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.



Johnathan I got this message too and I am a long term customer. I think they just sent them to everyone in the system

i received that email. which did not include my new media package, it listed my old one. and the guy from at & t said i was still looking at another 12 hours before activation.


I agree.. I wouldnt care if it didnt work until next week if they had not disabled my other phone.. thats the thing that causes an issue.. NO phone service.. if I would have known that I would have waited

It's been 14 hours so far for me. Just got off the phone with Apple (58min hold time). They indicated that you CAN use the SIM in your old phone without disrupting the activation process. They also indicated the problem is with ATT. There is a 24 hour backlog with their number rollover process. That is, if you are trying to use the same number that you had with your old phone, even if it was with THEM.



the sim card for most of us is disabled.. they did that when we tried to activate the new phones.. also the NEW cards will work in the old phones but the old sim cards DO NOT work in the new apple phones...

12 hours for activation, or AAPL & T market decapitations in -45.

Charlie. I would say at this point, at least in my case, it is an Apple issue more than an AT&T issue. I know that Apple lovers will deny this to the ends of the Earth, but the fact is, I called AT&T and Apple and they both explained the process in the following way:

1. Purchase your phone.

2. Go home, install iTunes, Login/Create and iTunes account.

3. Fill out the info on the screen. The info is then submitted to AT&T

4. AT&T Processes the order and sends confirmation back to Apple.

5. Apple then Activates your iPhone through the iTunes app.

Now, AT&T and Apple have said that my account was activated through AT&T's system and now APPLE is have some difficulties activating my phone. The support guy at Apple that I spoke to said that the phones will be working but he didn't know when. He said that they were working on the issue, but if he transferred me to the support department, they would tell me the same thing: That I have to WAIT.

I know you don't want to acknowledge that Apple is imperfect, but they are. Their systems are apparently not able to handle this new product or the demand. Why? I don't know. They run iTunes and have millions of subscribers, how can a few 100 thousand bring the system to it's knees?

8.5 hours and counting. I have been reading these blogs. Alot of AT&T/Cingular bashing. I've been a Cingular customer for years and have always gotten excellent service and I have never had a activation issue before. On the other hand I am new to Apple and while I'm certain that this device will be awesome once activated, I have to ask Apple why they opted to have the activation online instead of in the store? The demand on the system in the store would have been lighter since they would have only been selling so many at a time and then you could go home and sync it or whatnot. It may have added 3 to 5 minutes to each tranaction.

Steve Jobs, We expect your name to do more. As in, take the roll in your family name and HIRE SOME FUCKING PEOPLE WHO KNOW WHAT THERE DOING.

I don't think im the only one whose pissed considering the fact I spent $641.97 on a phone, $29.99 tax for a car charger and $24.99 for a case. I honestly been looking at the globe so long I think I can pinpoint where I am looking @ Earth.

Oh look theres the apple building. Is that Al-Qaeda?

I'm not an Apple fan at all, Ben. In fact, until recently I wouldn't even touch an Apple product. My point, which you missed is that this is not an Apple problem. This is an AT&T problem. And it has nothing to do with bandwidth or what is offered, it has to do with their billing systems that are doing the activations.

What apple demanded was amazingly low cost plans with unlimited bandwidth and support for visual voicemail. Of course Verizon wouldn't do that, they don't even let you choose your phones, only their phones work on their proprietary network. The flip-side is that because only those phones work, they get more stability...after all, they know you're using a supported phone.

And you're right, Mike. It is amazing that we have "The best iPod we've ever made" except that if we don't have a current contract we cannot even use the iPod services? I can't wait to see if it turns off when the contract does.

Just got off the phone with Cingular/ATT manager. He says fixing the "communications problem will is now estimated to take 48 hours" this is up from the "up to 24 hours" they were reporting this morning. He admitted the communication problem may be on the ATT side.

Still holding...its been over 2 hrs and no one is picking up at AT&T....i have been staring at my computer for 13 hrs now....this is terrible!!

well it seems that every product has there flaws or draw backs, and this seems to be it for the iphone.

"communications fix" now 48 hours? unacceptable. iBlack Monday.

You may be right, but the AT&T rep told me that TWO million iphones were sold yesterday, and are being activated, and that THEIR system is over-loaded.

WTF.. can't believe AT&T has the balls to do that!!! I've been waiting over 10 hours and nothing I can't even use my old phone..BASTARDS! AT&T please remove that promotional saying "Welcome to the new AT&T" Scew your new shit.. get this up and running.. didn't pay almost $700 to not be connected. Can you hear this now? (cryton extends his middle finger). ATT Fix MY SHIT!

