step-01

Activating an iPad 3G Micro SIM without an iPad

So you’d like to turn that old iPhone into something a little more useful than an iPod touch, right? Well now you can, just order a replacement SIM from AT&T for $15 (which should come pre-scored so you can use it as a full size or micro SIM).

You can order your “replacement” SIM here: http://www.wireless.att.com/cell-phone-service/accessory-details/?q_sku=sku4530230

After you’ve installed your new SIM card in your iPhone, follow these steps.

Step 1: In order to activate your new SIM without an iPad you’ll need to make AT&T think your browser is actually an iPad. In Firefox you can do this by downloading User Agent Switcher and entering the following information under User Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (iPad; U; CPU OS 3_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/531.21.10 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.4 Mobile/7B334b Safari/531.21.10

Here’s the play by play… After downloading User Agent Switcher, go to Tools -> Default User Agents -> Edit User Agents

Then click New and select User Agent


Now enter iPad in the description field, and Mozilla/5.0 (iPad; U; CPU OS 3_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/531.21.10 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.4 Mobile/7B334b Safari/531.21.10 in the User Agent field. Leaving everything else blank.

Click OK , then click OK again to dismiss the User Agent Switcher screen.

Finally switch to your newly created User Agent by going to Tools -> Default User Agent -> iPad

Step 2: For this step you’ll need both your IMEI and ICCID numbers, which you can find under Settings -> General -> About on your iPhone. Visit https://dcp2.att.com/OEPClient/openPage?IMEI=A&ICCID=B in your browser, replacing A with your iPhone’s IMEI number and B with your new Micro SIM’s ICCID number.

Step 3: Register for either the $15 or $25 a month data plan.

Step 4: Make sure your iPhone is connected to a WiFi network, then visit http://unlockit.co.nz and tap Continue.

Unlockit.co.nz

Step 5: Tap Custom APN, then enter Broadband in the APN field.

Tap Custom APN

Enter

Step 6: Leaving the remaining fields blank, tap Create Profile, then tap Install, followed by Install Now on the popup.

Tap Install
Tap Install Now

And there you have it, your very own data only iPhone without having to buy an iPad 3G.

Published by

Aaron Nelsen

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

70 thoughts on “Activating an iPad 3G Micro SIM without an iPad”

  1. Wonder if you have a window version for PC user? Very good post indeed!

    Anyway.. I’ve been using the Ipad data plan for more than a month. Do you know any better way to view data usage without an ipad. Lately I’ve been using the iphone data usage info, but it doesn’t tell me how much data I’ve been using in a month.. no date, time, or anything. I’m not sure if my wifi is included in these calculation either.

    1. This will also work with Firefox on Windows, all the steps are the same.

      As for data usage tracking, you have to manually reset your count every 30 days in order to track it. And no, WiFi usage is not included in those numbers.

      1. Hi, I’m a little confused about the “APN should be set to: rogers-core-appl1.apn” comment. Is that in place of entering Broadband in the custom APN field in step 4? Or is it a field that needs to be filled out on the Rogers activation URL?
        Thanks in advance

  2. I look at the web page and yes, I select the data plan from the web.

    The more important question is : Will I be able to tether my cellular data plan with my laptop ?

  3. Hi this is a good tutorial.
    I was wondering if it’s possible to also cancel your plan without an ipad.
    I have found out that you require a ipad to also cancel your plan as well

  4. Will this work for firefox on windows too? i just installed the user agent switcher, entered the ipad info, then tested it by going to youtube. It redirected me to m.youtube.com. So does this mean that it works and thinks im an ipad? 😀

  5. For those that get an error ‘unable to process your request please try again later’….

    I too got this error when using the iPhone IEMI number.

    The solution….
    Go to http://imei.sms.eu.sk/IMEI.html
    Enter any 6 digits in the ‘6 Digit Serial Number:’ field and click ‘Generate IMEI’
    Use this IMEI number in the activation URL instead of your iPhone IMEI.
    Note:You will need to use a different email address the second time around as although the process didn’t complete you cannot use the same email address again.

    Data plan is now working great.

    1. Are you with AT&T or Rogers ? Because I have followed this step-by-step using a generic IMEI and I have no service on my iPhone … The APN is well set to rogers-core-appl1.apn

      1. I am using an AT&T iPad replacement SIM with an unlocked iPhone 3GS (which is locked to AT&T). I’m not totally sure but I believe that unless your iPhone has been unlocked then you must use a SIM from the same provider as the phone.

