What should I pick? GSM vs CDMA
To be or not to be? CDMA or GSM? This seems the only logical question you can ask yourself when you stand before the laptop screen and don’t know what kind of phone to pick.
But since a smart user is an informed one, before you make your choice, you need to know the difference between the CDMA and the GSM technology. Here is some useful info that will surely bring some light on the matter!
What are the main differences between CDMA and GSM?
CDMA stands for Code Division Multiple Access, while GSM stands for Global System for Mobiles. Both are major radio systems used in cell phones and gather a bunch of technologies too complicated to understand for a non-technical user without a PhD in Telecommunications. Long story short, major mobile carriers run on one of these two technologies. And in order to pick your phone you need to know what carrier uses what technology.
But how can you tell which phone is running on what technology?
Well, here are a few pointers!
- GSM mobile carriers provide their handsets with a removable SIM card that stores customer information. If you have a GSM phone and want to get a new phone, simply remove the SIM card and your new phone will have your mobile number together with other data you saved on the SIM card (contacts, PUK number, etc).
- Well, CDMA phones don’t work the same way! CDMA phones don’t store network data on a SIM card, but verify that data against a network list. So, if you have a CDMA phone and want to switch providers, you will need to ask for your carrier’s permission. Plus, most CDMA phones don’t have SIM cards. If they do, their role is not the same as for a GSM ones. If you see a CDMA phone with a SIM card slot, it means that the phone needs a card to use the 4G LTE technology. But that’s another story!
Watch this useful video that presents the differences between CDMA and GSM technologies even better:
So the true question is not what to pick between CDMA or GSM! But: what type of technology does this mobile carrier use?
Because, if you already know what mobile carrier you want to join, you need to figure out what type of phone to get: CDMA or GSM!
Which mobile carriers are CDMA and which are GSM?
This is an easy one!
AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM. Sprint, Verizon and U.S. Cellular use CDMA. The same goes for Tello. Since Tello uses the Sprint network, you will need a CDMA phone in order to join Tello.
What CDMA phone can I enroll into Tello?
So, since the CDMA vs GSM dilemma is now unraveled, you might also wonder what CDMA phones are able to join our Tello network. Simple! They have to meet the following criteria:
- CDMA devices free of contract, developed for Sprint or for other Sprint MVNOs
- Unlocked iPhones from 5S to SE and Nexus 5 to 6P
And if you’re still not sure, you only need your IMEI (also known as ESN/MEID code) to check for yourself on our Bring Your Own Phone page. The process is simple and does all the work for you.
Once you enter your IMEI, you will follow several steps:
- Find out if your phone can join Tello or not
- Find out if you need a CDMA SIM card to enable 4G LTE Data (you can buy one online from Tello.com)
- Decide whether you want to port in your old number or get a new one from Tello