iPhone versions explained – International, US, Dubai, Japan, Hong Kong, China

Many people believe that some iPhone versions are called the “International Version”. No, that’s not correct because Apple does not name any iPhone model as an International Version. I’ve been an electronics retail sales agent since 2017, and clients ask me this question almost every day. This post will clarify all your doubts concerning iPhone versions once and for all

What’s the International iPhone version?

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There is no international iPhone version. As long as an iPhone is Factory unlocked, it can be used internationally (in any country in the world). The term “International Version” has been promoted for several years by many online sellers, and seems to have stuck.

Unlike authorized resellers, who can only get iPhones from Apple’s local supplier in their country, third-party sellers mostly import the bulk of their iPhones from entirely different countries or regions. So sometimes it may not be possible for them to define exactly from which country each of their phones originates.

Therefore, to make things easy, they just use the term “International Version”. When third-party sellers use that term, they’re usually trying to indicate that the phone they are selling has been imported from a different country, and is factory unlocked.

How to identify different iPhone versions?

An iPhone version can be identified using two numbers. First is the Model Number, which points to their Region. Second, the Part Number identifies the specific country where Apple intended to sell it.

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To check the iPhone’s model number, Go to Settings, then General, and select About. You can toggle between the model number and part number by tapping on the fourth row, containing the term “Model Number”.

iPhone versions explained (you may watch the video format or continue reading below)

iPhone versions – Part Numbers and countries

iPhone versions - how to check which version you have using the model number.
Dubai iPhone version: iPhone 11 128 GB green – model number A2221, part number MWM62AE/A

The fourth row in the image above display’s the Part Number for the unlocked iPhone 11 128 GB green which is MWM62AE/A. AE being Apple’s way of identifying the United Arab Emirates. Similarly, LL is the way apple identifies US iPhones. For example, the unlocked iPhone 11 128GB Green US version has the following part number MWLK2LL/A.

Likewise, iPhone 11 with the same color and storage option (128GB Green) for Canada ends in C/A (MWLK2VC/A). For China Mainland, it ends in CH/A (MWNE2CH/A). For Hon Kong ZA/A (MWNE2ZA/A). Japan uses J/A (MWM62J/A), and there’s also B/A for the United Kingdom (MWM62B/A).

iPhone Model numbers

Let’s switch to the Region Model number. In this case, it is A2221 which places it in the fourth Region. It’s worth noting that, two iPhones can have different part numbers but the same model number. The iPhone 11 128 GB green which I have here is the UAE version. Its model number is A2221 but its part number is MWM62AE/A.

The same phone, sold in the UK also comes with the model number A2221 but its part number is MWM62B/A. It means that both phones are for different countries in the same region.

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iPhone regions

Apple recognizes four main regions. I’ll explain this using the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max as a case study. The First region is the United States. iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max for the US come with the following Model numbers A2341 and A2342 respectively.

The second Region is comprised of five countries, we have Canada, Guam, Japan, Puerto Rico, and USVI. Apple supplies them with the following models: iPhone 12 Pro A2406 and iPhone 12 Pro Max A2410. The Next Region contains China Mainland, Hong Kong, and Macao. The 12 Pro model for this region is A2408 and that of the Pro Max is A2412.

All other areas not mentioned above fall in the fourth Region. And that includes; the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Australia, and the rest of Asia. They use the following models for 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max A2407 and A2411 respectively.

iPhone versions – What’s the difference?

So how do these versions differ? I’m still using the iPhone 12 Pro as an example. The 12 Pro from different regions would have exactly the same specs such as battery, display, ram, processor, etc. They would also have the same performance. But there could sometimes be a few tiny things that set them apart.

iPhone version differences – 5G and LTE bandwidths

The main difference is their supported cellular bands. Here is a comprehensive post that compares the various bandwidths for the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro Max for each region in 5G and 4G networks. If an iPhone is not locked to a specific carrier, you can use it anywhere in the world. But it may not be able to connect to certain LTE or 5G bandwidths if it doesn’t support them.

For Example, the Canadian iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max can’t use the n260 (39 GHz) and n261 (28 GHz) 5G bandwidths. Apple probably didn’t include those bandwidths because telecom providers in Canada don’t use them.

However, the n260 and n261 are used on US cellular networks and so the US iPhone version can support them. So, if you were to take the Canadian model to the US, and connect to a 5G network that uses the n260 and n261, the phone would either revert to the nearest compatible bandwidth or simply drop to LTE.

iPhone version differences – specific country regulations/requirements

The next difference results from specific country requirements. In various countries, service providers and telecom authorities may impose regulations on Apple.

UAE (Dubai) – Middle east iPhone versions

In the United Arab Emirates iPhones don’t have Facetime preinstalled. However, since the advent of iOS 13.6, it has been possible to get facetime working on a UAE-specific iPhone by simply switching to a different country through the phone settings. Nonetheless, FaceTime still wouldn’t work in the UAE without a VPN. Previously, Saudi Arabia also had this same restriction, but they’ve moved on and now allow the use of facetime on their networks.

Japan – iPhone versions

People who unknowingly buy the Japan iPhone version soon find themselves stuck with an obnoxious shutter sound each time they take a picture. That’s because iPhones made specifically for Japan don’t have the option to turn off the camera shutter sound from the phone settings. And the only way to bypass that would be to either set a silent shutter sound or jailbreak the phone.

Update; iOS 15 disables Japan iPhone Shutter Sound

Hong Kong / China – iPhone versions

While iPhones from the rest of the world have only one nano sim card slot with the option to use a second mobile number through the e-sim, the Hong Kong and China mainland versions instead have two nano sim card slots. But in the Chinese iPhone, there’s no option to make Audio facetime calls. They only support video facetime calls.

iPhone version differences – Locked iPhones Vs unlocked iPhones

Now, let’s talk about locked, vs unlocked iPhones. Sometimes an iPhone can be sold together with other services under contract by a carrier for a monthly payment. In that case, you would only be able to use the phone with a sim card from that particular carrier throughout the duration of that contract. The sim lock can usually be removed by entering a special code or numeric password. The unlock codes can be obtained either from the carrier or from third-party companies that sell the codes.

On the flip side, a Factory unlocked iPhone is not locked to any specific carrier and can be used with any sim card. In certain situations, people buy a Factory unlocked iPhone, use it for a few months, and then it gets blocked and becomes totally useless. If that happens, then there are high chances that the phone was reported stolen and Apple has probably blocked it on purpose.

iPhone warranties

Now let’s talk about iPhone warranties. Generally, Apple gives a one-year limited worldwide warranty. However, there are a good number of exclusions to Apple’s international warranty claim. But that’s a whole topic on its own which we’ve already covered in an elaborate post that you can read by at this link.


Alright, let’s conclude. There is no official “international iPhone version” from Apple. When 3rd party sellers use the term “International Version” it can be very misleading. Because Apple only allocates its phones by country or region. And there’s no occasion where they have used the term “International Version” to refer to any iPhone model.

As long as an iPhone is Factory unlocked, you should be able to use it anywhere in the world. But bear in mind that it may not be 100% compatible with all bandwidths in certain regions. If your main concern is to get a phone with FaceTime, then that should not be an issue because, from iOS 13.6 and above, you can enable FaceTime in the Dubai iPhones just by switching to a different region.

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About Nebaa

I've worked in the tech industry as a sales executive since 2015. Now I create content on the internet. I'm here to share my knowledge and experience.