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 talked with a helpful former cingular rep at 877-419-4500. she put me on hold to talk with the "synchronization dept". came back after a couple of minutes and said they were having technical problems and weren't taking calls right now. she asked me to call 877-800-3701 in about an hour. she said as of 10 am eastern time, they had 11,000 activations in the queue (not millions).


the cingular rep also advised against switching sims either way.

note: i've been with cingular since they were pac bell cellular in 1984 and my phone box was mounted in the trunk with a corded handset console between the seats.

Okay... I do have to say this for the AT&T peeps they must all be Zen masters 'cause all 7 I've spoken to have been as calm as Hindu cows. Anyway, they are clearly just going through a routine on the phone at this point. First it was 2-6 hrs. Then 24 hrs. Now that that is almost up they are saying; "Well... let's take a look at the plan and see if anything out of the ordinary [pause followed by the inevitable] "Well I do see some stray info on your account from X years ago.. I'll fix it... Of course I can't make any guarantees that will help but it might speed things along." (and pacify you with the hope of some forward progress) "Oh and by the way the official time is now 24-48 hrs. -sigh- Off to the movies I guess.

I just spoke to someone as well. I tried to activate my phone at 7:07 pm last night, and have been waiting (impatiently). The ATT reps are nice, but not helpful. She told me that most of the delays are happening on the coasts-- according to her, people in the midwest are having no delays at all. Anyone support that here?

I'm on the east coast and she said this is the worst area for delays. I was hoping she could at least tell me where in the queue I am, but she said it's impossible for her to know, but the process should be complete within 24 hours.

I just came back from an AT&T store. Again, they have no answers on when the service will be activated (it's been 20 hours now), but they refused to do anything about the fact that I don't have any phone service at all. I asked if they would give me a prepaid SIM card since my service is not working and this is my only phone. The guy I spoke w/ said that I could BUY one if I wanted to. That's great. I would love to buy something else from a company that's not providing me w/ the service that I am currently paying for. I asked if the amount of the SIM card could be subtracted from my current plan and was told that they have no authorization to do this in the store and I would have to contact customer service. They dialed the number for me from a store phone and of course there is a long waiting time in order to speak to anyone. I'm very frustrated at the lack of AT&T's willingness to do anything about the problem.

Chronicle of my journey to get my iPhone to do something other than just work as a paperweight:

- Attempted activation (existing customer) last night, 10pm PST. Was given the 'Your activation requires additional time..." message.
- Waited.
- Called customer service around midnight - someone picks up, says "Hundreds of thousands of activations are going through...network backlog....yadda. It will work by morning, just leave it connected."
- Woke up this morning at 9am. Same ol' messages on both the iPhone and iTunes.
- Called customer service - "Just wait - between 9-18 hours". I ask if there's anything she can see on my account that could be a problem. "Oh wait...you have an old plan. Have to update that" Takes my sim number....is this a ray of hope? Half the minutes for the same price later, I am disconnected.
- Call back customer service - "Hmmm, your phone is activated. Try powering up then powering down. Try it again. Reboot. Disconnect. Reconnect. Hmmm, should be working. Let me get you to Apple support." I am disconnected.
- Call back customer service - "Hmmm, your phone is activated, let me get you over to Apple support. Be right back sir." I am disconnected.
- Call back customer service - "It will take 24-48 hours for your phone to activate. Just keep it tethered to the computer and it will work eventually." But, I say, I was told many other answers already, are you sure? "Yes, that's how it works. There are millions of activations going on right now - everyone wants to activate their new iPhones (editor: gasp!!), so it is going to take time." But, I say, my old phone doesn't work anymore either. "Yes, we know. That must be frustrating for you and I do apologize. You can take the sim out of your iPhone and use it in your old phone if you like." Cool. I can use my old phone and take apart my new one.

So, final score: Me - 0, AT&T - 2 (they don't have to provide me with service, AND got me to upgrade), Apple - (-1) Big black eye for them in choosing an inept company like AT&T to trust with the biggest consumer electronics launch of the year.

I'm going back to refreshing my mail account now. I'll check in later.

Just as I suspected. After being VERY familiar with the dysfunctional organization called cingular (at&t, or whatever they're called now), I was shocked that Apple chose those losers as their sole carrier. I switched from cingular to verizon 2 years ago after they bought AT&T Wireless and screwed up an outstanding carrier with superior service and coverage.

Shame on YOU Apple. I've been a happy VZN customer and was just trying to help my girlfriend with her activation. She bought me one of these cool iPhones and my time is more valuable than this crap.

I've been a s/w developer, systems engineer, and now product manager. No excuse for this total lack of planning.

I've been waiting for 12 hours and still no activation. I waited 2 hours to get on the phone with an AT&T rep who had to take me off business designation because the form didn't allow me through. I got the phone at 8:00pm last night, plugged it in at 10, had a problem processing the form, because of the afore mentioned problem, and finally at about 2am got the "activation will take more time" This is terrible. Meanwhile I don't have service on my old phone.

I think Apple made a mistake teaming up with AT&T. There rep. will definitely suffer. Obviously AT&T did not adequately prepare for this. Apple should have verified there network competence.

Apple you needed to have guaranteed spot on activation service. This product was much to important for this this type fowl up. There needs to be adequate compensation to make up for this.

What is the longest time anyone has actually waited for a phone that does actually activate. What I am getting at is if you have been waiting 12 hours is there any hope at all or is this going to be one of those things where in 2 days they say...oops our bad...you need to come in and pick up a different sim card and start all over again!

