How Do I Activate an iPhone Without a SIM?

By Robert Schrader

If you use a GSM iPhone -- in the United States, one sold or intended for use on AT&T's network, rather than Verizon's -- it is possible to make the device activate without activating a SIM card for cellular service. Although you can't activate the device to make phone calls, send text messages or connect to the Internet via AT&T's cellular data network, several other features work without SIM card activation.

Things You'll Need

  • iPhone USB cable

Step 1

Take the iPhone out of its box. Hold down its "Lock" and "Home" buttons briefly until an "Apple" appears on its screen. Wait for the device to power up fully. Slide the "Slide to Unlock" bar to dismiss any "No SIM Inserted" error.

Step 2

Tap the iPhone's "Settings" button. Choose "Wi-Fi," and switch the device's wireless adapter to "On" by tapping the gray "Off" button. Turn "On" the option to have the device prompt you each time it locates a new wireless network. Without cellular data, this is how the device connects to the Internet.

Step 3

Connect the iPhone to the computer and choose it when it appears in iTunes. Click the "Sync" button to synchronize the device with all the media you have stored in your iTunes Library, including music and video. Enjoy music and other media from iTunes on the iPhone no matter whether you use or connect to the Internet.

Step 4

Use the iPhone's "Utilities" that don't require you to make or receive calls, send or receive text messages or be connected to a cellular data network to use them. For example, add up the cost of groceries using the "Calculator" or organize your appointments using "Calendar."

Tips & Warnings

  • If you ever do decide to activate your phone with a SIM, you need only insert the SIM into the iPhone's SIM tray, connect it to iTunes and follow the prompts. Any information you have stored on the iPhone or activity you have already completed remains unaffected.