iPhone on AT&T without data plan.. looking for ideas

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Cg313, Jan 9, 2012.

  1. Cg313, Jan 9, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012

    Cg313 macrumors member

    Oct 20, 2011
    Hey everybody, here's my situation and I'm hoping someone has an idea that I haven't thought of to get things running smoothly again.


    I live in an area that doesn't have data coverage - 1-2 bars on an Edge network (data does not work)

    I'm relitively burnt out on the idea of smartphone functionality, having had Windows Mobile for years prior to the smartphone craze we're seeing nowadays (I'm fine with my phone just making phone calls and sending text messages).

    The reason I have the iPhone is because of the Notes application - when I get onto a WiFi network, my notes sync with my iPad and iMac via iCloud.. don't care about Facebook, my friends can text me - don't care about web access.

    Someday, when Sprint has pooled data and I can justify enabling data on both devices, this problem with resolve itself, but until then, I'm not going to pay twice for something that doesn't work once (the data is currently disabled on my iPad as well, and I'm assuming the iPad 3 will be GSM/CDMA, allowing me to get onto a useable data network at home with the iPad.)

    The issue:

    I have AT&T service

    I have an iPhone 4

    I cut the sim from my razor v3, disabled data on the iPhone, and put it into my iPhone - this gave me call and text functionality, which is all i wanted.

    Life was good, 5 months later I get a text from AT&T saying "We noticed that you're using an iPhone, did you know that you need a data plan to use an iPhone? we'll just go ahead and add that for you."

    So now I'm paying for data that doesn't work..

    Tried talking to tech support, and you all know how that is.. It's 100 times worse when you know more about the technology than the person you're speaking with.

    I really only have the phone to transcribe notes for me.. Going back to the Razr isn't an option, and money isn't the obstacle, it's the principle (I'm extremely stubborn) - If something doesn't work, I'm not going to pay for it. I see that as logical, and I hope AT&T CSEs understand that and their hands are tied by corporate policy.

    Hoping someone has some ideas as to how i can get back to being data-free, which was working fine for me.. maybe there's a setting that I missed or something but I'm assuming it's deeper than that.. like when I get to the office, my phone gets on the wifi, iCloud syncs and there's an EIN or something that pops up on AT&Ts radar..

    Long-winded, but massively frustrated.
  2. CSMchris376 macrumors regular

    Mar 13, 2010
    The requirement for a data plan for the iPhone is an AT&T requirement that has existed since the beginning of the iPhone. The fact that AT&T knows that you have an iPhone has to do with the IMEI and no matter how many different tries are made, they eventually find out you have the iPhone as you have recently discovered.

    That being said, two things are apparent here. You live in an area that does not have good AT&T signal, so you should be looking at a different carrier for your phone. It also seems as though you don't even use the iPhone as a phone, just a data device, and want to do that mostly on wi-fi. Given those facts, I would think that maybe you just want to remove the SIM from the iPhone and only use it like an iPod Touch, utilizing data when you are in an area of wi-fi coverage and you would not have to deal with AT&T.

    Your comment about getting to the office and the phone connecting to wi-fi is not what notifies AT&T, it is when the phone is connected to the cellular network that notifies them. It registers on the network and it shows the type of phone. The only way to prevent that is to remove the SIM.

    Your only alternative is to find out what carrier provides you the better service where you live and work.
  3. Jordan921 macrumors 601


    Jul 7, 2010
    Bay Area
    There's no way for you to use the iPhone on At&t without a data plan
  4. Applejuiced macrumors Westmere


    Apr 16, 2008
    At the iPhone hacks section.
    No way around it. Unless you go prepaid AT&T.
    On post paid account they will add it wether you want it or not.
  5. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    Sell the iPhone and get an iPod Touch or iPad.
  6. thelatinist macrumors 603


    Aug 15, 2009
    Connecticut, USA
    As everyone else has said, it is not possible to have an iPhone on your AT&T account without data. That is clearly spelled out in the contract you signed. Unfortunately, your options are to pay the fee or not use an iPhone.
  7. Cg313, Jan 9, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012

    Cg313 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 20, 2011
    Thanks for the replies.

    An iPod touch won't work because i need voice & text capabilities.

    I plan on moving to Sprint once my contract is up (as well as getting a sprint ipad3).

