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The iPhone 3G works with any AT&T SIM

Last year I reported that in addition to being locked to AT&T, the original iPhone would only accept the SIM it was activated with. As a result, it was impossible to use the original iPhone with another AT&T SIM.

Initially, it was possible to use an iPhone’s SIM with any other AT&T device (or unlocked device). Strangely this stopped working late last year, at least for data access…

Well things have changed with the iPhone 3G. While also being locked to AT&T, the iPhone 3G works with any AT&T SIM once activated. In fact, I was able to use the old Cingular SIM from my other AT&T account ($20 unlimited MEdia Net data plan) with my iPhone 3G!

Conversely, it’s possible to use an iPhone 3G SIM with any other AT&T device (or unlocked device). For example, I’m able to use my iPhone 3G SIM with my Nokia N95, including data access.

So it appears the iPhone 3G is now using a standard $30 unlimited PDA Personal data plan. Perhaps the iPhone 3G will also accept pay-as-you-go AT&T SIMs once activated.

And now for the real questions:
– If you cancel your 2-year iPhone 3G contract and pay the ETF, will your iPhone 3G remain activated during further firmware updates?
– Will you be able to use an out-of-contract AT&T account ($20 unlimited MEdia Net data plan) or a pay-as-you-go AT&T account with your iPhone 3G?

49 thoughts on “The iPhone 3G works with any AT&T SIM Leave a comment

  1. Thanks for posting about this! I was Googling around trying to figure out if I could use my original iPhone data plan with the 3G iPhone, assuming I signed up for a new line and paid the ETF right away. Any thoughts?

  2. I’ve been wanting to get an iPhone 3G, but I don’t want the $30/month data plan. I called AT&T and they told me it was required if you have an iPhone. Could I buy an iPhone and pop in my current AT&T SIM card? It has no data plan.

  3. Your second question is my big question. My AT&T contract is with our local phone company, a reseller of AT&T. They aren’t allowed to sell the iPhone, and if I get one elsewhere, I lose my bundle deal with our company. I was thinking I would get one and have to unlock it to be able to use it at all. I hope you will find the answers to your questions! Especially since I’d love to know. Thanks for this post. Exactly what I was looking for.


  4. What have you found out w/ regards to keeping the medianet plan? I currently have the iphone 8525 w/ 3G / 200 phone messages under the medianet plan. I would love to upgrade to the iphone 3G but the extra $15 a month for data over the original $20 seems like a bit of a travesty.

  5. Hi, thanks a lot for the clarification. Great to know that any AT&T SIM will work with the iPhone 3G. Quick question – does the SIM have to be a 3G SIM to get 3G access or will a SIM without the 3G logo work? thanks

  6. I’m interested in doing the same thing, but the other question I have about this is whether Visual Voicemail will continue to work. Does this require some special support on your AT&T account, or does any data connection through AT&T let this feature work?

    Has anyone tried accessing voicemail through the built-in visual UI when on an existing MediaNET SIM?

  7. Hi, I have an att tilt 8925 and is included with the pda unlimited, i went out and got the new iphone 3g for the subsidized price, for some unknown reason the att employee who sold me the iphone did not add on the iphone data plan to that line, the phone works perfect with either his new sim and my old sim, but his doesnt have any data plan so it wont access data, but when i pop my sim in i can access the web, and 3g networks, so essentially both data plans are the same and it will take any sim as long as its the newer 64k sims and next to the chip it should read 3g in order to access. But im praying that they dont try to charge me a greater price for the phone since i dont have the iphone data plan.

  8. I am in a situation where I have at&t with my company and I going to purchase an iphone 3g. Can I use by old blackberry 3g sim in my new iphone 3g? I understand the phone will work, but will the data plan still work?

  9. OK…

    1. You can pay the ETF, keep the 3G pop the SIM out of your other account and it’ll work fine, the standard iPhone tariffs do work on 3G and you get visual voicemail.

    2. You need a SIM with a 3G logo to get 3G.

    3. If you don’t have an iPhone plan, don’t expect visual voicemail.

    4. AT&T rely on people in store and in their sales centres to enforce different data plans. For example when I moved from my Cingular 2125 to the Samsung Blackjack they made me upgrade from the Smartphone data plan at $20, to the PDA data plan at $40. I pointed out that the Blackjack at the time ran WM5 SMARTPHONE edition but they had decided the BJ was a PDA.

    5. I bought an iPhone 3G and put my company SIM in to test data (AT&T MediaNet Unltd plan) and it worked perfectly except for the Visual Voicemail so yes your data connection will work as they all use the same APN.

    6. If you have a discount on your account you will need to get it removed BEFORE you buy your iPhone. However I tried to get my FAN put back on my account after the account and it seems to have worked :)

  10. Ok cool we know it’ll actually work, but has anyone tried it long enough to get a bill and see how that turned out? If you use the regular unlimited data plan will you be charged extra or not? Does anyone have any input on this, thanks.

