone 5. that would be awesome

  • Stevennnnnnnnn

    Awesome news.. just picked up my brand new Droid Maxx today. I loved everything about the phone, but wasn’t sure if I could use it overseas with a prepaid sim. Looks like this is possible now. With this info I’m even more happy about my choice.

    • dougtallica

      Got mine on launch day and this is a great added bonus! I knew it was a world phone but I thought Verizon would gouge us on the price. Using a local SIM is the best, I got 100 minutes for like $7 in Guatemala.

  • anezarati

    Will it work if I put in a straighttalk Sim into it?

  • agentorange1985

    Can anyone confirm yet if this works with the Verizon HTC One?

  • Nathaniel Newman

    Does this work with AT&T LTE? I have a VZW Galaxy S4 and am planning to get the Droid Maxx soon.

    • hoosiercub88

      No, HSPA+ only.

  • bboyairwreck

    Sorry noob question: So does this mean you can get only data on AT&T though? Or could I use this as a fully working phone with calls n text over 2G? Would appreciate any clarification.

  • Carter Johnson

    So you can use a verizon phone on at&t but you can’t use at&t phone on verizon

  • Chris Liberti

    How is this surprising. The FCC requires them to keep the SIm unlocked as a part of their acquired spectrum.

    • kilbasar

      The fact that it uses a SIM is irrelevant, the point is that it has hardware antenna support for HSPA. For example, the Thunderbolt and the Galaxy S3, both LTE phones that use SIM cards, do not support HSPA, just basic GSM. That means you won’t have high-speed data if you travel and use those phones on an overseas HSPA network.

      (edit: Actually, the t-bolt didn’t even support any variety of GSM besides LTE. The S3 supports most GSM varieties, but not HSPA)

  • Jaron Wheeler

    I would love to try this out!

  • Matt

    I wish dual SIM phones were available in flagship US phones.

  • John Galt

    I’d be thrilled with those speeds on Verizon. Sad.

  • Pdewet

    I wish the worked the other way around, like buying a AT&T phone and have it work on Verizon. AT&T has phones that Verizon doesn’t and even the ones they both have, AT&T gets them months earlier. How nice would it be to get a S4 Active or even a custom Moto X and slapping a Verizon sim in….if only.

  • duke69111

    Is there any kind of pay as you go/use plan for att/t-mobile that would work with this. I can see this being a handy feature, when i’m out for the occasional rural weekend where only att/t-mobile has service.

    • FSRBIKER

      Yes, AT&T has GoPhone(also has LTE) which I’m using now. $60/2gb/unlimited text & data. Buy refill cards for under $55.

      • duke69111

        Is that a monthly plan or or something I could just pay for say a weekend?

  • Michael Chediak

    The DNA is unlocked… I bought my DNA off of craigslist and used it on both AT&T and TMobile.

  • briankariu

    Its actually all Verizon LTE phones that should have GSM capabilities out of the box. One of the requirements that was put when Verizon purchased block C to expand their LTE coverage was that all Verizon LTE phones would be sim unlocked by default and could be used on GSM globally. Bought a HTC Rezound about a year ago and used it on GSM in Kenya. Funny thing is that the CDMA radios are locked to Verizon and Verizon alone.

    • kilbasar

      See my other comment. “SIM unlocked” does not mean “supports GSM frequencies used by non-Verizon carriers”. The Thunderbolt is an example of an LTE phone that supports Verizon’s LTE (GSM) frequencies, but not the frequencies used by other GSM carriers, so you can’t use it overseas. However, most (all?) new Verizon LTE phones support most GSM frequencies, because modern chipsets already have them built in. Verizon usually refers to these as “global” phones. Also note that even if the hardware supports it, you need software support as well.

  • Justtyn Hutcheson

    How well does it work on T-Mobile though? I know they use 2100, but don’t they use 1700 for most of their HSPA+ data, so it would only be compatible with their EDGE speeds?

    • Tim242

      It is def a better fit for at&t.

      • Justtyn Hutcheson

        Mainly wondering because I would love to check out T-Mobile’s network in my area for a month without carrying two devices. Much easier to just pop SIMs in and out.

        • Tim242

          It was EDGE only when I tried T-Mobile with my Verizon Note 2. Haven’t tried it on my S4. I think the bands are the same though.

          • Justtyn Hutcheson

            According to Phone Arena, they all use the same bands.

            The only issue I have is that it should support 1700 AWS, since Verizon is planning on expanding their LTE network into that spectrum early/mid 2014. That’s my biggest hangup with all these new devices.

          • Tim242

            The S4 supports LTE 1700 : )

          • Justtyn Hutcheson

            Looks like the Moto X will be compatible too, but the HTC One is not, according to the FCC filings. Bummer too, since the HTC One is battling the Moto X for my money.

