Enjoyed Jason Snell's description of precisely how an SE isn't a 6s inside on MacWorld, but I think I've found at least one important point I hadn't heard from the usual Mac media outlets when I tried to order this morning...

From PCMag:

The AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon units, as well as the unlocked unit, do not work well on Sprint or on Canadian carriers. These units are model A1662. It has the LTE bands for AT&T (2/4/5/17/29), T-Mobile (2/4/12), and Verizon (4/13), but not all of Sprint's bands. Sprint's high-speed Band 41, also known as Spark, is missing. While you will get some Sprint LTE signal on bands 25 and 26, it won't be the best speeds.
Sprint users and Canadians will get model A1723, but that won't solve all of Americans' problems. While A1723 has a wider range of LTE bands, including... 41 for Sprint Spark, it lacks band 13, so it won't work on Verizon's LTE network. It also lacks band 29, so it won't get the best possible speeds on AT&T. [emph mine -mfn]

Seems legit. PCMag provides a link at Apple listing iPhone SE models, and there is a pretty serious difference between Sprint (A1723) and the "Other" model (A1662). (There's also a China-only model, A1724.)

To break that down a little for service jumpers...

There are three models of iPhone SE:

  1. A1723 "Sprint" version
    1. Has band 41 for Sprint "LTE Plus"
    2. Doesn't work at all on Verizon LTE
    3. Poor speeds on AT&T.
  2. A1662 "Other" version
    1. Has LTE for AT&T, T-Mobile, & Verizon
    2. Missing band 41 for Sprint "LTE Plus"
    3. Limits Sprint users to possibly about 5 Mbps rather than ~100 Mbps.
  3. A1724 "China model"
    1. Exclusively for China, afaict.

Man, what a mess. I was trying to get an unlocked phone to use on a Sprint MVNO (RingPlus), and ran into the Catch-22 of wanting a Sprint SE (A1723), but not being able to order one via the Apple Store iOS app or online without either 1.) An existing Sprint account, or 2.) Creating a Sprint account. Don't have, don't want.

So I ordered SIM-free & a Sprint-style RingPlus SIM, but now, apparently, that could cost me some LTE speed. And if I do get a Sprint version, I can't carrier hop to Verizon or AT&T as effectively.

I'll probably show up at the local Apple Store on the 31st and ask for help.

Also from PCMag...

When I asked Apple about this, it pointed out that this is a lower-cost iPhone.


It's a great phone at a great price, but not as straightforward a purchase as I'd've liked. By the time I had this sorted, I was already in the 4/1-4/5 delivery date range. Dang!