Activate Your Iphone 3G

Do you have a new Iphone 3G or you’ve just reset it? Inserted your SIM and it doesn’t work and says locked SIM? Here’s a step-by-step guide on activating it.

If you happen to have an Iphone 3G and inserting a SIM card doesn’t make it work, then you might not have activated it. The Iphone 3G is not your regular phone where you just plug in your SIM and it’s ready to go. Remember it’s an IPOD and phone rolled into one.


Let’s first install your SIM card into your Iphone 3G. You just need to use the small metal pin provided by Apple, and use it to push at the small hole located at the top of the Iphone 3G to reveal the SIM card slot.


Activate iPhone 3G graphic0

Place the SIM card in the slot and push it back to the iPhone 3G. Once you do that, turn on the Iphone by pressing at the button near the SIM card slot. (Sometimes it would automatically turn on)


Now if you didn’t insert a SIM card or you improperly put it in, you’ll be presented with a screen like this.

Activate iPhone 3G graphic1


Notice how the iPhone 3g says SIM locked and that you need to insert an unlocked and valid SIM to activate the Iphone? This is kind of misleading because if you improperly put in a SIM card and then powered it on, you might think something is wrong with your iPhone or it’s not unlocked for your SIM.

So make sure that you inserted the SIM card correctly and pushed the slot back in place. Once you do that and it’s powered on, you won’t see the SIM locked alert as seen above. You’ll just see the “connect to iTunes” image.


Now let’s download and install the latest iTunes from Apple. You can download it here.


Activate the Iphone 3G

Once you’ve done the preliminaries above, it’s now time to activate your iPhone.

Connect your iPhone 3G to your computer using the provided USB cable. Once its connected to your PC, it would detect the connected iPhone and automatically start iTunes.

Once iTunes starts, it would detect the carrier settings of your iPhone 3G and prompt you to download the latest one.


Activate iPhone 3G graphic2


Just click on “Download and Update”.

The process of updating your carrier settings is quick, so once it’s finished just click “OK”.

Activate iPhone 3G graphic3


You only need to follow the steps up to here to successfully activate the iPhone 3G. But I strongly suggest that you continue with the additional steps below to make the performance of your iPhone 3G better.


You’ll be presented with a screen like the one below after the carrier settings update.

Activate iPhone 3G graphic4

If your screen doesn’t look like this one, just make sure that you click on “iPhone” on the left Pane which is under Devices category as shown below.

Activate iPhone 3G graphic5


Just click “Register Later”. If you click “Continue”, you’ll be registering your iPhone 3G and need to create an Apple account.

(We’ll keep this guide as simple as possible so I won’t be showing you how to register your iPhone as this isn’t really a pre-requisite.)

Activate iPhone 3G graphic6

Once you click “Register Later”, you’ll be presented with the screen below. (Make sure you click your iPhone at the Devices category at the left pane)

Activate iPhone 3G graphic7


Just type in what name you would want for your iPhone 3G. I put in the name of Sam. (it’s his iPhone I’m using anyway)

Activate iPhone 3G graphic8



Once you’re finished, just click “Done”.


If your iPhone 3G is new, I’m sure it needs a software upgrade. If it does, you’ll be presented with the screen below. Just click “Update”.

Activate iPhone 3G graphic9


Just be prepared to wait as the download is about 200-250MB. Once the download is complete it would automatically update your iPhone 3G to the latest software. Remember not to unplug your iPhone 3G once it’s being updated.


That’s it! We did more than just activate the iPhone 3G. We upgraded your iPhone and made it ready for iTunes so you can transfer music, videos, and photos just like a regular iPod.

Your activated iPhone 3G should now look like this.

Activate iPhone 3G graphic10

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  1. Alex says:

    I got an Iphone 3g and its supposed to be jailbreak already. And i accidentally updated and it now saids that the sim card isnt compatible. And the SIM card I was using was from my cellphone. I correctly insert the SIM card back and open it again, it shows be the emergency screen but on the top left corner, it shows me my service provider. I can’t do anything. In addition, when i connect to itunes, it still saids that my sim card isnt compatible.