          • Justtyn Hutcheson

            Digging deeper, looks like the Mini/Ultra/Maxx support Band 4 as well. That would be pretty awesome, though dropping from LTE to EDGE with no HSPA would suck lol.

  • Jeff C

    i bet AT&T would have gotten the Ultra weeks ago

    • bboyairwreck

      Months* please you’re giving VZW too much credit lol

  • S.Scott Turgeon

    so my next question would be is this fraudulent or legal just because you can do something doesn’t make it right

    • CoreRooted

      How could it be? You are paying AT&T for the service (you have to get the SIM from them, have it activated, etc) AND paying for service and the device from Verizon.

      Which part is illegal and/or fraudulent?

      • chris420o

        you buy off contract…ur not payin verizon anything except if u buy the phone from them

        • CoreRooted

          True… Didn’t mention it because so few people actually do buy off-contract (as I have seen, I could be wrong).

    • Pedro

      VZW phones are carrier unlocked.
      Bootloader locked to the gills, but carrier unlocked.

      • hoosiercub88

        All Android phones ship with locked bootloaders..

    • Tim242

      Yes it is legal. It was required by the FCC.

  • Northshore0909

    If you used your ultra solely on at&t, wouldn’t you have trouble receiving updates from verizon?

    • Tim242

      You wouldn’t get them.

      • Justtyn Hutcheson

        Wouldn’t you? The device connects to Motorola’s servers for the update, not Verizon’s. You may not get an update notification when connected to cell data, but you should be able to be notified and pull the update while on wifi.

        • Tim242

          On every Verizon phone I’ve had, the update notification was sent by Verizon. Many people have said that you don’t get a carrier update, without being active on that carrier.

          • Justtyn Hutcheson

            Well that’s BS. Another dream destroyed.

          • Tim242

            I think if you keep your Verizon SIM, you may be able to pop it in and connect to WiFi to pull down the update. Even if it isn’t an active account, it stills has network access for 911. That should register your phone for the update.

    • Guest on August 223rd

      How is that any different then how VZW is now?

      • Northshore0909

        Touche :)

      • mustbepbs

        Guest account…what a waste of upvotes :(

        Every time an upvote gets wasted on a guest account, a puppy dies.

  • RoadsterHD1

    Wow. what about the mni and the X?

  • Tim242

    The iPhone 5, Note 2, Droid DNA, and Galaxy S4 are unlocked as well. Why does this surprise you?

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      Are all of those still that way? Both data and calling? I guess I should pay attention more. :P

      • Tim242

        Yes. I’ve heard it was required of them for LTE phones due to Block C. Not sure if that is the case, but I have a hard time seeing Verizon as just being nice.

        • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

          I’ve heard that as well, just thought that not everything worked, like calling. But if it does! That’s awesome. Good job FCC for enforcing that.

          • Tim242

            I tested a T-Mobile SIM in my Note 2. It worked fine for calls and data, but lacked one of the bands for T-Mobile HSPA+. I haven’t tried it in my S4.

          • Ayush

            Not only will these phones work with all of those services, the newer flagships (so far Q10, S4, 928, Ultra/Maxx/Mini/X, and maybe the One) work on Band 4 LTE so Canadian carrier LTE, T-Mobile’s LTE, and very few AT&T LTE markets can connect to LTE on these phones.

    • Godzilla

      so you are saying that if i go into settings on my S4 and mess around that I can get on HSPA?

      • Tim242

        If you put an at&t or T-Mobile Sim in, it will just work.

        • Godzilla

          interesting, calls will work as well?

          • Tim242

            They did on my Note 2. Haven’t tried on my S4, but I’m sure it’s the same.

          • Godzilla

            that honestly shocks me, but very cool.

          • Tim242

            With an at&t SIM, all worked but LTE, of course. With a T-Mobile SIM, it lacked one of their bands for HSPA+. The S4 may have it though.

          • http://www.twitter.com/SexciiP JaQuez Avondre

            So in order to try this you need to have a activated At&T sim installed or just any old regular sim laying around?

          • Tim242

            It doesn’t have to be activated, to show you the network and signal.

      • Alex Moeller

        Yes you can. I have a Verizon S4 and AT&T HSPA works on my phone. I popped in my friend’s AT&T SIM and entered the APN info in settings to make calls and use data.

  • Godzilla

    Dangit Kellex go into settings and change the readout to MBPS. Who uses KBPS?

    • mgamerz

      He’s on AT&T KBPS will be more accurate.

      • Godzilla

        LOL, actually, to be honest. The nature of ATT’s network is more modern tech ant it’s actually faster than Verizon.

        • Adrynalyne

          YMMV on that one.

          • Godzilla

            im sorry but YMMV?

          • Adrynalyne

            Your Mileage May Vary.

          • Godzilla

            well yes obviously that is true. I am no where near saying that ATT has matched verizon, but they are getting closer and closer.

