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Old Nov 9, 2012, 04:48 PM   #1
NathanA
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Unhappy StraightTalk on iOS 6, downgrading, and My Letter to Apple

Hey, everybody,

I know that there are others on this forum (and elsewhere) who use StraightTalk service with their iPhone, and who, like me, have been impacted by the upgrade to iOS 6 (this is only one such example). iPhone users with StraightTalk service have never had it easy, but iOS 6 has made things even more difficult.

For those unfamiliar with the situation, iPhones see StraightTalk SIM cards as AT&T SIM cards, and so automatically configure themselves with the data settings for the postpaid AT&T network. This breaks both internet data and MMS messaging, and iOS blocks you from correcting its mistaken assumption about the SIM card even if you are using an unlocked iPhone (as I am). With iOS 5.x and earlier, there were software workarounds for this that didn't even involve jailbreaking, but Apple has patched those in iOS 6 without fixing the central reason why people needed to use those workarounds in the first place, which means that after upgrading to iOS 6, you will not be able to send or receive MMS messages if you are a StraightTalk customer.

My frustration is four-fold:

1) That Apple created a broken provisioning system that can, in certain situations, make faulty assumptions about the network the user is on.

2) That Apple actively prevents the user from correcting those faulty assumptions.

3) That Apple broke the ability for people affected by this bad design decision to work around the problem in iOS 6 without providing their users with an alternative fix.

4) That Apple prevents users who are affected by this and who want to have a working phone again from downgrading back to iOS 5.

Now, it would be one thing if Apple didn't sell unlocked phones, in which case the discussion would always come back around to which carriers are officially supported by Apple in the United States, and StraightTalk wouldn't be on that list. But Apple DOES sell unlocked iPhones directly to customers in the United States. And it isn't StraightTalk's fault that the iPhone is automatically configuring itself to use the AT&T network when you put a StraightTalk SIM card in the phone. So this is something that squarely falls on Apple's shoulders to fix.

So, yeah, if you search around the internet for "Straight Talk iOS 6 MMS", you'll find plenty of examples of people affected by this issue, and many of them are busily attempting tons of different things to see if there is a new way to work around the issue in iOS 6. But I had not read about anybody actually picking up the phone and calling Apple to see what they had to say about this. So I did. I picked up the phone, and opened a case with AppleCare on October 16.

Frustratingly, I have gotten nowhere so far, and it has now been 3.5 weeks since I first contacted Apple about this. But after being in the hands of AppleCare Support for a week, I managed to get my issue pushed up the chain to Executive Relations. I wrote a letter to Tim Cook on October 24 and copied Phil Schiller and Scott Forstall (this was the week before he left). I got a call back 2 days later from someone at Exec. Relations who said she was contacting me "on behalf of Scott Forstall". We have talked back-and-forth a couple of times since then, but unfortunately as of today, she still has no new news for me. She did mention to me just this afternoon that it had become a "big political situation over here", which I thought was interesting, but she didn't elaborate on that.

So I wait. In the meantime, I decided to post this here because I want to encourage anybody else who might be in the same boat as I am (and I know that you're out there! I've seen your forum posts!) to also get hold of Apple and complain about this. If nobody complains to them about this, how will they know that there is a problem? Don't just accept the fact that StraightTalk doesn't work properly with the iPhone because of a mistake on Apple's part. If you do contact Apple, I would encourage you guys to make the same two points I've been trying to make to them over and over: first, there is no reason why StraightTalk or any other GSM service provider should not work properly with an unlocked iPhone; and second, until Apple gets this fixed, they should allow anybody affected by this to downgrade their phones back to iOS 5 so that they have usable phones again.

Honestly, it's that last point that has really gotten my blood boiling recently. It really is unacceptable that Apple made a change to iOS 6 that broke a feature of my phone that I had working perfectly before (MMS messaging), and that they are going to make me wait for whatever fix they come out with in the future instead of letting me go back in the meantime to a version of the software that we already know works (and we know this because it worked for me and others in the past). Preventing people from downgrading their phone software strikes me as being very customer-hostile when the customer has a legitimate reason for doing so. So I don't just want Apple to fix this issue with StraightTalk on their phones: I also want them to acknowledge that their ill-conceived software downgrade prevention policy is actively hurting me as a customer by denying me access to a version of the software that already exists which would fix my issue. Instead, they are content to make me wait for a new release -- whenever that might be -- that may or may not contain a fix for this problem. THAT is poor customer service, and a poor experience.

In addition to the phone calls I have had back-and-forth with both AppleCare Support and Apple Executive Relations, I have exchanged several pieces of written communication with Apple about this, and have decided to post one of them publicly. The one I am posting is the one that goes into the most detail about the problem and about my frustration with trying to find a solution for it. This is not the one I sent to the executives: that one was a much shorter letter in which I simply tried to summarize the salient points of this more detailed letter. I actually sent this to the Product Feedback team for the iPhone on the recommendation of my initial AppleCare representative.

You can read it here: http://www.anderson-net.com/~nathan/letter-to-apple

In closing, I do wish to publicly acknowledge and thank my AppleCare support reps as well as my Executive Relations rep, who ALL have been extremely understanding, sympathetic, kind, reasonable, and generous with their time. Apple's support staff truly is second-to-none.

