Christopher Price is the Founding Editor of Today, he leads the team building Console, Inc. - a new kind of Android™ device. He still likes to pontificate... a lot. You can visit his personal blog at

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329 responses to “How To: Get an iPhone 3G for $199… Without Contract! (Updated)”

  1. Jim

    I have a family plan with AT&T with 4 phones. None of them have a 2 year contract except for mine, and that is only because I changed my phone no. in late April’08. At that time AT&T suggested I upgrade my Nokia phone and suggested an LG. I told them that I was waiting for the iPhone 3G to come out. AT&T told me that was no problem as I would be able exchange the LG for the iPhone at the $199 cost. The LG phone was problematic from the start and I tried to turn it back in 2-weeks after getting it to no avail.

    However, since the iPhone 3G came on AT&T has reneged on its promise and told me I am ineligible for iPhone at the $199 (or $299) price. How can I get an iPhone 3G at the $199 or $299 price for an 8gb or 16gb?

    PS: My son is on my family plan and has an older iPhone but didn’t have to get a contract to get it.

  2. Christopher Price is a scammer

    Christopher Price is a deadbeat scammer! I followed this guide, and AT&T wants to charge me an ETF now. I can’t believe I followed this prick’s guide. I had a 2G iPhone, then bought the refurb Tilt. I went through with the rest of the guide, and when I went to cancel my service AT&T told me pay up the ETF or keep the contract.

    Thanks, *****.

  3. Jack

    Just an update: As time passes it’s becoming harder and harder to get full $380 for the tilt on ebay. Competition and Ebay fees are the main killers of your profit margin. So you’ll be lucky to get at least $300.00 net. Just a thought.

  4. Mo

    Does this still work?

  5. Braxton

    If I already am an at&t customer with a contract can’t i just borrow someones old iphone and go in and get a 3g 8gig iphone for $199? I’m not looking to get a contract free iphone 3g…just an iphone 3g for $199. Thanks

  6. ahmed

    yo man, i live outside the states, how much would it cost me to get the iPhone 3G 8GB and unlock it.. speaking minimum, and without the HTC Tilt
    coz a friend of mine is in the states for less than a week, so i was thinking of letting him buy it for me, coz the iPhone 3G is unavailable in my country
    and what happens if i dont pay the ETF?? lets say i just turn my back on them 😉

  7. TJ

    So if you are a T-Mobile customer looking to get an Iphone 3G could you not just open an AT&T account, get the discounted 3G, cancel on the 30th day of the contract, and claim you lost the iphone. Then unlock the iphone and proceed to use it on the TMobile network?

  8. Naji

    Hi Christopher
    thank you for your answer.
    now please tell me:
    1-is it now possible just to go to store,make a contract,buy an iPhone 3g with cost of 200$,and then cancel the contract after 30 days with paying just 175$ more?
    2-when you are doing this do you need to carry your first gen iphone?
    thanks again and sorry for my bad english,,,

  9. Naji

    thanks again Christopher and what is exactly activation/ upgrade fees when you sign up for a new contract.
    another thng is my uncle is un US and alrerady has a 3g can he made a second contract for me and buy the 3g and cancel it.

    thank you very much.

  10. John

    Hi Christopher

    My contract with verizon just expired and im switching to t-mobile, by signing the 2 year contract with tmobile they give you two blackberry 8820 for two lines for only $100, the suggested retail price for one blackberry 8820 is $499, so i was thinking selling those two blackberrys for lets say $400 each thats $800 on ebay or craiglist and use that money to sign a contract with AT&T get the 3G and pay with the money that i get for selling the two blackberrys including the cancelation fee for AT&T and use the 3G on Tmobile (when cracked) is this a good idea let me know what you think please.

  11. June

    Does this still work?

