Warning: Beware swapping iPhone 4 sim into iPad 2 for data usage

Discussion in 'iPad' started by JoelMarcey, Mar 12, 2011.

  1. JoelMarcey, Mar 12, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2011

    JoelMarcey macrumors 6502


    Jun 9, 2009
    Northern California
    Being a curious techie, I wanted to see if swapping a sim card from the iPhone 4 (AT&T) to an iPad 2 3G (AT&T) actually allowed one to use the iPhone 4 data plan on an iPad. Theoretically, if this worked, it could allow someone to avoid paying both the tethering and 3G data plans.

    My curiosity stemmed from these two threads:


    On online videos showing how to do this swap, they talked about changing the APN Settings on the iPad directly. Well, on the iPad 2 and apparently starting with iOS 4.x, there is no option to change the APN settings (under Settings | Cellular Data). I was pointed to a website that allowed one to create a custom APN setting that can then be downloaded to your iPad as a profile.

    So, I tried this website, downloaded the profile, did the sim swap, opened up Safari on the iPad 2, and there appears google.com. It worked. I just went to that one page as I really have no interest in doing this long term; so after I proved to myself that it worked, I put everything back to its original state.

    Funny thing happened about two hours after my test. I received both a text message and an email from AT&T hinting that I should consider getting a data plan for my 3G iPad and not swap working sim cards into it. And I received these only after visiting one website as a test.

    It looks like AT&T is cracking down, even on the lightest of usage.

    Anyway, I thought I would post this as a warning to folks considering doing this long term. I am not sure if I would have gotten more than a warning had I done some longer term data usage on the iPad. Below is the email I received from AT&T.


    We hope you are enjoying your Apple® iPadTM Wi-Fi + 3G!

    We value your business and want to ensure you're set up with the right data plan for iPad. If you have recently swapped a SIM card from your wireless handset into iPad, your data service may not work properly on either device. Please call us within the next 30 days at 1-800-331-0500 (or 611 from your wireless phone) and our team can help you establish service with an AT&T 3G Data Plan for iPad.

    AT&T offers two thirty-day data plan options for your iPad: 250 MB for $14.99 or 2 GB for $25.00. Both plans are available for advance purchase and auto-renew every 30 days to provide a seamless, on-the-go iPad experience on the nation's fastest 3G network.

    If you select the 250 MB or 2 GB plan, iPad will notify you at 20%, and 10% remaining, and when there's no more data available so you can decide if you want to add more data prior to the monthly automatic renewal or upgrade to the 2 GB plan. You can also change your data plan or cancel the automatic renewal at any time, without penalty.

    Our team is ready to help you activate data service with the right plan. We look forward to your call. You can also visit www.att.com/ipad to learn more.

    Thank you for being an AT&T customer.



    This e-mail was auto generated. Please do not respond.
  2. capriseyhaze macrumors regular


    Mar 3, 2009
    this thread seems kinda sketchy to me. i dont think att would address you as joel.
  3. JoelMarcey thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jun 9, 2009
    Northern California
    Sketchy? I use my real name as my handle here. It was just a cut and paste error. I edited it.
  4. Charlie Sheen macrumors 6502

    Charlie Sheen

    Mar 9, 2011
    How can they tell what device is using the sim?
  5. JoelMarcey thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jun 9, 2009
    Northern California
    I imagine through the IMEI number of the device or something?
  6. QuarterSwede macrumors G3


    Oct 1, 2005
    Colorado Springs, CO
    If this is true it's ridiculous of at&t. What are sim cards for then!?
  7. JoelMarcey thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jun 9, 2009
    Northern California
    I am sure it is there way to make sure that those of us with the grandfathered unlimited data plan for the iPhone don't get away with not paying for the 3G plan or downgrading our iPhone plan to the limited 2GB plan and using tethering.

    Like I said, I am not sure if any continued usage would make it such that they disable 3G data access for your iPhone and get you for breach of contract or something.
  8. sbddude macrumors 6502a

    Sep 27, 2010
    Nor Cal, USA
  9. Apple OC macrumors 68040

    Apple OC

    Oct 14, 2010
    my guess is ... the iPhone sim probably sends the data differently on the iPad

    they then know you are using an iPhone sim on an iPad.

    they likely want separate data plans for each device and have a way of checking this.
  10. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Jun 14, 2010
    The device IMEI registers to the network associated with the SIM when it turn on/uses service. Since the IMEI number encodes the device type and the SIM is associated with your account and plan, it's exceptionally simple for them to have notifications when a non-phone device registers to the network on a SIM associated with a phone data plan.