-- Nathan

Last edited by NathanA; Nov 11, 2012 at 05:42 AM.
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Old Nov 9, 2012, 05:31 PM   #2
Daveoc64
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Really, the problem is that Apple has contracts with AT&T (as well as hundreds of other carriers all over the world), that state that they will implement this feature in iOS. It's there to stop customers of those "supported" carriers changing the settings on their device and using the network in a manner that they don't want to happen.

This feature is entirely by design - it's not a "mistake".

While it's very frustrating if you are trying to use an "unsupported MVNO", it's unlikely that the number of frustrated users outweighs the MONEY Apple gets from their deals with each carrier.

This doesn't just affect Straight Talk, it affects any user where:

-They are trying to use an MVNO SIM
AND
-The MVNO is running on the network of a "Supported" carrier
AND
-The supported carrier doesn't allow changing the "Cellular Data Network" settings
AND
-The default settings (i.e. those of the supported carrier) are not compatible with MVNO accounts

Apple has always said:

"The unlocked iPhone includes all the features of iPhone but without a wireless contract commitment. You can activate and use iPhone on the supported GSM wireless network of your choice." - on the Apple Store page for the unlocked iPhone.
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Last edited by Daveoc64; Nov 9, 2012 at 05:37 PM.
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Old Nov 9, 2012, 05:47 PM   #3
paulbennett95
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I have an iPhone 4S on straighttalk and its an AT&T locked iphone with ios6 and I used unlockit for data and it works fine, no mms though. Straighttalk is an mvno that uses AT&Ts network so of course the iphone will think its on AT&T. I didn't read the rest of your post, too long but I hope this helps to clear some stuff up, although editing the settings myself would be easier and would allow mms. Good luck though
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Old Nov 9, 2012, 07:38 PM   #4
NathanA
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Originally Posted by paulbennett95 View Post
no mms though
That's exactly the problem I'm trying to deal with. I already managed to get data working. Thanks, though.

Call Apple and gripe to them about how you can't use MMS on StraightTalk using iOS 6.

-- Nathan
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Old Nov 9, 2012, 08:10 PM   #5
NathanA
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Originally Posted by Daveoc64 View Post
This doesn't just affect Straight Talk, ...
Yes, I realize it could potentially affect other MVNO providers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daveoc64 View Post
It's there to stop customers of those "supported" carriers changing the settings on their device and using the network in a manner that they don't want to happen.
Using it how, exactly? The only example I can think of is tethering, and there's an easy answer to that one.

iOS on iPhone actually supports separate APNs for 4 different activites: on-device internet access, MMS, Visual Voicemail, and tethering. I fail to see how either the internet/data APN or the MMS APN could be abused by anybody, so they should expose those to customers who actually have a need to change them, and keep the tethering one locked down (which I would still disagree with philosophically, but that's another subject for another time).

Providers can (and do...I know AT&T does for sure) block access to certain APNs on their network on a per-account (or per-SIM/ICCID) basis. For example, I don't know whether it's still around, but AT&T at least used to have an APN 'isp.cingular' which would give you a real routable IP address, vs. 'wap.cingular' which only gives you access to the internet behind a NAT. They wouldn't provision 'isp.cingular' on an account that wasn't paying for the "enterprise/VPN" level of service, so you could try to put it in your phone all day long and it wouldn't matter: it was blocked on AT&T's side. Nowadays, AT&T has an APN 'phone' that is the equivalent of the old 'wap.cingular', and one called 'broadband' which they use to distinguish between tethered usage and non-tethered usage, and which is blocked on your account if you aren't paying for a data package with tethering (such as grandfathered unlimited plans). And finally, my StraightTalk SIM is blocked from using the 'phone' or 'wap.cingular' APNs on the AT&T network and is restricted to using 'att.mvno', which AT&T has set aside to be shared amongst all of their MVNO customers. So even if the customer has access to edit the APNs for internet and MMS on their phone, there is simply no risk of abuse if the account is provisioned correctly on AT&T's side.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daveoc64 View Post
You can activate and use iPhone on the supportedGSM wireless network of your choice." - on the Apple Store page for the unlocked iPhone.
Sooo, what you're saying is that Apple's definition of "unlocked" is different than the definition that the rest of the entire wireless phone industry uses? "We'll sell you a phone locked to AT&T for $99, or an unlocked phone for $549, but the only supported network for the unlocked model in the U.S. is AT&T." Well, sheesh: why are they even bothering to sell unlocked phones, then?

Here's the thing: Apple, a company which prides itself on things being easy and "just working" and markets itself that way, sells unlocked phones direct to customers at retail. This is no secret. If Joe User comes in to an Apple Store and buys an unlocked phone, he is going to expect he can put whatever SIM card he wants to in it and use it -- data, picture texting, and all -- just like he can on any other unlocked phone. When he puts in his StraightTalk/Net10 SIM card in his phone, though, he is going to find out it doesn't work and can't be made to work. If Apple is going to sell unlocked phones direct to customers, there is no excuse for this. Joe User isn't going to understand or accept the excuse that it's because the carrier he happens to use is an MVNO of a provider that has a carrier profile in iOS that prevents access to the Cellular Data Network menu. None of that should matter, and that argument won't hold water with Mr. User, and the user would be right in dismissing it. "I just want it to work! You mean this $550 phone can't do what my old phone could do?"

