Functional / Configuration Differences Between Factory Unlocked & Carrier Branded Phones?

Steve Sr.

Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2015
Messages
63
Hello,

I know that this is sort of a generic question but I am wondering if the carrier might have to make any configuration changes depending if the phone is one of theirs (sold by them) or if you happen to bring a "universal" factory unlocked phone to the carrier to activate?

I seem to recall that at one time there were "tower lists" so that certain phones would use certain tower types and this was apparently configured by the carrier. I don't know if such configuration still exists on the carrier end or not.

Thanks,
Steve
 
No nothing like that is currently the case.

But "factory unlocked" does not mean actually will be compatible with, or accepted by any given carrier.

For AT&T and VZW network providers, you need to run the IMEI through their checker.

And even if it passes, factory unlocked may not work with Visual VM, nor WiFi Calling.
 
No nothing like that is currently the case.

But "factory unlocked" does not mean actually will be compatible with, or accepted by any given carrier.

For AT&T and VZW network providers, you need to run the IMEI through their checker.

And even if it passes, factory unlocked may not work with Visual VM, nor WiFi Calling.

I have a factory unlocked Samsung GS10. I don't really care about VVM and Wifi calling as these features don't work on VZW prepaid anyway.

However, I was out today using Google Maps to navigate to a rural location. Part way through I must have hit a dead spot and Google went a bit crazy. Got near and crossed an interstate and picked up signal again. Got to my destination a few miles up the road and no signal again. Did my errand came back to the car still no signal. I thought that was odd since I wasn't that far from the interstate. On a lark I decide to reboot the phone. Now had signal 2-4 bars and a usable data connection. So now I am wondering why the phone didn't pick up the signal when I got back in range at my destination. Is this s phone issue, carrier issue, or something else?

So just curious how many "knobs" the carrier has at their disposal to configure a given phone? Can they just enter the model number and that's it?

Thanks,
Steve
 
I have a factory unlocked Samsung GS10. I don't really care about VVM and Wifi calling as these features don't work on VZW prepaid anyway.
That is an old device but still good.

The VZW specific ones can be found in decent shape on eBay for $70-120 and might get you better reception out there, and 5G Ultra Wideband speeds can be great.

Having to reboot, or even reset the networking to get a better signal happens to me pretty often, even with VZW-specific phones, I just put it down to glitches.

> So just curious how many "knobs" the carrier has at their disposal to configure a given phone? Can they just enter the model number and that's it?

I've no idea what you are asking here, the carrier does not "reconfigure" phones?
 
> So just curious how many "knobs" the carrier has at their disposal to configure a given phone? Can they just enter the model number and that's it?

I've no idea what you are asking here, the carrier does not "reconfigure" phones?

Maybe my bad. I thought that the activation process configured the phone to work with the carriers network. Perhaps I got this backwards... The network/account is configured to work with a given phone model and the phone is unchanged.

I thought that the phone had to know which RF bands to use in a given location. So where is this information kept? Is it stored on the SIM card or does the phone get reconfigured each time it gets reconnected to the network?

If this is the case it may actually be good news as I just bought a Google Fi account to use when traveling overseas. This means I shouldn't be able to booger the phone by swapping SIM cards around.

Thanks,
Steve
 
Functional / Configuration Differences Between Factory Unlocked & Carrier Branded Phones?

Generally with Galaxy S series phones since the S8 (maybe earlier than that) the unlocked versions were the same as the carrier-sold versions, just having bloatware on the carrier versions. The S10 was only different in that 5G-specific more expensive models were released half way through the S10's life cycle, but those models were not commonly sold as the S20 released shortly after.

The S10 you have works on all of Verizon's active LTE bands.

The OS on Samsung phones (OneUI) uses the CSC (carrier software config) that is determined by the SIM installed to configure what bands are active. The same happens for most Snapdragon-based phones for the last decade. If you aren’t getting signal in rural areas, it is most likely a local network issue, lack of roaming partners nearby, or they need to build out/upgrade tower(s).