    Anything I can do?

  2. Kasi says:

    This is very helpful!!!!! Thanks

  3. Dayton Steelman says:

    Do you have information about unlocking a I Phone
    3 GS 3.1.3?? I have a son in London that we sent an I phone and he cannot find code(s) necessary to unlock it?? can you help or can you send me on to someone that can?? Thank you so much.

    • justin trueman says:

      tell him to back up his phone using itunes
      then download spirit from
      that should jailbreak and unlock his phone in around 30 seconds

    • Ige says:

      Based from what I’ve been reading and from a lot of my techie friends, there is no unlock available for the iPhone 3GS 3.1.3 right now (let me note that its May 17 right now). I wouldn’t be surprised if someone provides an unlock in the near future though.

  4. arjay says:

    i’ve just got my iPhone 3gs and i want to actovate it…from the pages on different websites that i have visited it says that i have to put itunes in activate only mode…is it still necessary? from this instruction and pictures i think it would relly be helpful but can i activate it without updating the software coz it might just lock the phone based also on what i’ve read…
    replies would really be a good help thanks!!!

  5. shan says:

    we have iphone 3g it is working good, but today i will update the new wrsion 4.0 then naw is showing

  6. Ghemar says:

    This post is just so helpful. Thanks a lot for posting this article. Cheers!

  7. Pareen says:


    i have iphone 3gs and i updated it in itunes yesterday and i guess it has 4.01 now .

    Right now i am stuck at the emergency (no sim /pinlock ) kinda screen.

    Do you have any suggestions?can you please help?. is it possible to bypass the emergency screen with any software. i have heard about using jailbreakme but i dont get it how would i install something like jail break me when i am on emergency screen.

  8. stephanie says:


    Also having a similar issue with my 3g, but i’m downgrading from 4.0.1 to 3.1.3 in order to jailbreak it with pwnage tool and it’s giving me this ‘insert valid sim’.

    The phone is locked to a carrier that i’m not with, and I haven’t unlocked or jailbroken it yet.. I popped a friend’s sim card (he’s with the same carrier as my 3g) into the phone but it still doesn’t bypass the screen.
    If I follow the instructions in this article and iTunes prompts me to upgrade to the newest ios once I plug it into my computer, is there a way to indicate that i want to downgrade the ios instead?

  9. Michael says:

    I got rid of the sim as i didnt know id need it when i restored my iphone and now its askin for it to start it, is there any way around this??

  10. Setyo Ari P says:

    I has download Itune but I didn”t get device how to get it

  11. Emma says:

    Help! I followed all steps given above. My Iphone still cannot find network.. it is just constantly searching. It is a brand new SIM bought seperately to the phone. Everything has been updated in itunes.

  12. CLARK says:

    I have use a SIM activation from ebay but it did not work…I don have anything in my phone just emergency call. I tried update then to jailbreak it but it dosent work.

    please help me…

    iPhone 3G ios 4.0.1

  13. david says:

    excellent advice page worked perfectly ,, which was great , because our carrier , did not tell us any of this when we ordered it over the phone ..
    thankyou for the info ,,
    David Australia

  14. max says:

    what does it update the iphone to? does it update to 4.1.2?

  15. katerina says:

    just got an iphone 8gb and i need to set up an account it what like let me do it on my phone

  16. Shaun says:

    Had my Iphone unlocked and it can not get pictures…Need help

  17. Hamza says:

    I Clicked download and update then i got a lock screen and it says to connect to itunes, so when i connect all it says is Invalid sim please put in a sim that came with your carrier

  18. matt says:

    My Godfather bought me an iPhone 4G from Singapore. When i took it out of the box it didn’t come with a sim but i could use the iPhone just i couldn’t call. So after that i read the little thing that comes with it, and it said to sync my iPhone, so i synced it and it said to update. After i updated it i tried some of the apps that i downloaded and they kept crashing. So i reset it to factory defualt now when i switch it on is says “No Sim card installed” Insert a vaild SIM with no PIN lock to activate iPhone. And below it is a “Slide for emergency”.