What I'm trying to point out here is that even if you are correct that this is a result of money exchanging hands between Apple and the various carriers, other phone manufacturers, many of which I would argue the carriers have a tighter chokehold on than Apple, don't do this kind of rubbish on their unlocked models. I can go out, for example, and buy an unlocked Galaxy Nexus, put my StraightTalk SIM in it, program the APNs in per my carrier's instructions, and be on my way. The iPhone is completely unique in having this frustrating restriction placed on it. And if I'm a user, I don't want to hear excuses from Apple about why theirs behaves this way and won't let me use my carrier the way any other phone would: I just want it to work.

So if you are correct, and this is because money has changed hands between Apple and the carriers, this raises a serious question. Apple: who is your customer? Is it AT&T? Or is it me, the guy who just bought your $550 phone?

Many tech-writers, such as John Gruber for example, will routinely point out (and I think quite accurately) that one of the ways that Apple has managed to please so many of their end-users on a consistent basis is because unlike, say, Google, on the Venn diagram that consists of the set of people that make up Apple's end-users and the set of people that make up Apple's customers, the two completely overlap, whereas with Google, the end-user isn't the customer but the PRODUCT that they sell to their real customers: the advertisers.

So if you're right about the reason behind this, then this strongly suggests that we end-users are no longer Apple's customers: the carriers are. And that's not a good position for me as an end-user to be in.

-- Nathan

Last edited by NathanA; Nov 9, 2012 at 08:19 PM.
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Old Nov 9, 2012, 08:33 PM   #6
Daveoc64
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Originally Posted by NathanA View Post
Using it how, exactly? The only example I can think of is tethering, and there's an easy answer to that one.
I agree it's pretty bizarre.

I can understand some of the other restrictions that the "Carrier Settings" concept enables, but changing the APN settings seems very harmless to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanA View Post
Sooo, what you're saying is that Apple's definition of "unlocked" is different than the definition that the rest of the entire wireless phone industry uses? "We'll sell you a phone locked to AT&T for $99, or an unlocked phone for $549, but the only supported network for the unlocked model in the U.S. is AT&T." Well, sheesh: why are they even bothering to sell unlocked phones, then?
The US is in the strange situation where it has only one supported GSM carrier.

In most of the countries that Apple sells the iPhone, all of the carriers are GSM carriers and most (if not all) of them sell the iPhone.

If you buy an unlocked iPhone here, you can choose from one of SIX SEVEN carriers that are willing to offer you service. That's ALL of the UK's actual networks, plus ONE MVNO!

Virgin Mobile is much larger here than it is in the US, but it too is unsupported.

As an MVNO of T-Mobile UK, Virgin Mobile SIMs are detected as T-Mobile SIMs and have the same problems as Straight Talk users (i.e. no MMS). Regular data works ok on T-Mobile's network, but it has recently merged with another carrier and they're using roaming across the two networks to provide reliable coverage. When roaming, the data stops working - unless you use a profile to set the APN.

Some other unsupported MVNOs do work, because their host network doesn't disable the APN settings menu.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanA View Post
Here's the thing: Apple, a company which prides itself on things being easy and "just working" and markets itself that way, sells unlocked phones direct to customers at retail.
This is perhaps where the Carrier Settings files do work (at least in the most part) for Apple.

The iPhone is by no means the first device to automatically configure network settings by checking which carrier a SIM belongs to, but it's the first to offer a two-way link to the carrier to switch features on and off at will.

Apple has never been afraid to simply say that something isn't "supported".

Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanA View Post
The iPhone is completely unique in having this frustrating restriction placed on it.
Indeed it is. It's often cited that Apple not allowing carriers to put bloatware on their phones is a selling point, but what people don't realise is that iOS is a carrier's dream from a control point of view. There's no branding, but the carrier has FAR MORE power to control your device.

You could say that the Carrier Settings feature is Apple's form of appeasement for not letting the carriers use their own branded firmware.

IMO the biggest issue that the iPhone has is simply that it was an AT&T exclusive device at launch.

Too much of the software seems to be designed around AT&T's policies and marketing terms. Apple has been slow in moving away from only meeting AT&T's requirements

In terms of a solution for the MVNO issue, the only options are really to:

1) Get rid of the ability to disable the menu. There would be a huge carrier backlash for that, so I don't see it happening

