iBrick: Apple and AT&T botch iPhone activation at launch [UPDATED]

Apple and AT&T seem to have their signals crossed. Multiple MacDailyNews readers and users in Apple Discussions (Apple.com / Support / Discussions / iPhone / Phone) are reporting their iPhones are being turned into iBricks while they wait for AT&T activation.

Most of those facing this issue understand that the large amount of orders may create a process that takes some time. The time it takes is not really the issue here, the issue is that Apple’s iPhone Users’ Guide states:

See the problem? “In the meantime, you can make calls and use iPhone’s other features.”

After much time on the phone with both AT&T and Apple Support, this is what we believe is the issue:
• AT&T is completely swamped right now due to so many people trying to activate at the same time
• Apple is completely swamped right now due to a mistake (or very poorly-worded passage) in their iPhone User’s Guide

iPhone owners are understandably expecting that while they wait for AT&T to activate their phones that “in the meantime” they’ll be able to “make calls and use iPhone’s other features.”

This, we have been assured by Apple, is incorrect. iPhones will not allow for anything other than an emergency call (911) to be made and for a pretty picture of planet Earth with text imploring users to “Activate iPhone” to be displayed.

So, “in the meantime,” iPhone users waiting for AT&T activation cannot make calls (other than calling “911”) and cannot use iPhone’s other features. In other words, in an effort to be perfectly clear: AT&T activation is required before iPhone users can “make calls and use iPhone’s other features.”

We think Apple meant their Guide to say that while waiting for your old carrier (for example, Verizon) to transfer the necessary info to AT&T, users could expect to “make calls and use iPhone’s other features.” That wait for info from the old carrier only affects incoming calls to your iPhone – everything else (iPod, Safari, etc.) will work, if AT&T has gotten around to activating your iPhone.

We also believe that Apple expected AT&T to handle iPhone activation much more expeditiously, but that obviously hasn’t happened for some number of unhappy iBrick owners.

MacDailyNews Take: Bottom line: AT&T seems to have blown iPhone activation, at least for some, and Apple’s online iPhone User’s Guide is incorrectly guiding iPhone users to expect something that will not happen. Not good. And it’s especially disappointing for those who waited hours, even days, to plunk down $500-$600 for the device and sign up for at least a $60/month service from AT&T. AT&T needs to do whatever they can to speed things up and Apple should immediately get that Guide offline and rewrite that passage in the iPhone User’s Guide to let users know what to really expect.

[UPDATE: 12:48am EDT: Several readers report activation in the last 30-minutes or so! Their “iBricks” have magically transformed into iPhones, and that’s a very good thing!]


  1. this is only a delay, and it’s shorter than the message claims.

    most people that received that message have an active iPhone by now.

    i think it’s not AT&T or Apple’s fault, but other carriers that are not fully prepared.

  2. Man, this sux. Two staffers at MacWorld are having issues too. One seems to have a DOA iPhone, and the other is getting an activation error, possibly related to changing his business plan to an individual plan last week.

    Then again, all this is not that surprising. Anyone expecting AT&T’s activation service to not be slammed is probably being naive. Still, one would thing AT&T would have planned better.

  3. Yes it’s true – I got the 2nd to last iPhone in my local store today and my excitement has turned to excrement. I was already an AT&T (Cingular) customer and did not have to change or transfer numbers. 2 and a half hours later, I’m still waiting for activation to complete. I keep playing with the thing hoping it will arise from the dead soon.

  4. Guys relax…. we al know you can’t wait to have your first iPhone orgazm…. but the is the real word and when 100,000 people try to activate their iPhone at the same time….

    …now take a deep breath and you’ll have your new toy very soon working…

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  5. It’s understandable that the number transfer process is causing problems. Why would the competing carriers go through extra efforts to expedite helping AT&T gain their customers?

    It is interesting that there are so many customers switching carriers. This may be an ongoing problem for Apple and AT&T, if a high percentage of customers are trying to transfer their phone number.

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