Upgrading your iPhone


Q: How do I move from my trusty 8GB iPhone to the new 16GB iPhone? I know I can simply plug it in regarding synchronization of my content, music, etc on my Mac, but how do I transfer my phone number? And, more importantly, how do I do this without having to re-up my 2-year AT&T contract?

– Ralph

A: Although there has been some confusion about how AT&T would handle upgrades among the new iPhone models, we recently followed-up with them directly and received a response which was noted in a recent news item:

Mark Siegel, Executive Director of Media and Analyst Relations with AT&T, told iLounge in an email, “If you upgrade from an 8 to a 16 GB iPhone, you sign a new contract. However, we automatically backdate it to the starting point of your contract on the 8 GB phone.” He added that the company “will make every effort to ensure that our reps provide customers with the correct information,” and clarified that customers should activate the SIM card that comes with the new model.

This makes it clear that users who choose to upgrade their existing iPhones will not be forced into another two-year contract, as the existing contract will be back-dated. There is some confusion over why a new contract is required at all in this case, although there may simply be legal reasons involved.

The technical procedure in this case is to activate the new 16GB iPhone as if it were a brand new iPhone, in much the same way as you activated your original iPhone. When prompted, choose to port over your existing iPhone number to the new account. This will transfer your existing iPhone plan and all corresponding settings on your account over to the new SIM card, deactivating the old phone and SIM card in the process.

Although AT&T recommends above that you activate the SIM card that comes with the new model,it should be noted that a number of our readers have reported success in simply moving their existing SIM card into the new iPhone. Whether there are any technical reasons for this is uncertain at this time, although it is certainly possible that this procedure is just a cautionary process to minimize problems that may occur with existing SIM cards, or that AT&T is using this method to somehow track iPhone upgrades.


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Jesse Hollington

Jesse Hollington was a Senior Editor at iLounge. He's written about Apple technology for nearly a decade and had been covering the industry since the early days of iLounge. In his role at iLounge, he provided daily news coverage, wrote and edited features and reviews, and was responsible for the overall quality of the site's content.