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Can't activate your iPhone X? Here's why

Apple's activation servers are overwhelmed trying to get everyone on their new iPhone X. If you're trying to activate your phone and receive an error message, "iPhone X Could not be activated because the activation server is temporarily unavailable," don't be alarmed. There's nothing you can do about it at the moment. Just give it some time and try again later.

I spoke with a Verizon representative who helped walk me through the Verizon activation process. When I tried to activate, however, I still got the same error message above. The helpful Verizon representative (thanks Nathaniel) contacted Apple and was able to confirm to me that Apple's activation servers are indeed overwhelmed and it will just take some time.

One of the suggestions Apple recommends if the activation doesn't go through is to connect your iPhone to your computer and try to activate through iTunes. If you try this process and your iTunes window just shows a blank screen, don't be alarmed. It's not you. The servers are just working hard right now.

What can you do?

The only thing you can do right now is wait. According to Apple community forums (opens in new tab), an Apple representative told a customer that the servers should start to ease up around 4:00 pm ET, which is right about now (at the time of this writing).

What you shouldn't do

Don't talk to your phone carrier and have them deactivate your old iPhone. If you do, you'll be in a no-phone limbo until you're able to activate your new iPhone. If you did have a representative with your carrier deactivate your old iPhone, but find that you need to be able to use your phone before your new iPhone can be activated, you should contact your carrier again (through web chat, of course, since you won't be able to call) and ask to have your old iPhone activated again.

Any questions?

Remember, this is just a waiting process. Things will start to clear up soon and you'll be able to activate your new iPhone. Until then, read up on some of our iPhone X coverage to familiarize yourself with its new features. If you have any more questions, put them in the comments and I'll try to answer them as soon as possible.

Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books.  If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).

15 Comments
  • Thanks for the heads up. I just got he iPhone X delivered and was about to start activation. Now I know to expect possible delays.
  • Oh, I thought it was because people bought stolen iPhone X models in San Francisco?.
  • I figured as much when it happened to me. I just kept trying over and over till it punched through.
  • This is what happens when you buy a budget phone from a tech start up. Oh wait...
  • Didn't understand the joke, but the intent was in bad taste anyway
  • Bad taste, really? Who have I offended? I made an admittedly naff sarcasm drenched post about how a nigh-on-trillion dollar company failed to have enough servers switched on to meet demand. Although I guess if you're daft enough to splash out a thousand doubloons on an X, you're daft enough to be offended by that.
  • It's not really daft to splash out for the X if that's the phone you want. I can see why many people want the X, and obviously to get it they have to fork out $1000, nothing you can do about that
  • Fair enough, but you still haven't explained why my comment was in bad taste.
  • Given the amount of trolls here it's hard to tell a negative joke from just fandroid trolling, but if it was genuinely just a joke then that's fine
  • But even if it wasn't a joke, who would I be offending? Tim Cook for suggesting his five decade old and nigh on trillion dollar company was a startup?
  • Probably people who enjoy using the iPhone? Just a guess…
  • Frustrating. I had seen a few threads indicating that Find My iPhone might be part of the problem. When I disabled the feature on my “old” phone, the activation on my iPhone X went through immediately (after hours of failing). This could just be coincidence, of course.
  • Hmm. Had that issue, but figured it was my own fault. I have MAC filtering on my WiFi and always forget that when I get a new device. That means a new device will connect to my WiFi with the key, but it will not be allowed on the network, or out to the internet, until I authorize the device. Almost instantaneously when I remembered and authorized it, the X activated. I already had AT&T connectivity, as evidenced by the signal bars on the X, and no service on the old 6s. This does not surprise me. Almost everything I have owned, iPhone, WP, Android, when presented with a solid WiFi connection with no internet access and perfectly good 4G, will ignore the 4G and insist on using the useless WiFi. There was a big deal made of the watch doing that, but I think it is pretty consistent on dual devices, WiFi and cell. (Try it at home. Unplug your router/access point from the internet service, but leave WiFi running and see if you don't lose the internet on your cell capable devices until you turn WiFi off on them.)
  • So even if you had a phone delivered on the 3rd, you might not be able to use it? How much of a delay are we talking here?
  • Funny how you have to "activate" a product that you supposedly own. I can unbox my new Pixel 2 XL without a SIM card and use it on WiFi if I wanted to.