If you want to set up, activate, and use an iPhone without a SIM card things can get tricky quickly. Follow these steps and you’ll be up and running in no time – and all without ever using a SIM card!

Activating an iPhone without a SIM card is tricky. Apple designs its phones to work best with an active connection – either Wi-Fi or mobile data (from your SIM card). But if you need to activate an iPhone without a SIM card, you do have options. And this is the #1 method for doing it.

First, though, we need to cover a few things:

  • Is You iPhone Locked To A Carrier/Network? If So, This Will Make The Process A LOT Harder. In Order To Do This, You Will Need To Unlock The iPhone First
  • You Will Need iTunes, But An Internet Connection Is Not Required

And while you’re there, you’ll want to set up iCloud as well, so you can get features like Find My iPhone which is super-handy if you ever misplace or lose your iPhone.

Activating iPhone Without SIM in iTunes (The #1 Method)


What You’ll Need:

  • iTunes
  • An Unlocked iPhone
  • A Lightning Cable

OK, this is the #1 easiest way to activate an iPhone without a SIM. You’ll need to download iTunes and get it installed on your computer. Once you’ve done this, follow these steps carefully:

  1. Connect the iPhone to your computer using a lightning to USB cable, and open iTunes
  2. Next, a pop should display that’ll prompt you on the first steps for activating your iPhone inside iPhone
  3. Follow these steps closely, make sure you do everything iTunes asks
  4. And that’s it, your iPhone is now activated with a SIM card.

This Method Didn’t Work?

If iTunes said the following when you connected the iPhone – “there is no SIM card installed in the iPhone you are attempting to activate” – then your iPhone is locked to a carrier/network. If this is the case, you will either need to get a SIM for that network or get your iPhone unlocked – there is no way around this, unfortunately.

Carriers and networks lock phones so you can’t use them on other networks. This is the #1 reason why we ALWAYS recommend you buy unlocked mobile phones. If your phone is unlocked, you can put any SIM from any carrier inside it and it’ll work. This point doesn’t help you much now, but it is definitely something to keep in mind for the future.

Method #2 – Use Somebody Else’s SIM Card

If you have a locked iPhone, the quickest way to get it activated is to borrow a SIM from somebody. If your iPhone is locked to a certain carrier, you’ll need to make sure they have a SIM from that specific carrier. Once you have this SIM, install it in the iPhone, follow the setup steps, and then remove it and give it back to your friend.

Alternatively, you could pick up a cheap SIM-only deal. This way the phone will have data and the ability to make calls, but you can choose the exact plan that suits your needs – prices start from as little as £5 a month on some plans. And right now, our #1 pick are EE sim only deals. 

If you can get hold of a SIM from somebody, this method is, arguably, the quickest and easiest method, although it DOES require a SIM (and the entire point of this post is activating an iPhone without a SIM). Either way, if you can get your hands on a SIM quickly, and you have an unlocked iPhone, this method is perhaps your best bet to getting your iPhone set-up quickly.

Method #3 – Jailbreak Your iPhone…

This is the nuclear option, and it isn’t something we recommend. Why? Because it voids your iPhone’s warranty – Apple does not like you jailbreaking its iPhones. Plus, jailbreak exploits are becoming increasingly difficult to do, so you’ll have to run older software which means you’ll miss out on newer software updates.

However, if you do go this route, you can quickly set up an iPhone without a SIM, as well as download applications that Apple doesn’t want you using – things it has banned or won’t allow in the App Store. As noted, though, this method should be your absolute LAST RESORT. You’re much better off just getting your iPhone unlocked or borrowing a friend’s SIM card to activate your iPhone if it is locked to a carrier.