iPhone 3G: The Dirty FAQ (Updated)

All the questions you had about iPhone 3G, but knew Apple wasn’t going to answer.

From prepaid to GPS, we’ve got your answers here.

Update: Revised Wi-Fi with Airplane Mode on.

Q: Did the convoluted cheap iPhone 3G guide actually work?

A: Why yes it did, just as we expected. Ourselves as well as several readers have reported success with buying the iPhone 3G at the new customer price, despite having started service earlier in the week.

Q: Does iPhone 3G lock itself in to a particular SIM? Like the first iPhone?

A: No, it does not. The activation process is almost identical to iPod touch. Now that Synchronos is out of the picture, connecting to iTunes unbricks iPhone 3G, and now it acts just like a regular cell phone.

Q: Does that mean that I can use an iPhone 3G with any AT&T SIM? Even Prepaid?

A: Yep. We have our iPhone 3G on a GoPhone SIM right now. Everything works. Enjoy your iPhone 3G for only $20/month on unlimited pay as you go data.

Q: So can I get one on prepaid right now?

A: First you have to buy the iPhone 3G, which means either getting it on eBay, or setting up a postpay account and paying the Early Termination Fee to walk away with the device, sans contract. Then you can drop a GoPhone SIM into the phone.

Q: David Pogue says GPS on iPhone can’t handle turn-by-turn navigation? He says the GPS antenna is too small. What!?

A: We don’t know what Mr. Pogue was thinking… all of our tests with iPhone 3G GPS show that it’s just as accurate as any other “real” GPS system. We got within 30 feet accuracy just about every time.

Now, when using Apple Maps, it does triangulate based on cell phone towers before locking in with GPS. The only hitch we’ve had, is rarely having to power cycle the phone. Once or twice, GPS would not lock in until we turned iPhone 3G off and back on again.

Q: How’s the design? Is it like an iPod touch?

A: On the front, it is much more like an iPod touch. Several components have been moved a few millimeters. It’s not noticeable until you run your finger across the device. Overall, it’s a good balance between iPod touch and the original iPhone. We like it the best of all three.

Q: Is the display as bad as iPod touch? Or is it as good as the first iPhone?

A: Sorry, brace yourself. iPhone 3G has the same display as iPod touch. It’s more yellow and a bit more washed out.

Q: Is the SIM slot just as bad as the first?

A: Worse. It’s now thinner and still needs an awful paper clip. If you want to swap the SIM with another phone (say, for using another phone as a modem), you’re still going to need a paperclip… and a bit more patience.

Q: What do you think of the all-metal buttons?

A: Unnecessary. They feel rougher to the touch, and the mute button is tougher to click. The first iPhone had it right in this department.

Q: Can I turn Wi-Fi on while Airplane Mode is on?

A: Sorry, while this was offered in the 2.0 betas (and we certainly welcomed it)… Apple cut the feature out. Now, when you turn Airplane Mode on, the Wi-Fi tab reads “No Wi-Fi”. Why Apple won’t let you use Wi-Fi without the cell phone turned on, we still don’t know.

A: After re-restoring our iPhones, this feature is working properly. We’re not sure why we got a No Wi-Fi error, but yes, you can use Wi-Fi with Airplane Mode turned on.

Q: Can I use it as a modem?

A: You’re kidding, right? Thankfully, you can SIM swap with a $99 Samsung A737 (with 3G) or $29 Sony Ericsson Z310a (EDGE-only) from GoPhone prepaid. And, in doing so, you can surf the web with the same SIM card.

Q: Can I use my dock from the original iPhone?

A: Nope, it won’t fit. And, Apple wants $30 for a dock on the new iPhone. Someone might come up with an adapter, but don’t hold out for one.

Q: The iPhone 3G has a plastic backing. Is that as bad as I think?

A: No, it doesn’t scratch like an iPod. However, unlike aluminum, it does pick up smears. We’ve had ours (a 16 GB Black) for the better part of a day, and there are already countless fingerprints on it.

Q: Did they fix the speaker volume?

A: Yes, but it’s still not stellar. It’s now adequate, producing about a 50 to 100 percent increase over the original iPhone’s speaker. Is it loud? No. Does it work? Yes.

