How does Activation work?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by maximus06, Jun 18, 2009.

  1. maximus06 macrumors regular

    Nov 5, 2007
    I've searched the forums but I'm still confused by how activation works.

    If I buy an iPhone off someone that's still sealed in the box (i.e. unactivated), can I simply plug in my existing simcard and activate it at home, i.e. through itunes?
  2. iUser4Lyfe macrumors 6502

    Jun 15, 2009
    Yes or you can activate the sim it comes with through Itunes
  3. maximus06 thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 5, 2007
  4. maximus06 thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 5, 2007
    What do you mean by "the sim it comes with"? I already have a sim because I'm on prepaid. Now I want to buy a 3GS off someone...

    So basically you just need to get your hands on a phone (sealed/unsealed, activated/unactivated) and then you can use it on the network its locked to, with any sim?
  5. skubish macrumors 68030


    Feb 2, 2005
    Ann Arbor, Michigan
    THe iPhone comes with a sim card. I am pretty sure you need to activate the phone first before you can just swap cards. (unless it is unlocked)
  6. maximus06 thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 5, 2007
    You mean there's a special sim-card included inside the box used only for activation, or the carrier gives you one when you purchase it?
  7. dave006 macrumors 68020

    Jul 3, 2008
    No the new iPhone comes with a new "unactivated" SIM. You can use your current active SIM as long as it is with the same carrrier. So in the US, you would need an AT&T SIM.

  8. bjbyers macrumors newbie

    Apr 1, 2006
    new SIM for existing iPhone users?

    Dave (or others)-
    I am an existing iPhone 3G customer (Legit phone on AT&T, nothing unlocked or hacked) and am getting my iPhone 3Gs tomorrow. I ordered on the apple site and chose to transfer my existing account.

    Will it come programmed with my number? Which makes me wonder at what point my current iPhone 3G will stop working... but the main issue I am getting at is this- I am selling my current iPhone 3G. Can I give the buyer the SIM card in it, or will I need to put it in my new 3Gs? When I sold my original iPhone to get the 3G, I thought I remember it being a big mistake to not hold on to the SIM.
  9. dave006 macrumors 68020

    Jul 3, 2008
    I hit the basics in my other post but missed your activation question.

    There are really two parts to the activation story; your SIM is activated by your carrier and your iPhone is activated using iTunes. When you complete the phone activation with iTunes is contacts the Apple servers and looks up your phone's IMEI to see if it is in the "Unlocked" list. If you have a carrier locked iPhone it will only work with your carrier's SIM cards.

    Here is the official Apple list, you will want to verify the part number to see which carrier and the features that are really supported.

    Valid Unlock countries:

    Activation information by Country:

  10. cualexander macrumors 6502a

    Apr 3, 2006
    Charlotte, NC
    I personally wouldn't ever sell a SIM card with a phone. Leave that up to the buyer to acquire. SIM cards are free from the provider anyhow in most cases. SIM cards have all sorts of personal data on them, and even if you delete the data, you can still undelete it. I do not think the iPhone secure wipe touches the SIM at all.
  11. dave006 macrumors 68020

    Jul 3, 2008
    Your phone will come in an inactive state. In your case if you have an existing AT&T SIM, you can just replace the new unactivated SIM that comes in the new iPhone 3G S (put it aside for now).

    Plug your iPhone in and use iTunes to complete the Activation steps choosing "Existing Customer". You can give / sell the "new" unactivated SIM with your current iPhone or you can keep the new one as a spare SIM, you get to decide.

  12. poky macrumors newbie

    Nov 12, 2008
    When iTune sends the information to Apple server, I know IMEI and ICCID(Sim card id number) are sent, but how does the entire activation process work?

    Here's what I think how it works:

    1. Apple iPhone server transfer the information to AT&T server, so AT&T has the information of what device(IMEI) and what number you're porting to(by the information of the iTune when you first input in the activation screen), verify the information, and adjust it, things like extend the contract date, add iPhone data plan on the line you're going to use, then de-activate your current SIM, activate the SIM card in your iPhone.

    2. Once the process is done from the AT&T side, Apple server verifies the IMEI, and updates on the database, so this iPhone become activated, next time when you update or restore the iPhone, Apple verifies the phone to see it has been activated, no need to activate again.

    Don't know if this is how it works?:confused:
    Please correct me if I'm wrong.
  13. USC_Gamecock macrumors member

    Sep 22, 2004
    exit 3
    Activation is 2 steps ...

    1. Connect your iPhone to iTunes.
    2. Follow iTunes prompts and instructions.

    It's probably one of the easiest things to do.
  14. Strokes1979 macrumors newbie


    Apr 26, 2009
    I terminated my old line and created a new line to get the the 3gs. Do i still need to go to apple or At&t to activate it or can i still plug it in? I'm just asking because im wondering how i get my new number..
  15. matt550 macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2008
    Im a current 3G customer. If I put my 3G sim in my 3G S I know it will work. So I would not have to activate it, right? Then I can continue on with my current contract. Im confused haha
  16. dave006 macrumors 68020

    Jul 3, 2008
    We could tell you but then the black sedans would be at your house before you can finish reading this message.

    You just need to know that stuff happens... we have new iPhone 3G S's that need to get to their new home, try your question next week....

  17. dave006 macrumors 68020

    Jul 3, 2008
    Nope, hmm, you shoud receive the new number along with your new iPhone 3G S. You can complete the activation in the comfort of your home but you will mess all of the cake at the box opening mashups...


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