Revamped version of the iPhone 3G with faster processing speeds. Repair of this device is similar to the 3G, and requires simple screwdrivers and prying tools. Model A1303 / 16 or 32 GB capacity / black or white plastic back.

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Why can't I activate my iPhone 3GS

I've tried several techniques to recover/format my iPhone 3GS, but it just isn't working. The phone keeps popping up with a message saying, "Could not activate iPhone, try connecting your iPhone to iTunes to activate it." When the iPhone is connected to iTunes, it reads the phone and asks for a SIM card, but doesn't read the SIM cards.

I've also tried a lot of software updates and resetting the iPhone itself, but it keeps failing on me and doesn't allow me to proceed to anything else.

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3 Answers

Chosen Solution

Check if the IMEI is blacklisted first. If that's the case, it's usually because of a unpaid balance or the phone was stolen. Either way the IMEI is “branded” for good. To avoid wasting time, check the status of the IMEI on Swappa. Since we now have global blacklists the phone is useless everywhere; even for international use.

If the IMEI is bad because it's actually stolen, take the phone to the police and see if you can get it legally by giving the owner a chance to reclaim it. This isn't always possible but most states allow for this. It usually means the police hold the phone, so be prepared for that.

If it's stolen and you get it keep it this way do not expect the carrier to help you make it usable as a phone; that IMEI# is never going to be good again. Even if you can fix the IMEI by replacing it, I wouldn't recommend this because it's a legal grey area.

If the IMEI comes up clean, do a Recovery Mode restore. If that works, it was something with the baseband that caused the issue that was recoverable. It's usually a carrier software problem when this works. Follow this guide to access Recovery Mode: iPhone/iPod/iPad Recovery Mode Restore

If the Recovery Mode restore doesn't fix the phone, it's a hardware baseband problem. The motherboard will need to be replaced since the baseband is typically paired. The boards usually cost as much a whole phone so it may not be worth it to replace the board. That said, if you do swap the board you should try and check the IMEI if you can do so. I’d also STRONGLY RECOMMEND getting the matching back so the phone and board have the same identity, to avoid problems in the future. It typically doesn’t matter but if a carrier or secondhand buyer sees it, it doesn’t always come off well. I’m not bothered by it to the extent I will run away from the phone, but it is a red flag that something is up in most cases. I’m going to check the IMEI per the board anyway, so it’s kind of moot but I like to see matching identities.

iPhone 3GS Logic Board Image

Guide

iPhone 3GS Logic Board Replacement

Difficulty:

Moderate

iPod Image

Guide

iPhone/iPod/iPad Recovery Mode Restore

Difficulty:

Easy

30 minutes

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NICK!!!!

Thanks soooo much for helping, I had the exact same problem. The phone I have I swapped it with a rubbish blackberry with my friend because they dont like the iphone! I think i tried to reboot the phone and it was coming up with this exact message!

I phoned my network company and they told me it was apples connections that had failed and will be fixed in 24hours....that of course didn't happen. I just tried to restore the iphone DFU mode when plugging my iphone into the computer! IT WORKS! SO THANK YOU <3

((Restore the iPhone in DFU mode

press and hold the power and reset buttons, and then when the apple logo comes up, let go of the power button and keep holding the home button, it will be in DFU mode, then click restore, you will lose everything))

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same situation here for me, i did it and restored somehow. but it came back to activation process and same thing happens "Could not activate iPhone"

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during restore it gives any error or not? if gives then it may be a hardware issue. after restoring check out the imei number of the iphone. if that column showing blank then you will not activate your iphone.

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I tried restoring it through itunes like you normally would, but it said restoring error cannot restore device

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what error itunes giving while restoring?

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Take it back to ATT and get a new sim card.

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i got a new sim

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Pavel will be eternally grateful.
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