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Question: initial activation locked to wrong number

I purchased an iPhone X today from the local Apple Store. The purchase was made online by a family member on an in-stock model for in-store pickup.


The family member is a Verizon customer. I have an AT&T number. They used their Verizon account information to buy a phone that is _unlocked_ with a Verizon SIM installed. None of us have any contracts. No upgrades were used to purchase the phone. The phone was purchased with enrollment in the Apple upgrade program. Apple confirms that phone is unlocked with NO carrier commitment.


Picking up the phone, Apple store person did NOT activate the phone. They confirmed that I should NOT power up... first put my AT&T SIM in the phone, then power up and activate on my AT&T account. Two Apple Store personnel confirmed that there would be no problem doing this.


Problem is that the phone, even with an AT&T SIM installed, will only activate on my family member's phone number (the Verizon account). Attempting activation from the phone brings me to a screen with the only option being their phone number. Plugging into a Mac, iTunes shows a similar screen with the other phone number.


I contacted Apple. They are "working on a solution." They have had me restore the phone. No help. I read an article online about the factory (DFU?) reset. Tried that. Still no luck.


It appears the phone is locked to that other phone number. The only way to proceed would be to activate, which would deactivate the other phone. Then, hopefully, Verizon will release the "lock" and allow me to activate using my AT&T SIM. Even if this is possible, it would entail an unknown amount of time where my original phone number would be non-working and my phone would have my family member's phone number. Not a very practical solution. It would also likely involve a minimum of three activation fees (activation of the new phone, re-activation of the old phone and then activation of the new phone on the new carrier).


My "senior level" tech was supposed to email today immediately after our phone call. Never did. He also told me it could take up to three hours to fix the problem, at which point he would call me. After no word for over four hours, I called back. There is a record on file, but no one can seem to find the original person who promised a solution. I am now told that I will not get a response (not necessarily a solution) in less than three DAYS.


I just want to activate my unlocked phone. It makes no sense that a phone sold "unlocked" with "no commitment" is delivered locked to both a specific carrier and a specific phone number. I am about ready to return the phone for a refund. It is useless if I can only use it with my family member's phone number.


Any idea on how to get around this problem?

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Nov 12, 2017 5:05 PM in response to Joe M21 In response to Joe M21

Though it's true a Verizon phone will be GSM unlocked out of the box, you will NOT be able to use it on any other carrier until it has been activated on the Verizon network. The person who ordered it will have to activate it on their Verizon account. They can then switch the service back to whatever phone they actually intend to use and you should be able to use it on AT&T.

It is fully compatible with AT&T. It's just a matter of getting it activated on Verizon before you try using a different network.

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Nov 12, 2017 4:09 PM in response to Joe M21 In response to Joe M21

Your family member bought you a Verizon phone, which uses CDMA, to use on an AT&T system that is GSM. They aren't compatible. The Verizon phone does have a GSM side which is unlocked. I don't believe this is an Apple issue. This is an AT&T and Verizon issue.


How was this phone paid for? If on a monthly contract, you've got a problem. It's locked to Verizon on contract. If paid for in full, you should be able to get Verizon to unlock the phone so you can use it with AT&T, but it's not instantaneous. Verizon has to unlock the phone, which can take day's to a couple weeks.

Nov 12, 2017 4:09 PM

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Question marked as Helpful

Nov 12, 2017 5:05 PM in response to Joe M21 In response to Joe M21

Though it's true a Verizon phone will be GSM unlocked out of the box, you will NOT be able to use it on any other carrier until it has been activated on the Verizon network. The person who ordered it will have to activate it on their Verizon account. They can then switch the service back to whatever phone they actually intend to use and you should be able to use it on AT&T.

It is fully compatible with AT&T. It's just a matter of getting it activated on Verizon before you try using a different network.

Nov 12, 2017 5:05 PM

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Nov 12, 2017 5:05 PM in response to rbrylawski In response to rbrylawski

Just to clear up a few points...


A "Verizon" iPhone differs from an AT&T iPhone only by the addition of CDMA bands. A current model AT&T phone will only work on AT&T, because it lacks a CDMA radio. A "Verizon" model is compatible with and will work on AT&T or Verizon networks. The phone has the advantage of allowing the user to switch providers without changing hardware (although a SIM swap is necessary).


Also, Verizon does not have "locked" iPhones. All Verizon phones are unlocked by default.


As indicated n the original post, the phone was purchased Apple. There are no contracts involved with either party. There were no upgrade plans or incentives used to purchase the phone. The order details specifically state the phone is unlocked with "no commitments."

Nov 12, 2017 5:05 PM

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Nov 12, 2017 7:08 PM in response to Joe M21 In response to Joe M21

If you go online and attempt to purchase an iPhone (from either Verizon or AT&T) you must either enter your account information for your current account or create an account to purchase an iPhone X. It is pretty much well known around here that the Verizon iPhone has a CDMA radio and the AT&T does not, yada, yada, but the problem you have is the phone that you didn't buy was bought by a family member using their account. So the iPhone is registered with Verizon's system and waiting to be activated which is interfering with activation on AT&T. So your family member will have to activate it with Verizon (as Tim already said) then have them cancel it. You can then use the GSM side of the phone which is not locked due to an agreement Verizon has with the FCC. This has been in place since the iPhone 5.

Nov 12, 2017 7:08 PM

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Nov 12, 2017 8:37 PM in response to Joe M21 In response to Joe M21

Everything is fixed now. The solution was a little simpler than Apple led me to believe.


Apple support specifically told me to NOT activate the phone with Verizon. This was an Apple issue according to them. Two different "level 2" techs told me this. They said they needed to correct it internally.


I ended up calling Verizon. FWIW, they had no record of the new phone in their system since it had not been activated yet. While Verizon was involved to verify account information during the reservation process, they had nothing to do with the transaction. The problem was not activating with AT&T. The problem was that APPLE hard-coded the Verizon phone number into the phone prior to pickup.


Had I been able to simply purchase in-store without an advance reservation through the online system, my understanding is that this would not have been an issue. Likewise, had I simply paid in full, rather than trying the "Apple upgrade program" it also would not have been an issue.


Here is the fix that Verizon provided, which worked. FWIW, they were very helpful and seemed to understand the process much better than Apple support. They even switched the call to a different phone so they could stay on the line through the entire process. This may help someone else in the same situation:


- Power down phones

- take SIM out of old Verizon phone (the one with the phone number that was entered to purchase the new phone).

- put that old Verizon SIM into new iPhone

- Power up and activate new phone with old Verizon SIM card inside (it will activate on Verizon)

- Do NOT do anything further in setup process

- Power down new phone

- Take "old" Verizon SIM out of new phone and put back in old phone

- Take AT&T SIM from old AT&T phone and place in new phone


Once powered up, everything works as expected. Old Verizon phone works fine with its original phone number. The new phone has correct AT&T phone number on the correct AT&T account. There was no need to contact AT&T and it immediately showed the correct phone model in my account. This all happened instantaneously - no delays at all.


Seems the key to making the process go smoothly is activating the new phone using the old Verizon SIM, not the SIM installed with the phone.


Something to keep in mind if anyone plans to buy a phone for someone else.

Nov 12, 2017 8:37 PM

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Question: initial activation locked to wrong number