2) Work with more MVNOs to get them to a "supported" state
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Last edited by Daveoc64; Nov 9, 2012 at 08:56 PM.
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Old Nov 9, 2012, 09:21 PM   #7
NathanA
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Originally Posted by Daveoc64 View Post
Indeed it is. It's often cited that Apple not allowing carriers to put bloatware on their phones is a selling point, but what people don't realise is that iOS is a carrier's dream from a control point of view. There's no branding, but the carrier has FAR MORE power to control your device.
Yes, quite. The reason that I called this MVNO problem an "oversight" on Apple's part, though, is that I doubt it's in AT&T's best interest for the iPhone to NOT be able to send MMS messages for their MVNO partners' customers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daveoc64 View Post
IMO the biggest issue that the iPhone has is simply that it was an AT&T exclusive device at launch. Too much of the software seems to be designed around AT&T's policies and marketing terms. Apple has been slow in moving away from only meeting AT&T's requirements.
Totally agree with your analysis, and I had even written something to that effect in my initial response to you, but it was starting to get lengthy so I cut it. :P I strongly suspect that the whole "carrier profile" system was an outgrowth of the fact that the original iPhone only had a small handful of carriers worldwide that had contracted with Apple for it (AT&T was certainly the first, but IIRC there were carriers in the U.K. and Europe that started selling iPhone 2-3 months after it shipped in the U.S.), AND there was no official unlocked model either. Apple did start selling factory-unlocked phones (albeit not in the U.S.) when the 3G was released, but I suspect by then they just decided to continue on down the "carrier profile" road, which gave them greater control anyway, and this MVNO problem simply never occurred to them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daveoc64 View Post
In terms of a solution for this, the only options are really to: [...]

2) Work with more MVNOs to get them to a "supported" state
Maybe I don't fully understand how the iOS provisioning system works, but I don't see how that's possible. I'm pretty sure there is no way for the phone to be able to distinguish between a "real" AT&T SIM, for example, and a StraightTalk SIM; the only piece of carrier-identifying information on the SIM is, to my knowledge, the IIN (Issuer Identification Number), which is the first few digits (variable length, up to 7, I believe) of the SIM's ICCID. For example, AT&T's IIN is 89014...every AT&T SIM card ICCID starts with those digits. T-Mobile U.S. starts with 89012. If there's no way to tell an MVNO's SIM apart from the parent carrier's, then there is no way to give MVNOs a status of "legitimacy" within iOS. Which is why I think this is a severely broken and not-well-thought-through system.

-- Nathan
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Old Nov 9, 2012, 09:28 PM   #8
Daveoc64
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Originally Posted by NathanA View Post
Maybe I don't fully understand how the iOS provisioning system works, but I don't see how that's possible. I'm pretty sure there is no way for the phone to be able to distinguish between a "real" AT&T SIM, for example, and a StraightTalk SIM;
Each MVNO will be allocating SIMs within a specified ICCID range.

So although the first part of the number would suggest an AT&T SIM, you could look at MORE of the ICCID* to narrow it down to an MVNO.

Apple is doing this now - several MVNOs in different countries are "officially supported".


In some countries, MVNOs have market share larger than some of the real networks!

If we look at a snippet from the Carrier Settings file for Tesco Mobile (the largest UK supermarket chain):

Code:
<key>SupportedSIMs</key>
<array>
<string>23410_GID1-0AFFFF</string>
</array>
Compare that to the Host Network's file:

Code:
<key>SupportedSIMs</key>
<array>
<string>23410</string>
</array>
234 is the UK's MCC.
10 is O2:UK''s MNC.


Doing this does require some level of co-operation from the MVNO (to establish the range(s) of ICCIDs that they're being allocated).

*ICCIDs don't usually store the MCC and MNC in that form, so it's likely that they're using some other way of establishing the carrier. The SIM stores those values separately.
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Last edited by Daveoc64; Nov 9, 2012 at 09:54 PM.
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Old Nov 9, 2012, 09:32 PM   #9
dhlizard
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Get your iPhone 5 unlocked (very cheap)
Buy a T-Mobile sim (also cheap)
Do a sim swap to get all APN settings in

Works just fine on my iPhone 5 on Straight Talk
All data and SMS/MMS on cellular data working 100%
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Old Nov 9, 2012, 09:39 PM   #10
NathanA
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Each MVNO will be allocating SIMs within a specified ICCID range. So although the first part of the number would suggest an AT&T SIM, you could look at MORE of the ICCID to narrow it down to an MVNO.
Interesting, although it sounds merely like a quick-'n-dirty solution to me. What happens when an MVNO exhausts its allocation? Then when they get a second one, anybody within the new range risks getting a SIM that won't work in iPhone until Apple gets around to updating the carrier profile. Also, we don't know how AT&T is allocating ICCIDs for MVNOs now; they may be required to change how they do that in order to fit Apple's model, which they may or may not be willing to do, depending on how disruptive it is to their current processes and how much time and money it will take to make the change. And any SIM cards issued before that may not fall in a definable range and so everyone who wants to use an iPhone will have to be issued a new SIM card, and on and on... Just...yuck. Sounds very messy to me.

Still, that would definitely solve the problem for that one MVNO. But that doesn't do me as a consumer much good. What if a different MVNO pops up that I decide I'd like to switch to but which has not yet been granted the "special privilege" of being "supported" by Apple? Why should any carrier, MVNO or not, HAVE to be granted "supported" status by Apple to be used in iPhone?

I bought an unlocked iPhone. I want the freedom to be able to use whatever SIM in my phone I want to, whenever I want to. Every other unlocked phone on the market supports this.

