Do you have a perfectly good iOS device sitting around the house collecting dust? What are you doing with it? Besides setting it up as a spare MP3 player, here are some other uses you might consider if it could be reactivated as a real phone again:

  • You have friends or family who are interested in trying out an iPhone, but they are not sure it’s the right phone for them.
  • You’d like to have a backup iPhone for your car. Google Maps, navigation apps, Pandora or Slacker for that cross country drive (and of course a phone).
  • You have an overseas friend or family member visiting, and you don’t want to see them charged crazy international roaming fees.
  • You’re taking the family to Disneyland, and all want to use a “wait-time” app such as MouseWait.
  • You want to use buddy location tracking apps such as Marco Friend Locator to track your friend’s whereabouts.
  • You’re going on a camping trip and you want to leverage GPS, topo-mapping software and reach civilization in case of an emergency, but you don’t want civilization to be able to reach you.

A pre-paid plan might work well if any of the above apply to you. This article will cover how to use an AT&T GoPhone’s SIM card inside an older iOS device without the need to unlock or jailbreak it. These steps should work with a first generation iPhone, the 3G, or the soon to be obsolete 3GS.

Before we begin: There are many posts and YouTube videos about using GoPhones to “hack” your way into an unlimited data plan–not only is that not possible, this article won’t support or condone it. If you follow these steps, you’ll be paying for all the services you use from AT&T.

Activation Steps:
1) Go to BestBuy, purchase a GoPhone. I picked the cheapest phone since I didn’t actually need the phone, just the SIM card inside the package. I found a $10 Samsung A107 GSM flip phone.

2) Take the SIM card out of the package. Do not put the SIM card in GoPhone.

 

3) Go to the AT&T GoPhone activation site and activate your SIM card. When activating the SIM card, use the AT&T SIM card number from the bottom of the card.

Enter the IMEI number from the GoPhone–it can be found on the package.

 

4) Select a plan that works for you. I decided to go with the $75/month unlimited text and talking plan with 200MB data.
5) Once you get the phone number, load up the AT&T card with some money to cover your expenses for the plan you chose.
6) Put the SIM card inside the iPhone (again, not the GoPhone) and turn on the phone. After a few seconds of searching, you should see the AT&T bars, and 3G show up (if you opted for a data plan). I also received a bunch of text messages that the phone was activated, and my money was loaded on the account. At this point, text messaging and phone calls will work. If you don’t require a data plan and didn’t add one, you can stop here and you’re done. If you added a data plan, read on.
7) Download an updated provisioning profile to modify the APN. To do this, put your iPhone on your local Wi-Fi network and go to unlockit from the iPhone’s Safari web browser, enter the following settings:
APN: wap.cingular
Username: WAP@CINGULARGPRS.COM
Password: CINGULAR1

Choose create custom profile. You’ll be taken from the Safari web browser to a profile screen, and asked to accept. Choose accept.


8 ) Turn off your Wi-Fi and test the 3G signal by googling for Red Swingline Staplers. Hopefully internet connectivity will work.

Despite the name of the site above, you’re not  really “unlocking” your phone, you’re simply telling the phone to use the Cingular APN. If you opted for a data plan, I also suggest you install a data bandwidth usage monitoring tool such as Data Usage to keep on top of the data charges. If you don’t choose a data plan, you will still be able to talk on the phone as well as use it for text messaging.

Troubleshooting

Invalid SIM card When I inserted my SIM card, I received the dreaded “invalid SIM card” message after activation. I did a factory reset on my iPhone and reinstalled the latest version of iOS. Once I did this, it recognized the SIM card without issue.
Visual voicemail Visual voicemail will not work with this option. When you press voicemail on your iPhone, it will dial the voicemail service where you can update your greeting, listen to messages, delete or archive them.