Apple & AT&T Victims of Own Success with iPhone 4S Activation Failures

UPS dropped off my iPhone 4s this morning and I tried to wirelessly activate it (which is nice, as you used to have to hook it up to a computer running iTunes). After three attempts activation failed. I searched Twitter, and guess what? Many people experienced the same thing. Sadly, the vaunted “Apple Out of Box Experience” looks a little less shiny today for me. I’ve purchased many iPhones, iPods, two iPads and two MacBooks and each time the out of box experience whipped the competition. Their products perform great almost immediately.

Today, they left me waiting. And GottaBeMobile editor Tobias Buckell reports he’s been trying since 9:30AM to get his phone to activate via AT&T with no luck, so I’m not alone in my frustration.

iPhone Activation Failed
Here's the screen you get if your activation fails

I know. Be patient! A lot of people bought an iPhone 4S. Many are trying to get their’s activated at home or in a store today. It’s just too bad that Apple and AT&T couldn’t prepare for this and make it a much better experience. Fortunately for them the early adopters are the hard-core buyers who will likely keep buying their products. But each time their servers struggle I get slightly less confident in this product. After all they touted the cloud as one of the primary new features that makes this phone a big upgrade over the iPhone 4S. Apple and the wireless carriers went down on the first day of preorders. Apple struggled under the load of iOS 5 updating, along with all the various other updates that came along for the ride. Now AT&T struggles to even activate your phone to make it useful.

The good news – patience wins and you will be activated eventually. Just keep trying and you will get through. As I said it took me three tries. How many did it take for you?

Under normal circumstances, this wireless process will provide a better experience for users. If you don’t buy your phone and receive it the same day that millions of others do, you should enjoy a much better activation experience than I did (or than buyers used to enjoy when it required hooking up to a computer to get online, which also used to have server issues in the past).


    • Apple made the hardware and designed the software. We all have no problem ordering the phone on line and it did in fact arrived on Oct 14th as promised. We have to activate the phone through our phone carrier AT&T correct? The activation issue is with AT&T, not Apple!!!  

    • They’re getting the bulk of the bad press but Verizon and Sprint are having the same issues.  Don’t make heroes out of them

    • REALLY!? I called and sat on hold for 35 minutes to be told they couldn’t do it over the phone. That makes me even more frustrated.

  1. Only three times?  If only.  I have tried nearly ten times in the last hours and a half and it’s a no go through either the wireless update or plugging in and going through iTunes.

  2. 10+ tries here. I WAS excited. I know, patience, but I’ve always been patient.  This is the first time I’ve bought the phone as soon as it was out and it’s been a downer, to say the least. 

  3. I did have done it at least 30 times… called and they did it over the phone, but it did nothing. They said that servers are backed up and though my phone is activated it may not work for 24 hours…. WTF

  4. AT&T should be aware that everyone is trying to activate today, but they do nothing!  So annoying, I’ve tried too many times with no success…

  5. Tried about 50 times, called AT&T, said they activated over phone, still not working.  Called back, now I guess I have to wait for activation to sync up with servers.

    • I tried to activate over the phone and ended up with my original phone not working. I had to switch out the sim card just to be able to use my original phone but the 4s still wont work lol. apparently they activated the sim card that came with the 4s and in the process deactivated my first sim card.

  6. 15 tries so far and still waiting on hold for ATT to come on the line. I hate them and wish so much that I had switched to Verizon. Rollover minutes aren’t worth crappy service.

  7. The is only like…2 million people trying to activate their iPhone all at once…still ATT leads the pack…and I am sure they are not going to spend million to solve a problem that happens once a year.  I am just glad it is not just ATT that is having the problem.

  8. I’m on try number 15 and a trip to ATT, not upset though. I love their products and being in such demand will keep theses coming. I can wait to meet my new personal assistant.  hehe….

  9. Tried 30+ times. Tried over cellular, wifi and iTunes. No dice. I’ll just keep trying. Sorry for clogging the system even more.

  10. i called AT&T and asked them to do a direct activation.  they manually entered my IMEI & ICCID numbers. 20min later, i was able to activate my phone through iTunes.  

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