Want a prepaid iPhone? Setup an iPhone for a pay-as-you-go plan
You can use any iPhone, iPhone 3G, or iPhone 3GS as a pay-as-you-go phone through AT&T’s GoPhone program. AT&T doesn’t officially support using GoPhone with iPhone but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it, and it’s actually much easier than you might expect. You will be able to make calls and use prepaid data, and the best part about this… it does NOT require a Jailbreak!
Setup iPhone as a prepaid phone
Setting up an iPhone as a prepaid phone is actually very easy. First you will need a compatible phone, the original iPhone, iPhone 3G, and iPhone 3GS all work fine. Then all you need to do is:
- Get a prepaid GoPhone sim card
- Replace the iPhone sim card with the prepaid sim card
Yes, it’s that easy.
The best way to do this is to buy a really cheap GoPhone, which is usually a refurbished older Nokia or Samsung cell phone for about $25, and then yank out the sim card and swap it into the iPhone. Once you have the new GoPhone sim in the iPhone you can use it as you would with any other prepaid phone and make all the calls you want.
At this point you can make all the calls you want using the pay as you go model, but you are unable to use any data unless your iPhone is connected to WiFi. This is fine for some people, but in case it’s not there’s a workaround…
Setup iPhone to use a prepaid data plan
So your iPhone now makes calls fine but you want to use wireless data as well… no problem. Here are the steps:
- Be sure you are on a WiFi connection so you can access the web on your iPhone
- Using Safari on the newly setup prepaid iPhone, visit unlockit.co.nz and tap ‘Continue’
- On the next screen tap on ‘Custom APN’
- Select the carrier, for this example it’s going to be “US – AT&T” since using AT&T doesn’t require a jailbreak or unlock
- Tap on the “Create Profile” button to create and download the custom APN profile
- You will then see a screen saying you are about to install a new profile, click on ‘Install’ and then “Replace”
- A “Profile Installed” screen will appear next showing the new APN profile that has been installed
- The data plan should now work
To test that the prepaid data plan is working, disable WiFi on the iPhone and look at the upper left carrier signal to see if Edge or 3G text appears, this will show you if the data plan is working. If data doesn’t appear to be working, restart your iPhone and things should work fine. This solution is described with screenshots by TheAppleBlog if you run into any confusion.
This exact process works the same on other carriers around the world, according to TheAppleBlog. The necessity of this varies from region to region though, as many countries have pay-as-you-go iPhone’s already available. The prepaid feature is not offered in the USA, thankfully it’s not that difficult to get around!
What about a prepaid iPhone 4?
Update: Here’s how to setup iPhone 4 as a pay-go phone, it’s pretty simple.
Update 2: Supposedly the CDMA iPhone 4 can be used on Cricket Wireless too, but it requires a jailbreak and some fees from Cricket.
The same process will work with the iPhone 4 as well, but since the iPhone 4 uses a micro sim card you would have to either trim down the prepaid sim which is a tedious process, or find another solution. If you plan on doing this, you’ll still need to buy iPhone 4 without contract which will cost quite a bit.