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May 14, 2010

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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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94 Comments Post a comment
  1. wandonye
    May 14 2010

    This’s exactly what I’m looking for~! Thank you so much!
    I have some question here:
    1. Do you have to unlock your iphone first? I have an iphone 3GS jailbroken but not unlocked.
    2. One needs an activated micro sim card right? That is to say, an ipad 3g is needed?

    Thanks again~!

    • Aaron Nelsen
      May 15 2010

      No, the phone does not need to be unlocked.

      This was tested on a jail broken iPhone running 3.1.3 and a phone running iPhone OS 4.0 beta 3.

      You do need an activated Micro SIM from AT&T, so yes, an iPad 3G is required.

  2. brentferris
    May 15 2010

    Here’s an idea. make calls using VOIP! Skype or whatever your flavor. You will have to be jailbroken to do this however. but problem solved. VOIP over 3G is very possible i have done it many times in the past.

    Best of both worlds Voice and data unlimited for $40 a month! what a deal!

  3. portalplayer
    May 15 2010

    What do you do with the left over iPad?? Is it still usable and can you sell it to someone without the sim card?

    AND BTW, i’m very tempted to do this, but I am very scared about bricking an iphone and an ipad. It’s very dangerous and could potentially cost tons of money for me.

    Also, i’m wondering how do you refill up more internet after 30 days?? And what if AT&T finds out and just stops letting you do this?

    • portalplayer
      May 15 2010

      Can AT&T put a stop to letting you use the 30/month plan?

      • Aaron Nelsen
        May 15 2010

        In theory, they probably have every right too. Not sure they can really prove that their service is being misused though.

    • Aaron Nelsen
      May 15 2010

      Actually, prior to activating my iPad 3G’s data plan I called up AT&T and told them I lost my Micro SIM, got a second one and now I can either activate that one as well for data on both devices or resell the iPad 3G.

      There’s no real risk to the iPad, and the biggest risk to your iPhone is that the Micro SIM gets stuck in there (at which point you could still take the phone apart to fix it).

      AT&T auto-renews your iPad contract every month, so canceling would be more of a concern, but that can be done over the phone.

      • JohnSFO
        May 28 2010

        Hey, this is great! I’m thinking about trying it out. So just to be clear though, you can’t have both devices running 3G (at the same time) for $30 total? It would be $30 for each, separate accounts with separate sims right? But you could switch back and forth with the one sim if you wanted?

        Doesn’t AT&T somehow recognize the iPad when you try to create a 2nd account from the device? Not that I’d do that since I’d use the iPad as wifi only and the iPhone as the 3G device, but it’s good to know all the options.

        Also wondering if the iPad will work without a sim card in it at all – as a wifi only device? Or will I need it for some other data?

        It looks like the “replacement” sim is available for $15 here:
        http://www.wireless.att.com/cell-phone-service/accessory-details/?q_sku=sku4530230

        Thanks Aaron! Let me know your thoughts when you get a chance.

        • Aaron Nelsen
          May 28 2010

          Correct. You either need to be paying $60 a month for two iPad data plans, or $30 and switch the SIM back and forth.

          In theory it shouldn’t be hard for them to tell you’re using the same iPad for two accounts, but I didn’t have any problems trying to register for a second account (though I didn’t complete the registration).

          The iPad works fine with no SIM installed, easily functions as a Wifi only device.

          Nice find! Didn’t know you could order replacement Micro SIMs online. When I talked to an AT&T rep directly they did not charge me for my replacement SIM, mileage on that may vary.

          • JohnSFO
            May 28 2010

            Thanks for the quick reply and good info.

            So the sim is only in the iPad for 3G capability? Does that mean a wifi only iPad doesn’t have a sim? I just want to make sure I don’t need it for some other function.

            Maybe AT&T started charging for replacement sims after so many people started “losing” theirs…oh about the time this post went up. LOL

          • Aaron Nelsen
            May 28 2010

            Basically. The difference between the iPad Wifi only model and the iPad 3G is that the 3G also has a 3G radio/antenna installed, the SIM is just required to connect the iPad 3G to the GSM network. The wifi only model doesn’t use a cellular connection for network access, so no SIM is needed.

          • iKevin
            Jun 2 2010

            Will the iPad’s 3G MicroSim card work in a 2G iPhone, thereby providing EDGE coverage? I realize you wouldn’t get 3G speeds on a 2G iPhone, but does that mean that you wouldn’t get any signal at all?

