Other You can activate an iPhone with no SIM card now

zorinlynx

macrumors 603
Original poster
May 31, 2007
5,622
6,604
Florida, USA
I don't know if this is a fluke, but I reset my mother's old iPhone 5C (on iOS 10.3.3) and went through the activation sequence. It told me I required a SIM card, but ended up letting me complete activation with no SIM card installed.

Is this new? I remember needing a SIM (any SIM, even a deactivated one) to activate iPhones in the past. If so, this change must be server side on Apple's end, because this is a 5C running an older iOS.

This change is convenient for people who have old iPhones kicking around, who want to use them as iPod Touches without having to dig up a SIM.

Anyway, just figured ya'll would think this is a cool development.
 

Shadowbech

macrumors 603
Oct 18, 2011
5,241
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Apple iPhone World
I believe this is a feature since iOS 12 (not sure about iOS 11), you are no longer required to have a sim card to set up the device and you can simply go through set up with out one. I've done this with my sim-free model iPhone XS Max. But that's interesting that even with iOS 10.3.3, you weren't required one.
 

zorinlynx

macrumors 603
Original poster
May 31, 2007
5,622
6,604
Florida, USA
I believe this is a feature since iOS 12 (not sure about iOS 11), you are no longer required to have a sim card to set up the device and you can simply go through set up with out one. I've done this with my sim-free model iPhone XS Max. But that's interesting that even with iOS 10.3.3, you weren't required one.
Yeah, I kind of expected last year's iPhones wouldn't need a SIM card to activate since they have internal eSIMs, but I didn't know that applied to older phones too.
 

DeanLubaki

macrumors 6502a
May 29, 2014
702
520
Toronto
I believe this is a feature since iOS 12 (not sure about iOS 11), you are no longer required to have a sim card to set up the device and you can simply go through set up with out one. I've done this with my sim-free model iPhone XS Max. But that's interesting that even with iOS 10.3.3, you weren't required one.
Yeah, I kind of expected last year's iPhones wouldn't need a SIM card to activate since they have internal eSIMs, but I didn't know that applied to older phones too.
That goes back to at least 2016 in some situations.
Using the WaybackMachine on this page https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201407, in 2015, the first instruction to activate an iPhone or Celluar iPad was to put at SIM in. In 2016, it was updated to say that a SIM might be required for activation.
Finally, in 2018, the activation no longer requires a SIM in any situation.
 
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BasicGreatGuy

Contributor
Sep 21, 2012
11,881
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In the middle of several books.
I don't know if this is a fluke, but I reset my mother's old iPhone 5C (on iOS 10.3.3) and went through the activation sequence. It told me I required a SIM card, but ended up letting me complete activation with no SIM card installed.

Is this new? I remember needing a SIM (any SIM, even a deactivated one) to activate iPhones in the past. If so, this change must be server side on Apple's end, because this is a 5C running an older iOS.

This change is convenient for people who have old iPhones kicking around, who want to use them as iPod Touches without having to dig up a SIM.

Anyway, just figured ya'll would think this is a cool development.
I recently reset the same device on the same iOS, and it required a SIM. I tried multiples times without one and it would never go through.
 

McRumour

macrumors regular
Oct 6, 2013
128
10
I reset my mother's old iPhone 5C (on iOS 10.3.3) and went through the activation sequence. It told me I required a SIM card, but ended up letting me complete activation with no SIM card installed.

This change is convenient for people who have old iPhones kicking around, who want to use them as iPod Touches without having to dig up a SIM.
Do you happen to recall whether, without a SIM, the Phone app in Settings became greyed out - making app itself, inaccessible?

I've just opened separate forum thread regarding fact that having switched my NANO SIM from an iPhone 5S to a new XR, I can't open Phone App now

Had hoped to continue to be able to do wi-fi calling. Or more precisely - to at least receive wifi calls (on my XR) but at least also hear phone ring (and even answer) on either device.

Was her Phone app still active without the SIM?
 

zorinlynx

macrumors 603
Original poster
May 31, 2007
5,622
6,604
Florida, USA
Do you happen to recall whether, without a SIM, the Phone app in Settings became greyed out - making app itself, inaccessible?

I've just opened separate forum thread regarding fact that having switched my NANO SIM from an iPhone 5S to a new XR, I can't open Phone App now

Had hoped to continue to be able to do wi-fi calling. Or more precisely - to at least receive wifi calls (on my XR) but at least also hear phone ring (and even answer) on either device.

Was her Phone app still active without the SIM?
The phone has been wiped and I don't have access to it at the moment, so I can't answer your question.

However, from my personal experience, you need to have a SIM card installed to do WiFi calling since the SIM is part of the registration on the provider's network. My experience is with AT&T, I don't know if the other providers do things differently.
 
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McRumour

macrumors regular
Oct 6, 2013
128
10
The phone has been wiped and I don't have access to it at the moment, so I can't answer your question.

However, from my personal experience, you need to have a SIM card installed to do WiFi calling since the SIM is part of the registration on the provider's network. My experience is with AT&T, I don't know if the other providers do things differently.
Yes, you're correct (unfortunately). Spent hours on phone with Apple Senior Advisor and Screen Share.
He was certain it was possible.
However - turns out it's definitely not. Alas...

Thanks for your reply though.
 
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msp3

macrumors regular
May 9, 2015
246
95
This is a lifesaver. We upgraded from XS to 11 Pro at a US national retailer (w/ US retailer flex activation policy). The store cell phone rep activated the phone and made a test call each, which locked the phones to our carrier. When we went home and reset the phone for iCloud backup restore, it glitched (shipped with early version of iOS 13) and got stuck on the activation screen giving the SIM not supported error even though it’s locked to our carrier using their SIM! Same problem on Mac in Finder.

Turns out the simple solution was to just let it activate with no SIM, update iOS to resolve any problems, *then* restore from iCloud backup. Drove me absolutely insane for a good few hours... Is this a new feature to the iPhone 11s, or an iOS 13 thing?
 
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Azathoth123

macrumors 6502a
Sep 13, 2018
701
434
Fountain City
Here’s a maybe relevant story, iPhone 4s on Verizon, 2014. I go to Framce, put an Orange SIM in my unlocked phone and put the Verizon SIM in my luggage. That piece of luggage, and my SIM got stolen. Upon return to the US, I went to the Verizon store and told them what happened and I’d like a new SIM. They told me I didn’t need one, they pulled the Orange SIM out and et voilá it worked just fine with no physical SIM in it.

So it’s worth a try.
 

pirarre

macrumors 6502
Feb 10, 2010
411
77
This is a lifesaver. We upgraded from XS to 11 Pro at a US national retailer (w/ US retailer flex activation policy). The store cell phone rep activated the phone and made a test call each, which locked the phones to our carrier. When we went home and reset the phone for iCloud backup restore, it glitched (shipped with early version of iOS 13) and got stuck on the activation screen giving the SIM not supported error even though it’s locked to our carrier using their SIM! Same problem on Mac in Finder.

Turns out the simple solution was to just let it activate with no SIM, update iOS to resolve any problems, *then* restore from iCloud backup. Drove me absolutely insane for a good few hours... Is this a new feature to the iPhone 11s, or an iOS 13 thing?
Was yours still locked to your carrier afterwards?