  11. Thanks for this info, I was actually wondering this same thing as I pondered the purchase of the Telit GM862 ( which is a neat little GSM modem for use in embedded projects. Has a little SIM slot and everything. Now I know I’ll be able to use my iPhone 3G SIM with it to test :)

    And while it’s unforeseen whether or not an early-terminated-contract iPhone 3G will stay activated after a F/w upgrade, there is always the devteam solutions, afterall…

  12. I am using an ipod 3g I bought from a friend with a pay as you go sim. I got the unlimited media plan for $20.00 for 30 days. Works great. I plan on really using it as a wi fi ipod but wanted to check it out. I too am wondering if I upgrade the firmware or itunes will it stop working.

  13. Hello, If i have current at&t sim without dataplan..can i use it in iphone 3g without data access and just use the wifi..did someone try like this,,,, i dont want any extra charge for using data

  14. @kumar
    i would expect it to stil work with the data plan. just make sure you can block the edge or 3g access (on my iphone 2g i blockd my edge using the hack. but i dont know if that is possible with the 3g) cuz if you dont and are surfing the net thinking your on wifi but your reli not. expect a huge bill. att charges per kb.

    now my question. i hav at&t with unlimited data plan for $15 a month. if i buy my friends iphone 3g, and tranfer my sim from my old phone to the new 3g iphone. would my unlimited data be 3g speed?

    • @hmmm,
      kumar stated that he did not have a data plan. I took my AT&T SIM card out of my Samsung Impression without a data plan and put it in my iPhone 3GS. The iPhone 3GS is NOT jailbroken and I activated it simply by plugging it into iTunes. I can ONLY access the internet via wifi. So, how is it possible to get charged for surfing the internet? Perhaps you mean to imply that if you DO have a data plan, but it is not an iPhone data plan, and AT&T discovers that you are accessing the internet on a cheaper plan they will start charging by the minute?

  15. I am about to purchase a iPhone 3g and was looking at all the responses about will the sim card work and about data plans working. I believe it will and AT&T knows they will. I now have a Tilt and when I first bought it at full price I used the internet on my old unlimited media plan and sim from my razr for $15 (a special back in the day). It worked perfectly… I ended having to call AT&T for help with the net because I accidentally changed something in the phone. Once AT&T found out I was using a PDA they immediately upped my internet price but before they did I had used it for approx. 2 billing cycles without a change in monthly bills. I have come to the conclusion that the iPhone will work with any sim card… but I would use a 3G Sim card to be on the safe side. I am going to buy one tomorrow!

  16. well my wife purchased a 3g iphone and updated her plan, then gave me the phone and she took the 3g iphone sim card and put it in a treo650, it works great. I took my corporate sim card and placed it in the 3g iphone and it gives me a sim card error. once I setup iTunes it worked great until i turned off, then I had to sync all over and worked again, but each time I turn off I ahve to resync to get it to work.. any ideas

  17. So I don’t need to buy the $30 unlimited PDA Personal data plan for the iPhone? If I did get it all I would have to have is a $20 unlimited MEdia Net data plan (and of course text and minutes) to make it work? Would the phone work normally?

  18. So I could use my SIM card from my old AT&T phone and put it in a brand new iPhone 3G and it will work fine??

  19. Ok I am 13 and my dad has a extra iPhone that is mine for music and I have a at&t cell phone so can I just put my sim into the iPhone without being charged for the data plan??

  20. I traded my BB Bold for an iPhone off CL. It works fine with my simcard, I am able to make and receive calls. However, I had all text messages blocked and I received one the day I switched my sim to iPhone. I called AT&T and they said they can’t figure out how that happened. They even credited back the charges to my account. Moreover, when I log in to my AT&T account it show iPhone as my device. Will they charge me for data paln even though my online AT&T account shows that I opted-out for data.

  21. I currently have an iPhone 3G with iPhone data plan. My company has recently provided me with a Blackjack 2 with unlimited calling/data, so it is unecessary to keep my own account. Would it be possible to take the SIM card out of my company phone a use it in my iPhone 3G? If so, will I retain all functions that I currently have? Thanks for the help.

  22. FYI: I have an early-terminated-contract iPhone 3G (I terminated it myself) and it’s still accepts other SIM cards even after a firmware upgrade.

  23. you guys are sooooo annoying lol. I am looking for the same answer too, will my iphone 3g work with another at&t 3g sim card for a better monthly charge, but everyyyoneee is asking the same thing! will my business’s sim work, will my wifes, my dad cuz im 13, haha. wait for someone to answer stop asking the samemeeee thing!

  24. ^ +1

    Everyone asking the same thing and nobody answering. LOL

    I have the old iPhone on the $80 pay as you go plan. My sim card has the 3g symbol on it. I’m going to buy the 3G iPhone, then cancel it. I will put my Pay As Yo Go Sim card in the new one and see if everything works and get back to you chooches.

