Can I use iPhone without SIM card after activation?

Discussion in 'iPhone Tips, Help and Troubleshooting' started by ladeer, Jun 28, 2007.

  1. ladeer, Jun 28, 2007
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2014

    macrumors 6502

  2. macrumors 6502


    Jun 26, 2007
    Los Angeles
    i would assume that the activation stage is just a way for them to guarantee you are going to use it with AT&T. thats the way apple got to use itunes as the activation method... if not there would be no way of stoping people to just buy them for fun and not have to commit to a 2 year contract.....

    after you get an at&t account im almost sure you can do what you want with it....
  3. macrumors 65816


    Jul 26, 2005
    This is a good question. I'd like to know the answer.
  4. macrumors member

    Jul 1, 2007
    Well, so far it works. I bought an iPhone the night of the launch. While thinking about this very possibility today (as in was there a way for people to use the phone without service), I pulled the SIM card. I activated the phone Saturday morning without a problem, so this is post-activation testing. Without the SIM card, The iPhone shows "No SIM" in the top right area where the AT&T service bar usually is.

    So, again, as of now it works. I did get a momentary "hiccup" in the phone's operation (I was browsing via WiFi and had a song playing in iTunes) when I pulled the SIM that was followed by a pop-up telling me that there was no SIM card. Since then though, all functions still work and no more hiccups or pop-up messages about the missing SIM. I'll keep the card out for as long as I can and try different things like syncing, etc to see if any of these cause issues without a SIM inserted.

    I wonder if there is some kind of "time-out". In other words, if the phone hasn't detected a SIM to be present for some time or if the SIM is in but you then deactivate service, will the various functions cease at some point? I guess there's no way to tell without waiting it out.

  5. macrumors member

    Jul 1, 2007
    Just a quick update that I still have the SIM pulled and it's working just fine. I've done a few syncs, browsed the web, used the iPod features, etc all without a hitch. I'll post back if anything does come up.

  6. macrumors 6502

    Jul 1, 2007
  7. macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2007

    can you clarify?? you activated your iphone with the sim card IN, first, and then pulled it away? or you just synchronized it without any sim and basic functions (ipod wifi ...)worked?
  8. macrumors member

    Jul 1, 2007
    To clarify, I activated the phone with the SIM in. It was the standard activation procedure that anyone would use - connect to my Mac, activate through iTunes (only took a couple of minutes on Saturday morning), started using it. At around 3PM EST or so on Sunday, I pulled the SIM and have had it removed ever since.

    When I activated the phone, I did so as a new AT&T customer with a new number. I have kept my Verizon service and my Verizon phone (Treo 700w) active while I play with the iPhone, so not having the phone features available on the iPhone isn't a problem. I will likely keep the SIM out for several days just to see what happens, if anything.

    My gut feeling tells me that once you activate the phone, that's it. In other words, I don't think Apple would go any further than to cripple the device beyond initial activation. Requiring ongoing service in order for the device to be usable just doesn't benefit Apple. They're in the hardware business, after all. By requiring initial activation, they fulfill a contractual obligation with AT&T. Going beyond that to have the device "check-in" with AT&T's network at set intervals in order to remain usable seems like something Apple would balk at.

    Of course, I could be dead wrong and I wonder about a few things:

    - Will the phone try to do some sort of "check-in" with AT&T's network and, if it can't because of a removed SIM, will the device get locked after so many attempts or so many days without being able to contact the network?
    - If I choose to cancel service and then re-insert the SIM, will the device then get locked?
    - Will a SIM with current service be required to be inserted in order to perform a firmware update?

    All of these are good questions that I won't know the answer to for a while. Hopefully though, my gut is right. If so, anyone could buy the phone, activate it, then cancel service and still be able to use all other features. According to the TOS, the activation fee is refunded if you cancel within the first 3 days. I don't know if you'd be on the hook for a pro-rated share of the first month's service, but if you were and you deactivated service within those first 3 days, you're only looking at a few dollars if you choose the $59.99 plan during activation as a new customer.

  9. macrumors 603


    Jun 4, 2007
    Actually Apple gets a cut of the monthly revenues so it does benefit them. Will be interesting to see how it goes. Someone in another thread suggested it might timeout after a period of time. Like right now you might be in a grace period to cover any issues or problems, but eventually it will stop working if it is unable to access a sim card. I guess only time will tell.
  10. macrumors member

    Jul 1, 2007
    I didn't know about the monthly revenue sharing. However, I could still see a differentiation between locking the SIM to force AT&T service vs locking the phone in general if no SIM is present or if the AT&T SIM doesn't have an active contract associated with it. I say that because if Apple forces ongoing service, they lose some hardware sales. We can debate how many folks would really want to shell out $500 - $600 and not use the cell capabilities, but there is definitely a certain percentage who would. So, if the choice is to lose hardware revenue plus ongoing contract revenue or just lose ongoing contract revenue (because some folks just don't want AT&T), they'll likely take the latter. AT&T might have been able to pushed Apple into an ongoing service requirement, but I could very easily see Apple standing firm and saying no.

