iPhone Activation Problems Plaguing Countless New iPhone Owners

UPDATE - July 11th, 2008: If you're looking for information on activation issues plaguing iPhone 3G owners, visit the following link: Not Again: iPhone 3G Release Plagued by Activation Problems.

Does the following sound familiar: you rushed home with your new iPhone, plugged it into your computer, loaded up iTunes, and started zipping through the activation process. After selecting a plan, perhaps setting up an iTunes account, and agreeing to a few sets of terms - you were just about ready to use your iPhone. Then, it happened. "It", in this case, refers to the "your iPhone activation requires additional time to complete" message that seemingly countless iPhone customers have received.


Subsequently, users who receive the wait message receive an email from Apple's iTunes store which states the following: "AT&T is now processing your activation. You will receive an email confirmation once your activation is complete."

There are mixed indications from AT&T about what is causing the delays. AT&T representatives have suggested individual account issues, overwhelming activation volumes, and delays related to porting numbers from other networks. Though most customers who have actually gotten to speak with AT&T customer service (hold times are over an hour in most cases) report being told they can expect a 2-6 hour wait, some have reported being told they may not have their iPhones activated for 24-72 hours.

Most customers who are in the activation waiting period have also already had their existing phone's service disabled by AT&T, further increasing the frustration involved in waiting.

It's worth mentioning that the iPhone is, in a sense, useless without activating it. Short of being able to make emergency calls, there's little one can do with their new iPhone except play with the unlock slider on the "Activate iPhone" screen. And folks, despite those who might feel like it is, your iPhone not being activated is NOT an emergency - so please resist the urge to call 9-1-1 and complain to them. Besides, they can't help.

For those of you that have contacted iPhoneFAQ looking for answers to these activation issues, check back to this post, we'll update information here as it becomes available.

(Updated - June 30th, 11:20am EDT) AT&T customer service has indicated that pre-existing AT&T customers waiting for activation with their previous phone already disconnected can remove the SIM card from the iPhone, place it in their other phone, and use that for calls while waiting for thieir iPhone activation email. According to AT&T, doing such will not interrupt or affect the waiting activation.

Disclaimer: we're not supporting this information from AT&T or suggesting you do anything but wait. However, for those of you who may need to place urgent calls, this may be an option to exercise.

(Updated - June 30th, 11:08pm EDT) At this point we've been lucky enough to get the two iPhones we've been struggling with getting activated actually up and running. Unfortunately, there isn't one particular solution we can suggest to any of you. Both are live now as a result of one thing and one thing only:Â persistence.

Each phone took over 24 hours and 10 calls to AT&T to get activated. On almost every call, the AT&T representative on the other end identified some culprit or another holding up the process. We're confident, at least with these two particular phones, that without interaction with the AT&T staff, activation would not have completed.

Be sure to do the following:Â get your order number (even if you didn't get this in email, a rep should be able to give it to you), ask about "holds" on your account, verify IMEI and SIM card numbers, make sure nothing on the account is "awaiting verification". Keep checking your activation status and speaking directly with iPhone activation support.



5 hour wait here about to go to bed and hope they have this figured out in the morning.

I'm currently experiencing a similar issue. I've been propelled by all the hype to sit in line and wait for the iphone. I'm a net admin at my job and we were looking into getting multiple. I purchased 2 and get home and hardly can wait to open it up and play.
I hooked it to my computer. Opened up my itunes upgrade to the current version on the apple site. I'm stepping through the steps. I select existing customer and put in my existing AT&T number and I get the same error "my account couldn't be used with the iPhone" I FREAKED OUT.
I then thought maybe there was something wrong with the account. Called up AT&T and their saying that the account is fine and give me a number to call telling me it's a Apple problem. I proceed to call Apple after getting hung up on 2 times I was then able to get a decent IT person. Unfortunately apple hasn't trained any of there techs on the new iphones so he was no help.
3 Hours later
"My Activation will take additional time."
The apple representive told me that 24 hours later my phone may turn on. And to go into the cingular and or apple store.

This is SO freakin' disappointing. I can't believe the wait to activate the phone. I'm ready to return this thing. I was SO excited, but AT&T activation process totally ruin the experience. Steve Jobs made a HUGE mistake partnering with AT&T. Very disappointing.

Yeah same is the case with me. I was so excited after buying the iphone after waiting in the line for couple of hours. I started Activating the iPhone , my existing AT&T number got Unregistered and then this irritating message : your activation needs more time....." appeared. And it is the same message from last 4 hours. Spoke to AT&T guys a couple of times and they dont have a clue..Really frustrating !!!

