Could Not Activate iPhone 4S

By , Oct 14, 2011

Just picked up your iPhone 4S? Excited? You should be.

But that excitement may be quickly quelled when you try to activate your new device.

Apparently, AT&T’s servers are getting hammered, and it’s causing activation to fail over, and over, and over…

Upon initially setting up your new iPhone 4S, you’re greeted with a message baked in by the carrier stating that “It may take up to 3 minutes to your iPhone”. It looks like AT&T wasn’t prepared for the influx of new activations. Surprise.

How are things working on Sprint or Verizon? Are you experiencing similar issues, or is it smooth sailing?

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  • Mike B

    I just spent 2 hours on the phone with apple, who conferenced in ATT…they said it is an ATT network issue with pre-orders…the solution is to wait for the information to cycle through….i am on hour 11 in dealing with this…ugh!

    • Rayne

      I was told by one Apple rep that it was a defective phone, when they put me through to their “Senior Tech” he patched AT&T in on the phone call and hung up on me.

  • Jonas

    I just got the phone with AT&T and they said more likely I have a defective card. She put a note on m account and asked me to go into the store tomorrow to get a new one.
    I’ve been getting the following message “The SIM card in your iPhone does not match the SIM card associated with your account.”

  • Rayne

    I have been having the “Sim does not match” account error ALL DAY. Spent5 hours in AT&T store, I’m on the phone with AT&T now who is saying I got a bad phone Apple hung up on me twice and gave me to AT&T.

  • Mike B

    BTW – I’ve already had 2 new sim cards put in today – still nothing….

    • Rayne

      Me too Mike B!!! BUT the Sim card sent with my IPhone worked in the demo phone at the AT&T store! It’s not the Sim, it’s the phone. I have an appointment at the Apple store tomorrow but the chances of them having a replacement there are very slim! How many bars of service do you show? I am showing 1 bar which AT&T said shows that it is a phone issue also.

      • Mike B

        I am actually showing 3 bars…my appt with apple was at 4:30 today – still no solution….

  • Aaron

    Ok. That sounds reasonable enough! I will try that fight tomorrow.! “Nothing worthwhile is easy Ellen!” C.W. Griswald

  • Sergey

    Same here, sim card not match. Been told by ATT that may take up to 24 hours.
    Reyne, did you try to activate you 4s with any other sim cards before you start seeing “Sim card not match”?

    • Rayne

      No Sergey, I brought the phone to AT&T in the box and it was an issue from the start, we tried several Sim cards and now we are back to the original that came in the pre-order shipment.

  • Rayne

    Also, if you go to Itunes now to try to activate I’m getting some crazy “Jingle” screen, not the same screen that I was seeing earlier and when it cycles it gives me a “Generic Error”

  • Aaron

    Answer to: Also, if you go to Itunes now to try to activate I’m getting some crazy “Jingle” screen, not the same screen that I was seeing earlier and when it cycles it gives me a “Generic Error”

    Take the SIM Card Out and Reboot, and that jibberish will go away!

    • Rayne

      Thanks Aaron, I did that and every few tries I get that weird Jingle message. I guess I just need to surrender until my appointment at the Apple store tomorrow which by the way is an HOUR DRIVE!! AHHHH!!!

      • Mike B

        I drove 50 minutes to an Apple store – their answer was “be patient” – really?

  • Aaron

    Rayne, if you knew that 1 hour drive would solve your problem here, I’d bet you would be willing to drive 2 hours! Ha! Good luck, I’m sure we will all be laughing about this in a week!

    • Rayne

      Aaron, you are so right, I feel like a lunatic right now, if Apple was open I’d get on the road now and wait! The best part is, I upgraded my husbands phone with the intention of giving him mine and taking the Iphone after activation so now HE is without a phone! He is not happy!

  • Sherri

    My error is the sim card not matching issue… All day, back and forth with Apple and AT&T. In the store, over the phone, etc… Senor reps, customer service, tech support, etc. Apple says it’s ATT, ATT says it’s Apple. Finally after 10 hours of this… I was told that it’s a “known issue” with ATT if you are “cross-upgrading” and purchased your phone through Apple. You are supposed to activate the phone with the original phone number prior to having ATT switch the information to the new number. They said that we need to switch in and out sim cards, buy new ones, and have them put the old number on, activate the phone, get another sim card with the new number. However, they aren’t 100% that this will work and said they are hoping Apple and ATT can resolve the issue. We’ll see what tomorrow brings… Soooo sad and disappointed. First time I’ve ever pre-ordered anything and was ecstatic when the UPS guy showed up… only to end my day in tears and frustration… and NO PHONE….

