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.



Going into hour 16 --- how long is it taking everyone else?

Anyone on the west coast (CA) out there whose iphone was eventually activated? How long did you have to wait? Did you actually get an e-mail saying the phone is activated?I have been waiting since 10:20 last night.....
Also forgive me if this is a silly question, but is the iphone supposed to stayed connected to itunes until activated??

I have been waiting over 16 HOURS!!!!!! I've talked to countless people at both AT&T and Apple and no one can help... Please people try and get your act together!!

17 hrs and counting, have been on hold with Apple going on 2 hrs and 20 minutes, This is in plain english BULLSHIT

Changing the SIM card DOES NOT work. I opened a new service plan and kept my old plan so my old ATT SIM still works (Glad I did that, at least I have a working phone). Anyway, I took the SIM card out of my old phone and put it in the iPhone and it still says it is unregistered.

My guess is that iTunes sends a flag to the iPhone that unlocks it and that that flag is independent from the data contained in the SIM chip.

In hindsight, Apple may have dropped the ball by not allowing any other features to work until the cellular features are activated. Since I still have my old phone and number, it wouldn't be so bad waiting for activation if I could at least start synching photos, music, contacts, etc. Instead I have a cool little slider thing that slides back and forth. That gets old after....ummmm...three minutes? (coincidentally, the time it *should* have taken to activate)

13 hours and counting....

No, you'll have to unplug and plug the phone back in to activate it.

I don't even know what Ben is rambling on about. The activation has nothing to do with the phone usage or bandwidth. The activation will have no bearing whatsoever on how the phone works once it's activated. It's a completely separate system.

Has anyone tried to go to an ATT store to get this resolved????

For those curious about isolating locations that have issues: I am in New Orleans. I purchased my phone at 6:50 PM CST Friday and registered at 8:00 CST PM. It is now 11:00 AM CST with no service. That would be 15 hours here with no service...

Yes, I went to an AT&T stor here in Florida... No luck! They don't know what is wrong or how long it will take. Just getting the "Be Patient" and "Luck of the Draw" comments. Pretty sure that's all we can do.

As a side note: they expressed a little frustration that they couldn't activate the phones in the store... They feel like they might have been able to prevent some of this although that is probably just speculation

No, I disagree. That isn't all we can do: we can also cry and wallow in despair.

This is pissing me off. Im about to go back to AT&T and return this phone. I didn't wait 3 hours in line to wait another 3 days to use the damn thing. Disconnected Sprint, have no phone, its Saturday, I have a life.

Bad way to start off a new plan with a new provider. With the customer support they're showing me I see myself having future problems with AT&T.

16 hours for me, too. I haven't seen anything in any of the major media about this problem. So are they asleep at the switch or protecting their Apple stock? This could have been so great. Steve Jobs can recover only by doing some of his out-of-the-box thinking on compensation for us. And I WAS actually thinking of making my next computer a Mac....

19 hours... No iPhone, No regular phone, No service.


Charlie.. the stores have nothing to do with it.. the one I called didnt even know it was an issue.. they are not dealing with activation at all.. so going there is pointless

Chris - Good Point! Just when I was starting to get out of my funk over this :(

I would really love to know what geniuses are giving out the standard "blah blah blah" responses that we are all getting when we call either AT&T or Apple! I think it's totally unacceptable to hear answers like, "luck of the draw", and, "it has to do with the amount of phones that were sold last night", and, "please continue to be patient." This is so NOT acceptable that it is borderline funny. Apple & AT&T should have anticipated all of this months ago.

What's worse than the simple waiting game that most of us are trying to endure is the real world danger that this problem has certainly created for countless "less technical" people than us that have found our way to these discussion forums and other related blogs - sure, it's nice to be able to call 911 in case of emergency, but what about the thousands of non-emergency situation that come up everyday that we (until now,) take for granted and just pick up our phones, or check our email, or simply have a need to work, or communicate with this device? If anything, this whole ordeal has really proven to me how (too) dependent we may be on our technologies - possibly the new Die Hard movie has got it right and we are all doomed!

Lawsuits are sure to follow!


Mark - my point (which you missed) was that activation IS a seperate problem, but a MUCH simpler one. and i think it is likely just the start of bigger problems to come. while it remains to be seen, im betting on the Internet/email experience to bring bigger problems yet to the AT&T network and therefore overall iPhone experience.

and from what i was told by multiple sources (including Apple fans in the Apple line waiting for the iPhone as well as a Verizon rep), the main reason why there is an exclusive deal with AT&T is because they were the only ones who said that they COULD and WOULD support that much continuous and UNLIMITED bandwidth, which Apple was requiring.

the point is clear - activation is a much easier easy problem. and they cant get that right. but once it is activated, the majority of us are wanting to start using the Internet browser and email capabilities. and if those suck (which has a strong liklihood), then you are going to have even more upset customers.

seriously... what other company in the history of the Internet do you recall being down for this long? and these guys havent even been hacked! they simply cant get their crap together!

you are clearly an Apple fan. thats fine. but recognize that you a the minority and for good reason.