    I really don't know which side they chose, but I see good arguments for either. Indeed, only time will tell...

  11. macrumors 68020


    Jun 29, 2004

    How long are you willing to continue non-SIM usage? Presumably an update will be coming in the next week or so, and that's the real unknown.

    And let me clarify (what I think) has been expressed above:

    Day 1:
    Buy iPhone. ($500)
    Activate iPhone ($36)
    Day 2:
    Remove SIM
    Cancel service ($4 for two days at a pro-rate of $60/mo)
    Avoid contract termination fee for canceling in first 3 days
    Decline to return the phone (10% restocking fee waived)
    Day 3:
    Show off your non-AT&T iPhone to the world.

    TOTAL: $540

    This process would yield an iPhone minus the phone. An i, you might say.:p Does this accurately reflect what you guys are getting at?
  12. macrumors member

    Jul 1, 2007
    That pretty much sums up what we're talking about. There are folks who want to use the device without any service at all and I'm just trying to test that as a possibility. I'm going to keep the SIM out for a while but I probably will put it back in at some point to play with the phone features that I haven't yet (like visual voicemail). I will try some other testing like doing a complete restore without the SIM to see if that causes any problems. If anyone thinks of other tests I could run without the SIM to try and "trigger" a deactivation, let me know and I'll give it a shot.

    I've done both a power off/on and a reset via the 2-button hold and every thing is still ok. The only messages I get are when I power on or reset the phone telling me that no SIM is present and an occasional message "Could not activate EDGE" when waking the screen from sleep (doesn't happen every time though).

  13. macrumors 6502

    Jun 29, 2007
    FYI..As with any cell phone service, remember to cancel the service within the cancellation window ( usually 4 weeks ). Otherwise, you will have to pay big time to get out of the contract. Not that you all do not know this... just in case.

    This sounds like a good loophole to use the iPhone without service. If you want service occasionally, you can get on a prepaid plan ( assuming you can provide a bad credit history to AT&T/Apple ).
  14. macrumors member

    Jul 1, 2007
    First major snag encountered

    Ok, I may have run into the brick wall I was afraid of. I tried doing a restore from iTunes without the SIM. The procedure proceeded fine until the iPhone restarted. It seems that a restore puts the iPhone back to a pre-activation state. The phone gives you a message saying you have to insert the SIM and connect to iTunes in order to activate it. Trying to connect to iTunes without the SIM gives you an error message telling you to insert the SIM. So, I had to insert the SIM in order to go any further.

    After inserting the SIM without the iPhone connected to the iMac, it was still just in emergency mode (BTW I had to use the 2-button restart to get it to recognize that I had inserted the SIM card after inserting the SIM). I then had to connect the iPhone to the Mac to get it to communicate with iTunes. Just to test further, I pulled my ethernet connection from the Mac before connecting the iPhone to see if the activation process could be completed without an internet connection. It couldn't. iTunes was trying to connect to ITMS for activation and gave me an error when it couldn't. I had to reconnect the ethernet cable and let it connect to ITMS. Re-activation was quick and the phone functioned normally afterwards.

    This does not give me hope for usage of the phone without a contract. Even without a possible "time-out" issue, you are going need to restore the unit sometime during it's life. I would assume this same re-activation issue might also pop up during firmware upgrades. The only other possibility is testing this whole process with a SIM that has a canceled contract, but the fact that iTunes connects to ITMS even for a restore activation doesn't give me a lot of faith.

    This might very well be a no go. :(

  15. macrumors newbie

    Feb 5, 2009
    I know this is an old post but for future readers I wanted to point out that it is possible to use your iPhone without a sim card to play games/music/videos by jailbreaking it.

    You can do that with many free tools but make sure you don't update your iPhone. At this time QuickPWN 2.2.5-2 on windows and 2.2.5 on Mac will jailbreak the iPhone software version 2.2.1 (the latest).

    However, in order to be able to unlock make sure that your baseband version is 2.28.30 since once updated to software 2.2.1 baseband will get updated to 2.30.00 and yellowsn0w (program to unlock the iPhone) will no longer work (iPhone 3G)

    Using QuickPWN, it's very easy to jailbreak an iphone (allows using it without a sim card and allows the installation of many 3rd party programs and games :))

  16. macrumors newbie

    Jun 18, 2009
    Using iphone without active SIM

    I have been reading this thread with great interest. I have just purchased a 3G iphone from att. I plan to leave in the SIM card but move the line of service to a Blackberry ( for work) I'm wondering if anyone knows if haveing a non active SIM would prvent usage as a ipod or couse issues later when updating software etc.
    Also, does anyone know that if I was promted for a SIM while updating if I could use a SIM that is being currently used for a Blackberry device?
  17. macrumors newbie

    Jun 28, 2009
    I Think There May Be A detector thing.