    2. Thanks, paulb. It works for me.
      Can you please also give a link to AT&T page where we can see data usage and where it is possible to change/cancel data plan?
      It is possible to access account manage page from iPad (as we can see from this screenshots: http://apple.com/ipad/3g). But how to access manage account page from iPhone or PC? Do anybody knows the direct link to AT&T?

  6. What happen if I have an iPhone lock with Bell and I try to have a data plan (using your technique) with Rogers. Will it work or I need to unlock the iPhone first ?

  7. I hopped onto AT&T.com and ordered the iPad microsim. That was Tuesday. The site says they are backordered. This seems a little silly – are they catching on to our little hack?

    Has anyone had any luck ordering an ipad SIM? Any other routes for getting one?

    1. I ordered my iPad SIM through the AT&T site. Before this I called a number of AT&T stores to see if I could buy one locally but they all said the same thing…not available in stores, online purchase only.

  8. Thanks for such a great step by step guide! I just received my ipad micro SIM, and I was able to access the URL replacing A&B but for some reason it does not let me type anything in! I’m using windows vista and firefox, any feedback is appreciated!, ty

  9. I got it! I had to disable “styles” on safari and was able to enter my information, however, now I keep getting the following error:
    AT&T is not able to process your request. We apologize for any inconvenience. Please try again later (C50000000006)
    has anyone seen this? Thanks!

    1. Try this and see if it helps…..

      The solution….
      Go to http://imei.sms.eu.sk/IMEI.html
      Enter any 6 digits in the ’6 Digit Serial Number:’ field and click ‘Generate IMEI’
      Use this IMEI number in the activation URL instead of your iPhone IMEI.
      Note:You will need to use a different email address the second time around as although the process didn’t complete you cannot use the same email address again.
      Data plan is now working great.

      1. Hi, I had seen your post and tried that but it did not do it either, I got this SIM from Ebay, so I’ll order one from ATT directly to see if that makes a difference! I really appreciate your reply. I’ll let you know how it goes with the new one.

          1. I triedthe imei generator and still got this message what does it mean AT&T is not able to process your request. We apologize for any inconvenience.
            Please try again later (C30000014002)

            please help i am on iphone 3g 4.1 but i am activating on my pc through safari i couldnt get firefox to let me type anything please help me

  10. Another successful story. I followed every step and it works. Its a shame they cancel the unlimited data.

    I’m still experimenting with different softphone. Currently I’m using GroundWire which is the new version of Acrobits Softphone. The phone does really handle the switch between wifi and 3g during calls. I wonder if anyone have any tips for that.

    Both Groundwire and Acrobits Softphone feature an in App add on G.729 that costs 9.99. I wonder how much is the gain. And whether if the new codec would work with Sipgate.

    I do have a question, how to do cancel the plan or wish to make any changes?

    1. Just follow the SAME link you used for registration(with the fake IMEI). Then enter your username and password and you will access the account page where you can change or cancel your plan and update credit card.

    2. I can tell you from my experience that GroundWire sucks. Yes it supports bluetooth and has an outstanding flexibility but audio quality really sucks, even with G.729 installed. You may be better off using Fring with your VOIP provider. The setup is really simple and audio quality is decent. I use Inphonex and their setup instructions are here: http://www.inphonex.com/support/mobile-fring-configuration.php

      Overall I tried various VIOP applications and they all have two common problems – after a while all these programs (like Skype) fall “asleep” and the incoming calls don’t go through. Also, they drain the battery really fast. From my experience Fring is a good choice, but you have to have the real phone number through your SIP provider if you want to get incoming calls. Another alternative may be TextNow app which gives you a free phone number and will send you a push message if someone calls that number so you will be able to call them back. Also applications like Skype and Fring don’t support bluetooth. Overall, from experimenting with my Iphone I learned that it works best as a mini Ipad, but the quality of the voice calls is bellow average due to the high latency on 3G network.

  11. Does not work for me. Able to register the account using the agent switcher, entered all contact and billing info, selected the plan, to the “Submit” button does not work, or I agree to term of service and it will “think” indefinitely.

