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Two possible fixes for iPhone activation problems

David Chartier

For those still stuck in iPhone activation limbo, we have a couple of tips and tricks might help you to get on your way. While these might not be sure-fire solutions for everyone, they sound general enough and have worked for at least two individuals, so they just might work for you as well.

First up is a three-step process from Download Squad's Alex Hung which involves shuffling a couple of SIM cards around. After waiting far too long like so many others, Alex called AT&T who told him that the iPhone activation process involves two basic steps: the first is the SIM activation, while the second is some sort of iTunes verification process (if I had to guess, this is for Apple's records to keep track of who owns which phones and how many, since they get a cut of every AT&T iPhone contract). Like many others, Alex received the email that the SIM activation process had completed, but his iPhone still wasn't working. After a phone call and some clever deduction, here is Alex's trick that might help some of you get your iBricks to start working more like iPhones. Note, however, that this requires you to already be an AT&T customer with a Cingular or AT&T phone and SIM card separate from the iPhone:
  1. Assuming you've already gone through the initial activation process and are stuck somewhere in limbo like so many others, power down your iPhone and swap out the iPhone's SIM (outlined in this downloadable iPhone User Guide - your first search result in that document for "SIM" should do it) for the SIM from your old phone. Power the phone back on.
  2. Plug the iPhone back into iTunes to force a new activation process (every time you swap the iPhone's SIM, it will need to be plugged into iTunes and verified before your iPhone will work). Your activation might or might not work this second time around with your old SIM, but once you complete it, power the phone back down. Proceed to step 3.
  3. Swap out the SIM cards again and re-insert the SIM that originally came with your iPhone. For the heck of it, wait a minute or two before powering the iPhone back on. If all goes well, your new iPhone SIM and iTunes verification will have finally straightened out, allowing you to use your iPhone as Apple originally intended.
You might have to power cycle the phone one more time (Alex did), as the iPhone might actually request you to do so, but this trick just might work for some of you. If it does, or if you have any modifications to the steps that ultimately get your iPhone up and running, please share in the comments. A catch with this method, however, is that we really aren't sure what will happen to your other activation requests if this trick actually succeeds. We also aren't sure whether this is a 'good' way to get your iPhone up and running, since you will technically be entering a second activation process into AT&T's (and possibly Apple's) systems, which could potentially cause more problems. If anyone knows something we don't about this trick, please share that in the comments as well and we'll be happy to update this post.

The second method is detailed by Rogue Amoeba's Paul Kafasis on the company's blog. This one is a bit simpler, though potentially more time consuming: Paul essentially called a specific AT&T number (1-877-800-3701), selected the proper extension (#1) and waited 45 minutes until getting a representative who explained the situation. Turns out that Paul's activation was a manual process that wasn't fully completed by the original rep who handled it. After this new rep apparently fixed a small issue by adding a required feature and clicking the "Yes, Paul can use his iPhone now" button, he was up and running with his iPhone.

Of course, these solutions might not work for everyone, but we sure hope they can bring a smile to at least some of you who have had a less-than-stellar experience getting their iPhones actually working like iPhones. Of course, if you have your own ideas or modifications to these solutions, please share them in the comments and we'll update this post.

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