Cheapest way to use Iphone 3 for minimal use/no data?
December 26, 2011 10:28 AM   Subscribe

My wife would like to use our off contract Iphone 3g to use VERY infrequently (less than 20 minutes/mo?) with no data plan needed. Any suggestions about how BEST to do this on the cheap? In Hawaii if that matters. Prepaid?
posted by dougiedd to Technology (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Hawaii notwithstanding - I think your best bet is to pretend it has no cell service, and attempt usage of the built-in wifi. Naturally this means finding a place with wifi. Then, if you need to make calls, you can use Skype or some other call-making app if she needs to talk. If you need 3g in just little amounts like that tho, I think you are out of luck. As far as I know, the only gadget I've encountered that lets you turn it on for a little while and then off, as needed (although it's usually in a per-month pricing scheme) is the ipad.
posted by bitterkitten at 10:34 AM on December 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Check out this video, which describes how to use iPhone 3 on AT&T GoPhone prepaid plan, so you can just pay as you go and use it wherever there's an AT&T signal. Skip the part about buying the phone, since you already have it. You need to by the SIMcard which will cost a few bucks on Ebay, or WalMart may sell the right one. Don't tell AT&T you have an iPhone, just that you are activating a SIMcard. Or you can do this via TMobile.
posted by beagle at 11:18 AM on December 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

2nding going wifi-only. I've done this when traveling overseas to avoid roaming and overseas data chages. Simply disable 3G (or remove the SIM card if you're really paranoid) and look for hotspots, free or otherwise. We used Skype to phone home when abroad and it worked fine.

(on preview, beagle's suggestion on pre-paid SIM cards is a good one, too)
posted by jquinby at 11:20 AM on December 26, 2011

Building on what beagle said, if you go to an AT&T corporate store they'll give you a free sim card for prepaid. Other retailers (best buy, walmart, AT&T mall kiosks) will make you pay for them.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 11:48 AM on December 26, 2011

I can confirm that a GoPhone SIM in a "locked" phone works just fine.
posted by humboldt32 at 12:09 PM on December 26, 2011

Get the phone unlocked - you might be able to do this yourself, or pay someone to do it. Be aware that you won't be able to upgrade the iOS afterward without re-doing the lock/unlock process, and don't let iTunes upgrade the iOs for you. Other than that, no problem.

This listing on Craigslist looks promising, but you should contact him, ask for references, do a Google search on his name, etc. to make sure you feel OK about it.

I've totally done this with T-mobile; I end up paying about $10/month, depending on how much I use the phone. Just go to a T-mobile _store_ first, or find an expert -- people at more general stores can be a little clueless. Call the T-mobile store first, and ask if they can get a SIM card working in an unlocked phone for you. It's not exotic at all, and there should be no problem.

I've been using T-mobile in an unlocked iPhone for a couple of years, and it's great! I have a lot of apps on my phone which are very handy, including some translation dictionaries.
posted by amtho at 12:17 PM on December 26, 2011

I can confirm that a GoPhone SIM in a "locked" phone works just fine.

Only if the phone is locked to ATT. A locked phone will never work on a different carrier.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 12:55 PM on December 26, 2011

Response by poster: is there an advantage to t mobile (meaning i need to unlock) versus the go phone route?
And what do you tell ATT get a free sim card?
Does that involve cutting the sim car to fit?
posted by dougiedd at 1:37 PM on December 26, 2011

Does that involve cutting the sim car to fit?
3G iphones take a normal sized sim card, so you should not have to cut it.
posted by soelo at 5:38 AM on December 27, 2011

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