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Can I use an iPhone with no data plan?
January 22, 2010 9:16 AM   Subscribe

Using an iPhone with ATT; no data plan?

I'm purchasing an iPhone of a friend (3GS I believe), but before I commit, I need to know if it will work with my cell phone arrangement.
I have an ATT plan and data plan is disabled (I can't browse the web at all), if I just pop my SIM card into the iPhone will everything work ok? (Excluding 3G Internet)...

My main question is:
Also I've heard that ATT knows if you have an iPhone and automatically tacks on the data plan, can anyone confirm or negate that?
posted by ptsampras14 to Technology (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I think your biggest concern is going to be the fact that it accesses the internet all the time, for checking various things (even if you don't start Safari) and there's no way to disable the internet completely without hacking it.

This is going to result in $.02/KB charges.

They can't tack on the data plan if you didn't choose it. What they do do, however, is a few times a year send people without data plans creepy SMSs asking them to contact customer support, where they'll get you to agree to buy data.
posted by floam at 9:21 AM on January 22, 2010


One option you do have, is I think you should be able to use the iPhone with their $20 unlimited MediaNet plan instead of the $30 iPhone one. But you might someday get those SMSs sent to you asking you to call them, but you can just ignore them. You aren't doing anything wrong by bringing your own phone you got yourself onto their network.
posted by floam at 9:24 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I really enjoy my iPhone with the data plan... and yes iPhone contacts the interwebs all the time for all sorts of things, so you'll probably end up online unintentionally. I'd get the data plan. It will however preferentially automatically use any wifi you're near over the 3gs if that's possible. I don't end up using the 3GS that much because everywhere I go it hops on the Wireless. If the place has AT&T wireless you get on free, places like McDonald's and Starbucks and so on...
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 9:28 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well see I have a Palm Centro right now, and my data plan is disabled so I am not allowed to go on the Internet...if this is the same for my iPhone that will be great..

Eventually I plan to get the data plan, its just not in the books right now.. I wanted to consolidate my phone and iTouch into one device so this will work.Thank you
posted by ptsampras14 at 9:32 AM on January 22, 2010


Also I've heard that ATT knows if you have an iPhone and automatically tacks on the data plan...

Not quite an answer, but I believe all that ATT can recognize over the air are the special range of SIM cards that they sell with/for iPhones, not the iPhones themselves.

Anecdata: when I first got an iPhone, I used my old ATT SIM card for about six months, and my data use kept showing up as 0, even though it worked fine. A couple of times when I dealt with a rep over the phone they asked odd "That's an iPhone?"-type questions, as if their records were wrong.

Only later, when I had to swap my iPhone for a new one (oops, dropped it) did the ATT folks also give me a new SIM card of the proper type... and my data use started tracking correctly thereafter. Presumably, this was a SIM card of their preferred 'iPhone series'.
posted by rokusan at 9:33 AM on January 22, 2010


Not quite an answer, but I believe all that ATT can recognize over the air are the special range of SIM cards that they sell with/for iPhones, not the iPhones themselves.

It is most definitely possible to recognize what phone you're using, by the IMEI. I used to use an unlocked AT&T Tilt on T-Mobile with their web2go ($10/mo) plan, and within a month or two it recognized the phone as a Tilt and told us to upgrade to their Total Internet plan ($25/mo). I'm fairly certain AT&T does (at least did) this with other phones as well.
posted by ConstantineXVI at 9:39 AM on January 22, 2010


AT&T can recognize instantly any phone that communicates with their network*. Whether they care or what they will do about it, I don't know.

* Based on the fact that when you put an AT&T SIM card into a phone, you can go onto their support site and within seconds it can tell you what kind of phone the SIM card is in (in order to offer you support documents for that phone).
posted by joshrholloway at 9:58 AM on January 22, 2010


Phone AT&T and find out.
posted by schwa at 10:02 AM on January 22, 2010


I gave my dad my iphone 3G and also my 3G (after the 2g broke). He is on AT&T w/ no data plan (and recently got a new 3G labelled SIM) and it works fine, ie. the internet doesnt work. His account has stayed the same for the past couple years.
posted by wongcorgi at 10:05 AM on January 22, 2010


Another option is jailbreaking the iPhone and installing a program to disable EDGE and 3G services. This will also remove the Visual Voicemail aspect, as will no data plan with AT&T on the iPhone.

Here is a website I can't personally vouch for, but it claims to disable EDGE and 3G with one click from the page (most likely changes carrier settings - a loophole people used to enable tethering and MMS before they were officially released by the various carriers).
posted by shinynewnick at 10:15 AM on January 22, 2010


Why not just get a regular phone and an ipod touch? It will end up cheaper in the long run.
posted by majortom1981 at 11:56 AM on January 22, 2010


You can also disable data on your iPhone (without hacking) by changing the Access Point information (APN) via this website.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:01 PM on January 22, 2010


I asked a similar question. I entered a fake APN as blue_beetle suggests and wasn't charged for any data usage, leading me to believe floam's assertion is incorrect.

Depending on what your friend is asking for the device, I would like to second the suggestion of at least looking into the "cheap mobile phone for calls/texts + iPod Touch for WiFi internetty goodness" combo.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:16 PM on January 22, 2010


He's asking $150...I already have an iTouch and I think combining my devices for that price is worth it...just scared if it breaks because I won't have a warranty, but yes ill probably end up disabling the EDGE/3G/2G

But whats the sure fire way to go about this so I know I don't get charged.
ATT has already disabled data usage for me per my request, will this be enough?
posted by ptsampras14 at 12:32 PM on January 22, 2010


You're not bound to pay for any service you didn't agree to. Even if some charge shows up, dispute it and ask them when, exactly, you ordered that. They'll strike it.
posted by rokusan at 9:17 PM on January 22, 2010


I guess they've gotten better at IDing phones now. My example was with an original iPhone back in the olden days. You know, a couple years ago. :)
posted by rokusan at 9:18 PM on January 22, 2010


To wrap this up,
I had a Palm Centro, and had ATT disable data.
Ordered the iPhone through my father's account on my family plan (he was due for an upgrade).. after a month, put his sim back into a motorola razr, called ATT and told them scratch the iphone data plan.

Popped my sim into the iPhone, and it works great! No data charges, all wifi internet, and with 3g and edge, and location services turned off, on a good streak i can go 3 days without charging my phone.
posted by ptsampras14 at 5:10 PM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


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