Use an iPhone Without a Data Plan
To get the most out of an iPhone you’ll obviously want to have internet access, but for those who live in regions where wi-fi access is ubiquitous, you can potentially save some money on a monthly cell phone bill by not having a data plan.
No, I don’t mean only turning off data on the phone, I mean having a simple voice and SMS plan without any data plan at all. These voice and text plans are quickly disappearing, but they can result in a low bill of around $25 per month with plenty of talk time and text messages. To accomplish this, you’ll need a few things.
- Unlocked iPhone – the iPhone must be GSM unlocked, either from a software unlock or an original hardware unlocked device. Apple sells the iPhone 4S unlocked for $649 and up
- A simple cell phone plan and it’s SIM card without data – usually from an older “dumbphone” or a cheap pay-go phone
Depending on how old the data-free plan is, you may need to trim down the SIM card so that it fits into the iPhone 4 and 4S micro-SIM slot. This wouldn’t be necessary for iPhone 2G, 3G, or 3GS though.
Setting Up iPhone With No Data Plan
If you have those two things, setting up the data-free iPhone is easy:
- First turn off data by launching Settings, tap “General”, tap “Network”, flip the “Cellular Data” switch to OFF
- Now insert the old data free SIM card into the iPhone and wait a minute or so to get service
The first step is important because it prevents the iPhone from attempting to use data, which can inadvertently sign you up for a data plan with some carriers. AT&T has been known to detect and automatically add data plans to smartphones, whereas T-Mobile is reportedly less likely to do so. After the old SIM card is inserted you should quickly get service and be able to make and receive phone calls and text messages.
For using an iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S with T-Mobile, you may want to follow our T-Mobile iPhone 4S set up guide to configure MMS, but skip the ‘Cellular Data Network’ section.
Of course, the unlocked iPhone aspect is fairly expensive and can quickly make this whole idea cost prohibitive. If you’re looking for more ideas to lower the monthly iPhone bill though, the next cheapest option – and it includes data – is to set up a prepaid iPhone, which the iPhone is unofficially capable of supporting on a pay-go basis with AT&T, or if you have an unlocked device this can work with T-Mobile too.
Thanks to Anthony F for the tip and information about AT&T.