Not Again: iPhone 3G Release Plagued by Activation Problems

Despite the overwhelming success of the first Apple iPhone launch day, Apple and AT&T did have one glaring black eye left shining after the event: countless owners were plagued by activation problems which prevented new iPhone owners from activating for, in some cases, up to three days. An unactivated iPhone is essentially useless, with functionality locked out pending activation. In many cases, this left new owners with no working phone, as swapping their iPhone SIM with their older device didn't work. The whole activation process was, to put it mildly, an abomination. Considering the heat both Apple and AT&T took in regards to the activation process for the inaugural iPhone launch -- we all could have safely predicted that Apple and AT&T would have all their ducks in line for the iPhone 3G launch, and customers would enjoy a problem-free, quick and easy activation. Right?

iphone 3g activation problems, again

Evidently not. Reports have been coming in all morning about what appears to be an eerily similar situation developing with activations of new 3G iPhones. Lines at both Apple and AT&T stores

are stagnated, with some hopeful purchasers reporting that their line has not moved in over an hour. One iPhoneFAQ reader has indicated that the line at his local Apple store (location not provided) had processed only about 25 purchases over 4 hours after opening the doors.

Originally, Apple and AT&T planned to perform iPhone 3G activations in store, but it appears this is changing -- at least in some locations. Many customers have been sent home after purchase due to "problems with the activation servers" and have been instructed to attempt to activate their shiny new iPhone 3G from home via iTunes.

To make matters worse, whatever backlog or other issues that are creating failures with the activation servers appear to be befuddling original iPhone owners that have attempted to upgrade to iPhone OS 2.0. Activation backlogs are supposedly preventing the OS 2.0 upgrade process from completing, leaving iPhones bricked and usable in the interim.

Check back for updates. More to come as information becomes available.

If you're currently reading iPhoneFAQ from your original iPhone while waiting in line or have returned from purchasing an iPhone 3G, please let us know about your experience in the comments below.


been trying for 2 hours to 'finish' activation from iTunes...keep getting connection errors, although no problem connecting to shop for music, etc.
DEFINITELY a big problem with the activation servers/ anyone actually completing activation at this time??

I just came home to activate my new iPhone and I have been trying over 30 minutes, so far and I'm getting this message " We could not complete your iTunes Store request. An unknown error occurred (-4). There was an error in the iTunes Store. Please try again later.

nope, same exact situation for me. it just won't finish.

i can't BELIEVE i'm going through this @$#! again.

didn't they learn their lesson the first time? this is bs.

You are the one who didn't learn their lesson.

I've been trying to activate my updated iPhone for almost two hours now. Now my phone is a brick and I'm unable to do work. It sure would be nice if Apple placed a large "Ooops, sorry about that" message on their homepage.

Yup, Got home tried for about an hour now, nothing, server is overloaded. It was bound to happen, just hope they fix it fast! ~N~

It shouldn't have been "bound to happen". They had this happen the first time.

They should have been ready this time.

Bottom line thinking is what caused this again, nothing else.

After waiting for 30 minutes, I am activated, although I have not been able to sync.
At least I have a phone :)
Good luck everyone

i have an activated phone...with no contacts and missing pictures...keep getting an unknown error (-4) that apparently occured...i hope my contacts arent gone...let me know if you make any progress...

I just tried to update my old iphone to 2.0 and I now have a BRICK. Nice work on the back end network
engineers! Could you not spend some of that iphone profit on registration infrastructure? I hope to have my phone back soon.......

I purchased the iPhone 3G at an AT&T store in Atlanta, GA this morning. Everything you've described in this blog speaks to my iPhone experience thus far.

Currently, I am unable to place or receive calls because the SIM card in my previous phone has been deactivated.

I do wonder, did Apple/AT&T do anything to compensate or make amends for customers who experienced activation problems with the iPhone's initial launch?

I got my 3g iPhone bright and early this morning in Phoenix. I drove to the outskirts of town and was 3rd in line at 5:30am. I was told I have to unlock the phone thru iTunes when I get to a computer. I am still unable to connect. I get a message that says 'We could not complete your iTunes Store request. The network connection timed out. Make sure your network settings are correct and your network connection is active, then try again'. My network is working fine, so theirs is the one having problems as stated in your report... Hopefully I'll be able to connect and use my phone by the end of the day. fingers crossed

You almost have to laugh at this cluster$%^&. I won't go into all of the issues I have with this latest blunder by apple and at&t but I will say this: I love how their error message makes it sound like the problem is on the user side. People that are not as computer as some will assume that their PC is causing the issue when in fact it's the apple network or the at&t network that’s to blame. Companies like apple and at&t are what's wrong with this country

I got home about 45mins ago from buying my fiancee a new iPhone... no activation and my old iPhone doesn't even have the option of getting OS 2.0 yet, iTunes says that my software is up to date. At least it didn't break my iPhone. This whole situation is shady though, they advertised this great "$199" price but failed to tell people that it was only $199 if you are new or are available for a phone upgrade/renewal... which is why it was taking an average of 20minutes for people to buy and activate in the store. So, let's do some math, the place I went to had 8 people at the checkout counters, so that is 8 people at 20mins times 3 (for 3, 20min 'buying cycles) equals 24 people an hour... I had number 100 (I lucked out and came back just as they were getting to 90). That's ridiculous. Just because AT&T is nervous that people will Jail Break their phones, they're willing to make people wait all day to get this thing. Anyway, Apple has taken some serious bad publicity points for this one, makes me a little bitter that I have an iPhone at all.