Just curious if anyone past the 12 mark has even had their phone activated.

Found this on engadget. I tested and confirmed. Enjoy the ipod functions... sort of (Sheesh, I grasping at any straws now) See Below:


In itunes you can already start dragging music to your phone, well of course since it is not activated you cannot get to the music menu. But if you plug in the headphones and click the button on the mic, IT STARTS PLAYING YOUR MUSIC!!

Enjoy your minimum functionality ipod until activation!!!

11,000 activations left. Out of how many total? I still can't believe that both companies are so hush hush. Why haven't they released any "official" word on this matter? They are leaving CSR's to make "predictions" and I guess 24 to 48 hours sounds reasonable because if its less than 24 to 48 hours they look good and if its actually 24 to 48 hours they look right. My big question is how much money are they making on the 10% restock fee for those phones returned? And then they turn right around and resale them. Creative marketing strategy, huh?

18 hours...I'm in Nashville, Tn

some thing positive to share the pain.

I did my homework to discover what wasw the problem with the delay

you will be surprise

I went to cingular store this morning to return the BadIphoneapple.

guest what my account have a phone number assigned since 6:00 this morning so I gave a second chance.

so I went to my e-mail and the same message.

so I call 1-877-800-3701

tecnnical support for iphone
correct the wrong IMEI number posted by the cingular store. and the activation went thru.

7 Minutes and im @ the 20 hour marker. Only 4 hours from returning this junk and taking a loss.

I knew AT&T was gonna be a problem, the company goes out of business for years than comes out of no where and goes "WE HAVE EXCLUSIVITY OF THE APPLE IPHONE!!"

Why does the shittiest company in the United States get access to the "apparent phone to change the revolution!"

Japanese people piss & shit on the iphone. There laughing at us. Someone right now while your reading this is using there cell pbone as a credit card while where waiting for it to get activated.

APPLE. For a first impression, you lost any future business. Although Vista sucks, im still a Microsoft fan.

11,000 couldn't be an accurate #. If that was the case most of this would be done by now. Let's say the activation dept is between 50-100 people even if they could only do 10-20 (each) per hour they would be just about finished with the 11,00 already. We'd being seeing A LOT more "Good News" posts!

Or maybe they're just so excited with their good news they dont care to post here.

Ijust got this message from att
We are currently processing your order. Your order number is 756***
You will receive an additional e-mail when your order is complete that will provide further instructions to activate your iPhone.

I'd love to shove this iphone right up the ass of the altogether useless AT&T service reps that kept me on the phone for 2.5 hours this morning. FUCK AT&T.

oops. this ordeal is obviously affecting my math skills. I registered at 9 last night and it is now 3.15 here. it's only been a little over 18 hours. ONLY. ;)

and I'm in new york

I just got the "Your order number is" email. Interestingly, I called AT&T and they were able to give me my phone number - which was created around 2am (hour 4). I put the sim card in another AT&T phone and called it - it works. So...as much as an apple fan as I am - it seems the delay is in iTunes pushing the activation info back to my phone. It appears this is not all AT&T's fault - the last 13 hours is on Mr. Jobs (2am to now 3pm)


If I accidentally unplugged my iphone, more than once, over the past 18 hours, is that going to screw my activation?

Whoohoo! Only a few more hours to go maybe?? :-)

Just got this email after 17 hours:
We are currently processing your order. Your order number is 75****
You will receive an additional e-mail when your order is complete that will provide further instructions to activate your iPhone.

BTW, I've called all the support numbers and everyone I talked with has been Excellent: kind, courteous, understanding, apologetic and informative. I think they are doing a wonderful job especially considering they weren't given ANY details until 6p on launch day.\

I got the same message nazeem.. with some six digit code.. I was talking to another att and rep at the time (number 9) who said she had no idea what that email meant.. she is in tech support...

another call, different infos... this time 877-800-3701. rep works for resolve corp, a third level backup call center... they didn't think they'd be used, but have 150 reps working there today.

he was most helpful yet, able to locate my record in the activiation queue. (how many?) looks like 250-300K. he also confirmed my theory that a center in india was part of the process (as i noted above).

he assured me he could see that my activation order is good, and also not to worry because i did *not* get another email with a "web order id"... just taking time (in virtual line) to process with the others.


he said it looks like up to six more hours for me...

off to the beach. hope to have an iPhone when i get back. tx & good luck!


Called ATT customer service, got through right away. They told me they had assigned me a telephone number, however, the IMEI number of my iPhone was nowhere to be found. I gave him the IMEI number and hopefully he put it on the file. Said I had to wait approximately 24 hrs.

Currently at 17 hrs wait.....

The phone is great!! It rocks!! Patience.........

Just got off phone with a very apologetic Apple tech support dude. He convinced me--despite strong cynicism--that this is an AT&T issue only and that even Apple is having a very hard time getting AT&T to be forthcoming with Apple as to exactly why this is happening and how long it will take to iron this out. From what I can figure from the conversation, AT&T was supposed to be doing something that AT LEAST would allow the iPhone to work as an iPod etc. if phone took a while to activate.

I understand the complaints against Apple for picking AT&T, but as a lawyer I might suggest this could be a possible blessing in this way: if AT&T is this bad and in such obvious breach of their agreement with Apple, Apple might be able to get out of the contract with AT&T and move on to other carriers. Don't think that Jobs and their lawyers didn't think about such a possibility way in advance. Especially with AT&T's bad rep.