Below is a full technical analysis of the changes in iPhone activation/un-bricking, both with first-generation iPhone units, as well as iPhone 3G.
Similar to iPhone 3G, first-generation iPhone owners get a nice benefit from upgrading to iPhone OS 2.0. Now, any iPhone in the United States can use any AT&T SIM card… even if it’s on a plan that Apple previously barred from use with iPhone.
That means you can now insert a GoPhone prepaid SIM card into any iPhone or iPhone 3G without iTunes phoning home. It also means that GoPhone pay-as-you-go can now be used on any iPhone without requiring a jailbreak or other hack.
That dramatically lowers the cost of iPhone ownership for users. Starting at $20/month for flat-rate unlimited data, GoPhone allows iPhone owners to use the device primarily as a data phone, as well as a backup prepaid phone. This is an excellent option for users still on a contract with another carrier, but want to start using iPhone today.
We did notice minor nuances between the two iPhone models when swapping different SIM cards. iPhone 3G accepts any AT&T SIM instantly. However, first-generation iPhone units demand to be connected to iTunes. After connecting however, iPhone instantly accepts and registers the SIM. We don’t know as of yet why the two iPhone models exhibit slightly different activation procedures.
We suspect that the old build target (the old iPhone) still demands a PrivateActivation.pem file. iTunes now generates that on-the-fly. iPhone 3G, having a newer build target, doesn’t have that dependency.
One thing remains clear: As Apple has dropped its revenue-sharing model, the company has changed its activation process to that of a standard phone. The iTunes “bricking” on iPhone and iPhone 3G is now no different from the “bricking” that is exhibited on an iPod touch. The only information that we can find now transferred, is iTunes Store data, as well as potentially the mobile number. No account-specific information is required for iPhone to be activated.
Finally, 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 on prepaid, complete with balance remaining notification. No jailbreaks or hacks were attempted prior to inserting the prepaid SIM.
Update: After more testing, we’ve found that Apple has updated their servers during our reporting. iTunes will now block Pay As You Go SIM cards, but still accepts Pick Your Plan prepaid SIM cards. It is important to note that this does not apply to iPhone 3G, and iPhone 3G still accepts all SIM cards from AT&T.
To summarize, we’ve created a the following table:
First Generation iPhone with 2.0 Software
GoPhone Pay As You Go: Requires Jailbreak (PwnageTool will be updated soon to support this)
GoPhone Pick Your Plan: Works
Regular Account: Works
GoPhone Pay As You Go: Works
GoPhone Pick Your Plan: Works
Regular Account: WorksÂ