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Cheat Sheet: US Wireless Carrier Bands for Unlocked Phones

us wireless carrier bands

“Does this unlocked phone work with my carrier?” “What are the US wireless carrier bands?”

How many times have you asked that over the last couple of years? I know we ask it often. In a time where prepaid services are very attractive, and more and more phones are available as unlocked models that work on a variety of LTE and GSM/CDMA bands, this a question you should be able to easily find an answer to. So since there doesn’t seem to be a quick reference guide for figuring out if a particular unlocked phone will work on a specific carrier’s network (trust me, I’ve looked), we decided to throw one together.

Below, we have given you a quick chart that shows each of the five major US carriers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular), along with 3G and 4G LTE bands and frequencies. By no means is this the most in-depth wireless carrier band and frequency chart, but it should help when you go to buy that next unlocked phone. 

If for some reason you can’t see the full table below, you can download an image of it here.

CARRIERNETWORK3G BANDS3G FREQUENCIES4G LTE BANDS4G LTE FREQUENCIES
AT&TGSM/UMTS/HSPA+2, 51900, 8502, 4, 12, 171900, 1700 abcde, 700 bc
VERIZONCDMA0, 1850, 19002, 4, 131900, 1700 f, 700 c
T-MOBILEGSM/UMTS/HSPA+2, 41900, 1700/21002, 4, 121900, 1700 def, 700 a
SPRINTCDMA10, 1800, 190025, 26, 411900 g, 850, 2500
US CELLULARCDMA0, 1850, 19005, 12850, 700 ab
Sources:  Wikipedia [2] [3] [4]
  • Rob

    So AT&T bought Cricket, and Straight Talk uses AT&T towers, right? Is one service better than the other? I need to switch my wife’s Straight Talk to Cricket, for some reason I feel like it would be faster. ST is super slow. Since Cricket is owned by AT&T I figured they’d get a higher priority bandwidth than an MVNO.

  • pat johnson

    thank you for posting this. it is reprehensible that some phone makers would put phones and mobile tablets up for pre-order without clearly disclosing what bands and/or carriers the phone/tablet is compatible with.

  • Very helpful cheat sheet. Great for people who would appreciate not being locked to a single carrier. Oh wait, that’s most of us. xD

  • Teaser38

    In theory, AT&T’s Band 17 service should be compatible with Band 12 devices by October 1st of this year. Sort of moot as that’s probably not going to happen on time if the Death Star can help it and there are hardly any Band 12 (and also not Band 17) compatible devices.

  • CaptainHowdy13

    DL crew should make a list of MVNO’s and what networks they use for more reference

    • Always assume your MVNO uses Sprint. A few use T-Mobile and only a couple use AT&T. I’m not aware of any that use VZW.

  • Does the unlocked Nexus 6 work on VZ?

    • LaFave07

      Yes. The nano SIM has to be activated prior to putting it in the Nexus 6 though.

  • Dimitre Guenov

    As a side note: you cannot generalize Verizon as having Band 4 (1700 f). They use MORE than the F-block. T-Mobile uses more than 1700 def. And same with AT&T. In my area, T-Mobile holds A+B+C, while Verizon holds D+E+F. That is exactly the kind of misinformation that confuses people. Band 4 does not support specific blocks. It covers AWS-1 (A-F). Doesn’t matter what the carrier uses.

    Also, Verizon holds 700 Upper C, while AT&T holds Lower C. That 700 ABC thing will confuse more people as well. Especially considering AT&T has gone to Band 12 now as well, eliminating Band 17 from their device portfolio.

  • Justin Kos

    Thanks for a post like this

  • jared durrant

    So I’m guessing that if I take an unlocked sprint gs4 To Verizon according to this chart only the 3g will work. Is that right?

    • LaFave07

      Correct. Unless for some reason it has b4 and b13 also which isn’t uncommon. Not even sure if EVDO would work.

      • jared durrant

        Thanks

    • TylerCameron

      Except that there’s no such thing as an unlocked Sprint device lol
      On a realistic side note… Even if such a device existed, Sprint puts a region lock on their phones as well, making it near-impossible for even an unlocked Sprint device to use any other carriers in the States. Overseas, yes.

      • Eric Dodson

        as of 2015 Sprint will unlock all phones that have a removable SIM card

  • synplex

    Which is the fastest Band/frequency ?

    • LaFave07

      No fastest. Speed is determined by the amount of spectrum. The best would be the 700MHz and 800MHz frequencies because it travels the furthest and penetrates through walls best.

  • paul_cus

    Unlocked Life

  • http://www.willmyphonework.net/ is a pretty good site to figure out if your specific phone is compatible on other networks. It lets you pick manufacturer, model, even specific model number, then which network you want to check its compatibility on. Seems to work pretty well.

    • AngryBadger

      Damn, that is good site. thanks for the share.

      • Picaso86

        G2 for Verizon works with almost every carrier except US Cellular, Boost Mobile and Sprint.

        • Cole Walter Tague

          Does the LTE work? Cuz more of Verizon’s phone are unlocked global phones that work with most gsm carriers except LTE. I believe

          • Picaso86

            Yes! you have to install the Cricket rom from XDA.

          • Rob

            It will not work by just putting your SIM Card in. Your statement sounds correct to me.

