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.



just finished to talking to a customer rep at 3701 after waiting on hold for an hour. He said he could not at an "APL" to my account. Apparently, its a crucial feature required for iPhone activation. He said the system is not adding it automatically, so they have to do it manually. He was not able to add it manually either. GREAT!! So he has put a ticket for the TECH support team to look at it and it will take anywhere between 1-8 hrs to get this done. I dont know whether to believe him or not. Lets see, all I can do is wait and watch. Buying this phone was the biggest mistake I have ever made.


Ok, so called 3701 yet again, finally was transfered to a supervisor... ok we've all been there. Well he told me something new, and it sounded fishy. He said, that T-Mobile wasn't sending a batch of numbers until 7pm. Verizon just did there's at 4 PM. Hmmm...sounded kinda funny to me, more like it was AT&T PULLING numbers into the system via batch.

He gave me the if-it-isn't-up-by-8-or-so-call-us-back.

So, I called T-Mobile. At first I was mad at T-Mobile, thinking maybe they were sending everything in a batch. So, I got transfered to the porting department of T-Mobile. The very lovely rep (I will miss T-Mobile customer service) laughed at AT&T, and said, "Um no, all we do in these departments is pull numbers back and forth."

I sighed, and she asked how long this had been going on and I said, 28 Hours. Then she did the nicest thing EVER. SHE called the porting department of AT&T and I got a woman who was NONE to pleased at me or T-Mobile for going out of the order they had planned.

BUT, WAIT, there's more.

Turns out AT&T isn't the only culprit. I was obviously talking to someone who didn't normally talk to customers... she normally talks to other Phone Companies, and you could tell. She flat out told me that Apple had not yet sent the Firmware data from my iphone into the system yet, and that my account had been waiting on my number-- from T-Mobile, but that they weren't even processing that until Itunes sent my SIM card and IMEA Number to the account. "Well," I said, "the IMEA and SIM card number are on the box, can I just read them to you?" (The Sim Card numbers is your ICCID starting with 8901. Lower left of the back bottom label). She sighed, and asked if I would hold while she found out if she could do that. Two seconds later, she came back and we were up and running inside of Five minutes.

Hello all,
I just wanted to tell you that mine activated last night after calling the 3701 number after numerous calls and hearing 4 different stories....
Finally the I told the lady I was going to return it, and thn she activated it in ten minutes while I she had me on the line.
I just wanted to share this in case helpful at all.....

So, some speculation... that means we have a few problems, and here's my guess at to what our mysterious agents have figured out on the activation. If things go smoothly, it means as soon as you pick your data plan, etc, etc, etc, the phone pings AT&T and puts your SIM card and IMEI number into the account you either just created or are transfering from another AT&T account. If you are migrating a number, it looks like after that step, it then sets up the request for the porting, and ports as the last step. Viola... your two minute activation. If any problems occur (like a system overload, or one of the myriad of plan options that people are still on that have been discontinued over the years) the whole process self-destructs.

The supervisor I last talked to at AT&T was honest that not only has no one in the call centers ever SEEN an iPhone in person, but that they recieved no training. Apple really thought this would go off without a hitch. I think we just witnessed the biggest snowball effect in customer service history.

The smarter, and more tech savy reps, have figured out the chain of command sequencing, and are probably pinging your iphone from the service center to prompt it to "cough-up" your Sim and IMEA number. It wasn't the porting, or the account swap that caused the delays (well maybe to some extent) but that AT&T was given no training on how to retrieve the Sim Card and IMEA number from phones they didn't have in their possession, and that iTunes was so supposed to automatically farm for the information.

The rest are still running everyone around in circles trying to stem the tide of complaints, while people like the lovely lady I reached, are manually inputting all of the information that was supposed to be automated by iTunes.

It's like the Wizard of Oz... don't mind the man behind the curtain.

And that batching problem... most logical way for the data entry people to plop things in... get through the verizon numbers. Then do the tmobile numbers. Then the Sprint numbers. etc.

One more post after this...

Ok, so now.... here's the number...


Not sure if that's been posted yet or not, but they can get you up and running in a heartbeat. Oh, and guess what? All that information you chose from iTunes... that all is being manually re-entered. So get ready to think back 30 hours and remember what rate plan you picked, any add-ons, etc.

Good Luck Everyone!!!

Oh Finally, just for when the AT&T people get mad at me for posting a number that the public is not supposed to have.

