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Did the iOS7 Update Break Your AT&T MVNO iPhone's Data and MMS? Here's How to Fix it



Getting working data and MMS on iPhones using most AT&T MVNOs including RedPocket, H20 or Airvoice is much more complicated than it is with other phones.

The problem is that when you put any AT&T based SIM, including AT&T MVNO ones, in an iPhone, iOS automatically sets the phone up for AT&T and then locks those settings so that you can't change them. AT&T MVNOs use different settings than AT&T itself and thus data and MMS don't work.

Long ago users, discovered a simple workaround , the so called  "SIM Card Swap" method. You put a non-AT&T SIM in the phone to enable the Cellular Data Network settings menu, hot swap in the AT&T SIM, make the necessary changes and everything works.

Then iOS 7 happened and the SIM Card Swap trick stopped working! As soon as you put the AT&T SIM back in the phone the Cellular Data Network settings disappears. Fortunately MacRumors forum member okwhatev, found a work around. The trick is that before you change SIMs you need to put the settings app in the background using iOS multi-tasking.

As the word got around several people have posted YouTube videos demonstrating the new SIM Swap workaround. This video by Paul W (embedded above) seems to the best made and easiest one to follow.

If you prefer written instructions here they are. These should work with any iPhone running any reasonably modern version of iOS. The iPhone 4 and earlier models need to be unlocked before they will accept the non-AT&T SIM. iPhones 4S, 5, 5C and 5S  don't need to be unlocked. You will need a non-AT&T, non-AT&T MVNO SIM card. A T-Mobile SIM or most non US SIMs will work. The SIM can be active, inactive or expired. If you don't have a SIM handy, T-Mobile has their Prepaid SIMs on sale for 99¢ with free shipping though Oct 1 :
  • Go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings to clear out any old settings
  • Turn off WiFi
  • Insert the T-Mobile or other non-AT&T compatible SIM card
  • Start up the Notes app,
  • Double tap the Home button to put Notes in the background
  • Tap Home and go to Settings > General > Cellular. Be sure that Mobile Data  is "ON"
  • When "Cellular Data Network" appears tap it.
  • Double tap the Home button to bring up the multitasker and switch to Notes
  • Remove the non-AT&T SIM card and replace it with the AT&T MVNO SIM
  • Wait for the signal bars reappear and 3G or 4G icon to appear at the top of the screen and 
  • Double tap the Home key to bring up Multitasking and switch back to Settings
  • Enter your MVNO's recommended settings, in this example I used settings that work with the newer LTE enabled Straight Talk AT&T SIMs  (In the video, Paul W is using the att.mvno APN settings required for older Straight Talk SIMs). Use whatever settings your MVNO recomends for your SIM.
  • In the Mobile Data section, enter:
    • APN: tfdata 
    • Leave the Username and Password fields blank.
  • In the MMS section enter the following values:
    • APN: tfdata 
    • Leave the Username and Password fields blank.
    • MMSC: http://mms-tf.net 
    • MMS Proxy 66.209.11.33:80
    • MMS Max Message Size: 1048576
    • MMS UA Prof URL: http://www.apple.com/mms/uaprof.rdf
  • As you can see in the video, both APN settings tend to revert back to the AT&T APN of "phone"
  • Exit to the main screen by hitting the Back button at the top left twice .
Data and MMS picture messaging should now work. If they don't try turning the phone off and back on. If it's still not working the settings you entered are probably didn't get save correctly or are the wrong ones.

Note, the SIM swap trick isn't needed with AT&T MVNOs that are authorized Apple partners including Straight Talk and NET10. See   New iOS Carrier Update 15.7 Fixes Data and MMS on iPhones Using NET10 and Straight Talk SIMs for more information.

Update: The SIM swap trick doesn't work in iOS 7.1. If you have working MMS on an AT&T MVNO and don't want to lose it do not upgrade to 7.1. When a fix is found I'll update this post.

37 comments:

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  1. Have you heard of the iPhone 5 running iOS 7 rejecting a SIM card from another carrier? For example, I tried to use a MetroPCS nano sim and got a message about an Invalid SIM. I'm sure the my iPhone 5 is carrier unlocked. The only I thing I could do was just throw an AT&T GoPhone SIM card in it and activate it so I don't lose phone calls. I really want to use the MetroPCS service. Any suggestions?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did you call Metro and register the phone's IMEI with them? You have to do that with their screwy system.

      Delete
    2. I did but the phone was still failing activation with that Invalid SIM message. Not even the Apple Store folks knew what was really going on.

      Delete
  2. It's sad how draconian the carriers policies are with respect to Apple iPhones. I'm glad there are more open alternatives out there.

