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.



wouldnt know John.. as I stated I am now over 14 hours..right now its a 600.00 paper weight

to the guy in GA.. I think thats part of our sector.. GA, SC NC and part of VA. or so I was told

Almost waiting 14 Hours... Existing customer in Florida... Still waiting... I tried what David did, no luck.

I really think that AT&T should DROP their $36 dollar activation fee after putting us through this hell. They clearly dropped the ball and we are all victims; and we still have to pay for their unpreparedness!! I've been waiting for 8 hours and it's still not even close to going anywhere. This is appalling and I hope that Apple gets control of AT&T or else Apple will really take a blow for hanging out with such idiots. This is totally a case of being Guilty by Association!


I am waiting now in hour 14. Nothing. And my old phone has been disconnected. This is a screwup for both Apple and AT&T. If you call AT&T you get perma-hold.

Got my phone last night around 7pm and I'm still waiting for activation. What a pain this is. I wish i could at least do something else with this phone except slide left and right and the off. what a shame this is. please do something quick before i go crazy.

well this is odd.. I called the AT&T store where I got my phone. I am an existing customer so there should be no issue.. the guy I spoke too told me this is the FIRST he has heard of this back log (he weas the manager).. what the heck is going on????

He told me to drive out there (40 miles round trip) and get a new sim card so I can have a a phone for the weekend but then I would have to start the activation process all over again.. geez how nice of them

They wouldn't know, since they aren't handling the activation at all.

I didn't have to start over. Leaving iPhone connected to iTunes will eventually time out and scare the crap out of you making you think you have to go back to the beginning.

Here's a play by play of my AT&T Customer Support experience.

Got straight through to a person!! She looked up my info to see if anything was missing.

Lady was very nice and appologetic. Sympathized with me having such a long wait time to get to my iPhone.

She put me on hold and I was TRANSFERRED to the PORT GROUP.

She warned me about long wait times to talk to them, so I guess I'll burn up some more of my Verizon minutes.

Only took a couple of minutes to get through!!!!

This guy was also very nice and appologetic. He talked about the weather down in Georgia and kept appologizing. I think AT&T did know this was going to be a nightmare and sent their Customer Support Reps to some kind of Zen Therapy before hand.

The guy there says that my port from Verizon has been approved and my number is scheduled to be released from Verizon tomorrow (July 1) at 12:30 PM. He was reading to me from documentaion that ports from Verizon will take place at NOW plus 24 hours from time of request. OK, I put in the request at 6:15 PM June 29 (I was 1st in line and in and out of AT&T store in about 10 minutes) OR, I was talking to him at 9:00 AM June 30. So plus 24 hours from one of those times is 12:30 PM July 1. ???

However, accoording to his cheat sheet, if a customer gets transferred to the PORT GROUP, they are supposed to cancel the activation request and instruct the customer to wait 24 HOURS and then start the activation process again. If it doesn't go through a second time, then they have to stop the number port and give them a NEW AT&T NUMBER.

I asked him to not do that, since my transfer had already been approved and scheduled. I was going to have to wait 24 hour anyway to see if it did work. He agreed that and now I'm WAITING PATIENTLY for Verizon to release my number.

If you are porting from another service, and want to verify your status, the PORT GROUP direct # is 1888-898-7685 (not verified)

Good luck to everyone with their own issues and believe me, I've played with one at the store and it will definitely be worth the wait. You've already waited for months to get one in you hands, just wait a little while longer and you WILL BE ABLE TO USE IT.

10 hours later! Still waiting........Nice $650 paperweight so far...........

I know they are not handling it but I figured they would have at LEAST heard of the problem... seems odd they didnt know about it especially since I was told it seemed to be a regional issue

I called AT&T this morning. The woman said she has been getting calls about it all morning. They know there is a problem, but it is very "hush hush." It will be resolved, we just have to be patient.

14 hours and i am sick. at least i have you all to suffer with. so i do have something.
thank you

i dont even want to think how much i am going to loose when aplle stock tanks. i am sick

Gwilly, you should call Verizon and get their port group. The direct number to the Verizon port group is 888-844-7095. You can put in your number and it will tell you if they have received your port request. My bet is that AT&T hasn't even sent it yet. That is what happened to me. Their backlog means they haven't even processed it.

i received an email with my new plan, which listed my old media bundle! i called and the guy added the iphone data package. and said i should be activated by the 24 hour mark? anyone else in kentucky with this delay?

hehe, I tried calling the iPhone activation helpline again. Now it either tries for 45 minutes to get you to someone and then hangs up, or it says they are experiencing technical difficulties to try again later, or it says due to the high call volume they can't help you to call back later.

those of you with verizion issues I can understand a slight delay (NOT a long one!) but I am an EXISTING customer with no changes.. why in the world would it take 14 plus hours.. they didnt have to wait for a number.. I simply changed phones.. not numbers or carriers.. this much time is not acceptable.. I did finally get a supervisor to credit me a free month and take off the activation fee which was nice of him but how am I supposed to deal with clients today.. with no cell.. this is really pathetic

This really blows.
Apple better make this right soon. I expect this from att. The blame game has started. I was on hold so long w/ apple my batteries died on phone. I bought phone for my attorney wife to replace blackberry.

Perhaps Icarus flew too close to the sun...


LOL I Imoeba I live the Icarus comment.. that is priceless!!

