iPhone Disappointment

The process of buying the Apple iPhone was pretty easy. Glenda and I walked into a store in Daly City at about 8:30 PM and each ordered one, and walked out. No lines. The device is physically much more elegant and smaller than I expected, and the iTunes-integrated signup process was fairly smooth. However, it’s been hours now and still no activation, which means I have a very expensive paperweight, which is worse than not having it at all. Update: Approximately 16 hours after my inital setup, I now have a working phone. I was contemplating taking it back, but I’m glad I didn’t.

91 thoughts on “iPhone Disappointment

  1. Lots of people have been experiencing exactly what you mentioned. Out of curiosity, are you porting numbers, already an AT&T subscriber, or is there some other issue?

  2. Ah, the joy of AT&T’s incompetence. This is the main reason I decided not to buy out my contract with Verizon and jump ship for the iPhone. When Cingular was still in charge of the company, I had great service. Once the worms at AT&T got in, I had trouble like nobody’s business.

    PS – you’re not the first I’ve heard complaining of activation troubles – I believe despite weeks of training and preparation, AT&T was still unprepared for the demand. Good luck!

  3. I wonder if AT&T started getting overwhelmed by the time it went on sale in western time zones. I already had an account with AT&T, and activation took about 3 minutes.

  4. I am an existing AT&T customer, and I added it as a new line on one of their standard plans. Glenda switched over her existing AT&T phone plan. Neither have activated yet.

  5. Gotta put that on AT&T, I’m sure. I activated mine around 7pm PST and it took about a minute.

    Had to call them a couple of hours later because incoming SMS wasn’t working, but all good in the hood after that.

  6. Same here – I tried to add another line and I’m still waiting for my activation as well… I think it was nice that the SIM came with the phone (I was surprised) but the fact the phone is so locked down is really surprising.

    It could be worse… I’ve read some blogs/forums where people have transferred an existing number, and now neither work!


  7. […]which is worse than not having it at all.

    No, it’s not!
    I don’t know how long I’ll have to wait here (Germany) to get my iPhone, but it’s definitly to long 🙁

    But I really hope that Apple will chose a better company in Europe than AT&T.

    So I hope that you can activate it soon, and than: have fun with your iPhone!


  8. I was switching from Verizon. Took it home, plugged it in, and the number was ported over in 15 minutes. I was pretty surprised. After playing with it all evening, I can honestly say it exceeds all my expectations, though the picture import function has a few bugs.

    A friend who bought a phone at the same time but was just swapping a number from an existing ATT account is still waiting. The operator he talked to said that sales were far outstripping expectations and the system was ‘overwhelmed’.

  9. Well, Matt, I think the iPhone doesn’t deserve all the buzz. I mean, what good is a cellphone without 3rd Party Software ? iPhone doesn’t allow that. And moreover, no 3G ?!

    And a purchase with AT&T is a complete sucker deal. I wouldn’t buy it if they don’t fix these stuff. What do you think, Matt ?

  10. What I would give to be in your predicament. Unfortunately, being a Brit means I have to wait that little bit longer than you to get my hands on an iPhone. I hope it’s worth the wait.

  11. In my opinion, the iPhone is more of a flashy toy. The fact that you are locked into one network doesn’t help.

  12. The iPhone had a great success for its first day launch. Your experience seens normal : AT&T servers are overcrowded..

    I’m sure the activation will take a couple of days…

  13. Matt, I read on Scott Bourne’s ApplePhoneShow blog, that he had success by turning the phone off and then on again. He spoke to a buddy who is an AT&T engineer who recomended he try it. It worked for Scott, might be worth giving it a go.

    Have a look at http://www.applephoneshow.com for yourself if you prefer.


  14. In Chicago I stood in line for about 15 minutes at an AT&T store, bought my phone, took it home, and activated it as a replacement phone on my account within 10 minutes. I am sure that there are going to be stories of people with great success like me, frustration like you, and people who just want to b***h because that’s their view on everything, but, once you get activated, you’ll find out it’s a fairly nice phone. I see things I like, and things I don’t like, but heck, it’s only 14 hours old!

