New monthly Plan for old iPhone 3GS
December 17, 2013 7:29 PM   Subscribe

I am on an AT&T family plan. I have had an iPhone 3GS since about 2011, and just upgraded to an iPhone 5c. I still have the 3GS. What is the best way for me to use this phone with a monthly plan completely separate from the family plan, with any carrier? Our daughter is on the Virgin 35/month plan. That seems pretty good. Am I hosed because this phone was locked into AT&T, or whatzers?
posted by battleshipkropotkin to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's not that it's locked to AT&T, you can get that undone, but if that's like the iPhone 4, which I have, then it's that it doesn't have the right kind of antenna inside to get on the Virgin (Sprint) network. It'll work on some MVNOs, but generally the ones that're reselling for T-mobile or AT&T. I get Straight Talk now, but their customer service has left a few things to be desired.
posted by Sequence at 7:33 PM on December 17, 2013

You're in a bit of a pinch - the 3GS is GSM only, so the two national networks are AT&T and T-mobile. And the 3GS is not compatible with most T-mobile 3G frequencies (as I recall), so you're stuck with 2g there. So even unlocked, you are very nearly stuck with AT&T or an AT&T MVNO.
posted by wotsac at 8:01 PM on December 17, 2013

Here's a good article comparing various plans. Stick with AT&T or one of its MVNOs.

I tried Airvoice Wireless for a few months but switched back to AT&T prepaid because Airvoice had poor data rates, poor customer service and stupid data policies (you have to call Airvoice after using half the data and ask them to release the last half!)
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:45 PM on December 17, 2013

I put my 3GS on Straight Talk for my son, it's an ATT MVNO. There was a bit of handwaving involving temporarily swapping in a TMOB sim to be able to access some hidden (APN) settings to get MMS texting to work but it's worked flawlessly in the year or so since. On the plus side, he's consistently getting 3G connections (be aware they throttle down to 2G after 2.5GB in the month) and it's otherwise unlimited talk/txt/data. On the down side, Straight Talk's customer service was kind of useless the one time I contacted them.
posted by jamaro at 8:55 PM on December 17, 2013

Oh, yeah, if you go with Straight Talk, you'll need to use Unlockit to set your APN settings. They at one point switched those settings on me from an old to a new version and all my data stopped working, and NOBODY at customer service had any idea what had happened, so I don't trust them to be able to explain that.
posted by Sequence at 9:06 PM on December 17, 2013

We were recently in almost the same situation. At the AT&T store, they quoted us a very low price per month ($30 maybe?) to set up the old iPhone 3GS with a prepaid calling and (small) data plan. IMO it would be worth your time to go ask them about your options.
posted by DrGail at 7:01 AM on December 18, 2013

AT&T can unlock the phone since it is now "paid off". Call them, don't go into the store.
posted by soelo at 8:34 AM on December 18, 2013

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