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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > iPhone, iPad & iPod > 2G SIM in a 3G iPhone

2G SIM in a 3G iPhone
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l008com
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Jun 21, 2011, 09:29 PM
 
I currently still own an original 2G iPhone. My contract has long since expired and so I've been going month to month at about $67/mo. I was going to switch to verizon when they came out, but I really don't like their plans (too expensive). I also hate AT&T and don't want to be in another contract with them, plus I don't like their new "all or none" TXT rates. So I'm wondering, what would happen if I bought a 3GS or iPhone 4 used, and just popped my SIM into it?

This phone was also a used phone. I signed up for AT&T, got the nicest free phone they'd give me. Then I sold that phone on ebay and put it's sim into my newly acquired used iPhone. Then I just added the "iphone 2g data plan" to it, which is $25/mo for unlimited 2G data and 250 TXTs per month, on top of the $40 for voice.

I really don't want to spend more than $65/mo on my phone. What would happen if I did a sim swap?
     
Big Mac
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Jun 21, 2011, 10:01 PM
 
I'm confused. How much per month do you want to pay for your iPhone's service? And if it's around $65/month that's the price of AT&T's entry-level iPhone plan.

I'm seriously mulling unlocking and going with T-Mo, although sometimes I do use 3G.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
l008com  (op)
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Jun 21, 2011, 10:37 PM
 
$65/mo is AT&T's current plan with zero text messages and 250 MB/mo. Right now I get 250 text messages and "unlimited" data. Of course it is all but impossible to download 250 MB in one month, on my ghetto 2G phone. But still, I really do not want another AT&T contract.
     
mduell
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Jun 22, 2011, 12:01 AM
 
I think the answer is yes, although you'll have to cut it down to microSIM size.

If you're fine with 2G, you can get Tmo.
     
Wiskedjak
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Jun 22, 2011, 12:13 AM
 
Does AT&T have separate billing for 2G and 3G?
     
amazing
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Jun 22, 2011, 04:07 PM
 
Your SIM should work fine in a 3GS but you'd have to cut it down in a 4.
     
l008com  (op)
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Jun 22, 2011, 04:14 PM
 
Ok soooo...
What would I get for service? Would I have 3G access? Would I get billed for it or would I be getting it "for free"?
     
amazing
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Jun 22, 2011, 05:26 PM
 
Yes, you'd have 3G service. Your present 2G has access to 3G service, but its hardware can't do anything with it.

If you took a SIM from a regular cellphone (non-smartphone) to transfer to an iPhone, then ATT can tell the difference, and would email/contact you telling you to update your monthly contract to iPhone specific levels. But since you're taking your own SIM from a previous gen iPhone, you should be just fine.

I recently took my ATT SIM from my damaged Sony Ericsson and put it in an unlocked Nokia bought off Amazon. The SIM worked immediately, and it wasn't locked in any way to my damaged SE.

The ripoff is that ATT established the iPhone specific contracts at high enough $ so that it would be reimbursed over 2 years for the reduced price, subsidized iPhone. When you bring your own, non-subsidized iPhone, you still have to pay those high prices. In an ideal world, you should have access to lower contracts when you bring your own phone.
     
l008com  (op)
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Jun 22, 2011, 05:32 PM
 
Really. So if I just buy a used 3GS, I can stick my sim in it and keep paying $65 per month, but have full unlimited 2G and 3G internet access?
     
Cold Warrior
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Jun 22, 2011, 07:38 PM
 
AT&T adds data to iPhone users tring to sneak by with just voice. They detect unofficial tethering and add that plan too. I suspect, but don't know for certain, that they'd upgrade you to a regular data plan once they realize you're on a 3G-capable iPhone.
     
Wiskedjak
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Jun 22, 2011, 08:02 PM
 
Originally Posted by Cold Warrior View Post
AT&T adds data to iPhone users tring to sneak by with just voice.
booo
     
l008com  (op)
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Jun 22, 2011, 08:11 PM
 
So has anyone actually done this?
     
amazing
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Jun 23, 2011, 09:45 AM
 
Originally Posted by l008com View Post
So has anyone actually done this?
You're on ATT with a regular 2nd gen iPhone, right? Then you're already on a data plan, no way around that...

Any iPhone you buy will be locked to ATT, and you're staying with ATT, I assume?

There's no reason it shouldn't work.
     
l008com  (op)
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Jun 23, 2011, 09:52 AM
 
I'm on a 1st gen iphone. Which only has 2G "data". A 3gs will have 3G "data". The 3G data plans were much more expensive than the original plans. Which is why no one seems to know exactly what will happen.
     
Wiskedjak
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Jun 23, 2011, 09:58 AM
 
Originally Posted by l008com View Post
I'm on a 1st gen iphone. Which only has 2G "data". A 3gs will have 3G "data". The 3G data plans were much more expensive than the original plans. Which is why no one seems to know exactly what will happen.
Unless you're paying for something specifically described as 2G, I suspect you're simply on a data plan (with AT&T pushing data at 3G speeds) at grandfathered 2006/07 rates. I suspect, if you stick that sim in to a 3G device that you'll see 3G speeds.
     
l008com  (op)
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Jun 23, 2011, 10:02 AM
 
My paper bill says the following:
National 450 with rollover (voice minutes) $39.99
Data Unlimited for Original iPhone & 200 txt msgs $20
And then $7 in taxes.

But that's not really a definitive answer in my opinion. Surely someone has actually done this before, I'll wait for them to chime in.