Christopher Price is the Founding Editor of PhoneNews.com. Today, he leads the team building Console, Inc. - a new kind of Androidâ„¢ device. He still likes to pontificate... a lot. You can visit his personal blog at ChristopherPrice.net.

Google - +ChristopherPrice | Twitter - @chrisprice | LinkedIn

Questions for Chris? You can also reach him by email, but please use the PhoneNews.com contact form for general comments, questions, and feedback.

19 responses to “iPhone 3G: The Dirty FAQ (Updated)”

  1. Dan H.

    How can I be sure that if I sign up for a GoPhone account and put an iPhone 3G on it that data access is unlimited? On the GoPhone website ( http://www.wireless.att.com/cell-phone-service/cell-phone-plans/pyg-cell-phone-plans.jsp?wtSlotClick=1-0010X7-0-2&WT.svl=calltoaction&_requestid=22877 ) it says that pay-as-you-go data access is $.01 per KB.

  2. Humberto Saabedra

    You have to call the Go Phone customer service line using 611 and add it on to the account there through the GoPhone Mall option. AT&T is doing a good job of hiding references to unlimited messaging and unlimited data on Pay As You Go service.


    You will not find any real details on either option online save for PhoneNews:

  3. Ed

    So are you guys sure the Early Termination Fee for the iPhone is only $175?

  4. Dan H.

    Unless you sign a contract that says different they can’t charge you more than the normal termination fee.

  5. Tom

    Does any SIM really mean ANY SIM from an AT&T phone? Has a SIM from a Blackberry on a business plan been tested? Thanks in advance!

  6. iPhone Owners Freed from Activation, Hacking Details Drop, Bricking Process Detailed | PhoneNews.com

    […] some were questioning iPhone 3G’s functionality with a GoPhone SIM. As we previously reported, everything works fine. At the top of this article is a photo of an iPhone 3G after placing a call […]

  7. Jerry palacios

    I tried putting a 3g simcard that i took from a razor phone. but the i phone activation screen popped up asking me to plug the phone into i tunes to activate it. Is there still a way to activate it pre paid. The i phone i have is the earlier model.

  8. Jerry palacios

    Does the i phone 3 g have to be unlocked when i put my first generation iphone prepaid sim card into it so it will work?

  9. Jerry palacios

    one more question. will the zi phone software wrk with first generation i phones if they have the software 2.o.2 upgrade? whats the diffrence between the 1.0.1234 and the 2.02. If it doesnt wrk what can you suggest I do.

  10. Jerry palacios

    Thanks for the info on the pre paid 3g it works fine. The first gen iphones can still me put on prepaid accounts by att. I just put my brothers on prepaid. I have another question though. If i upgrade my iphone 3g with the 2.1 software it will still work prepaid. right? Again thanks for all your help.


    Yepper listen to this man he knows what hes saying….I have the iphone 3g running 3.0 software and purchased a gophone for $29 at walmart and activated my phone now im awaiting my number to get ported from my virgin mobile account ………..

    I havent yet activated the data plan for $4.95 will do so whenever I only brought the iphone because i can stream my ipod wirelessly and the camera is great too only 2mp but it takes good enough pics

    gps will locate you if you are standing still but it wont follow you like my mio gps unit does but it can certainly get you out of a jam and direct you to a location just not turn by turn directions like you may be use to with a car gps

  12. Connie Wamberg

    Have a new iPhone 3GS 16GB. Just has a plastic slot cover over the sim card slot. The cover comes off but no card tray. Ordered one. Got it today. It won’t go in. On one of the pages it shows inserting the card and doesn’t show a tray. Are the new 3GS iPhone without the tray?

  13. Linda

    Will the 1st generation sim card work in the 3g?

  14. heather

    i put my go phone sim into the iphone and it just keeps sayin no service, help?!?!

  15. Jacob Moss

    Ok so i take My Pay as you go sim card out of my Palm Centro that i activated on Pay as you go months ago. and then ill put it in the i phone 3g. Now when i go and lets say restore it on i tunes tosync up all my music and apps. will it then reject my pay as you go sim card? If it dosent reject it then what will happen???