I bought a used iPhone 4s from eBay and, of course, when I recieved it, it was inactivated. I put in an old At&t sim I had in the house (not sure where it came from as I've never had At&T), and I was able to get past the activation screen and enter some info and set up Siri and iCloud.

However, it never actually gave me the message that is was now activated and when I try to put my sim from another carrier in, it reverts back to the inactive screen. It is not currently unlocked (I am attempting to complete that but must get past the inactive screen).

I have the latest iTunes installed and I have tried doing a backup and restore from backup and also just a hard restore all after fully rebooting the device.

Is it the sim or am I doing something wrong?

  • Your phone is still subsidy-locked to AT&T. You need to get the SUK(Subsidy Unlock Key) from AT&T and unlock it first before you can put non-AT&T SIMs in that phone.
    – user63628
    Dec 26, 2013 at 14:40
  • @user63628 could you elaborate on SUK? No iPhone carrier unlock I've seen needs any key to be handed over to consumers, just that they update the central shared database of locked and unlocked devices that Apple checks when the device is getting set up after a restore.
    – bmike
    Dec 26, 2013 at 14:49
  • 1
    @bmike… You are correct. iTunes can tell you if the phone has been unlocked or not. Sometimes phones from eBay may use IMEIs of questionable origins, hence the SUK suggestion, which would also validate the IMEI with AT&T.
    – user63628
    Dec 27, 2013 at 0:52

1 Answer 1


What you describe is consistent with an iPhone that is still locked to AT&T as the sole carrier. You can go to the AT&T websites and fill out a form to see if the phone could be unlocked. If you can't get AT&T to unlock the phone, then you could take that up with the seller of the phone or perhaps see about jailbreaking the device and unlocking it by force as opposed to by social convention.

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