Acivating a 2nd hand phone - (ebay)

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by laser310, Jun 16, 2009.

  1. laser310 macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2009

    I'm a current ATT Wireless customer, with a Motorola phone. My contract is over - I am still paying the same as when my contract was in force, and I'd like to try an iPhone.

    But, I don't want a 2 year commitment to ATT.

    My understanding is that I can but an Iphone (I want a 16mb 3G phone) on ebay, and walk in to an ATT store, and have them activate it with my old ATT phone number.

    Will they really do this?

    Will they really do it without forcing me into a contract?

    I'd like to be certain before I buy the phone.

    What if I buy a phone that is unlocked and/or jailbroken - will they re-lock the phone, or refuse to activate it?


    p.s. i'm sure this question has been asked and answered , but i did a search, and checked the faq, and didn't see anything.
  2. aawil macrumors 6502a


    May 18, 2008
    I think they are going to want you to sign a contract. It's crazy but that's probably what they will want.
  3. Revelation78 macrumors 68000


    Dec 18, 2008
    North Carolina
    Yes you can, you would actually simply buy a 16GB iPhone from your choice of avenues; plug it into your computer at home and activate the iPhone.

    There's one caveat here....

    Anytime you make a change to your account, whether it be adding minutes downgrading to a lower plan, adding on a data package - if you read the small print you HAVE to sign a new two year contract. Every carrier does this!

    If you log on to your account and make a change before you hit the submit button, read the small print.
  4. laser310 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2009
    When you say I can activate it with my PC, are you saying I would just stick the sim card from Motorola phone in the iPhone?

    But, it really doesn't make sense to me...

    Why does anyone spend $400 for an ebay phone?

    If I'm going to get locked into a 2yr contract anyway, I might as well go to ATT and get a brand new phone, with a warranty.
  5. justanothernerd macrumors member

    Apr 25, 2008
    That's a lie. Just take the phone home, throw your SIM in it and go online to and add a data plan. The iPhone dataplan is no different than a MediaNet plan for other smart phones.. same price, same features. The cute thing here is that if you add the dataplan to your motorola, if it isn't considered a "smart" phone, the dataplan is only $20 instead of $30 (that is, until AT&T finds out you are using an iPhone, then they'll ask you to pay $30 a month... no biggie).

    The idiots at the store will tell you that you need to sign a two-year contract, but they are also lying.
  6. darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Jul 4, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    You do not have to sign a two-year contract if you don't buy a subsidized phone. Several months ago I activated a used 3G as a hold over until the new one came out. The ATT store did it for me with no hassle. Recently when I checked my upgrade eligibility the ATT person initially said I started a new contract several months ago, because of that phone activation, but when I had them verify that I hadn't purchased a subsidized phone they agreed and said that I wasn't on contract. However, when I buy my 3GS I will have to do so through an ATT store so they can easily verify my record, I don't think the Apple store will have access to that info and they will think I signed a contract back then.

    Be patient with them and just make sure they note your record as not starting a new contract because you aren't buying a subsidized phone. Get the store manager to write something up for you verifying this.
  7. jello22 macrumors newbie

    Jun 10, 2009
    Since AT&T has certain plan requirements for the iPhone, you might get stuck with a contract. I'd double check with an AT&T rep before making the purchase.[​IMG]
  8. SFStateStudent macrumors 604


    Aug 28, 2007
    San Francisco California, USA
    Well, if you don't want a 2-year contract then you'll pay $599 for the 16GB 3G-S and $699 for the 32GB 3G-S, so it's up to you. Or you can go with the older 3G for the unsubsidized prices......:eek::eek::eek:

    Any advice on a 3G unlocked/JB check with the iPhone HACKS Forum....
  9. jmpage2 macrumors 68040


    Sep 14, 2007
    Plenty of people buy 2nd hand phones not only so they can use them on the network without having to sign a new contract, but also so that they can hack the phones, use them on other carriers, etc.
  10. Revelation78 macrumors 68000


    Dec 18, 2008
    North Carolina
    It's not a lie, read the fine print! If you change your rate plan, or add features you have to sign a new 2 year contract. It's not in bold print for you. I used to work for AT&T so I KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!!!!!

    A 2 year contract is completely seperate from upgrade eligibility. No, it will not effect hs upgrade eligibility. He will sign a new 2 year contract with AT&T if he changes his calling plans.
  11. outphase macrumors 65816

    Jun 13, 2009
    Parts Unknown
    Typing in all caps still doesn't prove what you are claiming. I have changed plans for years without affecting my contract life.

    Provide a link and a block quote of the terms you are referring to, and maybe it'll do better than yelling.
  12. millertime416 macrumors newbie

    Jun 9, 2008
    You certainly can buy an iPhone on ebay w/o having to sign a new contract (I know because I did it). I went from a 2G iPhone with a 2-year contract (13 months ago), then bought an unlocked 3G on eBay about a 3 months ago and replaced the 2G on my plan with it. All I had to do was switch to the $30/month data plan. How do I know I didn't sign a new 2 year contract? Because I just pre-ordered the 3GS and guess what...I got the subsidized pricing (Also my account online says I have around 10 months left on my currect contract).