This hold music is so boring im getting
drowzy..i wonder wat steve jobs has to say
about this 500 dollar inconvience..on the
box it should have said in bold print..WILL
NOT ACTIVATE FOR 24HR...this hold music
is terrible....wat is that an organ?

I have been waiting for hours to get activiated as well...I can understand that ATT is nothing but a screwed up company and failed to anticipate the demand and did nothing about it. But, here's something I don't get - how come the iPhone does nothing with activation? I mean I bought the iPhone not only for its phone and broadband services, but also for its music/photos playing capabilities. So, how come these dont work? I waited 4hrs in line to get this phone and all I can do now until it is actiivated is to see a screen that says activate iPhone....great!! I just dont understand the logic in this - why not let us use the device in a limited fashion - maybe then the waiting will not be soo painful.

Apple should have done better than this - they should have other functionalities on the iphone working even though while the activiation was in-process. I think this is the biggest mistake that Apple made. Steve Jobs screwed up big time - one by choosing ATT and second by totalling disabling the device prior to activiation.

hour 16 here and its not getting any better.. like many of you I have NO phone except this one.. and I am also curious why this isn't in the media at all I have heard nothing... seems very hush hush.. and LUCK OF THE DRAW. WTH does that mean

I did get a nice email from AT&T telling me how to access my new account.. problem is I have had this account 8 years. and it tells me how to use th website , again not necessary.. this is a waste of money.. I feel like an idiot. I have never waited in line for a tech device and usually wait on new ones for the kinks to work out and sadly I paid for this mistake. lesson learned.

If its not up by five I am returning the phone today.. not worth it.. my clients cant reach me and one is coming in from vermont.. I can't reach him at all.. nice way to do business

I waited in line for 11 hours to get my iPhone, I paid $635.. I was on the phone with AT&T support for 5 hours and they finally told me after the 8th time I called them that my confirmation email would come after 2 hours... it's been 11 I am worried and frustrated almost to the point where I want to return this damn phone

I want to know. For those that did get their phones activated. Did you have to keep it connected to your computers to activate it? I want to go and do some things, but I like to stay in touch with people...

While this frustrating, it occurs to me that having your life turned upside down because your new cell phone won't activate is... well, pathetic.

A comment was made: "I have a life". If not having a phone in your pocket for 24 hours disrupts it, then perhaps you don't.

Naturally, I'm upset with AT&T as well, but you just have to cope, I guess.

So after 14 hours I just received this email. Of course, I do not know my new number nor did I receive a text message with a password, so I cant log in. Anyone else seen this? Does this mean I am close to getting activated? Are the hamsters turning the wheels at AT&T server farm finally back from hibernation?


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You hype up a phone that you stole from LG's Prada Design to screw it up and charge more for garage. Now Apple/AT&T im dying to know the truth about what's really going on.

Actually, on second thought, I don't. I'm going to return this garage and stick to my Pocket PC and get the iPhone config, its basically the same shit, or is it better in many ways.

Fuck you AT&T, for people who are trying you out for the first time, I lost all respect for you. Your garbage, thank the iPhone exclusivity for making you go out of business again for the 2nd time in 10 years.


Thanks for your reply...saved me a couple of hours waiting at the ATT store to be told they can't help.

As for the Apple bashers, seems to me this is an ATT issue. When I called, they confirmed that they had a problem, they confirmed they weren't prepared for the workload and they were quite unhelpful.

Apple's mistake was to block other, non-cellular features until activation is completed, giving us a device that is useless until ATT gets their act together. At least *partial* functionality would have been better than none.

10 hours... I've been on hold with AT&T's "Business Management Group" for over a half hour "due to extreme call volumes [my] hold time may exceed over 10 minutes." YA THINK?! After waiting in line for 12 hours, all I want to do is play with my new toy :(


its hardly pathetic.. i work in real estate .. saturday is a busy day for me. I have out of state clients who are calling on arrival to look at an out of the way property in the meantime I am in the car or out and about.. in my world the phone is what keeps a roof over my head, so no its not pathetic when I am supposed to meet with clients who cant reach me... I dont have a home phone and my office is not accessable after noon other then voice mails on saturday since we all have CELL phones. not to mention I pay over 700 bucks for a phone and accessories call me crazy if I expect decent service... if I ran my business like this I would be living on the streets