  12. David Palmer

    IT WORKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I JUST TO MY NEW 16GB 3G IN THE MAIL TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Justin Dwyer

    I bought a 3G three months ago – immediately took out the SIM replaced it with my Blackberry SIM (payed for by my work). Planned to cancel at 1 month but did not until just this week. Everything has been working fine (no visual voicemail but otherwise full functionality). Until today – I had trouble syncing so recycled the pone – now I get a restore message with the added info that the IMEI and ICCIS are not recognized. Is this coincidence or did ATT somehow block my phone now that original account is not working.

    I have tried to restore multiple times – will not work. Have put it in to DFU mode. No love. And I have tried all of it with the original SIM as well. UGH. I just get a message on iTunes saying the phone it is unable to recover (error code is 2005).

    I guess I could just be unlucky that the phone has failed – but I am going to get hosed when I bring it back to Apple I think.

    UGH UGH – any ideas?

  14. J

    I didn’t go for the IPhone, but got the cheapest gophone and an unlocked PALM TREO 750 for $100 and I thought I was set. Then AT&T cancelled the $20/month unlimited data and I am stuck with 9.99 for 5mb.

    Also, I couldn’t get Sierra 860 air-card working with SIM. Luckily I was able to return it.

    What are my best options now?
    The Verizon Impulse data for $1/day when you use it doesn’t sound bad, but I don’t think they use SIM card? Also, the Palm is not EVDO? How would I use unlocked PALM TREO 750 with them?

    What are my best options for 3G data in NYC?

  15. ALLEN

    I want a iphone but it wont work in my area…i wish it would. i only have a motorola rocker slide and its good

  16. How To Get An iPhone 3G Without An AT&T Contract

    […] Link: How To: Get an iPhone 3G for $199… Without Contract! (Updated) Share This Post: […]

  17. rocky

    i was thinkin of gettin an iphone 3g this way
    hey guys is this still working ……..???????????

    plz reply

  18. analyn

    how can i get an iphone3g 8gb without a plan? how much will it cost?

  19. bon

    is it true that old iphone has to be activated in your account before July 11? What i mean that i can not open a new account now and use a old iphone in that which has been activated in my friends account before July 11 and upgrade to 3G in new account with new customer price?

  20. elizabeth

    dnt even get an iphone they SUCK! now i recommed a blackberry OR an iphone 3G

  21. FreeIphone

    here is a very simple way to get an i phone 3g for $199 or $299:
    1. get approved by att and start a new i phone account with them
    2. get the 8 gb for 199 or the 16 gb for 299
    3. a week after enjoying your new iphone, then claim it is lost or stolen and get another one
    4. jailbreak the claimed stolen i phone and sell it on ebay or craigs list for 500
    5. cancel your account aftr the fist month $170
    6. what you ay is 199 for phone + 36 for activation + 80 for first month plan + 170 termination fee
    it comes up to $485 now we assume you sold the claimed stolen phone for 500.
    7. now you have a free iphone without a contract, so enjoy using it ont-mobile

  22. jay ko

    Ok, so I was wondering, if I start a new family plan with 5 Iphones and canceled after the first thirty days would it still be 175 for the ETF or is it 175 per line?

  23. Nicky

    Hey, I had read all above, I would like to do so but I don’t think I can follow this instruction and done by myself, so I wonder if someone could do it for me or anyone would like to sells it to me. I actually want 8GB but if unavailable 16GB will be fine. I hope it’s not expensive than regular price or might be cheaper.

    P.S. New one; price can be negotiate.

  24. dude

    so, is this still available? will att still allow you to do this?

    if you cancel after 30 days, wont you still be charged for the next month of service, another $70?

  25. The gu with out an iphone

    man i want an iphone so badly and there rying to make me spend 500 dollars for one because my dad and mo have bad credit.

  26. Caty

    Ok, I don’t want to go through all this hassle or anything. I just want to know if it it possible whether its a contract-free phone or not to get an iphone with just the 30 dollar a month internet fee. I don;t even want to use it as a phone. I just want internet whereever I go. The ipod touch only works when your in range of wifi somewhere. I want it everywhere. Would I be able to do that with a contract free phone?