    Any ideas why the thing that doesn't work worked for ~4 months flawlessly? Did AT&T just start scanning connected devices for IMEIs to weed out the people who weren't doing what AT&T wanted them to?

    Also, Do GSM phones have IMEIs? I thought that was the ID of the SIM, and it was the SIM that established the connection with AT&T.. If the SIM was a full-size SIM that was registered in their network as a Razr and cut down to sneak an iPhone onto the network.. Did they just start pulling phone IDs?
  8. cyks macrumors 68020


    Jul 24, 2002
    Westchester County, NY
    The IMEI is part of the phone, not the SIM card... and all phones have an IMEI (or similar way for them to know what type of phone you're using).

    AT&T doesn't track constantly, but obviously they do on occasion and they will catch you. Be grateful they simply said that they were adding it for that one month, instead of charging you for the previous months you had been using it.

    It seems your best option would be (unfortunately), as others have said, to get either an iTouch or iPad and carry a basic phone as well.
  9. edk99 macrumors 6502a

    May 27, 2009
    An ipod touch will definitely work. You will just need to get a dumb phone for calls and text.

    Att periodically scans the network for iphones and smartphones that don't have data plans. Going through 100 million users takes times which could take a few months to get detected.

    When your phone connects to their network regardless of what the SIM was "registered" with they know what device is using that SIM.
  10. Cg313 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 20, 2011
    Alright... shame they can dictate to us exactly how we're able to use our stuff.

    iPod touch won't work because i don't do redundant devices.. like things as clean and simple as possible. buy what i need, don't buy what i don't. I guess I'll just have to subscribe to the lowest data plan and disable data on the iPhone so it doesn't go over the allowed data.

    Love being forced to pay for things that don't work!!
  11. Applejuiced macrumors Westmere


    Apr 16, 2008
    At the iPhone hacks section.
    You're lucky it lasted that long.
    Other people get caught within weeks. Their system checks and once they detect you they add the mandatory iphone data plan.
    All GSM cellphones have IMEI numbers. That's what identifies them to the network. Once you put your sim in the iphone and connect to AT&T's network within seconds they can tell what device you're using.
    It doesnt matter what phone the sim was used on before.

    I hear you, it does suck but no other option at the moment.
    Unless you want to use a prepaid AT&T sim and port your number to prepaid service maybe?
  12. thelatinist macrumors 603


    Aug 15, 2009
    Connecticut, USA
    No, they can dictate to us exactly how we are able to use their network. We can use our stuff however we want as long as that usage doesn't involve their network.
  13. ddl42486 macrumors newbie

    May 23, 2011
    Los Angeles
    not totally true. my mom is using an iphone 4 with no internet for the past year, actually since the first gen iphone.

    when i upgraded to the 3gs i gave her my first gen put in her sim card and it worked fine. then i got the ip4 gave her my 3gs worked fine: calls, texts etc just no internet. then when i got the ip4s i gave her my ip4. here's the tricky part i took out the new sim in the ip4s and called at&T to transfer my moms service. they asked for the IMEI but i told them i didnt have it, transferred the service anyways. the phone they have registered on file is some nokia phone. popped it in and it works great, the only thing is her voicemail stopped working which is fine with her. a few months ago they did charge us the 25$ internet fee on her line but i was able to call and get them to take it off. her phone has been working perfect ever since (beside voicemail).

    long story short, you can have an iphone 4 on at&t with out internet. :cool:
  14. Applejuiced macrumors Westmere


    Apr 16, 2008
    At the iPhone hacks section.
    That's what you think.
    There is no trick or workaround.
    They will eventually catch it again and its a surprised to me that it went on for that long.
    But what worked out like that for you that long doesnt guarantee that the same exact will happen for others.
    Some get luckier than others. Some will get away for months and others for weeks or days.
    Never know.
  15. Chodarth macrumors newbie

    Oct 23, 2011
    H20 Wireless

    I use H20 Wireless. You can buy a sim card at Best Buy cut it to size and you're good to go. I pay $25 a month and am able to talk and text as much as I want. I've actually never run out of minutes on this plan. I've been doing this for a little over a year now no problems whatsoever. I don't have or use any data but it is available if you want to pay more. It also runs on at&t's network so you get the same coverage. I was also able to transfer my old number when I switched to H20. I can also text people in other countries and they give you some free international minutes every month.

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