This is insane - we should have known better then to trust an "activation" process supported by
AT&T would do anything but get screwed up. Its a shame that something like this had to happen
but AT&T pulled a ruse on it's customers and maybe even Apple.

Stewart read your comment before but I spoke to the ATT rep and they told me that they didn't have enough people to do the activation and were trying to get more people. It's just really bad planning from AT&T. Probably also from Apple but then again everyone wants to play the blame game.

So, I'm bored and I can't call any of my friends to chill out on a BEAUTYFUL Saturday in Philadelphia. I know when this thing starts to work, it will be great, but until then, this totaly eats shit.

AT&T (AKA: Evil Empire, AKA: Enron 2) probably dionnected all the old phones so people would stop calling.

Also, please stop yelling at the AT$T people on the phone. If they were being told anything helpful, I'm posative they would tell you. These people are just trying to do their job and their company's screw up is making them have to work crazy hours and deal with alot of abuse.

Note from an auditor who specializes in the internal workings of public companies: If you want to get you point across, send an actual letter with a stamp to the company's executive management and Board of Directors (you can find their names on the 10K annual report and the company corporate address is proably online). Since it is illegal to open or disgard someones mail there is a great chance you will be heard (don't write hate mail, just tell them you are dissapointed with the service and tell them how to make make you feel better about it). These are the people who will be setting the policy on giving you discounts, money, or waived fees. These are the people to be upset with.

Keep on keeping on!

13 hrs after "addl time needed email"
45 min hold time to be told there is no information or ETA- "could be days"

The blame game is that if your releasing something that you have LINES of LINES of people at all stores. You can see that this is going to Explode. You take the precautions to help the customers, but keep in mind, this is the 21st century now where the customer isn't always right. The computer is.

APPLE & AT&T are just seeing how many people commit suicide after waiting so long.

This is exactly why Microsoft blew up and Apple went no where. Microsoft had the intelligence to get there problems fixed in a short time.

6 hours left until my 24 hours are up....... If after the 24 hours are up i will be very dissapointed. If i could only play with my iphone and not make calls i'd be sooooooooooo happy. Who needs to make calls anyway. We all bought it for the other awesome features. They played with my emotions when i called, i was advised to power off and on and it might get the activation process complete. I don't think there is anything else to do. I did get a weird text message from AT&T at 5:20 AM this morning. Anyone else get it and have any idea what it means? The only thing i can think of is now i have AT&T on my old phone insead of Cingular. I was never a fan of AT&T and Cingular treated me right.

Anyone else have any tricks up their sleves.

How about this, whenever you get activated post where your from and how long you waited for activation. Maybe those posts will give us unactivated iphone owners something to look forward to.

Stewart, from what they have been telling me (and what they told their Verizon counterparts) is that we are at step 4. Our phones have not even been activated in AT&T's systems. They haven't done that step, so they can't send it to iTunes.

Here's some more info for iPhone users who are having activation issues.

Jennifer at the Gainesville FL AT&T store near the mall called me to help resolve the credit check issue. She asked for the SIM card number. You can get to that number by touching the "info" icon in the upper right corner of the iPhone screen. It's the ICCID one listed second. She was able to generate the correct Credit Approval number from that SIM card number.

Then... She offered to call AT&T and wait on hold for me. She called back shortly and relayed that for my account, I'm leaving Verizon, that Verizon is "behind" in handling the port requests for folks who are leaving their service for AT&T.

Go figure.

AT&T "didn’t have enough people to do the activation"

thanks, Cryton336. now i understand why the deactivation txt msg to my old phone was timestamped 8 hours from the future.

so how many people will it take to screw in millions of iPhones?


Yeah, that's what I meant: put your _new_ sim card (from the iPhone) into your old phone until your iPhone is activated. At least you'll have a cell phone in the interim. Apple assured me that doing this will _not_ interrupt the activation process.

Insane, I just did some garden work, cooked breakfast, and took a shower and I'm still on hold with AT&T. Now 50 mins on hold. This is sad and a total waste of time. Simple Activation my A**. I'm taking back this dumb phone and sticking to Sprint..

When I woke up this morning, a email from AT&T told me that my phone is activated (6 hours from the first "taking more time..." email). I'm now playing with the awesome device.

I wish you all getting properly activated. While the wait and the process was a hassel, the device is GREAT.

john, have you done this and then can you receive calls on your old phone?