  27. Bowie

    So, is this trick still valid or not?

  28. jeshb

    @Christopher Price – FreeIphone has an interesting point (he also forgets the cost of the original 3G). Correct me if I’m wrong, but I could follow his steps, buy the replacement 3G for $399 (not $199) and the end result would be only $273 spent on , assuming I could get $500 on Craigslist for the unlocked “lost” phone, right?

    1. Start new account with AT&T with 3G at $199
    2. After a week, order a replacement 3G at $399
    3. Jailbreak/Unlock the original 3G for Craigslist sale at $500
    4. Cancel AT&T on 30th day, pay $175 ETF (does this affect credit history?)
    5. Total spent: $199 + $399 + $175 (ETF) = $773 (plus tax, activation fees, monthly service)
    6. $773 – $500 (Craigslist) = $273 (plus above tax and a month dating AT&T)

    That’s still not too bad, I guess. Your thoughts?

  29. xinxo

    @Jeshb: How can we order a replacement 3G? Can we meet some difficulty?
    I also wonder if contract termination affect our credit history (they may put us in a blacklist, e.g.). If NOT, I can do the same thing after that. Am I right?
    Please share your recent experience (because ATT may change policy currently).
    Many thanks.

  30. xenocupid

    Hi everybody,
    I would like to get some helps from you guys. Who is in New York and wanted to get at&t or T-mobile postpay? Easily would be who ever want to open new account/get new sim card from at&t or T-mobile, please tell me I would like to used your account to get/buy a new phones within this month. I really need it, please…

  31. Jay

    Honesty is the best policy.
    I ordered a refurbished 8GB iphone 3g from AT&T online for $99.
    I called them before it arrived and openly told them that I do not accept the contract. I asked that they cancel the contract. I said I was willing to pay the $175 ETF to keep the iphone to use it as my gophone. At first they said it would not work as a gophone, but I said I read that it would on the Internet depite the official word that it would not. Then they tried to tell me I needed the data plan because the iPhone was constantly sending and receiving data. I explained that I would still be using AT&T service as a gophone user. I emphasized how much I like the gophone service where I pay for only what I use. It seems I got it for 99+175=274. I wont know for sure until I get the bill.
    I should not be charged for one month servicee although they said there might be some charge. The activation is currently waived with an online purchase. The iphone is really cool and sexy, but so far it is not clear what added functionality I have over my unlocked Palm Treo 750. However I had to buy lots of accesoties to get the unlocked Palm Treo 750 working like headphones, adapters, cards etc., whereas the iphone is ready to go and what a display! It seems to be a very high quality device.

  32. xinxo

    @Jay: Why don’t you have to return iPhone and accessory to ATT? While we do not have to pay first month bill and activation fee? If so, the process is VERY easy. Just order, and terminate.

  33. xinxo

    This is what I read from:

    The cost for early termination:

    Single Plan 1 Phone & 1 Line ONLY

    – $199.99 iPhone 3G 8GB
    – $39.99 Voice Plan
    – $30.00 PDA Data Plan
    – $175.00 Early Termination Fee
    – $39.99 Voice Plan Month in Advance (Yes! AT&T DO charge one month in advance!!)
    – $30.00 PDA Data Plan (Yes! AT&T DO charge one month in advance!!)
    – $18.00 Uprade Fee
    Total: $533 without tax!! With Tax probably $570~590.

    I do not know if ATT’s policy changes. Any update info or experts in this issue? Please advise

  34. Jay

    I did not receive AT&T bill yet. Maybe, they will demand phone return and or first month. Activation fee was waived online at purchase for everyone right now. I received no special treatment. I will let you know how it tuns out. I will have dilemma if I do not receive bill before 30 days pass. Perhaps they will not demand phone return becasue it is refurbished. Could not tell. I will be open and above board when dealing with AT&T. They have akways treated me very well.