Proof that the wonderful savior of a representative who helped me doesn't deal with the public. She forgot to ask me for my six digit order number--- you know, the number we all hve memorized by know? She called me back to get it. God, I love caller id!

Uptownish, same with me too.... Mine was only activated AFTER I read her the sym and IMEB numbers. I am glad yours is up and running....

I called that 3701 number and got Robin...he is knowledgeable and finally got my iphone working. He is located in Nova Scotia, and is a GENIUS!!! I am a former blackberry user and the data package I had did cause a problem, but again he knew how to fix it.

Cool. AT&T just deactivated my EDGE access for no particular reason.

Can't wait to sit on the phone with them for another 90 minutes in order to sort this one.

Try turning your phone completely off and leave it that way for a few minutes. When I did I got my activation immediately. And I saw other on the interweb who had similar success stories with this technique. So it might work for you !

what is the 3701 full number please???????

got it 877-800-3701

at & t said they have done everything at their end. should i even call apple? should i wait?

Series of fortunate events.. I think...

First I called the 3701 number again and got a support representative who told me there was absolutely nothing he could do with my iPhone activation because it was red ticketed for advanced support. Whatever that is. He said, "Don't worry, thats a good thing. I have a number to give you and they will get you up and running right now." YAY! I think. Anyways, that number is 877-777-4189..

I called it and received a message saying the wait time was 2 mins. Promising. Within 2 or 4 mins Ann Schumer from AT&T picked up the phone and I explained to her I had been waiting for activation for nearly 48 hours. She checked the account and said it looked fine. I told her that I had called Verizon to check on the port status and Verizon said the number was ready to be picked up but AT&T never took it.

She asked me to hold while she checked with her Apple Activation specialist (an AT&T employee) by the name of Jennifer Shepherd. Jen pick up and we confirmed the information and she said that the number hadn't been ported yet and that there was missing RATE/PLAN and upgrade information. A problem she knew very well. She said she was part of a group that was working on manually entering these RED TICKETED customers because their iTunes data did not parse into the system for some reason.

She took my contact information and assured me that one of her team members would enter the information and will call me back when it was done. She told me this would happen within the next three hours.

CALL THE 4189 number and tell them you have been waiting they can handle this.

Good luck!

I am up and running after 46 hours!!!

I called the 877-777-4189 number and asked to speak to an activation specialist who in turn told me there was missing information required to activate my account.

Once he input the info, my phone was up and running in 5 miuntes.

Call and ask for an activation specialist. This phone number had an average wait time of less than 2 minutes. If you get an incompetent prick who tells you to continue to wait, just call back and ask again, and eventually one rep will transfer you to the activation department.

Good luck to all and just keep trying. Calling Apple does no good. They say they have done everything on their end to get this up and running. They also said if you continue to have problems with AT&T then call them back and ask to speak to an iPhone product specialist and the product specialist will 3-way AT&T and make sure you get activated as soon as possible.

The Apple Rep I spoke to told me that Apple is very upset that AT&T keeps telling people it's an Apple problem.


that was my issue too.. at&T said it was all in the apple activation.. they were right.. 12 hours after that conversation I was up and runnning.. if its smooth on the at&T end chances are they are just verifying the IME numbers for security

File a complaint with the Better business buereu and also send an email/letter to your city/state district attorney. They will crucify att/pple for this.......

After a near 40 hours...my phone has been activated.

Trust me on this y'all, and I KNOW you all won't believe me, because I was BOUND and determined to return mine tomorrow...but once you get it activated, it is WELL WELL WELL WELL WELL worth the wait, by far the coolest gadget I have every owned.

At this point Selling the iPhone on Ebay may be a good option! No luck Activating after 40hrs I am stll waiting! I am on hold right now waiting to speak to an activation specialist, AT&T said the wait would be about 20 minutes so I am keeping my fingers crossed, I will post back if all goes well.

I'm entering my 48th hour of waiting for activation.

Apple blames AT&T, AT&T blames Apple, I wait endlessly in a loop of hold times.

Its ridiculous. No advocate for the customer.

I just want to let you guys know that you've been my sanity through this...49 hours and counting :-(


I know what you mean.. I was at 36 hours plus and I felt the same way.. I had every intention of going back to the store tomorrow... 10 hours after activation I am totally addicted.. wow this thing rocks

the ONLY thing I dont like is that keyboard.. I have long nails.. NOT a chick phone thats for su re.. lol

now I am going on ebay to buy the cases for 4.00 that apple is selling for 30.00 .. already found some very nice stuff to go with it.