  12. All right guys! I was able to activate the data plan using SAFARI browser. I activated the developer menu and switched the agent to other: Mozilla/5.0 (iPad; U; CPU OS 3_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/531.21.10 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.4 Mobile/7B334b Safari/531.21.10

    the detailed description is here http://news.cnet.com/8301-27076_3-20001675-248.html

    Everything else was like described by AARON on this page.

  13. Also, guys, AT&T does sell Ipad replacement micro sim cards in the stores. First, I called and they told me they don’t, but when I visited the store the other representative confirmed that they do sell them and told me that they have many new employees who have no clue. I was able to buy a card with no problem. She asked me if I have a phone service with At&T (I don’t). She told me that they try to track those Ipad sim cards. … Go figure..

  14. Hi i did the activation of my simcard and everything but when i do the apn changer safari says cant install because of error and fire fox home just loads for ever wat can i do

    1. I had this problem too. To fix it you have to re-install the operation system on your Iphone from the scratch. To do so choose “Restore” option in Itunes. This will erase all the data and re-install the operation system. After that you have to set it up as a new Iphone, which means you will not restore it from the backup. You will be able to copy all your apps from Itunes back to Iphone anyway, but all custom settings (including phone book and all the saved passwords and bookmarks) will be gone and you will have to re-enter them manually. I would recommend to sync your contacts with your Yahoo or Google account this way you will be able to restore them quickly on your Iphone.

      1. ok well i got the apn changer i sent it to my email and installed it from there my phone is jailbroken it is a iphone 3g 16gb and i got the apn changer installed and my ipad sim is activated but my phone will not get service is has 4 blank lines for service and then after a while it says no service and i went to where i knew att had service it still doesnt work. i did everything as described in the post the broadband field and all i have the ability to turn 3g on or off just cant service can u help me if so email me at brent.kyle.jackson@gmail.com maybe i can give u my other cell number and u can help thx in advance

        1. I don’t know what to tell you. Make sure you write “Broadband”, not “broadband” in settings. Also, did you enter the sim card number correctly when you registered the plan? When you registered the plan you should get the confirmation email stating the phone number assigned to your Ipad sim card. Go to your phone settings and check if you got the same number there. Also go to “Settings” – “General” and check if you have a new profile installed. It should say “APN carrier settings”. I would recommend to restore your operation system from the scratch. If it updates your phone to iOS 4.1 use limera1n to jailbreak it (very simple). But you don’t need a jailbreak to install APN changer.

  15. I had this problem too. To fix it you have to re-install the operation system on your Iphone from the scratch. To do so choose “Restore” option in Itunes. This will erase all the data and re-install the operation system. After that you have to set it up as a new Iphone, which means you will not restore it from the backup. You will be able to copy all your apps from Itunes back to Iphone anyway, but all custom settings (including phone book and all the saved passwords and bookmarks) will be gone and you will have to re-enter them manually. I would recommend to sync your contacts with your Yahoo or Google account this way you will be able to restore them quickly on your Iphone.

  16. Any reason why this activated SIM should not work in a non-Apple device? I’d like to use it in a MiFi cellular modem that I picked up in Europe. It is a GSM device, and the AT&T iPad data plan is really the best US GSM plan around.

    Also, is there any way to use Safari on an iPhone to activate the SIM? Would it have to spoof an iPad?

  17. Hi all,

    I am late to the party. I just gave this a go yesterday and today. I am unable to register for an acct with ATT. I bought an ATT sim from the store and poped in my IP4. The phone says no service (which is normal).
    I then did the following:
    * downloaded safari on windows 7.
    * changed user agent to string given above
    * went to IMEI gen to get an IMEI number
    * went to ATT URL given above with replacement of the correct numbers
    * went through filling out plans and hit submit.
    * I get we are unable to process your request at this time please try again later

    I have tried with various generated IMEI; I have used all my email addresses for the registration since it was implied by a post above that if the registration fails, you have to use another email. I get the same message for all of them. I was using FF with agent switcher but was unable to enter any information with out turning styles off. With safari, I don’t have data entry issue. I have tried a combo of with style and without — all yield the same message.

    Can someone please verify whether this hole has been closed by ATT?

    I am however able to get to the APN changer with phone and now has a profile. I just can’t register for data.

    any help appreciated.