  35. xinxo

    Thanks Jay. I’ve just finished chatting wih ATT rep. She said that, with a refurb 8 GB, if you don’t activate the phone, you have to pay full price for 599 (like a new, crazy). But the other said that if you have to pay: $99 (iphone)+ $175 + $5×24 months fined = $394. Mix info.

    You need to check it before receiving your bill. Please share your experience when you have more info.

  36. Jay

    General Counsel, AT&T
    1025 Lenox Park Blvd.
    Atlanta, GA 30319

    RE: wireless number 646-670-0383

    I am terminating service because I do not accept the Agreement.

    I may terminate this Agreement within thirty (30) days after activating service without paying an Early Termination Fee I have incurred no service fees and charges through the termination date, AT&T will refund my activation fee, if any, because I have terminated within three (3) days of activating the service.

    Thank You.

    Sincerely Yours,

    I received the advanced bill for the first month service even though I cancelled the contract before the phone arrived. it was probably computer generated at purchase. I might not have to pay it?
    I have not received a bill for the 175 ETF or for the phone.
    I do not know if I have to return the phone before 30 days to avoid additional charges. In my phone conversation, no one ever said I must return the phone or that I would be charged anything beyond the ETF. The first month service was not clear, but how could they force me to Pay it if the service was never used. I did not activate it, but I think they did. When I try to access the account online, MESSAGE APPEARS:
    R314: Online account management is no longer available for this
    cancelled account.

    ———- Forwarded message ———-

    To: “”

    RE: 646-670-0383
    R314: Online account management is no longer available for this
    cancelled account.

    I ordered a refurbished 8GB iPhone 3g from AT&T online for $99.
    I called before it arrived and cancelled the contract. I said I was
    willing to pay the $175 ETF to keep the iPhone to use it as my
    gophone. I explained that I would still be using AT&T service as a
    gophone user. I like the gophone service where I pay for only what I

    It is my understanding that I would be billed only $175 ETF.
    Kindly confirm this.

    If I will be charged more, kindly let me know ASAP
    while I still can return the phone without penalty.

    Thank You.

    PS: What is the procedure for returning the phone, if necessary?

  37. Jay

    Just spoke with AT&T at length
    to keep refurbished iphone 3G
    100 paid
    70 1 month service
    170 ETF
    340 + tax

    price for new one is 600 + tax

    Is it worth 340 for refurb vs 699 for new?

    Even if I return, will have to pay prorated
    2.33/day held

  38. Jay

    I have twice tried using my gophone sim with an aircard and failed.

    I think the error was something like invalid profile.

    What does that mean. Can I fix it?

    Last time I had a Sierra 875, before that 860, I think. I returned them.

    I am considering buying *NEW* AT&T CINGULAR OPTION GT MAX 3.6 PC 3G AIRCARD. Will it work with my gophone sim?

  39. guy

    I’m a recent go phone subscriber. (since last yr) I always said that i will not buy a iphone unless they come out to be a no contract (prepaid). I just was in the best buy here where i live and saw the banner for a no contract iphone. I also saw the hefty price though, $500 for a no contract iphone. Ouch i do not need it that much. I guess i will just go with using my go phone and ipod touch.

  40. Jay

    I get error 619 when trying to use gophone Sim card with option gt max air card. How can I fix this?

  41. Mellisa

    I wanted to know if it would work this way. My brother has service through ATT, and he doesn’t have the iphone. Could he just upgrade to an iphone, and give me the phone. Then the next month, he could claim that it was stolen/lost then stop the iphone charges. And he would remain with ATT with his prior phone. Would this work? And if anyone could possibly give me advice on doing this.

  42. Erik

    If u already have an iPhone 1st gen and u go to the apple store to by the iPhone 3g will they make you upgrade your plan right on the spot or will the let u walk out with it and at u are going 2 activate it online

  43. vptumbler

    Wont this just ruin your credit for cancelling? I rather find another way to pay rather than to ruin my credit!!!!