Pre-paid iPhone SIM in the USA?
July 10, 2011 8:32 AM   Subscribe

I have a factory unlocked iPhone 4, and am travelling to US for a week. What are the pre-paid options available?

In the past, I've always just picked up a cheap T-Mobile phone from Wal-Mart and swapped the SIM, then activated the "sidekick" pre-paid plan on my phone. Apparently this doesn't work any more?

Are there any other options for a traveller who will be in the USA for just a week or so to use a pre-paid iPhone with data?

My phone is an officially unlocked iPhone from Apple Canada.
posted by MiG to Technology (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
T-mobile now sells a data "day pass" for $1.49. 24 hours, all the data you want. Just get a regular prepaid plan and you can add this. I used this a couple of months ago, with my jailbroken/unlocked Canadian iphone 3g and it worked fine:

In the past, for longer visits, I have used the t-mobile "even more plus" plan. It is not prepaid, but you can sign up for just a month and then cancel it. It is potentially a better deal if you plan to use your phone a lot, and/or will be in town for more than a week or so.

A note: I had some configuration mysteries. I had thought that t-mobile would not help me, since they do not offically support the iphone. But when I called, the rep I spoke to was very helpful, and helped me troubleshoot the problem, and fix it, even though I was on an iPhone.

Of course, as you probably know, you will only get EDGE speeds using an iPhone on T-mobile.

Also - I have no experience doing this with an iPhone 4. It has a smaller than normal SIM, yes?
posted by ManInSuit at 9:06 AM on July 10, 2011

Response by poster: Yes, the iPhone 4 uses a micro-SIM. But I have a little cutter tool that I carry with me. Used it successfully on a Mexican SIM recently :-)

So the T-Mobile day-pass was easy to use? Just pop in the SIM and load up a browser window?
posted by MiG at 9:18 AM on July 10, 2011

So the T-Mobile day-pass was easy to use? Just pop in the SIM and load up a browser window?
If I recall correctly, it's a little flakey to set up, but once it gets going it is okay. It seems to work differenlty each time I try it.

Some times, I just pop up a browser window, and it gives me a thing I can click to pay my $1.49 and get web access. Sometimes I have to go to a special site.

To make things a little more complicated: My experience is that sometimes it doesn't work the first time, but does work after a couple of tries. So it is, as with all things related to taking your Canadian iPhone to the US, a bit of a headache. But it has ultimately worked for me. I'll try and dig up the special site info in a sec...

(I am going to the US myself in 4 days, so I am re-researching all this right now...)
posted by ManInSuit at 9:22 AM on July 10, 2011

The question of which page, if any, you have to visit to activate the day pass, was a bit of a mystery to me. Some to try:

And, again- don't be afraid to call t-mobile support if you have trouble. In my experience they were very helpful, and I did not have to pretend I was not on an iPhone.

(good to know that cutting the SIM works. One reason I'd been delaying upgrading to iPhone 4 is that I was worried about that...)
posted by ManInSuit at 10:07 AM on July 10, 2011

How to use your unlocked iphone in the USA on the cheap (tl;dr: AT&T GoPhone).
posted by caek at 11:26 AM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

What caek said: you can get a GoPhone microSIM from an AT&T shop as long as you don't explicitly say that it's for an iPhone, reply truthfully if they ask if it's for an iPhone, or wave around your iPhone in front of them.
posted by holgate at 11:51 AM on July 10, 2011

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