Using an iPhone without a SIM card
Ask iLounge offers readers the opportunity to get answers to their iPod-, iPhone-, iPad-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-related questions from a member of the iLounge editorial team. We'll answer several questions here each week, and of course, you can always get help with more immediate concerns from the iLounge Discussion Forums. Submit your questions for consideration using our Ask iLounge Submit Form. We reserve the right to edit questions for grammar, spelling, and length.
Q: Can you use an iPhone 3G without a SIM card as an iPod touch? I want my wife to have Wi-Fi access to the web and calendar use but no phone. I will upgrade to a 3GS if she can use the 3G like an iPod touch.
A: This is technically possible under certain conditions. Normally, the iPhone must be “activated” by iTunes in order for it to be used at all, and this activation process requires that the iPhone serial number (IMEI) and SIM card ID be checked with Apple’s servers to confirm that they are valid. This is the same process that you would have gone through when you initially purchased your iPhone.
However, once this activation process has been completed, you can remove the SIM card and continue using the iPhone and even syncing with iTunes without having to re-activate it. The only time that re-activation will be required is when you perform a firmware update on the iPhone, or perform a full “Restore” operation on it to return it to factory settings.
So in short, this means that you can use the iPhone on a day-to-day basis without a SIM card in it, and all of the non-cellular functions should work just fine, including Internet access over Wi-Fi. However, should you ever need to upgrade or restore the iPhone, you will need to insert a valid SIM card in order to complete the activation process with iTunes. In the scenario you describe, however, this shouldn’t be a problem, as you should be able to just put your SIM card back into the iPhone and then carry on from there.
It’s also worth noting that jailbreaking the iPhone completely bypasses the iTunes activation requirements as well, although this is a slightly more advanced process and will probably not be worth the effort if your wife just wants to use the iPhone as a basic iPod touch style device.
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Report: Apple developing Siri home speaker to rival Amazon’s Echo; will release Siri SDK at WWDC
- Apple’s plan to open stores in India hits a snag
- iOS Spotlight search now offers relevant results for some emoji
- Cook discusses ambitious plan to beef up Apple Watch’s health monitoring
- New leak shows dual camera exclusive to ‘iPhone 7 Plus,’ but no Smart Connector
- Apple releases first developer betas for iOS 9.3.3, tvOS 9.2.2
- More iPhone 7 leaks surface, protruding camera seen
- Apple pulls iOS 9.3.2 update for 9.7” iPad Pro due to ‘bricking’ issues
- Report: CarPlay coming to BMW vehicles later this year
- Report: One iPhone model to use a glass casing next year
- OtterBox Symmetry Series Hybrid Case for 12.9” iPad Pro
- Logitech Logi BASE Charging Stand for iPad Pro
- Twelve South TimePorter for Apple Watch
- August Doorbell Cam
- August Smart Lock HomeKit enabled + Smart Keypad
- ecobee3 HomeKit-enabled smart Wi-Fi thermostat
- Zagg Now Cam
- Yantouch EyE Portable Wireless Speaker
- Netatmo Wind Gauge
- Incipio Stashback for iPhone 6/6s
- Filling the Gap: A look at third-party HomeKit apps
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 9.2
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.3
- Opinion: Why Apple needs a dedicated HomeKit app
- Inside the betas: What’s new in iOS 9.3 and tvOS 9.2 (Updated)
- Life with HomeKit: Our experiences with Apple’s home automation system
- Under the Radar: 10 ‘hidden’ details about the new Apple TV
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.0
- Under the Radar: A closer look at smaller iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus changes
- A First Look at iOS 9’s Transit in Apple Maps (Updated for watchOS 2)