How To: Activate your Busted up iPhone

Above, visual proof that I've managed to get my iPhone 3G activated, syncing, and restoring. How'd I do it? I followed the advice of our genius commenters, of course. Here's the deal:

Short version: Nice people wait, mean people spam the refresh but get it done.

Long version: Hook your iPhone up to iTunes, watch iTunes try and fail to get to the iTunes Store for activation. At this point, you have a decision. The Yin in you will tell you that the reason that so many people are having problems is that so many people are doing exactly what you're doing. So relax, go grab a coffee, and try later. The Yang in you will tell you that, screw those other people, you just need to keep trying until you get through. The fastest way to do that is not to unplug the iPhone but simply to just click OK on the error message, click on another section of iTunes (like a playlist) and then click on the iPhone in the sidebar again.

Or do a mix of the above, the Yin and the Yang, the spam refresh and the sit it out, with little dots of the other mixed into each. So Taoist of you, Steve Jobs would be proud.

Good luck everybody, let us know how it's working for you in the comments! Namaste

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Dieter Bohn

Dieter Bohn is former editor-in-chief of Smartphone Experts, writing across iMore, Windows Phone Central, Android Central, and more. You can find him on Twitter (and everywhere else) @backlon.

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Reader comments

How To: Activate your Busted up iPhone


I took the spam refresh route too. I was so used to not getting anywhere that I didn't recognize what that ding noise meant until I looked at my phone and saw that it said it was activated.

I tried the "spam" option but failed and my hand started cramping up. I then downloaded directly from Apple's website (skipping iTunes completely) and got a download that was about 30Kbs. You can also try searching your favorite P2P service for 5A347, just make sure the file is 222.6MB.

Worked for me! Now waiting as it restores media content. Dang those Phone Different, Treo Central, and Crackberry podcasts is big!

That did it! Just kept trying over and over. After about a dozen times it worked! Checking out the App Store now. Sweet!!

I finally used iTunes to unbrick it... but now I have a fresh problem... I have
'No Service'
in the corner now. Can connect to my WiFi... but not to 02. Arrrgghh

Hmmm. Just put in someone elses o2 sim card, and the phone boots up fine.. and finds a strong signal... Its my SIM! off to the shop in the morning!

I have a "Legacy" iPhone and had trouble with the 2.0 upgrade process. I tried refreshing about 5 times. Nothing. Restarted my MacPro... still wouldn't 'connect.' Finally a powered-down my iPhone and then turned it back on. Presto! It connected! Install completed, phone works great. Had to reset some settings, but all in all no problems. Could've been pure coincidence, but worth a try. Hold down the button on the top of the phone until the red slider appears to turn it off. Make sure it powers all the way down before pushing the button again to turn it back on. Then reconnect to iTunes and should all be good.

Anyone else having trouble with sending/receiving emails after upgrading to 2.0? I was able to receive emails yesterday, after upgrading. But early last night, my iPhone stopped receiving and sending emails.

Do what the man says. After working w/the agent for over 2 hours (poor guy) on getting my itunes updated to to inifiniti (not HIS problem, but he was so nice, so yes, that was ME holding up cust serv ALL day), I finally gave up. The install finally took, but then the "device" wasn't showing. I did ask if it made if any diff if my library was still loading and was told no. Gave up and made an appt at the store. Hung up, library finished loading and BANG there it was. I sat here and tried to figure out what to do next, I'm not near as savvy as some of you! I found this site, and said ok, just go to playlist and come back, this thing knows what to do. And wa'lah my phone is on. I swear. I even made some calls, took pics. Looks pretty cool, but I don't see too much diff between this and my bro's 1st gen. Anyway, I got it with ONE hit, and I'm a dummy, so YES, keep trying. Do what the man says. My iPhone saga is over! YeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaH!! 4 hours later!

I turned off my email account (within the iPhone) and then turned it back on. Now, when I press the email icon, it takes me to the 'set up an email account' screen - as if I never set up any accounts. I check settings and it shows that the email account is turned on, but I can't get passed the 'set up' screen. Pfft.

I got ZiPhone 3.0 to downgrade my phone to 1.1.4 last night all apps look like they are working OK with one major exception I am getting a msg on the top left NO SERVICE, I have a tried a few things like re setting the network and that but I still get NO SERVICE when I insert my sim card..
Any suggestions would be great…Joe

I have an iphone that was givein 2 me with no service & is registered in someone else's name everything works fine exept the phone part how do i make it work 4 me? "at&t dosen't want 2 help because of the registration thing they keep telling me to return it 2 the owner but that's me now." WHAT CAN I DO? HELP!!!

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I tried both several times, didn't work. I had edge until 2 days ago, I turned off and on my iphone and couldn't get online since then; I don't know why.

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