  25. BTW bryan, if u cancel your contract don’t u have to return the phone? or are u just gonna pay the cancellation fee (yikes)

  26. Quite a few people said they hacked or unlocked their iphone or installed some software to make it work with other SIM cards

    i bought an iphone of a friend and switched the SIM card but it keeps asking to sync it with itunes and requires that I enter my account information

    i dont want to get accidentally charged and see it on my next monthly bill
    can anyone give me the link to any softwares or directions so i can replace my friends sim card with mine without it contacting at&t

    im not worried about the data plan and dont expect one since im not paying for it at all

  27. I just switched to an old iPhone from my 3G. I then disabled 3G and popped the 2G SIM into the iPhone 3G. Everything worked just fine for a week. Then I got an email saying that I have to have a 3G plan with my 3G iphone….. They knew somehow. Anyway, I put the SIM back in the old iPhone and things are working OK. At the time, the 3G was NOT jailbroken. I wonder if things would be different if I were to jailbreak……

  28. do i have to get the original iphone plan to activate it?
    or can just forgo the whole activation prosses and just slip my propel SIM card in?

  29. I just took the 3G SIM card out of my wife’s LG (she’s on the AT&T network) and installed it in my old iPhone 3G. The phone works fine, albiet no visual voicemail. All of the apps, email, web browser ect work via wifi, but no where else. She did not have a data plan on her LG so it didn’t carry over to the iPhone.

    • Yeah, there’s no free ride – just some flexibility! You still need a valid data plan for data to work, and an iPhone data plan for visual voicemail to work…

      • Tnkgrl,

        If mport68 wants to continue using the phone as he described without purchasing an iPhone data plan, will AT&T eventually add the plan without consulting him? I’ve been using my iPhone in the exact way described by mport68 for 3 full months and so far no changes to my plan have been made or rate increases.

  30. So how do you do you do it???
    I just bought a used 3g and have called AT&T n got the data plan. But when I put my old sim card in it did not activate my phone service. the sim is the exact same as the original that was in the phone.. What am doing wrong?

  31. My sister gave me her old iphone. I called and they set me up with a data plan and I was told to put my old SIM card in the phone. My sim card is from back in the day when they were cingular, but it says 3G on it. But I only seem to get EDGE, and not 3G. Are the new sim cards different nowadays?

    • The original iPhone didn’t support 3G, so unless it’s an iPhone 3G/3GS/4 you won’t get 3G. Also make sure “Enable 3G” is on in the settings (General|Network), and that you are in a 3G area.

  32. I just purchased a IPHONE and when I input my SIM card from my old At&t phone it gives me the message that its searching (as if it is searching for the network) my SIM is a active SIM and its currently used in my other phone. ???? Any suggestions?

  33. Yeah i was just wondering if anyone has got any answers on the iphone working with pay as you go plan yet because i’ve found one for sale but i dont want to do anything contracted or anything like that. I’ve only ever used prepaid. And if you could reply by email id really appreciate it and any kind of feedback. Thanks (

  34. my boyfriend’s sim card is from 2003/2004, and it is ATT/cingular. I gave him my iphone 3G and after replacing the iphone sim with his own sim, it took a couple of mins to get a signal, but it worked (its pretty much an ipod touch that can make phone calls but no data use). I turned off the 3G and 2G functions just in case it activates for no reason, but before I turned them on, the phone couldn’t really find a 2G/3G signal anyway. Probably has to do with his sim card that’s not designed for it. Hope this helps anybody.

  35. A while back, as a test, we switched SIMS between 2G and 3G iPhones (both with data plans). The iPhone 3G worked fine with the 2G SIM and the iPhone 2G worked fine with the 3G SIM including 3G. However, if you leave your 2G SIM in a 3G phone, within 12 hours after 3G signal access, you’ll receive an ATT email notifying you your Data plan is being upgraded to accommodate the 3G speed This automatic upgrade increases your monthly charge (from $20 to $30/mo. plus an additional charge/mo for messaging (200 were free with 2Gs). Just a warning, there’s NO FREE LUNCH as ATT can sense when you use a @G SIM in a 3G.

    • That’s true now, but wasn’t true then (when I wrote this post).

      It took over 6 months before AT&T started texting me, and they didn’t automatically upgrade my account. They kept texting me asking me to call them.

      I’d put my SIM in an unlocked phone (not an iPhone), and then I’d call them and tell them they were mistaken, and that my SIM was sitting in an unlocked phone.

      I went for a year like that, and when the contract was up I ported my number to another carrier.

  36. I have an unlimited internet on my ATT Pantech Lazer. This a a very very very bad phone. Do buy this phone! It I got an I phone could the unlimited internet be transfered without adding cost?

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