Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I read this question and was wondering if I need to have a SIM card that has previously activated an iPhone in order to activate an iPhone.

I'm inheriting my mother's old 3Gs to use as an iPod / for development purposes, and I was wondering if when I restore it to factory settings I'll need her old SIM card to activate it.

share|improve this question
Of course - the best course of action is to inherit the SIM along with the phone - the person giving the phone can usually ask the carrier for a new SIM or ensure it's no longer billing to their account and you can use the old SIM and phone without needing service. – bmike May 1 '12 at 18:44
Sadly my mother has already switched to a 4S and has had her SIM card cut to fit her new phone... – Omar Kooheji May 2 '12 at 8:24
up vote 3 down vote accepted

No - any valid SIM from the correct carrier will activate a phone that is locked to one carrier.

In the rarer case - iPhone 3G was sold or is now authorized unlocked in which case, you don't need any SIM to activate the device after a restore operation.

If the device is carrier locked (in the US - AT&T is the likely carrier), you can either buy a valid SIM from the correct carrier. A prepaid line or locating the SIM that was last used to activate the phone are good options for low expense.

Apple has articles that can guide you in this process:

share|improve this answer
I think the device it likely to be unlocked as it was bought in the middle east. – Omar Kooheji May 1 '12 at 17:35
Excellent - you don't need a sim then to activate the device. I'll link two more articles so the main answer is more complete – bmike May 1 '12 at 18:08

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.