Not sure if they are just passing the buck, but both times I spoke to AT&T tonight they said that the activation process is a cooperative one between Apple and AT&T - and that both are delayed.

So .. maybe everyone is being to hard on AT&T? But, maybe not.

Well, we still have 30 days to back out of the contract. I never thought I'd say this...I miss verizon already.

It finally was activated, and... believe it or not... There are features that are way cooler than the slider.

How long in total, Mike?

Nah, that's just AT&T passing the buck. The only interaction Apple has on the activation end is the conduit in which to submit the application. The processing is all handled by AT&T's server farm. Obviously its not a very good farm ;)

I am now on HOUR four waiting.. I am in real estate and of course I will have NO phone tomorrow it appears since they deactivated my other one.

I agree you pay this much and its not like apple didnt KNOW they were going to be busy.. give me a break.. I am an existing customer.. I called and actually got a live person and all they do is say I am sorry.. what a pain in the butt.. they should have spent LESS time marketing with all the cloak and dagger ads and spent more of the money making sure this didnt happen.

Same thing here, was so excited to get the phone. Got the iPhone could not be used with my account, after calling Apple once and AT&T five times (getting 6 different theories on why it doesn't work) finally had someone that realized my account was designated as a business account. Fixed that and now waiting 2 hours for activation to finish

Yep, same waiting game here, too. Although it is a disappointment, I look forward to my new toy.

I'm going on 7 hours... so don't complain about one or two. :)

877-800-3701 activation number

call this number to activate in 3minutes.

Yeah, let the appleatt fingerpointing begin...

Try to see if you can get your finger ahead of the slider... much fun...

Maybe AT&T should have taken the 2 billion dollars that they are spending on the name/brand change and spent it on a system that works. Or better yet, how bout a test run. How about testing your equipment before you release the phone.

After spending 3 hours in line at an AT&T store only to find out that they only had 30 iphones was to say the least disappointing. AT&T knowingly let people wait outside the store in the rain when they knew there were not enough phones to go along. PATHETIC. I wasn't there to buy a plan. More proof that ATT doesn't get it. LISTEN UP ATT ... I'm not going to buy another phone. WHAT, You want me to order it through ATT? Are you kidding? After you let me wait in line knowing you would run out of phones only to try to sell me on placing an order. PATHETIC

So what did I do? I headed over to the Apple store in the mall. There were 20 people walking around with those credit card readers. I was in and out in 3 minutes. HELLO? ATT ARE YOU LISTENING??? Looks like Apple made a cool product. Too bad th got in bed with an old tired brand – ATT. Apple will forever be tarnished because of ATTs stupidity. How I wish Apple would've done the deal with Verizon, Sprint, Virgin, you name it. Anybody but ATT.

The tired Oldsmobile brand used to have a slogan – "This is NOT your father's Oldmobile". ATT should salvage that one. ATT, we ARE your fathers Oldmobile.

Getting back to my story, I finally called ATT. After about a half hour on hold, the rep told me that he could see that I activated my iphone in his system. Unforetunately, that didn't mean much since my iphone still wasn't activated. I asked him to refund the $36 activation fee. He said he couldn't refund it because I hadn't activated the iphone yet. HUH? Didn't he just say that he could see it WAS activated??? He finally refunded me the $36 dollars. Wow am I happy.. I still have an iphone that doesn't work.

The best part of activating my new iphone is that my old Treo was disconnected meaning I'm phoneless. Thanks ATT. Thanks for giving me my $36 back. What a difference that will make. I can go to sleep tonight knowing that my $36 is safe. Terrific. Maybe tomorrow morning I'll receive that email saying the service is working on my iphone.

Yeah, right!

this is such a crock.. "activate from your own home" whats the point??? and I am an existing 8 year customer its not like they had to do anything but move my number and account info...and then there are people who are getting it done in minutes.. would love to find out about that since I spend nearly 300.00 a month with them..

To add insult to injury I had to wait an additonal 30 minutes at the stores since all the networks crashed.. did they NOT prepare for this.. come on that can't be that dumb. It wouldnt have been so bad except now I have NO phone at all..

