Q: I recently purchased an unlocked iPhone primarily because I’m hoping to use iMessage and FaceTime to keep in touch with my boyfriend back in the States. I can’t use SMS as it is blocked by my employer as it’s too expensive to use. Problem is, I can’t actually get iMessage or FaceTime to work at all—it keeps telling me that it’s “Waiting for Activation” and nothing actually works. Any help on how I can get this going would be great, as I’m totally at a loss and don’t have any Apple experts nearby.
A: Unfortunately, you actually need to have SMS working in order to activate iMessage and FaceTime with your phone number, so if SMS is blocked, this is most likely your problem. In order to authoritatively verify your phone number, the iPhone actually sends a hidden SMS message in order to register your number with Apple’s servers. If it can’t send this SMS message, both services will remain stuck in a “Waiting for activation” state.
If you can’t get SMS enabled even temporarily, the good news is that you can still work around this by signing in with an Apple ID and using an e-mail address for both of these services. Your boyfriend—and anybody else using an iOS device or Mac—can contact you simply by using whatever e-mail address you have registered with your Apple ID. Simply tap the “Use your Apple ID for…” button in each of the respective sections in the iOS Settings app and then enter your Apple ID and password. If you already have an iTunes or iCloud account, you can use the same Apple ID as you already use for these services. If not, you can easily create a new one as part of this process.
Once you’ve logged in with an Apple ID and verified your e-mail address, other parties will need to ensure your e-mail address is in their Contacts app. They can then call you via FaceTime or send iMessages to you simply by selecting your e-mail address instead of your phone number when placing calls or sending messages.
For more information, check out our Guide to FaceTime + iMessage Setup, Use, and Troubleshooting.