(the worst case scenario is that I put the sim in, it works and I get unlimited 3G data, but the next month I get some $5000 bill from AT&T for 'data overage' or some crazy thing)
     
amazing
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Jun 23, 2011, 11:59 AM
 
Your bill shows that you're grandfathered in on the unlimited original data plan for $20--present contract rates don't even have an unlimited plan, it's $15 for 200 MB of data, $25 for 2 GB of data, or $45 for 4 GB of data.

The National 450 w/rollover is still the same.

The catch is that ATT dearly wants to charge everyone more for data, which is why they got out of the unlimited data plan (and Verizon is now no longer offering unlimited data.)

So, when people upgrade to a new subsidized smartphone, they have to go with the new contract data rates.

What you're trying to do is a gray area. The only way to be 100% sure would be to call ATT and ask them what would happen--which any reasonable person would rather avoid.

Any advice you get here: take if with thousands of grains of salt.
     
Wiskedjak
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Jun 23, 2011, 12:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by l008com View Post
Data Unlimited for Original iPhone
I think this line ("for Original iPhone") basically gives AT&T the ability to change your plan or end it's service if you start using it in a 3G capable phone. They'd probably be more concerned about the amount of data consumed at 3G speeds than about the speed itself.

I agree. The best plan is to ask AT&T and avoid any chance at a $5000 bill.
     
mduell
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Jun 23, 2011, 03:20 PM
 
T-mobile claims there's a million iPhones on their network, mostly 3G and 3GS models.
     
lysolman
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Jun 23, 2011, 07:33 PM
 
You've got me confused here:

Having a 2G sim could mean 2 things. 1) a 3G data compatible sim card in your original iPhone or 2) a 2G data compatible sim card in your original iPhone.

Please clarify.

From what it sounds like though, you have a 3G compatible sim in your original iPhone, and want to know if you can use it in your iPhone 3G, 3GS, or 4. Yes you can, and with your original $20 data plan. AT&T won't know anything about a phone that you haven't registered (given them the IMEI) with them. You have a data plan, and that's all AT&T sees, is data. As long as the card in your phone now is 3G compatible, you will get unlimited 3G on and iPhone 3G/3GS/4 by just popping the sim in.
     
l008com  (op)
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Jun 23, 2011, 08:12 PM
 
How do I know if my SIM is 2G or 3G?
I just popped it out before clicking 'post' and the sim DOES say 3G on it. So I'm good to go then? I can get a used 3GS, pop in my sim, and I'm good to go with my current month to month plan?
     
Wiskedjak
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Jun 23, 2011, 08:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by lysolman View Post
AT&T won't know anything about a phone that you haven't registered (given them the IMEI) with them.
The phone automatically gives the network provider it's IMEI the moment it talks to their network. AT&T can tell which devices are accessing their network. The main question here is if they'll care about non-Original iPhones making use of a plan named "Data Unlimited for Original iPhone".
     
Cold Warrior
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Jun 23, 2011, 08:37 PM
 
Originally Posted by lysolman View Post
AT&T won't know anything about a phone that you haven't registered (given them the IMEI) with them. You have a data plan, and that's all AT&T sees, is data. As long as the card in your phone now is 3G compatible, you will get unlimited 3G on and iPhone 3G/3GS/4 by just popping the sim in.
This is incorrect. GSM providers log IMEIs routinely for analysis (metrics) and blacklisting (if they have an equipment identity register or participate internationally).

Separately, AT&T obviously does this when they ID iPhone users without data plans.
     
Wiskedjak
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Jun 23, 2011, 10:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by Cold Warrior View Post
Separately, AT&T obviously does this when they ID iPhone users without data plans.
Which I think is a crappy policy. I get why they would not want a 3G phone on a plan designed around 2G speeds, but why can't a person have a iPhone with only voice if they so choose?
     
Cold Warrior
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Jun 23, 2011, 11:40 PM
 
Some SVP bean counter realized that the iPhone would be hot, and AT&T would be the only place for it for many people, and by requiring data for phones not users, they could 'monetize' these phones across subscriber ownership.

The usual: $$$
     
amazing
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Jun 24, 2011, 12:32 AM
 
So, from the above discussion about IMEI, ATT will be able to tell that it's a new phone.

Since the favorable $20 unlimited data rate was tied to your 2nd gen iPhone, the question is whether you can keep that data rate when you get a more recent iPhone. I seem to remember that people who upgraded got to keep that unlimited $20 data rate--does anybody remember that?

Unless that was only for a limited time? Again, the only thing to do is call ATT. You're not gonna be able to sneek a new iPhone into service.
     
l008com  (op)
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Jun 24, 2011, 12:38 AM
 
The thing with calling AT&T, is that of course they are going to tell me I need to buy a new plan. Whether I do or not. Answers from them would be no more trustworthy than answers from an internet forum, in my opinion. I'm still hoping someone who has actually done this, sees this and chimes in.
     
amazing
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Jun 25, 2011, 11:05 AM
 
With ATT, you have to know how to work the system.

You call them up, get the opinion that will hopefully say that a newish/newer iPhone will inherit the favorable unlimited data rate, and be sure to ask them that your account is annotated to that effect.

Later on, you call back a second time and ask that service agent whether the notes show that you will continue to receive the unlimited data rate. At that point, you'll have confirmed that the account notes favor your moving up to a newer iPhone while preserving the $20 data rate.

If, as you and I both suspect, ATT confirms that you're going to lose the data rate, then you have a choice to make: stay with your present iPhone, or upgrade.
     
   
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