  • ChrisI

    These 10 comments alone that are already posted show exactly why this “unlocked” tech is so confusing. I was going through this very debacle when I considered the unlocked One M8. I’m on TMO, and I was pulling my hair out trying to figure out the differences in accessibility between the TMO, unlocked, and developer versions.

  • nfsjdgnfsdjg

    you can also add frequencies used in europe, that would be great cheatsheet!

  • Trevor

    Nice to have this all in one compact place. Thanks DL team; you = awesome

  • patt

    isn’t Verizon CDMA/GSM (LTE for GSM Part) that’s why some phones like iPhone 6 and some others from AT&T & T-Mobile work with active nano sim ?

    • LaFave07

      I’m pretty sure all iPhone 6s can be used on any network now as long as it’s unlocked. Sprint might be the only exception to this.

      • Berzerker

        You have to buy the Unlocked one, not the one advertised for t-mobile

        • LaFave07

          It does get confusing. I’ve heard if you buy it from T-Mobile it’s locked but if you buy it from Apple for T-Mobile it’s unlocked.

          • TylerCameron

            That’s because only T-Mobile stores can sign you up for EIP. Apple advertises their unlocked iPhone as the “T-Mobile” iPhone because they’re selling to the lowest common denominator. Wouldn’t want to confuse us americans with a word like “Unlocked”

        • patt

          I saw people using tmobile brand 6 on VZW but you needed to have active nano sim eg: from 5S or any other “nano sim” phone.

          • VZW

            i know what you talking about…i tried that way as well before…but it never work

            im working at VZW…and i tried att iphone 6 to verizon network but it never work…

            again….you can also check from apple.com

            att , t-mobile iphones have only GSM NETWORK CHIP

            verizon iphone have GSM + CDMA network chip inside of phone….

            when you go to apple.com/iphone and check spec….you will figure it out….

        • Guest

          i guess this video show that iphone is came from verizon iphone….because only verizon iphone come with (CDMA+GSM)…
          but if you buy t-mobile or att iphone…it will come only GSM Network….so it cant work with verizon network…
          from this video…he didnt even mention that he used verizon iphone…
          and of course…non of iphone cannot use sprint network….

          i have verizon iphone and using att 4g let network…but my sister brought att iphone 6 and she wanted to use verizon network….but she couldnt work with it…

          • LaFave07

            iPhone 6 does not disable CDMA..

        • LaFave07

          Or pay the T-Mobile one off so they unlock it.

      • Guest

        i guess this video show that iphone is came from verizon iphone….because only verizon iphone come with (CDMA+GSM)…
        but if you buy t-mobile or att iphone…it will come only GSM Network….so it cant work with verizon network…
        from this video…he didnt even mention that he used verizon iphone…
        and of course…non of iphone cannot use sprint network….

        i have verizon iphone and using att 4g let network…but my sister brought att iphone 6 and she wanted to use verizon network….but she couldnt work with it…

        • LaFave07

          iPhone 6 does not disable CDMA.

      • monkeybutts

        SIM Free version supports Sprint and all other carriers. Verizon/AT&T/T-mobile unlocked model will not support Sprint.

    • VZW

      on bottom of video…i guess that video show that iphone is came from verizon iphone….because only verizon iphone come with (CDMA+GSM)…
      but if you buy t-mobile or att iphone…it will come only GSM Network….so it cant work with verizon network…
      from this video…he didnt even mention that he used verizon iphone…
      and of course…non of iphone cannot use sprint network….

      i have verizon iphone and using att 4g let network…but my sister brought att iphone 6 and she wanted to use verizon network….but she couldnt work with it…

      • LaFave07

        IPhone 6 does not disable CDMA.

      • patt

        It works on att 4G because they are sim unlocked. If you have active nano sim card on verizon it should work with att iphone 6 on verizon.

        I think all 4g verizon phones after note2 are sim unlocked.

        • VZW

          im working at VZW…and i tried att iphone 6 to verizon network but it never work…
          again….you can also check from apple.com
          att , t-mobile iphones have only GSM NETWORK CHIP
          verizon iphone have GSM + CDMA network chip inside of phone….
          when you go to apple.com/iphone and check spec….you will figure it out….

          • LaFave07

            It has to be UNLOCKED from AT&T. Many people have done this. Everything works on an UNLOCKED AT&T iPhone 6 on Verizon including VoLTE. The Verizon SIM must be activated prior to putting it in the unlocked iPhone 6.

            http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1787518

  • LaFave07

    You forgot AT&T band 5. It’s active where I live. No band 17 spectrum here so they used band 5.

    • It’s barely used by AT&T and only in select markets. Wouldn’t want someone to see band 5 and go, “I’m supported!”

      • LaFave07

        True. There are a lot of B4 only phones though too and a lot of AT&T areas don’t have it active.

        • glimmerman76

          With ATT the phone literally needs all 4 band 2,4,5,17 to work. I a 30 mile drive here in IL I see 4,5,17 all in that drive.

      • Zach Rand

        Only the entire state of Vermont is Band 5. You wouldn’t want to confuse a single person in an entire state.

      • glimmerman76

        you need all 4 bands to get true LTE service from ATT. see my post below

      • LaFave07

        I like how everyone likes Kellexs’ comment just because it’s Kellex lol. That logic is flawed because there are plenty of phones that have band 2, band 4 and band 5 LTE but no band 17 which AT&T has deployed almost everywhere. There are tons of places that don’t have any other LTE bands turned up besides band 17.