However the Gomer at AT&T did offer me the option of driving back to the store tomorrow (40 miles round trip) to get a new sim card for my old phone since I can't do business without a phone!!!!.. at this price they need to deliver to my door on a platter

Apple did an excellent job having their staff ready and the phones ready at the stores. My checkout process to pay for the phone was very smooth--almost TOO smooth. So, why couldn't AT&T do THEIR share and have gotten this activation process "dialed in" ahead of time?!



you know I dont know why I didnt think of that.. I am going to ask them to remove the activation fee.. its not much but its the least they can do.. I just relaized I am now at hour FIVE

8 hours and still waiting. I'm pretty much expecting to wait at LEAST 24 now. Way to go AT&T, love my new carrier.

keep in mind that apple is running the activations thru their sever as well. at&t is not the only company processing data this could be a backlog in one or both companies systems. i called at&t, they were very nice and advised me that a special group was taking care of iPone activations. the activations dept did say that due to massive demands on the computer systems all activations were way behind shedule and they apoligised. my phone activated 2 hrs. later, and i can say this.WHAT A PHONE !!! I think the demand was greater than thought........ wait till activated you will be as happy as me....

sorry not buying it... they KNEW the demand for this phone was going to be high.. there is NO excuse for taking a three minute activation and turning into HOURS while DEACTIVATING my ONLY existing phone..

this was no suprise. they hyped this thing for months.. they handled it poorly.. period. This is my ONLY phone.. if they couldnt get the activation together.. they had NO business deactivating the old phone.. its simply poorly executed.. period

they knew the demand. they knew people had been waiting for months.. you can't tell me they couldnt have figured this out.. I can understand phones with issues.. but for someone like myself with an long term existing account there would be NO reason to hold this up

am I mad YOU BET.. tomorrow I am meeting clients from out of state.. guess what they CANT REACH ME.. for nearly 700.00 (with accessories) I expect better..

quit whining, get over it and just wait, you'll probably live through it.

Do I smell someone who owns stock in AT&T???? What are you doing here? If you don't want to hear(read) any whining why are you here? WTF!!


no offense but I work in real estate.. I have a showing tomorrow on several properties and out of state clients are rolling in.. and if my clients cant reach me I DONT get paid, not to mention it looks very bad for the company...

... and I think after spending all that money you bet I am mad as hell.. If I ran my company this way I would be out of business.. period.. so if you don't have anything constructive to add.. feel free to move along..

granted there are some problems, mine are fixed, did you smartblond get an exspected fix time. at&t was very helpful in making sure my issues were resolved.

Apple Good – AT&T Bad!

I’ve been at AT&T customer for almost 10 years. Tonight was the worst experience I have ever had with AT&T attempting to activate my iPhone.

I have a business account with AT&T. When I tried to activate my new phone on iTunes I received a message that this could not be completed and I had to contact the AT&T business center. When I called AT&T I was told I had to cancel my business plan and open an individual plan and, are you ready for this, change my number! I could not believe this! Here I am an existing AT&T customer and being told I had to change my number. I find it ironic that if I were a T-mobile or Verizon customer I would be able to keep my number.

Finally talking with a manager I was told that Apple did not communicate necessary information to AT&T and did not give AT&T time to prepare. Let the finger pointing begin. I purchased my iPhone at an AT&T store and had to provide information such as my phone number, etc. So why was I not told then, at the time of purchase, that my current plan would prevent me from activating. I can’t be alone here!

I also learned from that same manager that AT&T was having problems transferring numbers from other providers. I learned this when I asked if I could activate as if I were coming from another provider. He advised not doing this and suggested that I contact the AT&T business center tomorrow to see if they could move my business account to an “individual” account. Still, I don’t understand the difference. Ultimately the bill will be paid by a business.

I hope Apple has a way out this exclusive agreement with AT&T. Because after being a 10 year loyal AT&T customer, I’m ready to switch providers and return my iPhone. My excitement of finally purchasing my first Apple product was ruined by AT&T. I’m extremely disappointed that some of the most simple scenarios were not tested by AT&T, who appears to be completely caught off guard and is reduced to pointing fingers at Apple, a company who will make AT&T billions of dollars. Shame on AT&T. And shame on Apple if they don’t do something about AT&T.

interested party

no.. I talked to three people one a supervisor and none of them had any kind of timeline at all which of course was frustrating.. all they did was apologize.. then I got an email about two hours ago saying it was being processed.. silly me I figured OH GOOD it should be any minute now.. that was over three hours ago...

I heard everything from.. "just a few minutes" to 24 hours. also as I stated I wouldnt have cared had they not already deactivated my old phone.. I would have been fine with the issue.. but again without a phone I can't function in my line of work and Saturday is my busy day of course. Clients have no way to reach me.. since they have my cell number.. and I am in the car alot going from place to place

I must say that I've always been pretty happy with att except for the fact that I get like no signal at home - which does blow - but everywhere else no problemo.

I have been waiting for five hours now. wtf? I spoke to friend who switched from another service and his iphone was activated immediately.

Could this delay have anything to do with a weak wireless signal in my home?

I dunno. I guess I go to bed wondering if I wake up tomorrow w/ working iphone.

Oh played with sample phone in store for about ten minutes. It's going to be sweet and worth the wait.