Using iPhone 4 without cellular service
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: I just bought an iPhone 4G without a contract and I have a few questions. How do I activate it? How do I use it only as an iPod touch? How do I use it with a phone carrier like T-Mobile if I want to in the future? Will any of this void the warranty? I do not wish to jail break.
A: The iPhone 4 is not designed to be used without a SIM card or a cell phone plan of some kind. It must activated with iTunes before it can be used, and in order to do this iTunes needs to see a valid micro-SIM card in the device.
That said, iTunes only checks validity based on the ID of the SIM card—it doesn’t care whether it has an iPhone plan associated with it or even if it’s on an active account at all. Once activated, you can continue using the iPhone 4 without any of the cellular phone or data features much like an iPod touch. Note that FaceTime will not work on an iPhone 4 without an active cellular plan, however, as the iPhone 4 version of FaceTime uses a cellular phone number to register you with the FaceTime network.
Without a SIM card inserted there is no way to activate an iPhone without jailbreaking it.
Note that if you purchased an iPhone 4 in the U.S. even without a contract, your iPhone will still be locked to AT&T and you will therefore need to use an AT&T micro-SIM card in order to activate it, although again you do not need to have an active account on that SIM card—iTunes just needs to see it in the iPhone. Also keep in mind that because the iPhone will still be locked to AT&T you will not be able to use it with another carrier such as T-Mobile without unlocking it first, which requires jailbreaking it.
If you purchased a contract-free phone outside of the U.S. then it may be officially unlocked already in which case you can use a SIM card from any carrier in order to activate it, and you will be able to use it on any carrier you like. Keep in mind, however, that not all carriers support the iPhone 4—even GSM carriers such as T-Mobile in the U.S. use different frequencies for their 3G network that are not compatible with the iPhone. Using an iPhone 4 on T-Mobile will work fine for voice calls, but for data you will only be able to use the much slower EDGE network.
Short of actually jailbreaking your iPhone, none of this will void the warranty as you’re not modifying the iPhone in any way—merely activating it with iTunes like you’re supposed to.
- 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?
- Spotify penalizing artists who release Apple Music exclusives
- Apple releases new round of iOS 10 and tvOS 10 betas
- Report: 2017 iPhone to eliminate home button
- Apple to add payment technology to iPhone for transit passes, Apple Pay in Japan
- Apple releases iOS 9.3.5 ‘security update’
- Report: Apple developing its own Snapchat-style social video editing iOS app
- Apple announces Apple Music Festival lineup including Alicia Keys, Britney Spears + more
- Universal calls an end to exclusives amid criticisms that Apple Music is hurting the industry
- Apple reveals some of its upcoming AI advancements for the iPhone
- Apple Music’s royalty rates complicate Spotify’s contract negotiations
- Western Digital My Cloud (OS 3)
- Distil Union Stanley Stand
- Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected Bluetooth Toothbrush
- Audeze EL-8 Titanium Over-Ear Headphones
- Defined Corp Dome Stand for Apple Watch and iPhone
- Speck StyleFolio Pencil for 9.7” iPad Pro
- Audeze Sine On-Ear Headphone
- First Alert Onelink Wi-Fi Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Alarm
- Logitech Create 9.7” iPad Pro Keyboard Case
- iDevices Outdoor Switch Power Outlet
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10
- 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