If I were to buy a used iPhone 4 (e.g. from eBay), which carrier(s) would allow me to activate it without a contract? Is there an activation fee? Anything else I should be aware of?

UPDATE: It seems there is less knowledge as to what Verizon's policy is, and as luck would have it they're my current provider. I would like to know what their policies are also, if anyone happens to know.

  • Important: Verizon and AT&T iPhones have different antennas. They are NOT compatible with each other's networks.
    – ghoppe
    Jun 6 '11 at 23:05

So long as it's an unlocked iPhone, you can use any SIM card to activate the unit. It doesn't actually have to have a plan attached to it. I'm not aware of any carrier on the world that only supplies contracts and foregoes monthly plans, so there should be no issue with your carrier of choice. Contacting Verizon is a wise idea with respect to their policies, as without further details your question is pretty broad.


You want the SIM card that activates that device as an iPod. The owner can remove that from his plan so it will never be used again with a carrier but will allow you to restore and use the phone as an iOS device until you get your own SIM card.

I don't know about the verizon phones, but jailbroken AT&T ones are working fine these days with prepaid SIM and you of course will be welcome to join AT&T with their standard iPhone plans and rates if you don't want to deal with jailbreaking.


You can take the phone to any AT&T store and they will give you a new SIM card and create a new account or change the phone if you already have an account. You are not on a contract with AT&T because you did not buy the phone at a subsidized price by them. There is an activation fee, but if you call AT&T Customer Service, they can remove that for you. AFAIK, this only works with AT&T as I have personally done that, for Verizon it might work differently.

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