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Ask AC: What happens if I put an AT&T SIM card in the Motorola Photon 4G?

It's the first question we get whenever a "world phone" like the Motorola Photon 4G is released. "Can I stick my AT&T or T-Mobile SIM in it?" By all means, go ahead. Won't hurt anything, so long as you're in the U.S.

And it also won't do anything.

While there's hardly a large number of people who would realistically buy something like the Motorola Photon 4G on Sprint (or the Droid Pro or Droid 3 on Verizon) just to use it on AT&T or T-Mobile -- it'd still be pretty cool. But just like we found out with the Droid Pro (and other world phones since), Sprint and Verizon have locked down their world phones so they won't work on T-Mobile and AT&T in the United States. And we're not just talking about needing an unlock code here (again, see the Droid Pro). Until someone hacks their way into it, these things are DOA on GSM in the USA.

  • why would someone buy this device, and then try to use it on at&t when AT&T has the Atrix which is essentially this phone sans kickstand
  • Good point , but don't forget about the 4.3"
  • For the same reason that we do most of the things we do. Just to be able to say we did it. :)
  • 2 Hypothetical reasons [not an argument for, just a thought]: 1.] User gets Photon,few months later switches to AT&T/T-Mobile.
    a.] Why on earth someone would give up Sprint for AT&T is beyond my comprehension. 2.] User buys one of those pay-per-minute, or month to month GSM plans, that they want/need to use at some point. Again, just some plausible scenarios i thought of, not that someone would do these things. As a previous AT&T customer, i certainly would hope I never would do # 1.
  • Reason I was wondering is because I have the Photon for my personal phone and my work phone is an AT&T Phone. If I could put that sim in my Photon it would eliminate me carrying 2 phones.
  • because I'm unemployed so can't afford Sprint's $200/month charge for 2 phones with unlimited data and an ungodly number of minutes which I never use (it usually connects over Wifi anyway). sprint doesn't allow a non-data plan on smartphones, which would cut my bill in half. As a matter of fact, they tack a $10 surcharge on each of my smartphone 4G's in addition to the $20 3G data charge. I reverted back to my 10 year old flip phones to get a voice - only plan, but my smartphones Web access still works perfectly fine as long as I can get a wifi connection. All it's missing is voice and text! I sure would like to put a t-moble prepaid voice - only SIM in my Photons, so I can drop the flip phones. I don't use Internet unless I'm on a wifi connection anyway, because I can't even get reliable 4G service around here, and only use 100 minutes of voice a month total, so it's insane to pay for unlimited data and 1500 free minutes every month.
  • Lol true
  • Acutally, these phones won't work ANYWHERE Sprint or Verizon have a roaming agreement with a CDMA provider. They only work when they can't get a CDMA signal at all. And you'd be surprised all the places a just-good-enough CDMA signal pops up. South Korea, Mexico, Japan, the Carribean, and even big cities in the EU. These things have an amazing ability to sniff out 1XRTT and deny you GSM all over the planet. I still want one since I miss my old world phone sometimes. --Qfg
  • I knew Verizon had locked out all the AT&T and T-Mobile PRLs in the US but I didn't know Sprint did the same thing.Is this a new Sprint policy? I thought Sprint let you use the BB Bold 9650's GSM bands in the US.
  • So when you take this baby overseas, can you just insert any prepaid SIM card in it? Isn't it carrier-locked?
  • Some people (in the forums) have said you can just call Sprint and ask them for the unlock code.
  • Doing that used to unlock it so you can use an international SIM only.
  • Not on Verizon.. had all of my world phone Blackberries unlocked. Worked perfectly fine with my T-Mobile SIM.
  • Thank you for posting this cause now I can just post a link to this article when someone asks :p
  • The SIM card slot is already unlocked(for international GSM use)
    you don't have to call Sprint, just pop in ANY Overseas SIM card, and you are good to go.
  • Exactly, its just like the touch pro 2 which was also unlocked, at least the sprint version was, the verizon version needed the code to unlock it. In any case to get it to work on att/tmobile all that needed to be done was to hack the radio and that was it. I was rocking my sprint touch pro 2 with a prepaid tmobile sim as well.
  • HMMMM? yea but will it blend? :)
  • SO can I use it in EGYPT without calling sprint just put any sim from Egypt like ( Vodafone - Itesalate )
  • 5/9/15 I hope somebody who can help me reads this. I have a Motorola Photon 4G going on 3 years now and it works just fine for my purposes, calls, text, emails, and little bit of web surfing. Sprint is my provider here in the US. Few months back I travelled to Mexico and Sprint told me my phone would work and it did not. Got back and they apologized for their mess up. I am heading back to Mex in June and wanted to know if anybody if i buy a SIM card from one of the Mex cell carriers will my phone work or has Sprint locked me out of using this phone outside their network? I have no desire to buy a new phone. Hope some of you techies can help a brother out here!