Help Me Set Up a Newish Cellphone
January 5, 2016 4:42 PM   Subscribe

My phone has had a series of mishaps over the last few weeks, and now I must get a new (to me) one. I have Sprint. If I were to get a used/refurbished Sprint iPhone from Gazelle or similar, how would I set it up to work with my Sprint number? Is this even possible? I do not want to have to go to a Sprint store, and I would prefer doing everything online. I need very basic step-by-step instructions.

Other maybe relevant information: I'm not due for an upgrade with Sprint. My contract is up only in September. I'm not interested in switching carriers. My current phone is not dead, only badly beaten. In the past, I've only ever bought phones from my carrier, and only when I'm offered an upgrade, so I'm not sure how people do it.

I'm fine with iCloud backups, data transfer, etc. I just want to know how to transfer the carrier plan over to the new phone.
posted by bluefly to Technology (5 answers total)
If you have a SIM (I think that Sprint uses those now, right?) you literally just put the old SIM into the new phone and you're good to go.
posted by MeghanC at 4:56 PM on January 5, 2016

MeghanC: If you have a SIM (I think that Sprint uses those now, right?) you literally just put the old SIM into the new phone and you're good to go.

Are you sure I don't have to do any kind of "activation"? Every time I've upgraded my phone in the past, I've had to go to the store for that. This is what I'm trying to avoid.
posted by bluefly at 5:16 PM on January 5, 2016

Sprint doesn't use SIM cards, but here are Sprint's instructions for activating a new phone online. And another set of instructions that provides the steps in text up front.
posted by asperity at 10:06 PM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Before you buy a new phone, make sure that it is a Sprint phone, not "flashed" to another carrier, and that the ESN is clear, which means that the ESN (serial number) is not on the blacklist of lost/stolen phones. There are some online sites to check ESN or you can call Sprint and ask them to check it.
posted by CathyG at 9:35 AM on January 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

For future Sprint customers as clueless as me, this is what I had to do:
1. Bought a phone from Gazelle.
2. Gazelle phones do not come with SIM cards. So, the online activation tool doesn't work because to do the device swap through the website, both phones need to have cards (according to the Sprint person I chatted with).
3. You can put the SIM from the old phone into the new phone, provided they are compatible, but it will say "Invalid SIM." You still have to contact a live person at Sprint in order to activate it. At least, I could use the online chat function to do it, and it was fast and painless (unlike every store or phone experience I've had with them!).

Thanks to your advice, I checked, and, at least for Sprint phones, Gazelle is supposed make sure that the serial number MEID/ESN is deactivated, and if you happen to get a phone that isn't clear, they should refund your money. But, there's also this tool where you can check the number.
posted by bluefly at 10:59 AM on January 8, 2016

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