That said, depending on how long you had the device it might just be having issues due to age.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 
Last edited:
Which RF bands are active is primarily a function of the hardware, but in some models the ROM image can be a factor. This does not change as the SIM or carrier does, other than the CSC issue above

OT, but beware of relying on gFi for too long a trip, especially if you are a new customer or want to use lots of GBs.

Past a couple weeks, best to get a local SIM for data and only use the gFi for T&T while on that or WiFi.
 
Functional / Configuration Differences Between Factory Unlocked & Carrier Branded Phones?

Generally with Galaxy S series phones since the S8 (maybe earlier than that) the unlocked versions were the same as the carrier-sold versions, just having bloatware on the carrier versions. The S10 was only different in that 5G-specific more expensive models were released half way through the S10's life cycle, but those models were not commonly sold as the S20 released shortly after.

The S10 you have works on all of Verizon's active LTE bands.
So this is a plain S10 so should be fine with Verizon. It does have the unbranded "U1" firmware. So what is now different between newer factory unlocked phones and the corresponding carrier versions? I.e. is this not a good strategy going forward?

The OS on Samsung phones (OneUI) uses the CSC (carrier software config) that is determined by the SIM installed to configure what bands are active. The same happens for most Snapdragon-based phones for the last decade. If you aren’t getting signal in rural areas, it is most likely a local network issue, lack of roaming partners nearby, or they need to build out/upgrade tower(s).
This might be interesting... My previous device was an S8 and all I did was swap SIM cards from the S8 to the S10. I tried to update the device on my account and gave up when it told me I needed a NEW plan. I already have an active prepaid plan. I checked back a little while after and it showed the S10 in my account so I thought that the matter was settled.

Now that you mentioned CSC I am wondering if the SIM got rewritten for the S10 or if it is still trying to use the information from my old S8. This might explain a lot of weird intermittent issues.

That said, depending on how long you had the device it might just be having issues due to age.
Device was purchased as a spare/migration device as a Samsung CPO device from an authorized Samsung distributor. It has only been active for a few months.

Thanks,
Steve
 
Which RF bands are active is primarily a function of the hardware, but in some models the ROM image can be a factor. This does not change as the SIM or carrier does, other than the CSC issue above
Yes hardware is needed to support frequency bands which I thought might be left out of carrier specific devices. This was a bigger deal when Verizon was CDMA and everyone else was GSM. That is one reason that I opted for the "U1" carrier agnostic device.

OT, but beware of relying on gFi for too long a trip, especially if you are a new customer or want to use lots of GBs.

Past a couple weeks, best to get a local SIM for data and only use the gFi for T&T while on that or WiFi.
Yes, I have read about gFi issues but suspect that it targets heavy data usage on a foreign carriers network. I tend to use very little data, no streaming. First trip is to Spain in about 4 weeks. Trip duration is only 2 weeks. Any thought on whether I should activate the account now and then pause it or wait until closer to the departure date?
 
the question is really very generic and the way things work for one phone brand and model does not necessarily work the same for others.

Samsung device in particular are heavily customized by Samsung and the carriers working together.

Soem models will automatically 'provision' or change branding and when SIM cards are inserted and some may not. as a general rule the higher end a device the more likely its 'universal'
 
Yes hardware is needed to support frequency bands which I thought might be left out of carrier specific devices. This was a bigger deal when Verizon was CDMA and everyone else was GSM. That is one reason that I opted for the "U1" carrier agnostic device.


Yes, I have read about gFi issues but suspect that it targets heavy data usage on a foreign carriers network. I tend to use very little data, no streaming. First trip is to Spain in about 4 weeks. Trip duration is only 2 weeks. Any thought on whether I should activate the account now and then pause it or wait until closer to the departure date?
Ideally you are a long term customer domestically before going overseas. But two weeks might be just fine if you aren't using much data
 
Back
Top