iPhone headache
July 10, 2016 2:04 PM   Subscribe

Issues with iPhone 6 with Sprint, Eastern USA, major metro area.

I persuaded Older Relative to buy an iPhone 6 and to keep his current number and account with Sprint. He previously had a much older and much less smart phone, non-Apple; staff at the Apple store migrated his contacts to the iPhone. The Apple staff supposedly set everything up properly.

He is now very unhappy with his iPhone.
The data service and especially the Google Maps app have been working erratically or not at all in-state. Phone calls and data service did not work at all during a trip out of state (still in the USA). He particularly would like the GPS function to work.
He visited an Apple store (waiting a long time as is usual on weekends in our area). Apple referred him to Sprint, saying that the phone's SIM card is buggy.
He now plans to visit a full-service Sprint store. I am not sure whether the problem is with the SIM card or with holdover from his previous plan, which was probably much more limited, or just that Sprint seems to be the least favored network.

Question: What is the best way to fix his phone service? Or should we give up on the iPhone + Sprint combination and persuade him to get a new number with a fresh account, though inputting the contacts and updating his cell phone number will be a nuisance.
posted by bad grammar to Technology (4 answers total)
You certainly can try to let Sprint give you a new SIM and see if that improves things at all, but it is quite possible that Sprint's coverage in O.R.'s area is less than great (maybe fine for voice calls on the old phone, but not with the higher bandwidth needs of the iPhone)

FWIW, you can switch to a different carrier without giving up the current phone number - just walk into the store for the new provider (AT&T/Verizon/whatever) and tell them you want to port your number.
posted by misterbrandt at 3:10 PM on July 10, 2016

Sprint requires a Sprint-specific SIM card for LTE/4G. I can't remember exactly if 3G or 1xRTT will work without a SIM card, but for some reason I think that newer devices require a Sprint SIM card to work, period.

Does the phone work for voice calls and data, without connection to WiFi at home? If so, there's something else going on. If not, the problem may be fixed by obtaining said SIM card. They're usually available in Sprint stores, and if not, available for free via mail by calling customer support.
posted by herrdoktor at 5:56 PM on July 10, 2016

Sprint is 2nd tier, that's why it's "cheaper". So for the Top Tier service you need the "top Tier" provider.
posted by patnok at 6:25 PM on July 10, 2016

> He previously had a much older and much less smart phone, non-Apple; staff at the Apple store migrated his contacts to the iPhone.

Do you know what generation of SIM card he had, and how the Apple Store people migrated him over?

The early generation (mini) SIM cards went to micro-SIM cards and then to nano-SIM cards while retaining compatibility, so it is possible to physically cut down an older SIM to meet the new SIM requirements (see this image, for example).

So it is possible that the Apple Store people migrated his older SIM into the new phone, and that retained his older service specs (3G or maybe even 2G/Edge) instead of allowing 4G/LTE connections. He would definitely need a new SIM (and probably a new service plan from Sprint? I don't know) to be able to get decent connection speeds.

Also note - if they did migrate his older contacts into the iPhone, and set him up with iCloud backup, then those contacts are safe in the cloud. Signing in to a brand new iPhone with his Apple ID and restoring them from the cloud is a one-step, no hassle process.
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:15 PM on July 11, 2016

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