    Also, to the individual who said they used to work for AT&T - YOU CAN MAKE CHANGES TO YOUR RATE PLAN/FEATURES W/O EXTENDING YOUR CONTRACT. I started off with an individual 450 minute plan, moved to a 1400 minute family plan, and last week moved to a 700 minute family plan (I had way to many minutes). I have also made various changes to my messaging, data, and international features none of which has extended my contract. To be sure, I called AT&T a number of times before each change I made.

    One caveat that I will mention. If you add a 2G iPhone to your plan, you may have to sign a two year commitment. Why? This phone was never subsidized by AT&T and had its own special plan attached to it, namely $20/month with 200 txt messages. This plan required signing a two year contract.
  13. millertime416 macrumors newbie

    Jun 9, 2008
    Thought I'd give some proof. From AT&T website, link:

    "Customers who change rate plans to any one of the company's standard wireless plans, during the course of their contract, will not be asked to extend their existing contract or enter into a new one."
  14. Revelation78 macrumors 68000


    Dec 18, 2008
    North Carolina
    They were in caps because I detest when someone refers to me as a liar.

    From AT&T:

    I have an Original iPhone and would like to activate it. How much does the monthly service cost?
    A 2-year service agreement is required to use the Original iPhone; or if you are already an AT&T customer, a renewed 2-year service agreement is required.

    Plans start at $59.99 and include Visual Voicemail, Unlimited Data (email and web), and 200 SMS text messages - for use in the U.S. Add more text messages for just a little more per month. You can browse the Internet and send emails as often as you like without being charged extra.

    (In all fairness, it looks like they no longer reset your two year contract when you change rate plans, as long as you don't pick a promotional offer)
  15. millertime416 macrumors newbie

    Jun 9, 2008
    You are correct that activating a 2G iPhone will require you to sign a two year contract (I mentioned this above). However, this does not apply to the 3G phone (as I can personally attest to). The 3G never had the special $20/month 200 txt plan, it had a standard data plan. Given that the original poster, said he wanted a 16GB 3G iPhone. If he buys a 3G iPhone off eBay he WILL NOT have to sign a 2 year contract. But this is only if it is the 3G not the 2G iPhone.
  16. laser310 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2009
    So, now a friend told me that my ATT sim from my Motorola phone won't work, because it's not a 3G sim...

    is there a 3G sim?

  17. justanothernerd macrumors member

    Apr 25, 2008
    your friend does not know what he is talking about. Just stick your SIM into your new iPhone and it'll work. Then go online to and add data to your line. Simple as that. You don't have to talk with anyone at AT&T; in fact, I would recommend not to, because who knows what ******** they'll try and pull.

    If you need it more clearly (since we've already spelled it out to you and you are still worried):
    1) Buy iPhone
    2) Remove SIM from previous phone
    3) Insert SIM into new iPhone
    4) go to and add a dataplan for your line
    5) sync with iTunes
    6) Enjoy your life with your new iPhone
  18. laser310 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2009
    just waiting for the phone now.

    anyway, it wasn't that i didn't understand the responses, the only problem was that they conflicted in some regards.

    oh - i meant to buy a black phone, but i accidentally bough a white one.

    so, assuming it works, i'll probably sell it and get a black one.
  19. laser310 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2009
    Got the phone, and thought I'd post the results, in case anyone ever has the same question, and looks at the thread.

    So, afer I got the phone, I put the sim card in, and it worked fine - for voice. i made one call.

    WiFi also worked fine.

    3G did not work, even though I had a data plan for my old phone - I figured it was because my data plan was not a "qualifying" data plan for the iphone, it was less that $30/month.

    So, I logged on to my ATT account, and saw that after just one call, it had updated my equipment, and showed that my phone was now an iphone.

    I canceled my non-qualifying data plan. The menu gave me the option of adding the iphone data plan at $30/month (which i don't think it offered to me back when it had the razr as my phone), but after i selected it w the radio button, it wouldn't add it, saying I didn't have the right phone. again, it was already showing my phone as an iphone....

    i decided to call customer service.

    they were very helpful - they needed my IMEI #, and then set me up with the data plan.

    I asked if I would be getting a contract, and was told unequivocally, that i would _not_ be asked to begin a new contract. the support person was very polite, and expressed no problem at all with my second-hand phone. i guess i had sort of been expecting a problem.

    so, everything works now.
  20. cbowma4 macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2009
    Somewhat similar situation

    I'm actually in a similar boat to the original poster, and needed some advice. I bought an iphone off ebay, unlocked and all, fully usable, just no sim card. I would like to get a pay as you go plan, with the $20 for 100mb data and $5 for 200 texts. Is this possible? My plan was to buy a cheap go phone, take out the simcard, put it in the iphone, and try to activate it. But should I activate it on the gophone itself, then just switch the sim? I'm not too sure how that would work, and any advise would be much appreciated. Thanks!

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