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bad03xtreme

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 16, 2009
595
119
Northern, VA
So my son is 11 and some of his friends have phones and he wants to be able to message them. I let him have an old iPhone 5s we had sitting in the closet, and I set up a child account under my iCloud account. However I cannot figure out how to get iMessage to work, I keep getting an activation error. I have searched and seen that you used to need a SIM to get an activation code but some said that was no longer need after iOS 12. I have iOS 12.4.6 installed and still get the error so what am I doing wrong?
 

akash.nu

macrumors G3
May 26, 2016
9,482
11,270
I think if the phone is locked to a certain network then you may still need it.
 
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eyoungren

macrumors Core
Aug 31, 2011
23,239
16,662
ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
So my son is 11 and some of his friends have phones and he wants to be able to message them. I let him have an old iPhone 5s we had sitting in the closet, and I set up a child account under my iCloud account. However I cannot figure out how to get iMessage to work, I keep getting an activation error. I have searched and seen that you used to need a SIM to get an activation code but some said that was no longer need after iOS 12. I have iOS 12.4.6 installed and still get the error so what am I doing wrong?
What is the error you are getting? If it's 'Waiting for Activation' it's unnecessary to try and make it go away. It'll work.

I've got an iPhone 5, a 4 and a 4s that all share my Apple ID. Neither of them have cellular service, although I do have various expired SIM cards inside. iMessage works just fine over WiFi.

If you absolutely need a SIM though, pick one up for the carrier this device was originally on off of eBay. You don't need a new SIM or one that you can activate. Any expired SIM will do. eBay sellers have expired SIMs going for $3 or less.
 
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bad03xtreme

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 16, 2009
595
119
Northern, VA
What is the error you are getting? If it's 'Waiting for Activation' it's unnecessary to try and make it go away. It'll work.

I've got an iPhone 5, a 4 and a 4s that all share my Apple ID. Neither of them have cellular service, although I do have various expired SIM cards inside. iMessage works just fine over WiFi.

If you absolutely need a SIM though, pick one up for the carrier this device was originally on off of eBay. You don't need a new SIM or one that you can activate. Any expired SIM will do. eBay sellers have expired SIMs going for $3 or less.
Yes I am getting an iMessage Activation "An Error occurred during activation. Try again" when I click the "Use your Apple ID for iMessage" in messages window.
 
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eyoungren

macrumors Core
Aug 31, 2011
23,239
16,662
ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
Yes I am getting an iMessage Activation "An Error occurred during activation. Try again" when I click the "Use your Apple ID for iMessage" in messages window.
Yeah, your're right, you need some sort of SIM then. Doesn't matter if it's expired or old - just one from the carrier the phone is locked to (assuming it's locked).
 
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bad03xtreme

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 16, 2009
595
119
Northern, VA
So I added the SIM purchased on eBay and still no luck. I did some more research and it seems like you cannot activate the iMessage on a phone unless its connected to a cellular network. I am not sure why that is the case but it seems that is how it is.
 
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Beelzbub

macrumors 6502
Feb 6, 2012
378
123
You don't need a SIM card. I did this for my daughter and just used an email address. I setup an email account for her just to be used for the iPhone. She has been able to iMessage and FaceTime all her friends and grandparents as long as shes on WiFi and it works just fine. I don't have email setup on the iPhone and she doesn't even know about that or care. All she cares about is the camera, iMessage, FaceTime and her apps, which all seem to be working great. She is also using a 5S.
 
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RyCan3

macrumors 6502a
Jun 13, 2010
560
264
So my son is 11 and some of his friends have phones and he wants to be able to message them. I let him have an old iPhone 5s we had sitting in the closet, and I set up a child account under my iCloud account. However I cannot figure out how to get iMessage to work, I keep getting an activation error. I have searched and seen that you used to need a SIM to get an activation code but some said that was no longer need after iOS 12. I have iOS 12.4.6 installed and still get the error so what am I doing wrong?
I came here just to tell you nice logo lol.
 
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bad03xtreme

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 16, 2009
595
119
Northern, VA
You don't need a SIM card. I did this for my daughter and just used an email address. I setup an email account for her just to be used for the iPhone. She has been able to iMessage and FaceTime all her friends and grandparents as long as shes on WiFi and it works just fine. I don't have email setup on the iPhone and she doesn't even know about that or care. All she cares about is the camera, iMessage, FaceTime and her apps, which all seem to be working great. She is also using a 5S.
Did you setup a new iCloud account? I did that and added a child account to my family sharing. I can get emails to the account but I cannot get the iMessage to activate under the new account.
 
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Beelzbub

macrumors 6502
Feb 6, 2012
378
123
I did do that, but never actually added the email account to the phone. I had to verify the account when I did that, which was easy since I have the email password.
 
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