-Losing Respect for Apple & AT&T

I was the second in line at ATT, therefore i got my iphone around 8 and I've been trying since 8AM to get my phone to be activated. This is ridiculous.

Mines just worked (activated) after trying all afternoon (UK)... It wasn't bricked though, I think because I had already downloaded itunes 7.7 yesterday..

Haha Apple fucks up once again. Shitty fucking company.

Same problem here...first edition iPhone now a brick waiting for the phantom network error on Apple's side to be resolved (or the blacklist on longer term owners to be lifted).

Can't wait to see the PC / Mac Guys ad spoofs on YouTube with the Mac guy who really just got dumped by Drew Barrymore and now can't keep from tripping over the plug on the update servers.

Waited in line for 5 my iPhone! BUT...was sent home with an unactivated phone. Now can't get it to connect at all. GRRRRRRRRRR..."network connection timed out."

Like a dumbass, I decided to get an Iphone, I know why I abandoned this bullshit artists companies products after the MAC SE 18 years ago. Activate at Home I was told, bullshit, doesn't work. Just like my MIS professor said 18 years ago the business world uses the PC. Maybe artist fags and fan boys can be wihout their IPODS for a day, but I can't be without a PHONE. Back to the store. Rotten Apple.

I did the software upgrade 2.0 for my 2G iPhone. Have had the activation error network message for the past 4 hours and I finally now have gotten the stupid thing to start the activation process. I've literally been at work just disconnecting and reconnecting my iPhone for the past 4 hours.

Good luck to everyone else.

Yeah I'm having the same problem. I didn't get the first one so i can't say if the issues are worse this time around. I HAVE A NEW IPHONE 3G AND I CAN'T EVEN USE IT!! I am so dissapointed in Apple for not anticipating this many users and having their system ready. I almost want 2 return it.......jus kidding. Is there any other way than just to wait it out?

Finally got mine to work. After about 3 hours at home trying to activate it my iPhone is finally set up and syncing. Frustrating experience for sure. I am really disappointed in the way that Apple executed things. I am a fan of Apple but this is terrible for customer service.

At least you got one.

Stood in line a total of 7 hours today. . . left with a slip of paper.

Waited in line at AT&T store for 2 hours (~50 people in line at 8:00 a.m.) before they sold out. Sketchy store manager walked the line nearly the whole time getting us all amped up about how neat it was gonna be, taking head counts, but didn't bother to tell us they were gonna sell out, thanks for coming, might as well go home.

Bailed at 10 and went to the Apple store and found another line of about 50-70 people, but Apple store folks said they had "plenty". Just be sure my account would allow me to buy one. Quick call to 611 confirmed: no reason I shouldn't be able to, sayeth AT&T. 2 hr. wait to get inside, they said. Line went to nearly a standstill at about 11-12 (presume when west coast started coming online), took 4 hours to get inside the store.

Apple store tech sets the phone down in front of me and starts punching in my info, only to go say, "whoops, can't sell you this phone, seems your account has some discount or something that won't let you buy one. better go get that fixed, we'll hold your phone in the meantime." Walk around the corner to AT&T who assures me that there's no discounts/etc. or any reason I shouldn't be able to buy one. Other folks in there for same reason. AT&T rep walks back down to Apple store with us to see what's up. After a few phone calls, seems Apple has some jacked up info on some accounts and no way to change it. "They're working on it, but sorry, no phone for you. We'll call you when they get it sorted out."

Which they did call to say they'd have it fixed tomorrow.

Nice. My phone voucher expires tonight, and no way to get in touch with the Apple store directly. Guess I wasted a day off work for nothing.

Wow, I'm amazed that people would wait in 5 hour lines to get a phone that you will be able to get in a week as a walk in to any AT&T or Apple store. Hope that week of frustration activating the phone and working out the kinks is worth it.

Personally, NO PHONE is worth that much time in line. I'm constantly amazed at the spell Apple has over their customers, it's like you guys are all hypnotized to love Apple no matter how much they beat you up and spit you out.

I have a hacked Apple 2G phone myself and I still hate Apple. Apple's policies and business practices always seemed to me that they think that their customers owe them something rather than the other way around. That's why I stopped buy Apple Macs over 15 years ago and to this day refuse to invest in anything but novelty products from Apple. And if I can hack their phones and use them outside of Apple's cage I will. It actually makes me feel good to thumb my nose at them while I place a call on my hacked IPhone. The less money I can give Apple and their business partners the better.