    Does this mean i can put an Aussie Sim in it and it’ll be fixed?
    Or at least let me use it with or without being able to call?

  19. sanjay says:

    after update my iphone 4.0, when i put sim card just searching only for this any help me ?

  20. ronan williamson says:

    this is amazing thank you so much bud :)

  21. Raghav Suri says:

    This guy is a genius

    I started the upgrade before reading this forum, but I am just so hapy, reading this forum during the upgrade made it so easy for me and its working fine now, can connect and it flashed, iphone is activated, yippe, I am so happy

  22. ahmad says:

    it says invalid sim plz help me hurry ho to get the software done???

  23. Sarel says:

    Am the best of the website

  24. chaitu says:

    i unfortunately deleted contacts from my sim in ordinary cell but used iphone before
    will contacts be there in iphone ?????

  25. Lyla Potter says:

    By the way this blog site was tipped by Google search result advertisement specialist Themelis Cuiper, you must be doing a superb job as he is pointing towards you!

  26. maxi lee says:

    my iphone 3g was working perfectly fine, and i plugged it into my itunes and i preessed the ‘update’ button which is shown at the top, but its switched off my network..contantly at ‘no service’ and my itunes comes up with just a notice saying ‘invalid sim’

  27. divyanshu says:

    can i only work on iphone after activation without updating it

  28. enayet says:

    Its not working i have the same problem but carrier setting is not detecting automatically reply me as soon as possible

  29. tony1234 says:

    i bought an i phone 3gs off a guy in work who fixes them and unlocks them etc it worked fine and wen i connected to itunes it said update done dat nut it restored factory settings now i wont activate and i tunes is saying no sim card inserted disconnect and try again ???? ne help with dis

  30. sughav says:

    I have I phone 3gs. recently it got stuck. I connected it to I tunes to restore it from the backup. while it was restoring I lost the internet connection. it was was partially restored. when I checked the backup I found it replaced with a new backup. how I can get the older backup in order to restore it back to my I phone.plz help me out

    thanks and regards,

  31. kayla says:

    my iphone 3 locked on me and it wont come back on and i have tried to restore it back to factory settings and it goes threw the process and at the very end it stops and says iphone cannot be restored. an unknown error occured (1015)

  32. eva says:

    I did this, but when i click on ‘iphone’ in the itunes, it says something aout my sim card not compatible? How do I fix this!!

  33. paul says:

    this was great advice worked a treat. THANKS

  34. Lorraine says:

    hello thanks for the instructions, it does sound like I can do it, once I have a sim card. The phone says no sim when it’s turned on, I bought it on ebay,it should be compatible with verizon and should be unlocked. I don’t know what to get for a sim card. I see ones that say 4g but not any that sy 3g.
    when I pressed to open the sim card tray it came out and was empty. Does that mean I just need a micro sim card, not the adapter I see being sold also? thank you

  35. jeremy says:

    i have a 3g iphone and i want to update the ios to the latest version, BUT it is using a preaid at&t gophone sim card. would i have to go to at&t and have them update it or is there a website i can try? anyone have any suggestions? any help is greatly appreciated.

  36. beckie says:

    hi i brought an iphone 3gs 32g off my friend as she upgraded, she restored it to wipe everything now it wont activate … it just keep saying unable to activate at this time please try again later or try via itunes(which i did but still it wont activate) i have been trying for weeks now and still it comes up with the same thing…!! why??? i checked the EMI number its unlocked and valid i don’t understand?? please could u shine a light my way…. kind regards becky

  37. babar says:

    but my iphone after restoring only showing starting apple icon not running more.. why?/

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