Smartblond, this has nothing to do with waiting on the number to release. When a phone is activated you get a new number anyway until your number is propogated out to all the carriers and antennas, and then your old number is on the phone. That's why they say that after activation you can make calls but not receive them.
This problem hasn't even gotten to the point of transferring our old numbers. They just can't get the phones activated in their system. We can't proceed to step 2 until this step 1 is done.

I am so bitter. 14 hours and still waiting. How great that AT&T turned the service off on my old phone? I just can't wait to see what other fun surprises they have in store for their customers in the future.

I'm nearing 16 hours and nada. I've been on the phone with AT&T 4 times (would have been more, but I have to sleep), and all they can do is apologize. First it was it may be 6 hours, then 8, now they're saying possibly up to 48. ARe they kidding me? 2 days with no phone service? I don't have a land line and rely on my cell for all of my phone communication. Had I any idea that activation was going to be like this, I certainly wouldn't have waited in line. You can follow my misery on my blog, www.macademic.net

Thanks Mark that I was NOT aware of.. you are the first person in a long line to of ATT employees that even mentioned that, your explanation makes sense.. but I am still trying to figure out why the corporate store here said this was the first they have heard of the problem, since I was told it was a regional issue.. either way 14 hours and missed customers on a Saturday is really alot to ask.

a timeline would be helpful but no one is going to commit to that at this point

I waited in line and made my purchase of my 8gig iphone in less than 5 minutes a half hour after releasing it. I rushed home, actually ran a couple red lights. Once home rushed through the activation process, first i was told could take 2 hours, then after the 2 hours were up was told it could take 24 hours. The store clerk said the phone had an internal sim card, i thought i would be out of a phone for a day or so. The AT&T Cust srvc rep said to take a paper clip and becareful cause it spring loaded but the top of the iphone is a little hole. you stick the paper clip in and you can put the sim card in your old phone for the time being until you get that much anticipated email stating your iphone is activated and ready to use.


did you try this.. I was told the old sim cards would NOT work with the iphones...

also it seems pointless since the old sim cards for most of us are now considered unregistered.. and useless.. even if you could put it in there.. the card is dead when you start activation .. it deactivates your old one...


I stumbled into buying the last 8 gig phone in Gainesville, FL. Now what? At least I didn't have to wait in line.

Dear, Kentucky
I'm with you brother, I'm at 13hours and counting, I Contacted an AT&T Rep. He told me my account was being processed and even told me my new phone number. (When I call the new number a recording tells me it has been disconnected. I'll just have to sit back and wait with rest of you.) My son's phone activated within seconds. (Go figure!)

DPCHILI, are you kidding me? Paper clips, springs, and sim cards! You've got to be crazy if you think I'm going to be sticking anything inside of my iPhone!

I'm going on 14.5 hours of waiting for the email to tell me my iPhone is activated. I called AT&T and was told to wait 24 hours; if nothing happened by then there was something wrong. The lady that I talked to said it was because of massive amounts of people trying to activate their phones all at once, duh! This isn't that big of a deal for me because I'm not working this weekend but I feel really bad for all the people that have clients or bosses that are counting on you all to have working phones.

Brief update to the article above. Similar information to DPCHILI's post above.

well, its been 14 hours in the waiting for me now. obviously, frustrated as hell like everyone else. and here is what really upsets me... after we wait 24, 48 hours (the majority of us) before this starts working, Apple/AT&T are just going to blow it off. this is unacceptable to me.

i was not an Apple fan before this event, hoping that the iPhone launch would convert me. you can forget about that for certain! this is an embarrassment and an absolute joke. clearly the infrastructure supporting the iPhone is not capable. even when it does activate, you know that browsing the Internet and checking email is likely to suck bad because it requires substantially more bandwidth than is required for simple activation. from what i heard, Apple was not able to work a deal with the other telcos because nobody would give them the flexibility they wanted for these specific features. so what was Apple's answer? go with the crappiest company on the planet who would give them that flexibility - OH!! but retartedly assume that they could actually deliver on that promise! did anyone ever even THINK about proper load testing?!?! OH! and the best part - Apple is now tied into an exclusive with this crappy AT&T and upset the rest of the world who were happy with their existing phone service (like me!).

BOTTOM LINE = Apple delivered. AT%T shattered. Total Experience = WORST ever likely return lost all respect for Apple since they were leading this charge and didnt plan properly.

if this is not fixed in the next few hours, i will be back at the Apple store - this time returning rather than picking up - upset rather than excited - and never to look back.

i wonder who will bail Apple out of their mess this time?! pfff!

PS-> i didnt even elect to transfer my existing number. fortunately, i kept my Verizon service in anticipation of Apple/AT&T not delivering. whew!

PPS-> like everyone else, i downloaded the latest version of iTunes to my PC to activate my iPhone. and despite system restarts, iTunes has my PC CPU nearly pegged at 90% non-stop (i assume until activation completes!). this experience is just plain BAD. Apple sucks at strategic negotiations and making software. stick with user interfaces/experiences (although this one is the worst!) and let the big boys build the infrastructure. Apple... go home and crawl back into your hole.

So I am getting more than frustrated. I contact AT&T as a result on the “Activation” line. They confirm again that my phone was activated by AT&T. They look at their mail queue and determine that my confirmation went to Apple and I am just waiting on them. They connect me to Apple Customer Service line. The Rep tells me that if my phone isn’t activated by 9:00 PM CST, contact them and they will “compensate me for my troubles.”