  15. several thousand people are signing up for the service so it’s normal that there is a slight lag between getting the number and activation. You find that with all networks whether in the US as you are or in Europe as others are.

  16. Is it activated yet?

    I didn’t experience the same troubles, our experience was the complete opposite. We only had one line – it was my wifes phone. We were in and out of the Apple store within 10 minutes. OK, maybe longer – just so we could play with it in the store. We went home, transferred an existing line, and was up and running within 5 minutes, maybe less.

    I agree – this device is much better than I even expected. I might be having to get me a phone now. he.

  17. Giving AT&T a call would be some-what pointless right now, especially when you have, hundreds of thousands of other iPhone users trying to activate their phone at the same time, so yes, the process will be very slow.

    Like Angela said, AT&T despite many months of preparation time they had, they still couldn’t keep up.

    It should come on later, but if it doesn’t, complain your butt off. 🙂

  18. Reading the AT&T chat this morning, and it is all about this problem. Apparently some people who tried to transfer their existing lines now have no service at all. The activations are apparently quite backed up.

  19. I got a question. Why is this thing called iPhone, when I have no phone, the name would be great if iPhone, but in my case it would be more true if they called it inoPhone.

    Just a stupid thought.

  20. Personally I will skip on the overpriced iPhone. Similarly I did the same thing when it came to iPods – skipped Apple. I have an 80GB video iPod since that is what my job chose but a few months ago I purchased the Creative Vision which at the time was competitive at the 30GB level. I have no problems getting almost any video or song to play on it irregardless of the format with versatile built in tools not to mention some of the extras it does that the iPod doesn’t. Anyhow … back to iPhone … I have been hearing about a 24 hr window but that was only supposed to be for those keeping numbers. I just hope that the interface is better than the iPod since it doesn’t come close to the ease of use of other players on the market.

  21. I’ve read that some has experienced restarting iPhone helps getting activation.
    Did you try that?

  22. Paperweight? Expensive iPod you mean 😉

    That is a bummer, but much, much better than if there was already something about the device’s experience that you really did not like.

    I hope the activation is sorted out for you soon.

  23. I have to say, despite being a major Apple geek, I’m kind of disappointed in Apple for condescending to the cell phone industry. As if we need any more cell phones to choose from! I have a phone that I got for free with my cheapo family plan, it makes calls, and that’s all I need it for. Also, I prefer browsing the web on my 15-or-so inch widescreen MacBook, and having 80GB of space for music and videos on my iPod. I think it’ll be a while before I get an iPhone.

    I wrote a review on the iPhone on my site if you’re interested.

  24. I *was* a T-Mobile customer. Got activated via iTunes within 6 minutes but didn’t expect the actual number transfer to complete for a while. I was wrong — a minute later I was ecstatic when a friend unexpectedly called my on my new iPhone. The call quality (both mic and speaker) were excellent.

  25. Perhaps your title should have read “ATT-Disappointment”? Sounds like you like the iPhone, at least its construction.

  26. Yes, it’s a good thing AT&T’s going back to being a monopoly, isn’t it? Now we can all enjoy their substandard service and skyrocketing prices. And this is why I have zero interest in an iPhone: had it been with another provider, yes, but not with AT&T.

  27. A many of us over here in Asia, Malaysia in particular are awaiting the arrival of the iPhone to hit our shores. However, similar rumours have it that will only happen somewhere in 2008.

    The biggest setback however the iPhone can’t support our local networks as of yet. And come to think of it, Japan is one the biggest mobile markets in Asia. Probably even bigger than US I presume.

    Oh well, enjoy the phone and give us a great opinion on it later Matt. 🙂

  28. After Spending 12 hours in line yesterday and leaving my local AT&T Store with one of the first iphones, my problems were just beginning. After connecting to itunes and realizing my phone could not be activated, I spent 1 hour and 35 minutes on the phone with AT&T customer care. 55 minutes of that was on hold! I was informed that although my business account was in good standing, an iphone can only be activated using personal/consumer credit. It cannot be added to a business account under any circumstances! -This is a major marketing screw up and unless you read the very fine print on the iphone rate plan fold out you will never know. When I purchased the phone AT&T knew I had a Business account, yet had not a clue that the phone would only work as part of a consumer account. What a joke! The rate plans aren’t exactly competitive either. This phone feels like a brick and is not the end all be all. A 3G version will be out before the end of the year. Its a shame AT&T is more concerned with kissing Apple’s butt than they are about their own corporate integrity.