  18. I don’t know how to edit my own post… I forgot another question. If there is an Ipad 3g, I assume the registration process is the same as above except you are on an ipad. I can see how this would indeed ‘activate’ your sim. However, how does registering via user agent switch on a PC tell ATT to activate SIM card? Does the SIM has to be ‘waiting’ on the network ala ‘no service’? I did the bulk of my test in airplane mode so SIM is offline. But I did try once with SIM online ‘no service’ mode.

    Does it matter?

    thanks

  19. Bad news, it looks like ATT are now checking IMEI numbers to make sure they really are iPads. Strange as all they will be doing is losing money from people like us.

    My data plan had been renewing without issues.
    Then I get an email saying you can now manage your iPad data plan account from any browser at http://www.att.com/ipad

    My last month (October) expired yesterday, no auto renew for this month, no email, nothing,

    Tried logging into http://www.att.com/ipad and the with the original URL as an iPad and tried creating a new account again as before.

    All the same results, this device is not supported :(

    Anyone know of any iPad IMEI generator ?

    1. I can now confirm that ATT are checking that IMEI numbers are from iPads.

      I Googled for image of ‘iPad IMEI’ and after around 10 minutes came across a foreign site showing an iPad unboxing, compete with photos, one of which was the barcode, showing the IMEI number :)

      Went to http://www.att.com/ipad, signed up as if a new data plan customer, used the same info, including email, as before only with the new iPad IMEI number.
      Thirty seconds later, 3G is back :)

      Anyone wit the same issue, and I’m sure you all will once your current month has expired, either search for images or even nip down to your local Apple Store or Best Buy for a valid IMEI. You may need to try a few (if someome has already used them) so I would say the quicker the better.

      Good luck…..

      1. You are a lucky guy that found one valid imei on google!!! My data plan is disabled since yesterday and I need a valid nuber asap because I only use my iphone with google voice!

        No one knows if there is a imei generator to try that works?

  20. paulb, many thanks!

    I found one number, you are right! what we need to do is sign as new customer, and use the same info, that works like a charm!!!

    My 3G is back!!!!

      1. I tried to update the IMEI number on my existing account but an error message was displayed, tried few times, then tried the option for new subscription, using the same email and password and voala!

      2. when did you guys find new imei is therea valid generator somewhere i tried everything in comments att is giving me the msg The device type entered is not supported.
        HELP!

  21. Well, looks like bad news again. After just over a month of success with a genuine iPad IMEI number my data plan is again no more.

    Just as before, no email, nothing and no 3G.

    I tried logging into http://www.att.com/ipad/ with the email address I had used and signing up for a new data plan using the iPad IMEI number.

    The response was something alone the line of ‘You cannot manage your non iPad device on this site’. I can’t remember the exact wording and the site is currently down for maintenance.

    So, are they now actually checking the IMEI of the device itself?

    Any updates will be posted….

    1. I’m not sure what ATT are doing, maybe checking the IMEI that was used at setup with the actual IMEI of the device and then blacklisting the SIM, I don’t know.

      Maybe a new SIM would resolve the issue, but only for a month.

      So, the road I am thinking of now is, as Iphone2Ipad said, screw them.
      I am thinking of going for the Virgin Mobile MiFI 2200.
      Disadvantages, one more thing to charge and carry.
      Advantages, $40 a month for truly unlimited data, able to also use it for my Android Tablet and Laptop as well as the iPhone and connect upto 5 devices at once. Oh and of course, no more of getting data plan cut off unexpectedly.

      ATT have obviously wised up to peoples using iPhones with data only plans meant for the iPad. It’s just a shame that they don’t monetize the situation and offer a legitimate data only plan instead of spending money trying to stop it…..

  22. So I’m assuming you all have given up on this noble endeavor to save 50$ a month on your iphone plan’s by using GV though the data-only plan.