    Think what you will of AT&T and their policies, but don't assume they don't have any smart engineers working for them. Some of them probably read MacRumors too. Offer a bounty to employees to suggest ways to guard against end users from gaming the system and you have a bunch of smart people figuring out ways to prevent you from doing so.
  11. pugnut macrumors 6502a

    Jul 1, 2007
  12. JoelMarcey thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jun 9, 2009
    Northern California
    Right. That is for iPad to iPad. AT&T is fine with that. They don't like iPhone to iPad.
  13. Brien macrumors 68030


    Aug 11, 2008
    ...which is just silly. It's not like you can use them both at the same time.

    What gives?
  14. JoelMarcey thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jun 9, 2009
    Northern California
    Logic many times doesn't overweigh $$$$. ;)
  15. vincenz macrumors 601


    Oct 20, 2008
    This is probably one of the things they're aware of, but don't really "crack down" on. It's like those people who jailbreak and tether on the unlimited plan. People have used dozens and hundreds of GB per month tethering, but I haven't heard of att shutting anyone down yet.
  16. aerospace macrumors 6502a

    Jun 26, 2007
    Just jail brake your phone and tether to iPad wifi. Cheaper iPad and no monthly add on

    ...it's how I'm writing this post. I'm also grandfathered into unlimited data on my phone so I don't have to worry about overuse on the iPad. :)
  17. rritterson macrumors 6502

    Jul 10, 2008
    DC USA
    anecodotally, I've heard that if you keep using data after that first txt, they will temporarily disable the data half of that SIM until you call them, at which point they will chastise you for using both while re-activating it.

    Not sure if they would eventually permanently deactivate it or not, but it seems like they wouldn't
  18. tbobmccoy macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2007
    Austin, TX
    I bet they don't want to risk the legal action of shutting it down. The idea of SIM cards is to allow portability, after all, and if they shut down your account for using something that comes with the device, that's just asking for some trouble. :rolleyes:
  19. EddieOnIpad2 macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2011
    They can and they did.

    I swapped a non iPhone AT&T sim into my iPad 2 just to see what the response would be like where I would actually be using it, rather than at the AT&T store. Did not want to pay $25 to find that it sucked. It worked fine, speed was OK as far as Speed Test was concerned (1.5 mps). Swapped it back, everything was OK on phone, had both phone and data service running. Then the next morning I get the email and text from AT&T on the phone. Whereupon they turned off my 3g service after sending it. I will be calling them later to have it reinstated, but not real happy about the controls they are putting on a service I am paying for.
  20. bobobenobi macrumors regular

    Feb 4, 2010
    I will refrain from making a comment about Sherlock Holmes and fecal matter.
  21. shardey macrumors 6502a


    Jan 28, 2010
    Sends data differently? You mean its a different MAC address and IMEI that the iPad has differently than the iPhone. This information is stored in their system, and when someone changes it up (just like if you swapped sims with another iphone you are required to plug it into itunes to activate it) it automatically is recorded.
  22. MrWillie macrumors 65816


    Apr 29, 2010
    Starlite Starbrite Trailer Court
    Then again, you might not be paying for what you think you are paying for. Read the fine print.
  23. dansto82 macrumors newbie

    Mar 7, 2011
    You are paying for data on the phone not any other device. Read the fine print in your contracts people.

    Why are you unhappy? tried cheating the system and it didnt let you?
  24. JPIndustrie macrumors 6502a


    Mar 12, 2008
    Queens, NY
    Seems swapping SIMs is bad for att's business. Is it fair? Is it addressable anymore [via regulation]? You tell me.
  25. George Knighton macrumors 65816

    George Knighton

    Oct 13, 2010
    Their emails to me use my first name. I agree with you that it's a little off-putting and really rather inappropriate considering other circumstances, but they will do it.

    You can't really focus too much on all the potential lèse majesté we have to face in everyday business. We'd never get anything done if we spent the day insulted over accidental slights.

    I also don't think that many of us are going to worry about putting the iPhone SIM into an iPad. Tethering is a part of iOS now, and the price of activating tethering on your iPhone and getting 4GB out of it, for most of us, is going to make it too convenient to tether the WiFi of an iPad to our broadcasting iPhone.

    If your iPhone is your everyday device, it's just going to be too much trouble for most of us to switch the SIM, even if we are trying to preserve the "unlimited" data plan. I think if you're that interested in preserving your unlimited plan, you're probably going to jailbreak and broadcast a signal for your iPad.

    Maybe it's just me...but I am too lazy to switch SIM back and forth between an iPhone and iPad.

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