Using a Micro SIM in an iPhone 3G

There are countless videos and blog posts telling you how you can take your full size SIM card and cut it down to fit in your iPad, but frankly, that’s idiotic. I mean really, who’s going to cut up the SIM card they’re using in their $85+ a month iPhone to put in their iPad when they could just pay $30 a month for unlimited date on the iPad. Yes, you might be cutting up a T-Mobile SIM, but let’s face it… Do you really want to be using EDGE on an iPad?

Anyhow, that’s not what this post is about. I’m going to show you how to do the exact opposite of that, how to take your Micro SIM and use it in your iPhone for cheap data only service. It’s easier than you might think.

Update: Some sites are incorrectly reporting that you need a jailbroken iPhone for this to work, you do not.

Update 2: You also watch this quick video walkthrough.

Step 1: Remove both your iPad’s Micro SIM card and your iPhone’s regular sized SIM card.
Step 1

Step 2: Find an expired debit card, gift card, or a calling card that you don’t need anymore and place your iPhone’s SIM card flush with the top edge and trace an outline of it. Or if you have a spare SIM card you can just skip to Step 4.
Step 2

Step 3: Take a pair of scissors and cut out your SIM template. It should look something like this when you’re done:
Step 3

Step 4: Place your Micro SIM card on top of your template and line up the contact points with your iPhone’s SIM. Then trace around it.
Step 4
Step 5:
Using an razor blade, cut out the middle of your template to make room for the Micro SIM.
Step 5

Step 6: Next place a small piece of scotch tape on the backside of the template to keep the Micro SIM from failing out.
Step 6

Step 7: Place the Micro SIM into your shiny new adapter and then place it into the iPhone’s SIM tray and insert it into the iPhone.

You might think this is where you get to enjoy your sweet 3G for $29.99 a month, but sadly there are a few extra steps needed on the software side of things. If you pull up Safari you’ll get the error message “Could not activate cellular data network”. But we can fix that!

Could not activate cellular date network

Step 8: Make sure your iPhone is connected to a WiFi network, then visit http://unlockit.co.nz and tap Continue.

Unlockit.co.nz

Step 9: Tap Custom APN, then enter Broadband in the APN field.

Tap Custom APN

Enter

Step 10: Leaving the remaining fields blank, tap Create Profile, then tap Install, followed by Install Now on the popup.

Tap Install
Tap Install Now

Step 11: Tap Done, disable your WiFi and bask in the glory of $30 a month unlimited 3G.

You're almost there! Tap done.

Step 12 (optional): Call up AT&T and cancel your iPhone plan!! I’m actually thinking about canceling my crappy AT&T service, since I use it mostly for data anyway and also have a Verizon phone I carry with me for making actual phone calls.

Note: If you decide to stick with your AT&T calling plan for your iPhone and were just trying this project because you’re a nerd, just remember that in order to go back to using your iPhone’s SIM you will need to go to Settings -> General, scroll down and tap Profile: APN Carrier Settings, then tap the red Remove button.

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Aaron Nelsen

is the webmaster and senior technology editor. He's a career geek, coffee enthusiast, Apple fanboy, and accomplished barista pimp.

94 thoughts on “Using a Micro SIM in an iPhone 3G”

  1. has any one try ed this in canada with and success?

    I had a friend activate a rogers micro sim on his ipad,

    I put it in my rogers iphone 3g and changes the APN to broadband but it doesn’t work. so i am wondering if anyone had figured out how to do this on a rogers network. thanks for any info

    1. I had no success with Rogers… i bought a bell microsim card and activated it on my ipad, works great, can’t get it to work yet in the iphone… i get a Bell 3G network in the top corner but when i try to access data i get a “could not activate cellular data network” message :(((

      1. SAME … ME TOO

        —> I THINK IPAD ACTIVATION IS REQUIRED…

        BTW: MAYBE COULD USE THE NEW IPAD FIRMWARE
        GOING AROUND IN J/B COMMUNITY,

        BE ADVISED
        *THERE ARE SIDE EFFECTS TO THAT CHOICE THOUGH TOO

  2. I’m curious to know if there are any new developments regarding using the iPad sim in a 3g/3gs. I’ve been wondering if this still currently works (seeing that these first posts were from this summer). Would anyone like to share about how it is working for them these days? I would try it if I was sure at&t would not bother me about it (thanks in advance for any info shared).

  3. i did this and it worked fine until about a week from now the data wont load it has the data ip address but it just shows you the spinning wheel and wont load please help me

  4. Last month ATT checked for the valids IMEI numbers, now not sure if they check the actual device, anyways I cannot login on the att website as before, they say: You cannot manage your non-iPad device at this site. I used a valid IMEI number. Anyone have success with the ipad simulator or anything to access the account?

  5. Hi Aaron

    I have a locked Canadian Iphone to Fido. Im going to the states in march for about two weeks and want to know if i follow your insturctions, will it work for NON-US locked iphones?

    Would my canadian Iphone have to be unlocked for this to work on the ATT network using an Ipad data plan there?

    Thanks!

  6. hi I am Jake, and I have a question. Can I buy an Ipad 3g and use the sim card in my iphone 4? then I will return the Ipad 3g and keep using the 3g data plan on my iphone?

  7. Hi, I just got my new factory unlocked iPhone 4s and I’ve been waiting years to do this little unlock on it, and now I tried it and it didn’t work. Of course iPhone prompt pages have changed since you posted this unlock. Under custom APN, you have a dropdown list under Carrier, and I selected AT&T (Broadband). I have my iPad data micro sim in the iPhone. I get a message from AT&T that the call is not allowed when I try to make a non wi-fi call using Line2, which by the way works great on the iPad. Can you help? Thanks.

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