-- Nathan
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Old Nov 9, 2012, 09:40 PM   #11
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Why don't you just do what the rest of us do and get a real plan from one of the iPhone carriers? People use straight talk so that they won't have to sign a contract , also to save money. Well, if you want an iPhone and you want to use it how it's designed to be used, you would have to cough up a couple extra bucks and stay with a service provider for 2 years. Millions of people do it , including myself, and it's not that bad. In fact I love my service with AT&T , I love LTE and MMS and I never have dropped calls. Obviously you should do research in your area and find out who has the best coverage out of the three carriers, in my area AT&T and Verizon do you can't go wrong with either. But, if u want to continue being contract free and save money , you won't get to use the iPhone how you want to use it and u might be forced to buy a plastic phone that supports that if you know what I mean. I'm not trying to come off like a d*** I'm just stating the obvious fact of Apple doing this for a reason. They have deals with the carriers. Unlocked phone are sold to be used within the guidelines of supporting carriers, straight talk isn't included in AT&T's deal for an iPhone, and noticing that before iOS 6 points out that all earlier versions DID support straight talk through loopholeS, and the fact that now those loopholes are patched up, clearly states that Apple did it specifically because themselves or AT&T or both of them together saw what was going on with straight talk customers and iPhones and put an end to it because they have certain phone for straight talk and certain phones for 2 yr contracts , with iPhone obviously belonging to the latter. There's nothing stopping you from getting a plan, but there is something stopping you from using your iPhone with straight talk, and judging by the fact you've been emailing apple for 3.5 wks and that they JUST patched the loopholes up for iOS 6 says that wont be changing anytime soon. So you could sit it out and hope that someone finds yet another loophole , or u could get a dif phone because it doesn't seem like you want anything to do with a 2yr contract. I wish the best of luck to you I hope it works out on your end keep us posted
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Old Nov 9, 2012, 09:52 PM   #12
Daveoc64
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Originally Posted by dhlizard View Post
Get your iPhone 5 unlocked (very cheap)
Buy a T-Mobile sim (also cheap)
Do a sim swap to get all APN settings in

Works just fine on my iPhone 5 on Straight Talk
All data and SMS/MMS on cellular data working 100%
This does work, but it's effectively a glitch, so it's possible that Apple could remove it.
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Old Nov 9, 2012, 10:37 PM   #13
NathanA
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Originally Posted by dhlizard View Post
Buy a T-Mobile sim (also cheap)
Do a sim swap to get all APN settings in
If you mean use StraightTalk on T-Mobile (ST is an MVNO for them, too...you just have to get the right SIM card from them), no can do...T-Mobile has next to no coverage in my remote, rural area.

If you are talking about the "SIM swap trick", I have read about that. But I think it's a non-starter, for a few reasons:

1) It may be cheap relatively-speaking, but why should I have to spend anything above and beyond what I already spent on this unlocked phone just to make it work the way it should? (I know, I know...this is one of those "it's the principle of the thing" arguments.)

2) As Daveoc64 pointed out, it's a glitch, much like the one I used to rely on in iOS 5. And like that glitch, it will surely be fixed by Apple in the future. I need something that is reliable and that I can count on.

3) Speaking of reliable, the jury still seems to be out on how reliable it is. It does seem to stick around for a number of people, but I have read a handful of anecdotes where the APNs were mysteriously reset somehow, and the person would have to re-do the trick. I don't like the idea of having something like that randomly flake-out on me. Plus it would mean that because I'd never know when it might stop working, I'd have to carry that darned T-Mobile SIM card with me wherever I go, "just in case."

I'd rather Apple just fix the issue the right way. A quick software workaround like the one I used in iOS 5 is one thing, but if I'm going to have to resort to jury-rigging something in meatspace, then I might as well drop Apple and switch to a different phone at that point. I'm already considering it.

-- Nathan
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Old Nov 9, 2012, 10:53 PM   #14
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1) It may be cheap relatively-speaking, but why should I have to spend anything above and beyond what I already spent on this unlocked phone just to make it work the way it should?
The issue is that it's working exactly as it should and you're not happy with that. While the phone is called unlocked, there are ample warnings on the site and in it's literature that "The unlocked iPhone works only on supported GSM networks, such as AT&T in the U.S."

You're trying to get it to work on an unsupported network and complaining that the phone is working exactly as advertised. Just because you were able to get away with it for so long doesn't mean that Apple should continue to let you.
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Old Nov 9, 2012, 10:59 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by macleod644 View Post
Why don't you just do what the rest of us do and get a real plan from one of the iPhone carriers?
Not to try to attack you (as I realize you aren't attacking me), but let me get this straight: even though I already have an unlocked phone (which, other than this purely arbitrary software problem, is working just fine), I should go through the hassle of buying a new phone from one of the official carriers and selling off my old phone. At which point I will have spent more money (I've done the math) to get less AND be enslaved to a multi-year carrier contract.

I think I'll pass, thanks.