          • joderme

            quit trolling droid-life and get back on IRC…

        • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

          Agreed. Verizon wins in area covered, but when an area has both AT&T and Verizon LTE AT&T almost always wins.

          • Godzilla

            Yup, T mobile often times will beat both of them in speed as a matter of fact.

            But yeah Verizon still wins hands down in terms of markets but also in terms of rural coverage big time.

          • Joshua P.

            My GF’s nexus 4 more than triples my speed with less signal on a regular basis, makes me sad.

          • hoosiercub88

            You mean where AT&T/T-Mobile have none, yes, Verizon wins there. *And by there I mean here, where I live* I have LTE all over and H+ on AT&T very spotty, EDGE everywhere on T-Mo.

          • Adrynalyne

            Part, no, a lot of that has to do with tower congestion.

          • Joshua P.

            Verizon used to be like this, I would get 20+ mbps everywhere then after a year there was a drop in speed and then recently its been getting to the point that I am between 2-5 mbps if I am lucky in a full signal area. It’s just a matter of time until they are saturated.

          • Adrynalyne

            That isn’t just saturation, that is a problem with the tower (or your phone).

          • Joshua P.

            too many users in one area on one wan link, too much saturation. The problem persists all through the downtown area on multiple cell IDs. but in less populated areas I can still get that magical 30 mbps

          • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

            Exactly! If I go to a rural town that had maybe 20 housed in several square miles, I can pull high 20’s to mid 30’s down, but where I am and in many somewhat populated areas I’m lucky to get 5-12Mbps down. Meanwhile, on AT&T I get anywhere from 30-60Mbps down, even in large cities.

        • Dave

          But what happens when you add another 50 million phones to their network?

        • mgamerz

          My Galaxy Nexus GSM disagrees with you

        • hoosiercub88

          LOL ^^^ This guy.

          AT&T’s LTE network usually SpeedTests better yes, but in overall coverage and reliability, it’s a candle in the wind.

          This is for HSPA+ only though, not their LTE tech.

  • Weber

    So you get the VZW bloat on AT&T?
    Some people have all the luck.

    • Bob

      My bloatalicious VZW S4 can do this, so what? So could my GN2. poor folks with GN2 on the “NOW network,” however, couldn’t (soldered sim cards anyone?).

  • Godzilla

    For the first time in my life I will give ATT some credit, they are really starting to build up their network. Finally.

    • Tim242

      Yeah. If Verizon takes my unlimited, I will go to at&t the same day.

      • ?

        You will go to AT&T who also does not offer unlimited data?

        • Tim242

          Yes. They still offer individual plans. They don’t force you on family share. That means for my 2 lines, I get 6 GB total, for $60, instead of 4 on Verizon if allowed to stay individual, or 2 if forced on share.

          • Chris Hannan

            If you already have a single line on Verizon, you can keep it if you lose unlimited. It’s the same price as AT&T except you get 2GB of data instead of 3GB.

          • Tim242

            Yes, I get that. But I’d rather get 3GB, instead of 2 for the same price. With 2 lines, that’s 2GB more. But my main point is that if they pull unlimited, they’ll probably force you to family share. Either way, I’ll be in trouble. I have used 11 GB in 6 days. I got rid of my home WiFi. I use tethering to watch Netflix. I don’t see the point in paying a WiFi bill, when I’m having to pay Verizon full price for two phones, plus pay the subsidy in the plan. If I’m going to pay that much for the priveledge of having unlimited, I’m going to use it as I please.

          • hoosiercub88

            Verizon still very much has individual plans for single-line users. You just have to ask at a store.

          • Chris Hannan

            I do the same. I have WiFi at home but I tether all the time because our router isn’t very reliable and the signal doesn’t reach my room very well. I normally use 30+GB a month.

          • http://www.naskaras.com/ Thanassi Karageorgiou

            ditto

  • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

    It’s a lot of money to spend on a phone for AT&T without LTE

  • Mort

    If I recall correctly, @P3Droid had the RAZR M working on AT&T bands shortly after its release, as well.

    • P3droid

      WHY yes I did. And reported many moons (1+ years ago) that all future phones would work out of the box on GSM carriers.

      • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

        P3 sighting!

        • MichaelFranz

          like a unicorn unless your on twitter and follow him :)

          • P3droid

            complete with pink and yellow undies.

      • tomn1ce

        That’s what I thought. Wasn’t that part of the condition when vzw picked band 4 for their LTE. That their device had to be gsm unlocked!

        • P3droid

          That is correct.

  • leftiphone4droid

    Yup…I was the first to report this on androidcentral forums. I’ve been using my ultra just fine on ATT…no issues at all.

    • Kyle

      So the Droid Maxx will work on AT&T’s Edge and HSPA bands? My main concern is that if I buy a Droid Maxx for AT&T, I don’t want my cell or data reception to be spotty because my phone doesn’t access one or more of the bands.