  29. I decided late last night to go ahead and get one online … this morning they put on the website … it will take 2 – 4 weeks for delivery … it didn’t say that last night … or else I would have jumped in the car an head over to the Apple Store in Wellington!

    Called this morning and they said … you’ll get an e-mail on July 4th with the exact ship date!



  30. I don’t see why anyone is bashing ATT all of a sudden, the name changes, so instantly service and performance degrade?

    I had a hell of a time when I switched from ATT to Cingular, my Cingular RAZR wasn’t activated for about day, and they had deactivated my ATT phone. Once on Cingular, I’ve had the same quality of service/calls as with ATT for the last 2/3 years.

    Can’t we all just accept that the average phone upgrade transaction is not smooth, whether on the same carrier or between carriers? Ideally you should be activated within minutes, no matter what new phone/carrier, but the industry is still bureaucratic and bogged down by layers of varying technological capability/systems.

    It’s rather naive to think the transaction of a phone upgrade would be trouble-free. Just because it’s an iPhone from Apple doesn’t mean the process if blessed from Jobs God above. I’d rather be pleasantly surprised when it did take only a few minutes.

  31. It’s now been about 13 hours since I originally tried to activate it, still no luck. I tried turning it off and back on, not sure if that’s the same as rebooting.

  32. Apple spends all its energy wad on the phone, and forgets about the communication technology that it is going to take to make the actual thing work.

    I’m here in Texas..and it still doesn’t work. I have yet to call support because I figured they would be up to their eyes in it. Maybe today?

  33. Ups. Maybe they are still not ready for this event though.
    They are extremely busy pushing all this event and something must go wrong after all. 😀

  34. AT&T is the sole reason I don’t have an iPhone yet, and probably won’t for some time. It’s the only major U.S. cell provider that I haven’t used, as I’ve heard horrible stories about it. I have T-Mobile now, which has been great.

  35. Bummer Matt, you should have come to Houston and bought one. I went home and activated with no issues. Not to rub it in or anything. Hope you get yours working soon.

  36. It sounds like AT&T really dropped the ball with getting the activation process working. That’s not all that surprising, but still not a good way to impress all the new customers they’re getting. Activation went fine for me, but I’m still unable to get to AT&T’s account management system to remove my old smartphone plan. Their servers must be getting hammered right now.

  37. Wow, man that sucks. I bought my phone at 9:30am this morning, and activated it at 10:30am. It took all of about 5 minutes.

    Maybe it’s time to take a trip to your local AT&T store or Apple store and see if there is something they can do to help you.

  38. Hello fellow Matt,

    I’m experiencing the same issue. It’s not been 25 hours and I’m still looking at a elegant brick. Supposedly I’m fully activated and AT&T has no idea why it’s not working. Still on tech support…


  39. PICTURES!! xD

    I would love to have an iPhone but my wallet would kick my ass if I even thought about it. haha. Enjoy your new toy tho!!

  40. I guess I got really lucky with mine. I was in line for all of an hour yesterday, got an 8GB iPhone, and was able to activate it within about 10 minutes. In case anyone’s interested, I’ve posted my initial review here.

    and Matt… WordPress rocks!

  41. That’s the problem with being a early adopter you get to be the systems test monkeys as the work out the kinks in the system and pay for the privilege. I’m waiting for iPhone 2.0 or what ever they are going to call it.

  42. With so many early-adopters/testers of iPhone, I am guessing the next version will have fewer issues. And, hopefully, will cost less as well. I can wait.

  43. The iPhone is really elegant and Jobs have done a super job promoting it. I am surprised you say you simply walked into the store and bought it. That must feel real bad for the people who camped out there for days.

    Glad to hear it’s working. So how is it now? I have two major takes on it. First, I heard it’s only up to EDGE when it’s called internet phone. Second, no 3rd party apps. A beautiful phone like this deserves all the good 3rd party apps. I was already thinking of games I could play on, but no they said.

