iPhone w/o Carrier?

(paulc) #1

So while firmly in the Mac fold with a cMP and an iPad, I am not part of the smartphone side… and wanted to try and advise a friend that they can use an iPhone they just got via wifi without a carrier. So I tried to do some research and got massively confused. There seems to be locked and unlocked units, with sims and without sims. All I know for sure is she bought it at Walmart (a 6S+ for 200 bucks, brand new, seems like quite a deal). Tried looking at Walmart, but there seems to be zero information about sims in or out, locked or not. I was under the impression iPhones did NOT use sims… I see there are sites where one has to actually pay something and they promise to get it hooked up on the network (via wifi), promising to “activate” them. I’m sure someone can give me a quick few paragraphs telling me what I have to try and get her to do (one site talked about MUST connect to a machine via iTunes, she doesn’t have a computer and not much access to any).

Can anyone help a guy out?

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#2

iPhones do use SIM cards, and there’s lots of info at the Apple site. Here’s a link to get started:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202645

There’s probably no need to pay extra to have someone install a SIM card. If your friend just bought the iPhone it should be under warranty, so if worst comes to worst, call Apple help.

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(David Ross) #3

I have an iPhone 6S+ that I use without a SIM. It complains every now and then but you just dismiss the prompt.

Your friend will likely have to create an iCloud account though.

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(paulc) #4

See, here is my issue in a nutshell… you say iPhones have no sim cards, yet the article you link says it has one, a “nano-sim,” AND the pages purpose is to show what size of sim it has… so I guess that establishes they DO have sim cards! I tried cruising around the apple site, but found little to no helpful information.

Did see about the locking issue… apparently has to do with the sim being locked to one specific network. Not so helpful because Walmart’s owned carrier says they use both networks.

Yes, I DO know about needing an apple account… but came across a lot of posts about trying this only to have the phone spit back that it needs to be activated first. Which I take to mean having a carrier attached to it, meaning paying for one. I am GUESSING here that once it is activated, the sim is then locked to whatever network the carrier wants to use (depending on location I guess).

While this is all good, it doesn’t really address having an ability to use the phone in wifi mode via an apple account sans carrier, which was my original call for help (but thanks for trying).

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(Tom Gewecke) #5

I bought an iphone SE from Best Buy last fall (less than $150), never put in the Total Wireless-tied sim, just turned it on and used apple id to activate everything via wifi. No problems, much superior to more expensive iPod Touch.

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#6

Yes, I DO know about needing an apple account… but came across a lot of posts about trying this only to have the phone spit back that it needs to be activated first. Which I take to mean having a carrier attached to it, meaning paying for one. I am GUESSING here that once it is activated, the sim is then locked to whatever network the carrier wants to use (depending on location I guess).

The easiest and most foolproof way to do it is to buy a SIM that’s issued specifically to the carrier he’ll be using for the phone. If your friend has a Verizon account, you’ll need a Verizon version of the SIM that will work with your phone.

While this is all good, it doesn’t really address having an ability to use the phone in wifi mode via an apple account sans carrier, which was my original call for help (but thanks for trying).

Did you try turning on wifi calling in settings? It’s just Settings>Phone>wifi calling. You can also use FaceTime for wifi calling. It will work if you’re wherever you have access to a hotspot.

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(David Ross) #7

If you’ve been with Verizon (and maybe Sprint) for a long time then you likely didn’t deal with SIM cards. And when phones were more carrier specific the ones for them didn’t have SIM cards.

Now all iPhones have a slot for a SIM. But I’m not sure all carriers require it. GSM ones do. But you also are getting into virtual SIM discussions with current phones.

You CAN use an iPhone without a SIM or any carrier support. But I think you’ll need an iCloud account. My iPhone X has my T-Mobile SIM and my previous main phone, an iPhone 6s+, has no SIM installed. They both work almost identically except
the older one can’t place calls. Not sure if it can receive them via WiFi as I’ve never tried or noticed. And occasionally it says “There’s NO SIM!!!”. I say OK and move on.

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(paulc) #8

Ah, this seems to answer my question… I was fearing one HAD to buy airtime to “activate” the phone before it would connect to apple.

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(morwen) #9

Without a sim you have no wireless carrier, without a wireless carrier you cannot place phone calls, period. You can put any SIM card in it to use iTunes to activate it, then remove the sim, but it won’t make phone calls it will just be an iPod touch at that point.

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(Al Varnell) #10

I believe you can place emergency calls without a SIM or wireless carrier, even if the phone is locked.

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