The sleek and beautiful baby was mine by 10:45 am and like everyone else, I was told to hook up to iTunes and it would be activated.
After six hours of iTunes failures, I call AT&T and the lady tells me vehemently that my phone was activated in the store. I have to argue with her until she puts me on hold and calls the store herself.
Then, she returrns and says even more vehemently that I just need to connect to iTunes and it will activate.
Now the problem is, a part of my brain is constatnly worried about this whole activation thing. I went to see "The Drowsy Chaperone" and I'm still thinking about it.

I am in Central Pennsylvania (near Harrisburg.) I went to At&t at the Capital City Mall at around 8:00 am on Friday. When I arrived about 50-60 people were in line in front of me. Someone went inside to ask how many iPhones were available, but at that point the store wouldn't tell us. Around 8:15 people started walking out of the store, apparently having been successful in activating their phones.I got to the front of the line shortly after 9:00. As I was waiting to be called we were told the store had begun the morning with 70 phones and was out of 16 gig phones. A number of people ordered a phone rather than getting one that day because they wanted 16 gigs. For the most part, people seemed content with the process at that point, even those who had to order.

The actual purchase of the phone was easy, but I stood around for 45-60 minutes awaiting activation of the phone. By that point people were becoming upset and impatient. I heard the clerks sending people home telling them to activate their phones via ITunes. I asked if I should do the same and the clerk said yes. I think if I hadn't asked I would just have been left standing there for who knows how long.

No one was told anything about there being an actual problem with the activation system. We were just told we should be able to go right home and activate but that it was taking a long time in the store. I drove to work and tried to activate my phone. Received several different error messages. Called At&t. The rep spent a considerable period on the phone trying to figure out what the problem was, and also, mentioned the phone should have been activated in the store. So apparently by 10:15 or so, At&t home office was not completely aware that there was a problem. After about 30 minutes I was transferred to Apple. Sent to the wrong extension, so after waiting 20 minutes on hold, Apple apologized, told me wait times were two hours, and sent me to the proper extension. I hung up because I didn't want to wait two hours.

I tried to activate periodically over the next few hours with no luck. Around 1:00 I went back to the store to see if they could help. The store still seemed unaware that there was a system wide problem, said it was just a delay and I should try to keep activating the phone every now and again. I was told if I couldn't activate within 24 hours I should call the store and ask for help.

I left my phone connected to ITunes and periodically tried to activate it. Finally around 3:00 activation went through. Everything has worked fine since then. So basically it took me from 8:00 am until 3:00 pm to have a working IPhone. It wasn't really a huge deal because I wasn't porting over an old number and wasn't left without a phone for that period. On the other hand, the lack of information was rather irritating and seemed unnecessary. At&t should, at the least, not have made me stand around the store for 45+ minutes waiting for the phone to activate, and also, should have told me there was a problem so I didn't waste time calling and sitting on hold, never mind trying repeatedly to activate my phone.

Apple would have been wise to put some kind of warning on their site instead of making frustrated people try to activate over and over. A little communication would have gone a long way.

I have the 'old' iphone - had no desire to upgrade at the moment, was just looking forward to the apps store. Here's a log of last 48 hours:

July 11th
2pm: Data Plan suddenly stopped working. However phone works.
2:15pm: Attempted to add the plan on the web - instructed to call (15 minutes)
2:30pm: Called AT&T and was told it will be activated. (30 minutes)
4pm: Still no Data plan - went back to the web, no dice (15 minutes)
4:30pm: AT&T call - attempted activation, apparently problem with the system. Said to try again in an hour. (30 minutes)
6:00pm: Tried again - same thing, getting the needs more time to activate, patiently waiting email.
6:30pm: Called AT&T, I'm finally told I can not upgrade the data plan and to try through itunes. First time, AT&T pushes blame on "itunes" AT&T puts a "fix" in - suddenly, voice stops working(45 minutes)
7:00pm: Itunes didn't work - called again. Advised to go to AT&T store and get a new sim card. Once again - reminded it's itunes fault. (15 minutes)
8:00pm: Went to AT&T store, got new sim card - they tried activating - no luck. Asked me to stick around - waited 1 hour. Store closed, forced to leave and advised to try at home. (1 hour)
9:00pm: iphone doesn't activate, same message. (10 minutes)
9:10pm: Called AT&T - they told me itunes servers are all backed up and that I won't be able to activate until tomorrow morning. But they promised me that they'll put a note in to activate my data plan. (45 minutes)

July 12
7:00am Called AT&T - once again, telling my story - they "attempt" to fix - no dice. They give me a new number to their activation department. (scratching my head why they never gave this to me in the first place).
7:45am: Finally got through to activation dept. Told the only solution is to end my contract and try again in an hour. (1 hour)
10:00am: Tried to activate through itunes again - finally got sign up window. Put all my information in, selected data plan - basically my same set up from the last submit and THEN (45 minutes)

"needs more time to activate."

3:32pm: Curses AT&T and iphone.

TOTAL TIME: 5 hours 15 minutes and i'm still in the same place when i started.

Day 2. Phone still not activated. However my old at&t phone is still working.