So after almost 48 hours and countless phone calls to AT&T, I finally saw some action on my iPhone. I was able to sync it with iTunes and my photos but I still have no cell service. Anybody have any idea how long it usually takes between seeing the first sign of life to having full service?

You guys over 24 hours should call and let them know. I finally called after 17 hours of waiting 3 times till I got a hold of a competent rep who was able to manually do my phone. It was just a couple of hours after my call that I was able to watch my iBrick's metamorphism into an iPhone.

Here's how I finally succeeded.

I was a previous Cingular/AT&T customer (five years), so I called the 877-419-4500 number they'd designated for existing customers. Got someone who told me they couldn't help and that I would have to wait (third time I'd heard this). So I asked calmly and politely to speak to a supervisor. The lady told me she'd need to put me on hold. I was on hold for maybe three minutes. She came back on and asked me for a call-back number and said she would have a supervisor call me.

I thought, "Well, that'll never happen," but I said, "Okay. Please do that."

To my surprise, about 20 minutes later, my phone rang. It was the AT&T supervisor guy. By the time I walked into my office where the computer is, I had the activation-sucessful e-mail. The guy even made sure my phone was activated, waiting with me while we synched up the phone and then calling me on the phone to make sure it worked.

I have to say my experience with AT&T folks has been good. They were polite. They were patient. Even when they didn't have the answer. So I decided to be nice but firm with them. It worked.

Don't yell at these folks, people, if you want to get your iPhone working.

I had cell service at once but my phone was off when activation took place.. did you try to power it off for a while and back on

My problem is that when I call in I have to explain over and over every time I'm transferred that my phone HAS activated already. I can synch it with iTunes just fine. But I have no phone service, the screen on the iPhone says "Waiting for AT&T activation This may take some time" and then says No Service at the top left after the bars flash up.
I've been on the phone with them almost all day long. Finally they sent it to advanced support who were going to call me back. 4 hours later I get a call. Surprise surprise, the lady says that the note on the account says that 30 minutes earlier they made a plan modification and it might take 3 hours. To call back after then.
Guess what. The PAC center closed 1 hour before that time. So of course I can't call back.

So, in summary, I got activated 10:30pm saturday, but so far have not been able to use the phone services or EDGE even after getting yanked around to 16 (yes, accurate number) forwards to various departments. My Verizon phone doesn't work because they've already ported the number, AT&T sees that they own the number. In fact, they're already billing me for the service. Unfortunately THERE IS NO SERVICE, and they don't actually have the number. If you call my number it says the number dialed is not a working number.

What I love is when a tech earlier had the gall to tell me it was an Apple problem and that I hadn't been activated. I almost lost it with her, but I was able to keep myself composed. It's obviously not an Apple problem for me anymore. Mine is just like any other cell phone that isn't activated but it takes forever to try and get that through their thick skulls.

????? HUH?? well at 6 a.m. this morning after 36 some hours...I got the activation notice and all went well and has gone well since activation..

Just a few minutes ago I got an email telling me my phone has NOW been activated.. UM.. didn't we already cover this some 15 hours ago.. its not asking me to activate it.. wow they are confused.. I hope they are not screwing something up!

My phone finally got activated after 36 hours. I got an email saying that the porting on my phone was completed in the morning. However, I can still make calls on my T-Mobile phone and it still receives all the incoming text (SMS) messages. When will the old phone be complete shut off??

47 hours since first trying activation. still nothing. worst part is that 12 hours after first trying to activate, my old phone said "Inactive SIM" and since then I have not been able to use the old phone either. I tried interchanging the SIMs but it didnt work. oh wait, that's not the worst part. my phone line says "call cannot be completed as dialed, please check the number and dial again." so I am losing calls and people think my phone is disconnected. being in sales, this is hurting my business. of course I do not rely completely on one number for my business, but you never know if prospects try that number and hear that message, they may never call again. This is not only poor planning by Apple/AT&T that thousands of us have to wait to use our new iPhones, but to shut off my cell service completely for 2 days?? unconscionable. on top of everything, the people I spoke with at AT&T were less than sensitive about this issue. how could they be anything but apologetic? if I ever do get this thing activated, it will be very anti-climactic no matter how cool it is.