    I bought my iphone from a friend and It quite possibly might be stolen.I had a sim card to trashed it. That was about a month and a half ago, It worked awesome for the pas 4 months and now itunes says I need a simcard to activate my iphone when I plug it in. Now, my laptop wont even pick up the iphone on ituenes. I looked at it in the morning 3 days ago and It was off so I turned it on. When I turned it on, the apple logo:apple: appeared and after about 10 or 15 seconds shut off and than restarted again. I later that evening for about 15 min, I watched it start than shut down while the apple logo :apple:was still up. at the end of the 12 or 10th cycle of on and off, It showed the red battery and had an image of it being plugged in. I plugged It in an than it showed the red battery just sitting there without the plug in image. after about 5- 8 min later, it just went black. I pressed the sleep button and it began to go through the start restart process. Can anyone help me?!?! I dont have a box or a receipt. thanks a lot.
  18. macrumors newbie

    Dec 4, 2009
    Idk if this test is still going or not but these are my 2 cents.

    1- no point on getting the iPhone to use it as an iTouch.
    2- I assume the iPhone has to work with out a sim card, why? simple, phones/smartphones gets outdated or replaced by newer models or people change carriers. If Apple blocks the iPhone after some time due to no sim card or no service plan, then why sell the phone (otherwise it would be false advertisement), why not just rented, we buy the phones and keep them or recycle them or what not.

    Personally: I have the iPhone like it eventhough gives me some problems, but the thing that i dont like is ATT, no signal at work nor at my brothers place. I will be changing to verizon and plan on using the iPhone as an iTouch
  19. macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2008
    I have been searching the forum for about an hour to avoid starting a new thread on almost this topic,

    About 6 months ago I dunked my 1st/2nd gen iphone, not gonna go into details or aftermath but the phone would start up to the lock screen but no touch screen or itunes sync, but the 3gs was about to come out anyways, so no big deal I just bought one and Im back on the road. Just got my old phone out of my closet today and it works, fine! everything was as it was 6 months ago, it unlocked and worked perfect. So I hooked it to my mac and itunes saw it fine, and wanted to update it so I thought Id just restore it (Bad idea?), to make an ipod copy of my current phone, and now it wants to be activated, with a sim card, is there any way to undo that or more likely, just hack it and be able to sync it with itunes?
  20. macrumors 68000

    Mar 18, 2008
    Bracknell UK
    If you're now updated to 3.1.2, you can download and run BlackRa1n to hacktivate it. Check it out and get the download link here:
  21. macrumors 65816


    Nov 18, 2007
    I upgraded to a 3GS earlier this year. I use my old iPhone 2G around the house to stream XM, use apps, etc. without any issues. I have it in airplane mode with the wifi turned back on.
  22. macrumors newbie

    Dec 13, 2009
    Why dont you just trade your iphone with a person trying to get one that just has an itouch and make money off of it.

    p.s. i have an itouch i want to trade
  23. macrumors newbie

    Dec 13, 2009
    you can jailbreak it and should work fine
  24. macrumors newbie

    Dec 15, 2009
    My brother gave me his 1G iphone when he bought himself a 3g iphone.
    Had it sitting on my desk with his music and photos on it for couple months.(not being able to bring myself to restore it and erase everything he had on it.)
    I'd pull it out every once and a while and mess with it. Got onto the web via wi-fi.
    Then about a week ago I finally restored it to the original factory settings.(after downloading all his music and photos with 3rd party software.)

    The phone now shows up on itunes with my name on it, instead of his. The phone number associated with it is still the one he had. But since there is no sim card I can not use it as a phone.
    It has 3.1.2 update on it. I can surf the web via wi-fi. I got a itunes account and downloaded apps.
    It use to say "waiting for activation" but would cancel that and use it like an ipod touch. This is about 6 months after my brother first gave it to me. So I don't see any problem with using it without a sim card the same you would use an ipod touch.
  25. macrumors member


    Jun 26, 2008
    Petersburg VA
    Two Iphones..One Activated

    I have a similar situation.
    I have an ATT/iphone acct. I had a 3g, my wife got me a 3gs for xmas. She has a Blackberry and doesnt care to add another iphone account. SO she wants to use it as an ipod.
    I restored it....had to insert old sim card at one point(New ph has new sim card)It seems to work. BUT ONE THING...if she goes to APP store or brings up my account?? CAn I change this to her account? Do I need to JB it to add new apps? (Not a problem) Thanx

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