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Originally Posted by macleod644 View Post
Well, if you want an iPhone and you want to use it how it's designed to be used, [...] I'm just stating the obvious fact of Apple doing this for a reason.
In this case, if some of the theories put forth here are to be believed, Apple's reason is "money" (not "user experience") and they apparently "designed" it so that it would fail to work unless they expressly allowed it to work. This isn't an issue of guaranteed compatibility; this is an issue of someone purposefully breaking something that would have otherwise worked if they hadn't spent the extra time and effort to make it NOT work.

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Originally Posted by macleod644 View Post
Unlocked phone are sold to be used within the guidelines of supporting carriers,
That is definitely not how the rest of the industry uses the term "unlocked."

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Originally Posted by macleod644 View Post
...clearly states that Apple did it specifically because themselves or AT&T or both of them together saw what was going on with straight talk customers and iPhones and put an end to it because they have certain phone for straight talk and certain phones for 2 yr contracts , with iPhone obviously belonging to the latter.
If AT&T really wanted to put a stop to this, ...

A) ...they would not have allowed StraightTalk to start selling the bare SIM cards or initiate the "Bring Your Own Phone" plan. Of COURSE people are going to use these in iPhones. StraightTalk even encourages it.

B) ...StraightTalk wouldn't have instructions up on their web site talking about how to get a StraightTalk SIM to work with iPhone. StraightTalk even provides a ".mobileconfig" file for their customers to download and install on their phones to get data working. (You can't fix MMS with .mobileconfig files, though.)

AT&T would have put the kabosh on both of those things, and they would have the power to do so, too: after all, AT&T could decide not to renew their MVNO contract with TracFone.

I can only conclude, then, that if I have to blame my frustrating experience with StraightTalk on iPhone to someone's malice instead of someone's incompetence, that malice has to be on Apple's part.

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Originally Posted by macleod644 View Post
There's nothing stopping you from getting a plan, but there is something stopping you from using your iPhone with straight talk, and judging by the fact you've been emailing apple for 3.5 wks and that they JUST patched the loopholes up for iOS 6 says that wont be changing anytime soon.
Every single person I have talked to at Apple so far has told me that given I am trying to use ST on an unlocked phone, they don't think my request or my expectations are unreasonable, and some of them have even expressed surprise at the fact that it doesn't work and that I've had to go through all of this. Their hands are still tied, though. Personally, I take this as a sign that Apple at some level realizes that it has a problem here. The key word is that "unlocked" part. They would have dismissed my request immediately if I had called up and told them I wanted to use a StraightTalk SIM in a locked phone, but were more than willing to talk to me for as long as they have specifically because it is unlocked and people know what that word means (or is supposed to mean). There are certain things in this industry that are assumed when that word is used: it has baggage in this context. Apple's "unlocked" phones fall short of this (admittedly ad-hoc) standard.

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Originally Posted by macleod644 View Post
I wish the best of luck to you I hope it works out on your end keep us posted
Thanks, and I absolutely will.

-- Nathan
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Old Nov 9, 2012, 11:18 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by cyks View Post
The issue is that it's working exactly as it should and you're not happy with that. While the phone is called unlocked, there are ample warnings on the site and in it's literature that "The unlocked iPhone works only on supported GSM networks, such as AT&T in the U.S."
And as I've pointed out, the word "unlocked" in this industry is a loaded term that was in use long before Apple seemingly started using it in this "unlocked-but-not-really" sense. But I am also not convinced that Apple actually means what you seem to think they mean: again, the people that I've talked to at Apple have told me that since it's unlocked, it surprised them to learn that this doesn't work. I also helped my sister switch both to iPhone and StraightTalk (she was coming from Verizon on an old Motorola Droid that was falling apart at the seams). When we bought her phone at an Apple retail store, I told the salesperson exactly what we were planning to do, and absolutely nothing was mentioned about it being unsupported. They were very happy to take our money.

And WTF is the purpose of an "unlocked" phone if you're only supposed to use it on a supported carrier, anyway? Isn't that what the AT&T model is for? I mean...?

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Originally Posted by cyks View Post
Just because you were able to get away with it for so long doesn't mean that Apple should continue to let you.
...say what? Why shouldn't they? What harm does it do to them? I already bought and paid for the thing. Everything worked great, and Apple and I both got along just fine during that time.

To hoist an arbitrary software restriction on top of something that would otherwise work fine without it is just ridiculous, AND frustrating, AND unreasonable.

-- Nathan

Last edited by NathanA; Nov 9, 2012 at 11:44 PM.
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Old Nov 9, 2012, 11:48 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by NathanA View Post
And as I've pointed out, the word "unlocked" in this industry is a loaded term that was in use long before Apple seemingly started using it in this "unlocked-but-not-really" sense. But I am also not convinced that Apple actually means what you seem to think they mean: again, the people that I've talked to at Apple have told me that since it's unlocked, it surprised them to learn that this doesn't work. I also helped my sister switch both to iPhone and StraightTalk (she was coming from Verizon on an old Motorola Droid that was falling apart at the seams). When we bought her phone at an Apple retail store, I told the salesperson exactly what we were planning to do, and absolutely nothing was mentioned about it being unsupported. They were very happy to take our money.

And WTF is the purpose of an "unlocked" phone if you're only supposed to use it on a supported carrier, anyway? Isn't that what the AT&T model is for? I mean...?