    • Todd


      You described the exact experience I am having, I was a “cross upgrade” preorder as well. Now neither phone is working.

  • Kyle

    Having Same Problem on Verizon. Went thru autosetup. Tried activating thru Verizon Website. Followed Instructions. No Luck

  • Edward

    WOW! And I thought I wasted a lot of time getting my phone activated – only took me about 1.5 hrs. The AT&T tech support guy actually was very helpful. Nevertheless, it’s amazing that something that should take seconds is causing people so much headache.

  • Dianna Gibson

    I’m getting the same issue. Been trying to upgrade now for 15 hours. Always the same message. Three calls to AT&T and one visit to their store. Switched out my SIM and AT&T says it is jus the iTunes servers that need to catch up. Once that happens I will be working. Right…it is now 2am CT and same thing!!!! I might as well just switch back to my 3G. At least the phone works!

  • Charles

    I don’t get any bars in my service window, I get “No Service”…going into Settings > About > Network (which says ‘Not Available’ > it then says “SIM not provisioned”…can anyone tell me what this all means??? I’m totally lost and completely frustrated.

  • Trish

    I’m a cross upgrade, received my new phone yesterday at 9 a.m. I’ve been attempting to activate ever since. The last phone call to AT&T resulted in them laughing at me and saying “Good luck!” I am BEYOND FRUSTRATED. I have had no phone service since yesterday and all I get told now is “be patient.” What is the point of pre-ordering? I can’t even use my old phone. Someone had to come beat on my door yesterday when there was an emergency because they couldn’t call me.

  • Mike B

    Has anyone gotten their 4S activated after getting the sim card does not match error?

  • Trish

    Mike B, that’s the error I’m getting now, also. I’m curious to know as well if anyone has gotten it resolved.

  • Edward

    The AT&T tech support guys took my IMEI and SIM card numbers, and manually re-entered them into the system. My phone was activated within an hour or so. At the time, I was very unhappy how long it took, but now that I am seeing the amount of problems people are having, I guess I was pretty lucky.

  • Bill

    FINALLY have everything set up. Started Friday around 2:00 pm with a “Wait for the email” notice. Tried again and again with both iPhone and Mac. Around 7:00 pm I was finally able to get through. Then I waited another hour for the “No Service” to appear on the “old” iPhone 4. I wanted to restore the iPhone 4S from iTunes, so I waited until this morning to come into the office and restore. Just wiped the iPhone 4 so it is ready for my wife. YEA!!!! I am glad this only happens once a year.

  • Charles

    I don’t get any bars in my service window, I get “No Service”…going into Settings > About > Network (which says ‘Not Available’ > it then says “SIM not provisioned”…can anyone tell me what this all means??? I’m totally lost and completely frustrated.

  • Netch

    Just left Apple Store, they changed my phone. my problem was, I was getting the message “your sim does not match your associated account”. Guy there told us that because the sim was manufactured in China? I didn’t get the whole thing, but was glad they changed my phone!

  • Trish

    Just sat on hold with AT&T for 49 minutes where they dumped me on Apple, where I sat on hold for 92 minutes. When I finally spoke to someone, he put me on hold to “Consult a senior apple advisor” and I was disconnected. I’m going to have to drive to the store, I guess. It’s 30 miles away and I was hoping to avoid doing that.

  • Charles


    Ok, so I called AT&T and dialed their technical support (option 3, then option 1 for help with your device)

    The lady said to turn off my new 4s.

    I then gave the lady my IMEI and my ICCID numbers and BAM, within 10 seconds, the call got disconnected (I was talking to her on my ‘old iPhone’ that I was upgrading from), and then waited about 2 minutes until turning my 4s back on (per her instructions, before being disconnected). The phone booted up, and voila, my service is connected with full bars and the AT&T logo!

    If you’re still having any kind of difficulty, please save yourself endless frustration by trying to troubleshoot yourself, and just call in! Wait times were horrible last night, but my wait time was only about 2-3 minutes just now. She was really friendly and took care of my problem without a fuss or without trying to pass me off and ‘be patient’.

  • Mike B

    There is hope! After 27 hours of fighting with AT&T and Apple, my phone FINALLY activated after getting the “Sim card does not match” error…..Good luck! Looks like it was a server error – nothing Apple or AT&T had to do…I apparently just had to wait – ugh! The 4S rocks and is worth the pain (I guess)….

  • Trish

    Mine activated in the 27th hour as well and I was one of the “SIM card does not match” people.

