Monday, June 15, 2009

Beware of iPhone SIM card swapping

So Friday is Iphone 3GS day. Recall that our plan is to upgrade Scarlet's phone from an iPhone 1G to the 3GS, and then swap the phones around so I get the new one. I'll remind everyone that might be thinking I'm a misogynist that this was her idea, since she doesn't really have any use for the additional features, but has call quality problems on her EDGE phone.

Well, I decided since it was going to be on Friday anyway to go ahead and swap the phones now and let her have the upgrade a little earlier, while I could "suffer" with the iPhone 1G until Friday. I called up AT&T/Apple support last Monday and they said that this SIM swap idea would work just fine.

Well, it might work for 3G/3GS phones, but it apparently doesn't work for the 1G. When I did the SIM swap, it went just perfectly for the 1G's SIM going into the 3G phone. That phone now is Scarlet's, and it was easy to simply restore it from a backup (thankfully, it retains the 3G phone's firmware and feature set). However, upon obtaining the 3G phone's old SIM card, the 1G phone became un-activated - that is, it put up the "please connect me to iTunes / swipe for SOS" screen. Connecting the phone to the mac resulted in heading down the new account activation path, and in the end, fails to activate.

After going through a couple of different support folk at AT&T/Apple, it appears that this procedure has toasted the SIM card from the 3G. I guess iPhone 1Gs are SIM card roach motels.

At first, AT&T tried to suggest that I would need to buy a new SIM card for $25. When I told them that it was their recommendation that I swap the SIMs in the first place, they said they would waive the fee and mail me one. But I'm still out a phone for at least today and tomorrow until the card comes in the mail.

So let that be a lesson to you: you can apparently swap SIM cards in the 3G iPhones, but not the 1G.


Adam mason said...

Dude very helpful man. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like an AT&T/US issue. I've got a 3GS and an old 1G here in the UK and swap SIMs all the time (maybe 2-3 times a week over the last few months) due to the 3GSs battery life. No issues at all, even between iPhone/Nokia and different networks (our phones are unlocked).

Maybe this is an issue with the fact that US phones are network locked, or maybe just unlucky?

I do wish they'd make it easier, the iPhone must be the most difficult phone on the market to SIM change.

Anonymous said...

I should probably clarify my above post - I swap SIMs all the time, but of course a 3G only SIM wont work in the 1st generation 2G iPhone. I'm not sure there are any 3G only networks in the USA though.