Newsflash - Salespeople and phone support people don't know everything, can occasionally give false information, and will often go so far as to agree with the customer in order to get a sale. Is it right? No, but it should be expected and, in the end, it's the consumer's fault for not reading the information available to them.

The unlocked phones are a HUGE blessing for those who frequently go out of the US. Inside the US, they're not nearly as appealing as they're not guaranteed to work with other carriers (as you've discovered).



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Originally Posted by NathanA View Post
...say what? Why shouldn't they? What harm does it do to them? I already bought and paid for the thing. Everything worked great, and Apple and I both got along just fine during that time.

To hoist an arbitrary software restriction on top of something that would otherwise work fine without it is just ridiculous, AND frustrating, AND unreasonable.
Their reasons don't matter. What does is that the disclaimer has been there from the beginning and you decided on pressing your luck and going through with the purchase anyway.

Just because YOU find it unreasonable doesn't mean that they don't have a good reason for the limitations, but, again, whatever they may be are irrelevant.
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Old Nov 10, 2012, 12:16 AM   #18
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Inside the US, they're not nearly as appealing as they're not guaranteed to work with other carriers (as you've discovered).
You seem to think I'm splitting hairs on this, but I still think it's important to note that it's not simply a matter of a "guarantee." It's a matter of something that would otherwise work fine being deliberately sabotaged, and the sabotage is the only reason why it doesn't work (again, assuming Apple has acted with malice and with dollar-signs in their eyes here instead of in the customer's best interest, something which I'm not ready to claim just yet because not all of the evidence is in...the "why" is still largely conjecture at this point).

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Just because YOU find it unreasonable doesn't mean that they don't have a good reason for the limitations, but, again, whatever they may be are irrelevant.
We can at least agree on the irrelevance of the reasons. Whatever they are, they are not consumer-friendly, so they must be bad.

Back to being serious, and in all honesty, I completely missed that use of the word "supported" in Apple's "literature" as I did not shop for my phone on store.apple.com; I simply read in some news article somewhere that Apple had begun to sell unlocked phones direct to customers in the U.S., and I got one at an Apple Store. So if they really mean that the phone is not supposed to work with any carriers other than ones that they have agreements with, then I will agree with you that it was my bad for not being informed.

Would you at least agree with me, though, that their use of the word "unlocked" to describe this product is misleading (to say the least) at best? Seriously, it's almost as bad as service providers with "unlimited" plans.

I can't be the only one who interpreted that word the way that I did, especially since Apple doesn't actively torpedo the ability to use the phone on ALL unsupported carriers; see T-Mobile U.S., for example, which the unlocked iPhone has always worked fine on (assuming you're okay with EDGE service).

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Old Nov 10, 2012, 12:20 AM   #19
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@Nathan

Ya I know you have the unlocked one, I didn't mean go get a whole new phone, u can start a new 2 yr contract with AT&T or T-Mobile since they are GSM carriers- in fact T-Mobile seems to be perfect for you, they have incentive for people willing to activate contracts with them to use iPhones. Either way you could use your current unlocked phone and be fine. They are just happy to get u signed up. This whole thing just feels like its gonna be 10x the hassle for you to pursue straight talk then it would be conform and get a contract lol. But I know u must feel like u can't quit now, so I guess u could ride it out too and see what happens.

Oh yeah and I agree with the other guy- dont EVER take what these half a** employees say most of the time, I've been steered in the wrong direction so many times, I asked one what the best phone AT&T carried at the moment two months ago and the guy said it was the Atrix 4G and couldn't stop stressing to me that that's what "HE" had lol
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Old Nov 10, 2012, 12:27 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by macleod644 View Post
Ya I know you have the unlocked one, I didn't mean go get a whole new phone, u can start a new 2 yr contract with AT&T or T-Mobile since they are GSM carriers
AT&T is more expensive, and they won't give me a lower price on my monthlies even though I'm not subsidizing (read: financing) a phone purchase from them. T-Mobile will give me a lower bill if I bring my own phone, but...

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Originally Posted by macleod644 View Post
in fact T-Mobile seems to be perfect for you, they have incentive for people willing to activate contracts with them to use iPhones.
...unfortunately, T-Mobile coverage in my area is practically non-existent. Otherwise I might have gone with them.

Also, according to others here, the unlocked iPhone should only work on "supported" carriers, which T-Mobile is not. If Apple broke StraightTalk on purpose because it's not a "supported" carrier, who's to say that they won't eventually do the same to T-Mobile? (I'm not saying I actually believe this, BTW.)

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Originally Posted by macleod644 View Post
I asked one what the best phone AT&T carried at the moment two months ago and the guy said it was the Atrix 4G and couldn't stop stressing to me that that's what "HE" had lol
Although it doesn't take away from the general wisdom of your advice, I should clarify that in my case, the person was an Apple employee at an Apple store.

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Old Nov 10, 2012, 12:44 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by NathanA View Post
You seem to think I'm splitting hairs on this, but I still think it's important to note that it's not simply a matter of a "guarantee." It's a matter of something that would otherwise work fine being deliberately sabotaged, and the sabotage is the only reason why it doesn't work (again, assuming Apple has acted with malice and with dollar-signs in their eyes here instead of in the customer's best interest, something which I'm not ready to claim just yet because not all of the evidence is in...the "why" is still largely conjecture at this point).


