Activating a SIM-free iPhone

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Starfia, Apr 11, 2016.

  1. Starfia macrumors 6502

    Starfia

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2011
    #1
    Dear iPhone aficionados,

    Longtime Apple fan with a question just out of my realm of knowledge.

    I haven't used any land or cell phone service provider for almost a decade, and I love it that way. (When needed, I've sometimes used a voice-to-e-mail service for incoming messages and SkypeOut for outgoing ones. I barely ever use either.)

    For that reason, I've always owned an iPod touch. The Apple Watch made me upgrade to my first iPhone ever: a used iPhone 5s. Since I wasn't planning to use a carrier, I went ahead with a Sprint phone, not thinking that choice would matter. I was pretty astounded to learn that I needed to acquire a previously-used Sprint SIM card to even reach the iOS home screen and use the device. Maybe that's obvious reality to you in the phone-based world, but to me it seemed baffling.

    Anyway.

    I'm considering the lovely iPhone SE, and clearly the SIM-free option suits my phone service-free lifestyle. If I upgrade, am I going to need to do something unexpected to even activate and operate iOS?
     
  2. Gav2k macrumors G3

    Gav2k

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    #2
    You just need a pay as you go (prepay) sim to activate then you can remove it if you so wish.
     
  3. gladoscc macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2011
    #3
    Just go to the Apple Store, take your sim ejector and take the sim out of a display unit. Use that to activate your new iPhone. And then put it back.

    Unfortunately you need a SIM as part of the activation process, iOS won't let you go to the home screen or continue without a SIM.
     
  4. mattopotamus macrumors G4

    mattopotamus

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2012
    #4
    A few years ago I wanted to activate my original iPhone to use as an iPod. I just walked into ATT and explained what I was doing, and they gave me a "dummy" SIM for free. I wasn't even an ATT customer.
     
  5. EDH667 macrumors 6502a

    EDH667

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2009
    Location:
    Northern California
    #5
    You can use any SIM card and it doesn't even have to be an active one. Ask one of your friends for an old nano-SIM. You can also pick up a T-Mobile SIM at BestBuy for $4.99 or see if an Apple store will give you one.

    If you want cell service there is a new company called Charge.co that sells Sprint network service for $15.00 per gigabyte of data that never expires (no voice or texts). This would provide cell service for emails, VOIP etc. when you are away from wi-fi.
     
  6. dave006 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2008
    #6
    :cool:
    Just use the same old "previously-used Sprint SIM" from your iPhone 5S. The new iPhone SE uses the same type of Nano-SIM, so you can just pop in your old "Sprint" Nano-SIM and complete the activation steps. As has been previously posted, your new iPhone SE SIM-free will come with a handy SIM Ejector tool ( aka a fancy paperclip ) for just this task. :D

    Dave
     
  7. Starfia thread starter macrumors 6502

    Starfia

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2011
    #7
    Thanks, guys. So, it sounds like I still do still need a SIM card to activate the phone, and I've gone through those hoops with the 5s. (So, in what sense is a SIM-free phone SIM-free? In the sense that it… doesn't ship with one…?)

    Dave – the description of the SIM-free phone seems to have specific caveats for Sprint:

    "The SIM-free iPhone SE is not compatible with Sprint’s network. To use iPhone SE with Sprint, you need to select Sprint as your carrier when you purchase your iPhone."​

    Again, I'm just learning, but I don't get the feeling a SIM-free SE is going to like my Sprint SIM.
     
  8. EDH667 macrumors 6502a

    EDH667

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2009
    Location:
    Northern California
    #8
    SIM-free means the phone is not locked to any particular cellular company's SIM card. My Sprint SIM works fine to get through the activation screen. Since you are not actually signing up for Sprint service you shouldn't have any problems.
     
  9. dave006 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2008
    #9
    I agree with the post from EDH667 above concerning the SIM-free explanation. Again, you can just use the same SIM that you used in your iPhone 5S.

    The quote that I provided is the official disclaimer from Apple. There have been a couple of reports here on the forum from individuals that have been able to actually get active Sprint service using the SIM-free model of the iPhone SE. There is no physical reason that it would not work but since Apple posted it, I shared it. Since you don't want or need actual Sprint Service it is not an issue for you.

    If you would be more comfortable getting another Nano-SIM to complete the activation of your SIM-free iPhone SE then any Nano-SIM will work: new un-activated or a old deactivated one, or just borrowing one for about 3 minutes to step through the activation steps.

    Dave
     
  10. ecschwarz macrumors 6502a

    ecschwarz

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2010
    #10
    I agree with what the other people have said - an iPhone just needs some sort of SIM card installed during the set up process and installed so it doesn't complain about the lack of SIM on the home screen. I've got two older iPhones without service using a deactivated T-Mobile SIM and a deactivated AT&T SIM and both are fine. If the phone is locked to a particular carrier, you can only use SIMs from that carrier (like your Sprint 5S). An unlocked phone will work with any SIM, although being able to receive service and/or be provisioned by the carrier is another story. Since it sounds like you're fine with doing away with Sprint's service, for what you want to do, your Sprint one should work (as the SIM-free model is unlocked), or you could go get a prepaid T-Mobile SIM from Best Buy or Target for about $5 and just not activate any service on it.
     

Share This Page