7 Replies Latest reply: Dec 15, 2013 1:56 PM by RichmondDan
RichmondDan Level 3 (515 points)

I bought my wife an unlocked iPhone 5s for Christmas (our first smartphone).  It is an unlocked 5s with a T-Mobile SIM installed at the factory.


Because AT&T and T-Mobile have different coverage areas, is it  possible to have a monthly prepaid account with both simultaneously?   Then just switch out the SIM cards to change carriers (assuming of course that I bought and activated a second SIM with AT&T)?

I realize the phone numbers would probably be different, but would the  carrier even need to know that you are switching back and forth between  carriers, as you move from one coverage area to another?

iPhone 5s, iOS 7.0.4, unlocked, with T-Mobile SIM
  • Lawrence Finch Level 7 (34,986 points)

    You can swap SIMs, but you may need to reactivate after each swap.

  • RichmondDan Level 3 (515 points)

    Yes, that is what may be an issue.  Since I've never owned a smartphone, I don't know if you need a new account each time you activate with a carrier. 


    I'm hoping someone will tell me (accurately) that I can just swap SIMS without telling the carrier.  Because I will have a prepaid account with each carrier, I can't see why they would have a problem with me using another carrier some of the time.  It may, however, be more of a hardware issue (e.g.  removing the SIM somehow resets the account).


    Thanks for your answer, though...

  • Lawrence Finch Level 7 (34,986 points)

    You can swap without telling the carrier. The Activation process is not carrier oriented; the phone checks with Apple's server to verify that the phone is still authorized and not stolen.

  • RichmondDan Level 3 (515 points)

    In that case, what did you mean that I might need to "reactivate"?   Is that something I could easily do with Apple, without involving T-Mobile or AT&T, after I've swapped SIMS each time?

  • wegras Level 6 (15,070 points)

    I swap two UK carrier sims without any issues regularly .I do turn the iPhone 5S off before swapping more as a gesture than anything else

  • Lawrence Finch Level 7 (34,986 points)

    Activation is easily done with Apple. In most cases you probably won't even know it happened. The phone sends a query to gs.apple.com, and the server returns an "OK" message to the phone.

  • RichmondDan Level 3 (515 points)

    Thanks for your help.  This sounds like it would be a simple experiment to try.  Our home is here in the city, where LTE reception should be excellent for both carriers.  Since T-Mobile is currently cheaper, I plan to start with them. 


    I have a small cabin in the National Forest in WV, however, and the only reception there (so I've heard) is with AT&T.  I just want to be able to experiment with the AT&T service there, without messing up my T-Mobile account at home.  Sounds like this should be a relatively no-risk trial, with the expenditure of $60 for a month's AT&T coverage.