We can at least agree on the irrelevance of the reasons. Whatever they are, they are not consumer-friendly, so they must be bad.

Back to being serious, and in all honesty, I completely missed that use of the word "supported" in Apple's "literature" as I did not shop for my phone on store.apple.com; I simply read in some news article somewhere that Apple had begun to sell unlocked phones direct to customers in the U.S., and I got one at an Apple Store. So if they really mean that the phone is not supposed to work with any carriers other than ones that they have agreements with, then I will agree with you that it was my bad for not being informed.

Would you at least agree with me, though, that their use of the word "unlocked" to describe this product is misleading (to say the least) at best? Seriously, it's almost as bad as service providers with "unlimited" plans.

I can't be the only one who interpreted that word the way that I did, especially since Apple doesn't actively torpedo the ability to use the phone on ALL unsupported carriers; see T-Mobile U.S., for example, which the unlocked iPhone has always worked fine on (assuming you're okay with EDGE service).

-- Nathan
But they are not doing it strictly with dollar signs in their eyes I don't think so at least. I can almost guarantee you it has to do with new contracts with AT&T because AT&T has sold MILLIONS of iPhones for Apple , remember they were the first carrier (and only one for a while) to carry the iPhone. I think Apple kind of owes it to AT&T to at least work with them to stop consumers doing this so that they are cornered into a contract like everyone else. I totally understand where your coming from but your looking at it the wrong way, obviously the iPhone was physically made to be able to handle straight talk SIM cards- but Apple/AT&T TWEAKED iOS so that we could NOT do that, not because they felt like breaking a perfectly good phone, as u described, but because AT&T obviously has pull with Apple and requested Apple to do this. That is definitely what happened because Apple didn't do this for themselves there is no point, but AT&T can gain a lot from this. So talking to Apple won't change it, the Apple employee said they were "Big political arguments going on" or something along those lines which obviously means Apple most likely is leaning towards "who cares, lets just fix it" and AT&T is strictly set on "NO contract, NO iPhone" ... Therefore resulting in a very controversial matter between AT&T and Apple because they both make each other a lot of money and they both will hurt if they lose the other. So it's literally in limbo. Of course this is all speculation but think about it, that is probably exactly what is going on here.
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Old Nov 10, 2012, 12:52 AM   #22
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I think Apple kind of owes it to AT&T to at least work with them to stop consumers doing this so that they are cornered into a contract like everyone else. I totally understand where your coming from but your looking at it the wrong way, obviously the iPhone was physically made to be able to handle straight talk SIM cards- but Apple/AT&T TWEAKED iOS so that we could NOT do that, not because they felt like breaking a perfectly good phone, as u described, but because AT&T obviously has pull with Apple and requested Apple to do this.
Again, I highly doubt this. I listed the reasons in my first response to you. If AT&T didn't want StraightTalk customers to use iPhones, they wouldn't let StraightTalk sell just the SIM card; they would have disallowed that in the terms of their agreement with StraightTalk. The fact that StraightTalk does this at all is a relatively new thing (they just started in February); before that, StraightTalk (like TracFone and Net10) ONLY sold phones + SIM cards together, and not only were the phones locked to the SIM cards, but the SIM cards couldn't even be used in other phones! I think the fact that StraightTalk has a "BYOP"/SIM card program now is very revealing.

Also, AT&T would tell StraightTalk to take down all discussion of using an iPhone on StraightTalk off of StraightTalk's web site. StraightTalk actually has instructions on their site for getting data working on an iPhone with a StraightTalk SIM card in it! (They can't do anything about MMS, though, of course.)

EDIT: Not to mention that since AT&T issues SIM card ICCIDs to StraightTalk, they would have a complete list of which SIMs belonged to StraightTalk customers. It would be fairly trivial for AT&T to get a list of the ranges of IMEIs that have been allocated to Apple for their phones. Combine the two data sets, and it would be possible for AT&T to boot iPhones with StraightTalk SIM cards in them off the network. But they aren't doing this, either.

So I really don't think AT&T is pulling any strings, here, or that there is any kind of grand AT&T/Apple conspiracy.

-- Nathan

Last edited by NathanA; Nov 10, 2012 at 01:20 AM.
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Old Nov 10, 2012, 04:51 AM   #23
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I guess I should add the I really do believe that AT&T should have allowed for the Cellular Network Data panel to be exposed when any sim is in the phone (or provide a toggle to open it)

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Originally Posted by macleod644 View Post
Why don't you just do what the rest of us do and get a real plan from one of the iPhone carriers?
Really ? What can you do on your AT&T plan that I cannot do on my Straight Talk plan ?
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Old Nov 10, 2012, 05:02 AM   #24
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Really ? What can you do on your AT&T plan that I cannot do on my Straight Talk plan ?
Complain about getting ripped off by an overcharging carrier.
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Old Nov 10, 2012, 05:14 AM   #25
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Join the club, switch to Samsung and send out a nice big FU to apple and the carriers that their BS days are over.
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