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.

  • 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, 2012 at 18:44
  • Sadly my mother has already switched to a 4S and has had her SIM card cut to fit her new phone... May 2, 2012 at 8:24

1 Answer 1


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:

  • I think the device it likely to be unlocked as it was bought in the middle east. May 1, 2012 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, 2012 at 18:08

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