          • iKevin
            Jun 25 2010

            Does this work with iOS 4?

          • Aaron Nelsen
            Jun 25 2010

            Yes!

          • engg2000
            Jun 28 2010

            Sorry, replied to wrong thread.

            Has anyone tested using an ipad sim in an iphone 4? Canada will have unlocked iphone 4’s…will it make changing the APN number any easier?
            Thanks Aaron Nelson for your hard work.
            e

  4. edvin421
    May 22 2010

    does the micro sim card have to be activated through the ipad? i wanna do this but i dont have an ipad.

    get back to me asap.

    • Aaron Nelsen
      May 22 2010

      Yes, it does need to be activated through an iPad.

  5. yang2b
    May 24 2010

    Do i have to own an ipad to activate it, or can i just purchase a micro-sim card from ebay or somewhere cheap, and activate it on a friends ipad, then use it on my iphone? Or better yet can i just activate it with phone support?

    And oh yea one more thing, will monthly payment only be available through ipads paying method? ex: Settings>cellular data>Login> payment plan.
    or can i pay online via computer.

  6. volerikan
    May 30 2010

    If I buy a micro-sim, plug it into my brother’s 3G iPad, create an account, activate the sim, all that stuff. When he goes to put his micro sim back into his iPad is it going to effect anything? Or is it just going to be working as it did before I messed with it? I talked to him about it, he was like “as long as it doesn’t mess with any of my settings, then go for it…” So I just wanted to confirm that beforehand.

    I’m also completely ready to cancel my phone plan and just stick with the iPad data plan. Obviously going to make sure this works first.. Just got the phone all set up (with the help of your other post), got Skype if I need it.

    Also, I assume this would work on the 3GS?

    Thanks!

    • Aaron Nelsen
      May 30 2010

      Basically the worst thing that can happen is AT&T can decline to activate the second SIM, but even if they do that shouldn’t interfere with your brothers data plan when he puts his SIM back in the iPad.

      Yes. Works on the 3GS just fine.

      • volerikan
        May 30 2010

        Thanks for the quick reply!

        Yeah, I’m definitely trying this when my sim card comes in then.

        • bluebke14
          Jun 15 2010

          @volerikan

          Did it work for you? I want to do the same thing using my buddies iPad.

  7. trefoil
    May 31 2010

    I registered with WordPress just so I could login and Thank you for this hack! This is fucking awesome! (But also: Can you use a sim adaptor instead of a cut up credit card?) We are now one step closer to the holy grail: $30/month non-contracted unlimited everything. Also, can I call ATT and say I lost my ipad sim, if I dont own and ipad 3g? What info do I need to have to get one?

  8. trefoil
    May 31 2010

    I just called ATT and discovered that they will not allow two sims to be activated on the same imei number. They will deactivate which ever one the owner of the ipad says to. Oh well, maybe I will consider this again when the price of the ipads drops.

  9. owsley
    Jun 2 2010

    I have bought the ipad replacement sim card and i understand how to do it but How do i get the at&t plan on my sim card using my iphone to sign up?

    • Aaron Nelsen
      Jun 2 2010

      The SIM has to be activated with an iPad, there’s currently no way to register from your iPhone.

  10. derfing
    Jun 3 2010

    I’m in canada I bought a Bell Ipad microsim card to put in my iphone. I activated it but i dont know what to put in the APN settings. Tried Broadband, pda2.bell.ca, etc… and I cant get to the network. Does anybody know what are the good settings for Bell ?

    Thank you

    • Aaron Nelsen
      Jun 3 2010

      On your iPad go to Setting, then Cellular Data, tap APN settings and try using what’s listed under the APN field there.

    • engg2000
      Jul 7 2010

      @derfing
      I bought an ipad and activated the bell plan. pda2.bell.ca is correct.
      Did you get it to work yet? Did you try to shut down your iphone & restart? I had to even do that with the ipad before the data started to work. I’m waiting till iphone 4 comes to Canada before I can test.
      PLease let me know if you had success and what you did.
      Thanks

      • phardy
        Nov 25 2010

        Hi did one of you got it to work with a bell micro sim? i’m still trying :(

        thanks

  11. JohnSFO
    Jun 8 2010

    Hi Aaron,

    I have some more questions about this concept:

    1. Now that we know the new iPhone 4 also has a micro SIM will the compatibility be even easier? Any confirmation that they’re using the exact same SIM?