    Enjoy it anyways 🙂

  44. Considering just how many units Apple had made clear they were selling – combined with the level of expectation and order demand – it’s seriously surprising that AT&T hadn’t got a flood of every staff in to ensure that the activation process went off without a hitch.

    A little complacency on the telecom’s part?

  45. As a current AT&T subscriber, I would not even think of buying a phone tied to their network. When the iPhone works with Verizon or Sprint, I’ll consider it, especially if they’ll pay my breakup fee.

    The horrid service of AT&T has been the standard service of Cingular over the past three years that I’ve had them.

  46. Hmm irrespective of service issues and activation problems i just cant see why people should shell out 5 – 6 hundred dollars on that device. what will steve jobs sell next

  47. I didn’t buy one. That the iphone ties you into a service with one service provider (nothing personal against AT&T) and hasn’t been designed with an OS as a development platform are two big sticking points for me.

    It will be interesting to see if they open-up after they’ve saturated the market must-have-now market…

  48. Here in France, on the other side of the planet, we wonder when the iphone arrives , and for which operator it will be necessary to be connected to become a happy owner 😉

  49. My husband also had that problem with his iPhone. With AT&T and Apple bouncing him back and forth on the phone about whose problem it was, it took about 24 hours to get it straightened out. I would guess he was on the phone with them at least 4 hours total before his iPhone was activated.

  50. I’m still on the fence about the iPhone. Two people here at the office have them and I won’t deny that they’re slick looking, but the lack of a few features (not necessarily key ones, mind you) and a less-than-stellar UI if you actually want to use it as a phone are causing me to hesitate to drop $600 on a phone (and yes, I do know that $600 really isn’t much more than the cost of an 8GB Nano and a nice phone separately).

  51. Meanwhile, back in Houston, my daughter went to the Apple Store at the Galleria. She was number 126 in line (went after work). She got the phone around 6:50 p.m. She arrived home about 7:10 p.m. After a short photo session, part of the Apple zealot experience, she set it up in 5 minutes. She’s delighted with the iPhone.

  52. What I’d like to see, in the near future, is a phone like the way PCs work. You can install, upgrade and interchange components like disc drives, CD-ROM, cards and such. Wouldn’t it be fun to be able to do so? Also, an iPhone that can be used on any network. I’m not getting an iPhone right now because the technology is still young yet. Give the competitors a few years to clone the system. After all, there are competing MP3 players out there. The price of the iPhone will certainly drop below $299 in 2 years.

  53. I had the opposite experience of Angela. I thought the original AT&T was better and when they switched to Cingular everything for me went down hill. Anyway whatever their current name AT&T in general has one of the worst performing networks for something like 6-8 years running.

    Verizon might have the best network but they are morons for not signing up with Apple and giving all these profits and subscribers to AT&T. Even though I AT&T has such poor quality I hope this really teaches Verizon a lesson.

  54. What did you expect when you and about half a million other people were doing the exact same thing i activating you new iPhones?

    At least you can get them, they won’t be available here in Britain until December 🙁

  55. yeah, the activation took me about 13 minutes on friday night. i thought i had it bad… until all the horor stories started coming in.

    all told it was worth my 13 minutes and hopefuly your 16 hours.

  56. Sadly, the iPhone isn’t the state of the art device for us, Europeans. We’re just go ahead and wait for the 3G HSPDA, voice call, memory card (to name a few) device and take it from there.

  57. No problems here. I went in to the Bethesda, MD store at about 7:30 PM on the first night and played with it for 30 minutes & picked it up. Activation took 5 minutes, transferred from another ATT account to replace a phone.

    Edge – varies, wifi rocks. Camera – ok only in certain select locations & exposures. Slow shutter, limited exposures, no settings, no zoom, no video.

    Overall – the first phone I’ve had that I like.

    If you are using a BlackBerry, this one is not for you. Stick to the Blackberry

  58. I believe you can blame your cellular provider for making it diffcult, I purchased mine from Rogers here in Canada and all I had to do to activate it with Apple was plug it into iTunes. Once I did that I was able to make my calls and download apps immediately.

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