How to swap iphones?
July 5, 2010 12:33 PM   Subscribe

[iPhone Filter] I have an iPhone 3G currently on AT&T, and my girlfriend is purchasing an iPhone 4 on a new line of service through AT&T. She wants my 3G and I'm getting the 4. How do we make this swap happen?

I am giving my girlfriend my iPhone 3G and she is going to start a new line of service with AT&T with the new iPhone 4. I will get the new iPhone 4 from her to use on my existing line of service, and she will use my 3G on her new line of service.

I'm assuming this is possible, so what is the best way for us to make this swap? I need advice from:

1) The SIM perspective. From what I understand, the iPhone 4 uses a different type of SIM card. What do I need to do to get this working? Am I going to face any problems - IOW, is AT&T going to give me hassle? I was hoping this would be a matter of simply swapping SIMs, but that doesn't appear correct.

2) A contacts transfer perspective. How do I ensure my existing iPhone contacts get moved over to the new iPhone 4?

3) An Apps backup/transfer perspective. I'm a bit hazy on the iPhone/iTunes backup process - do I need to do a backup of my iPhone 3G and then restore that backup on the new iPhone 4 to keep all my apps? Or can I just start from scratch and re-download all the apps (including the few purchased ones I have) to the new phone?

Neither of the iPhones are jailbroken or unlocked.

Thanks so much for your help!
posted by karizma to Technology (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
1. The new iPhone uses the smaller SIM card than your iPhone 3G. You can buy or fake some adaptors (or in the case of putting your big SIM in the iPhone 4, you can cut it down). The problem with these types of solutions is if the SIM loses contact with the phone it will go into Emergency Calls Only mode until fixed.

2. You really need to talk to someone at ATT for the best answer about your contract. call 611 or visit an ATT store. The people at the Apple Store won't know and they'll have you call ATT. I know when I had a similar situation (not iPhones but pre-iPhone days) at T-mobile, they'd happily give me whatever SIM and make account notations they wanted. But then again, the T-mobile people tend not to be as dickish as ATT.

3. Your apps are tied to your iTunes account. Restoring from the old 3G backup would work. Even from scratch your apps are still in your iTunes (assuming you regularly backup). Worst case and you have to download the apps again, you just download them and there's no charge for paid apps. The only trouble you might have is if you had an app that is no longer for sale.
posted by birdherder at 12:45 PM on July 5, 2010

1. The iPhone 4 uses a 'micro SIM' - one that is smaller than a the ubiquitous 'mini SIM': see here for a comparison. While you shouldn't have much trouble trimming your SIM to fit the iPhone 4, it is likely that AT&T will provide your girlfriend with a micro SIM. You will therefore need to make this SIM bigger, which is a bit more difficult. Here's a helpful guide on attempting this.

2 and 3. The easiest way to keep all of your contacts and apps is as you say to do a backup and then restore on your new device. Apple walks you through the process here.
posted by NordyneDefenceDynamics at 12:50 PM on July 5, 2010

1) Why aren't you upgrading your iPhone directly? Dial *639# on your current iPhone to check eligibility, but if you've got a 3G I'm 99% sure you're eligible since even some 3GS owners are upgrading. You can also request a new SIM card from AT&T without much hassle at any AT&T store, then just call them up (611 on any AT&T phone) and they can move your service from your old SIM to the new one.

The iPhone 3G is really terrible with iOS 4 and you'll be leaving your girlfriend without the ability to upgrade the hardware for two years. I'm not sure what she gets out of this besides the short end of the stick, and you'd lose nothing by having the upgrade on your contract.

2) & 3) sync your phone with itunes, it'll back everything up including your contacts and apps which will then be transferred to your new phone when iTunes asks if you want to restore your new iPhone with the backup from your previous phone.

Apple has specific instructions here for backing up and restoring iPhones. Their support site is actually pretty good for other information, too.
posted by TimeDoctor at 12:53 PM on July 5, 2010

It's easy to sell your iPhone 3G 16gb on eBay for over $200.00.

I walked into a store on Tuesday and bought the 4 for 199.00+tax. Then I did a 1 day auction and sold my 3g for $204.00.

I'd recommend doing that and then you can both have the iPhone 4.
posted by zephyr_words at 1:55 PM on July 5, 2010

I don't know if this will get you 100% of the way there, but it will probably help quite a bit: AT&T's instructions on upgrading to an iPhone 4 on one line while actually purchasing it using a different line.
posted by joshrholloway at 4:02 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

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