    2. Any other issues involved if this is tried on an iPhone 4 instead of the current line of iPhones?

    3. Will this all work on a new iPhone, out of the box, but not activated? My goal (although probably an expensive one) is to get a brand new non-contract iPhone 4 to move my unlimited data plan iPad SIM into. But without some pre-activation will it just be a dead device with a foreign SIM card inserted into it?

    Thanks again for more info if you have it.

  12. apatel87
    Jun 11 2010

    Hi Aaron, I wanted to know if there was any way I can configure my google voice or something to use my existing phone number for incoming calls/texts and outgoing calls/texts. basically, i want to know if there is a way to use the ipad 3g sim, cancel my plan, and then use VOIP while not having to change my number because of call forwarding.

    Thanks for this great tutorial

    • TigerOnSurf
      Aug 16 2010

      Well I can answer this, YES, YEs, YES!!! But there is a catch.. sort of

      I use Skype to receive and make calls, but I also signed up to google voice!

      I used google voice as my primary phone number.. Anyone who call my google voice will be forward to my Skype and I pick up my phone to answer..

      If I need to make a call I just need to make a call though Skype.. Skype allow me to show my google number to anyone I call so I don’t have to mess around with google and skype numbers.

      In order to receive any instant call I have to put Skype in the background by downloading “backgrounder” via Cydia.. As far as SMS… Skype will charge me per SMS use, but since google voice give free SMS and is my primary phone number.. I do everything via google voice free. Ohh.. and to receive push when get a miss call or a text.. I download “boxcar” via appstore. It will give you a push whenever you receive anything in the mail you have to set it though.

      Everything works perfectly with my iPad data plan on my iPhone 3GS except for that the 3G here in Louisiana is pretty bad… I have good 3G Skype calls on good days and horrible on most days… Skype is not the problem, seem more like the 3G…sigh…

  13. JohnSFO
    Jun 11 2010

    Another question: Could this conceivably work on an AT&T subsidized iPhone 4? What if I had one delivered to my house on release day?

    Thanks

  14. evolver311
    Jun 25 2010

    I just received in iPhone 4… which isn’t yet jailbreakable. I want to be able to use my new micro sim in my old 3Gs occasionally because I can tether with the 3Gs.

    Has anybody tried swapping SIMs yet between iPhone 4 and 3Gs?
    Can you make calls on both?

    • evolver311
      Jun 27 2010

      Update: Swapping sims between iPhone4 and iPhone 3Gs completely works…probably not useful to most but if you need to tether using your old phone, you can just swap out sims.

  15. IJwhiting
    Jul 24 2010

    Will this work from Australia?

  16. georgepatr
    Aug 27 2010

    Awesome, it worked perfect without even jailbreaking! Only change I had to do was use IMEI 0 instead of actual IMEI.

  17. travbrack
    Sep 21 2010

    Just did this on my iPhone 3GS and indeed it works. Cheers.

  18. droptopv8
    Oct 12 2010

    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

    • phardy
      Nov 26 2010

      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 :( ((

      • bloke1974
        Dec 13 2010

        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

    • bloke1974
      Dec 13 2010

      ACTIVATION ON THE IPAD A REQUIRED STEP????

      COMMENT PLS

  19. mlouie
    Oct 23 2010

    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).

  20. jumpchao150
    Dec 12 2010

    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

  21. bloke1974
    Dec 13 2010

    TRYING THIS IN CANADA

    NEEDS ACTIVATION WITH IPAD ??????

    I THINK THIS IS THE MISSING LINK????

  22. alexandresz
    Dec 20 2010

    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?

  23. DoDoDo
    Jan 8 2011

    If you insert the SIM card into your phone, does the card’s phone number show up in the phone setting? Has anyone tried calling the number?

  24. dare
    Jan 9 2011

    I ment can i do this if no wi fi my card is activated by ipad,iphone is not jailbroken

  25. scottallison
    Jan 23 2011

    Once activated can the sim also be used in another non iOS device, e.g. Another smartphone or mifi device?

  26. Cyrus
    Jan 26 2011

    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!

  27. chiaxa2911
    Mar 11 2011

    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?

  28. photobum
    Nov 3 2011

    Anyone know if this still works? Also, if it does, what happens to the phone portion of the iPhone. Also, text messages? Does iOS 5′s iMessage thingy work?

    • zuluflyer
      Dec 8 2011

      yep, it all works great, just can’t use siri to make calls on iPhone 4s

  29. zuluflyer
    Nov 22 2011

    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.

  30. zuluflyer
    Nov 22 2011

    just checked the notify box

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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