  23. I have not tried the MiFi as yet. I was considering jailbreaking and unlocking my 3GS and going with T-Mobile. I called and spoke with T-Mobile, they allow customers to buy a SIM card, have a well priced data and voice plan and even informed me that not only do they have a high number of iPhone users on their network but that there tech support will even walk you through getting your iPhone up and running on their network, once ulocked.
    My problem now is unlocking, with the baseband version that I currently have, the only way is to flash the 3GS with the iPad baseband, which cannot be reversed, will not allow a restore in iTunes any more and there is a good chance that the 3GS will lose gps and may have battery issues.
    I called AT&T and asked about getting the iPhone officially unlocked by them, as the iPhone is out of the 2 year contract. They say even if they did submit it to Apple to be unlocked that they wouldn’t do it.
    I know for a fact that this is not an issue in some European countries and once the contracted is expired you can have it unlocked. On top of that you can buy the iPhone unlocked form Apple store in UK or Canada online.
    So….it would appear that due to Apple and AT&Ts exclusivity contract they refuse to unlock even when out of contract due to Apple stipulating that the iPhone cannot be used on any other network, even though it is now available on Verizon. Indeed, the small print on the iPhone box states that a contract with AT&T will be needed to continue service, even after the initial contract is up.

  24. I have a MiFi type device, a Huawei e585, and it works great in Europe, Africa, and many parts of the world. It provides broadband internet for iPhones, iPads, computers, etc. For a short while it worked in the U.S. with the AT&T SIM card, until AT&T got wise that it wasn’t an iPad. I also used it in the U.S. with the T-Mobile SIM card. T-Mobil’s plan is not bad, but much of T-Mobile’s 3G coverage is at 1700MHz. My e585 supports 3G/UMTS/HSPA/HSUPA/HSDPA at 2100MHz, and GSM/GPRS/EDGE at 850/900/1800/1900MHz, but it does not support 3G at 1700MHz. Bottom line is that the device works OK with the T-Mobile SIM card, but not at the fastest speeds.

    If you get one of these devices, make sure it supports the plans that are available in the places you want to be. If you plan to travel globally, nothing beats GSM, but unfortunately the only GSM network in the U.S. providing 3G speeds at the frequencies used in Europe and much of the world is . . . AT&T.

  25. Hi everyone.

    This still works.

    I just successfully registered an AT&T sim with an iPad 2G data plan and am now using it on my iphone 4 – works like a charm.

    I luckily have a first generation iPad WiFi only, so I didn’t have to deal with the browser spoofing. However, I still needed to find a valid iPad +3g IMEI number like everyone else (my ipad doesn’t have an IMEI number obviously.. wifi only).

    SO. I just did a google image search for high res photos (4mega pixel and higher) for the term ‘ipad 2 3g back’. You’ll find an IMEI number to use in no time :)

    Keep in mind, this is just to be able to get past the URL test (replace Xs):

    https://dcp2.att.com/OEPClient/openPage?IMEI=X&ICCID=X

    I can’t confirm this works with a user-agent browser spoof…. but it worked from my ipad first gen, wifi only.

    Once I successfully activated, I popped that sim in my phone. It loaded up right away with 3g, but was extremely slow – almost not working. I just put it in airplane mode, waiting 10 seconds, and took airplane mode off… and violah – worked fast as hell.

    I’m using skype now in the US while I”m here for a month and will just cancel my plan for before I leave so it doesn’t bill me recurrently every month.

    My question is – how do I see how much data I’m using / see my account online?

    Good luck everyone!!!

  26. Personally I gave up on the activation of a SIM card for use with the iPad data plan and then using that in my iphone. My account would last a month and then mysteriously be deactivated. Assuming AT&T were checking IMEI numbers or something.

    However, I did find what I consider to be a much easier way if you want to use the iPhone ans a phone and have a plan with it…

    All you need to do is go to an AT&T store and purchase as GoPhone prepaid SIM.
    You can take an old phone in as I did and they will activate it in the store for you or you can activate the SIM when you get home yourself.

    Once activated, just put the SIM card in the iPhone and you have a prepaid voice plan.

    Once you have a prepaid voice plan you can then purchase data and set up a custom APN on the iPhone to use the GoPhone data plan.

    Complete step by step here….
    http://osxdaily.com/2010/08/01/prepaid-iphone-setup-iphone-for-pay-as-you-go-plan/

    Works just like an iPhone would on contract, gives you a real phone number and voice plan and you can choose what size data plan you want….

    All unused voice and data will rollover if topped up before expiration.

    Data is added from the balance of your ‘voice plan’.
    $30 will last you 90 days.
    From this $30 dollars you can then add various data plans as below…
    10MB – $5
    100MB – $15
    250MB – $25

    Personally, for me, this is the way to go. No problems at all and a full iPhone service without the contract :)

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