  • Sherri

    Cross upgrade pain in the butt… but AT&T got it to work today in the store. It required switching the sim card, programming it to original number(which will make the other phone sim not work). Then, activating with the upgrade number. Then they switched sim cards and put the new number on it. Then, they had to put a new sim card in the other phone and re-program that. Took forever but finally worked.

  • Mike

    Looks like Only sim card changes than what was being sent are those with the sim error. Put in the sim that was supposed to be activated with an try activation.

  • Mike

    Once you activate change sim with a as needed.

  • Rayne

    Mine was actually a “Dead” phone, went to Apple and they replaced it and had me out the door in 5 minutes, I brought my case number in from Tech Support and gave it to the “Genius Bar” and he replaced it no questions asked!

  • Matt C

    My phone has the will not work with sim card because i am a cross upgrade and ive been trying to do this for over 30 hours. ive gone to the apple store 3 times and they said to wait. Ive gotten 3 new sim cards from ATT and still nothing. Anyone got any solutions?

  • Trish

    @Matt C, I’m a cross-upgrade and mine activated at the 27 hour mark. This was a very frustrating experience. No one from Apple or AT&T were helpful to me, either.

  • Gordy

    It’s the GSM CDMA compatibility thing in my opinion. Plus AT&T screws the pooch with every launch of a new iPhone.

  • Sean

    Okay, I think I’ve figured this out. It’s not really an Apple issue, and it’s not really an AT&T issue. To anyone who got an iPhone 4S: ACTIVATE the PHONE YOURSELF FIRST. Apple only lets you use the sim card in the phone with the particular phone you have. This activation step is not an AT&T activation step–it is an iPhone activation step.

    If you get the “Could not activate iPhone / The sim card in your iphone does not match the sim card associated with your account” error message, try this:

    Go through the iPhone activation steps, and DO NOT connect to a wireless network. Select Use Cellular Data Connection, and then go to the deepest basement or signal blocker you can find. The idea is that you want the iPhone to think that there’s no way to connect to the internet.

    You should get a message that says “Activation pending” and tell you that you’ll get an activation email once it resolves. The plus side is that you will now be able to access the rest of the iPhone. If you were trying to activate your phone, you should now be able to use it–if you can’t AT&T should be able to help you now with your AT&T activation that the iPhone activation is passed.

    Hope this helps!

  • David Fawcett

    Sprint actually just switched from AT&T and phone activated fine in store after my number was ported. Started restore from iCloud and it was gonna take forever, so I restarted and my phone rebooted saying it was not activated. So now I have wifi and no phone WTF?

  • Lisa Barton

    I’m having the same issue w/ the iPhone 4S I just got today via FedEx. No signal so I can’t activate it. And Verizon isn’t sure when the problem will be fixed!

    • April

      The exact same thing is happening to me with Verizon! I just got my iPhone 4s today and it still won’t activate. It just says, “no service” in the top left corner. Hope Verizon can fix this soon….

      • Anonymous

        Same with me with the iphone 4s I got today from Fed ex..
        Went down to Verizon after it would not configure through itunes. Verizon Manager/Tech and apple support via land line couldn’t get it to see Verizon carrier on network.

        Got home and called apple to request another phone, Senior Tech at apple told me they have observed 2-3 problems with shipments today. He thinks there is a brand new issue with people that are upgrading from blackberries possibly… ( I’m switching from storm)

        Tell’s me to hold on, they are investigating…

      • Sierra~시에라

        i’m having the same issue. I tried to switch from my blackberry storm and since the iphone isn’t working…i don’t have a cell phone at all right now….it’s frustrating.

      • Ricardo Herrera

        Did you got your IPhone fix? I did exactly what you did talking with several people over the phone and went also to the Verizon store and nothing… Today is the second day with the IPhone and without a cell because of trying to activate my new iPhone…. All I’m getting is “no service” message. Please let me know if your problem finally got fixed. Thanks.

      • Anonymous

        Went to I store and they gave a new one without sim card. Works great now!

      • Official Ben Stoffer

        The problems not with Verizon, It’s the sim card in the 4S. It’s trying to connect to carrier in Europe instead of Verizon. Apple is currently working on the issue and they say as soon as it’s fixed the 3G should show up.

  • Beatriz Randolph

    You’re backtracking now. There are numbers that exist that you understand nothing of. The requirements of the iPhone’s camera, over all, will always be better than many handsets. Megapixels only became an advertising tenant a couple of years before once the smartphone phenomenon started. So, today everyone else equates megapixels to image quality. And that’s only an uninformed means of thinking.