    ReplyDelete
  3. If any one is looking for a cheap SIM, I just got an Ultra- Mobile SIM from Amazon for just 10 cents shipping included! I used it to unlock a couple of old ATT phones. I got it one week ago.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey Dennis. I know this is a totally unrelated topic at hand. Boost has released a 4G LTE version of the ZTE Warp. Basically it is called the Boost Warp 4G LTE. It is already up on their site for $199.99. Check it out. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Howdy all, before you try all this stuff try downloading using wifi, and it will go into your settings and change it for you, I found it to be much easier
    http://unlockit.co.nz/
    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you Dennis ! ! !

    A Consumer Cellular (another AT&T MVNO) User here

    This technique DID work did work for me using an old SIM card I had on hand from a trip abroad along cut down with a template to MicroSIM-size with the Consumer Cellular MMS settings with iPhone 4s running iOS 7.2 - Here is a link to the Consumer Cellular MMS Settings https://www.consumercellular.com/Support/Knowledgebase/3/40/142

    I cut and pasted the MMS settings into notes on the iPhone before beginning so I could cut and paste into the MMS setup fields more readily

    After my success with the 4s I tried cutting the MicroSIM down to NanoSIM size and this SIM was not recognized.. I plan to try another SIM (non AT&T SIM) on the iPhone 5 later today.

    I tried the http://unlockit.co.nz/ and it DID provide data and did NOT provide MMS to my iphone 5 with Consumer Cellular.

    My family now has 4 AT&T iphones (4s,5 and 5s) all with Consumer Cellular and the total bill with 2GB of shared data is under $100/month including tax.

    Consumer Cellular provides MicroSIM for the iPhone 4s and I needed to cut down their MicroSIM to NanoSIM for iPhone 5 and 5s using a template http://www.airportal.de/nanosim/

    If anyone wants to try Consumer Cellular with a GSM phone (such as AT&T iPhone 3GS, 4, 4s, 5, 5c, 5s etc.) they will send you a SIM at no cost or you may buy a Consumer Cellular SIM at Sears in their electronics department for $10 and they will give a $10 credit to your first bill.

    There is a discussion thread about using iPhones with Consumer Cellular on the Apple website https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4567323?start=0&tstart=0

    Consumer Cellular also provides a $10 referral credit to both me and to you if you use my cell 805-637-87four4 as the "referred by" when you sign up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am looking into it. Is the phone number at the end something real though?

      Delete
  7. Thanks so much. This saved me a lot of time and effort.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have the new Iphone 5c and I tried doing this. I put an ATT sim in and went through settings pressed cellular. And there is no cell data button and no way to get to the APN setings. If you can figure it out on the new iphone 5c let me know. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Assistance please...I have a former AT&T iphone 5 that was never activated with AT&T that I am using with Consumer Cellular (an AT&T MVNO)...I used the SIM Swap trick with an iphone 4s and 5s with iOS7 and with my iphone with iOS6 when I went to iOS7 the SIM Swap no longer worked and now I am without MMS again...I get a message that activation is required ...Ideas? need I Unlock phone?

    I was never an AT&T customer so they will not work with me directly and I could as a co-worker with AT&T to do the unlock perhaps IF that is required to have the non-AT&T SIM recognized- I welcome helpful advice to help me restore MMS

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The activation required message is because your phone is locked. Unlocking is one way to solve that problem but before you go though the expense or trouble of unlocking try this:
      Before putting the T-Mobile SIM in, go to Settings > General > Carrier Detect and turn off "Auto". That will give you more time after putting the SIM in before the Activation Required message comes up. With luck the "Cellular Data Network" option will appear and you can switch to it and then to Notes before the Activation Required error occurs.

      Delete
  10. Thank you so much Dennis. I just used the T-mobile sim card that came with the iPhone when I bought it (it's not even activated) and I could do the process right away.
    My straight talk sim card works perfectly on the iPhone 5S.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am not able to find the Carrier Detect Option. I cannot find a way to get passed the "activation required" screen, which ultimately leaves me with an invalid sim message.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You may need to put the T-Mobile SIM in while on the Settings > General screen before Carrier Detect will appear and you can turn off "Auto".

      There's an easier way if you are on iOS 7, see: New iOS Carrier Update 15.6 Fixes Data and MMS on iPhones Using NET10 and Straight Talk SIMs

      Delete
    2. Hello Dennis! You said "There's an easier way if you are on iOS 7, see: New iOS Carrier Update 15.6 Fixes Data and MMS on iPhones Using NET10 and Straight Talk SIMs", so are you only referring to only6 Net10 and Straight Talk?I have H2O, will it not work for iOS 7 using H2O? My phone is an AT&T locked phone.

      Delete
    3. I don't think 15.6 or 15.7 will help with an H2O SIM. As I understand it carrier files 15.6 and later have been modified by Apple or AT&T to recognize Straight Talk and NET10 AT&T SIMs and set the appropriate data APN and MMS settings.

      H2O SIMs aren't recognized as H2O SIMs and H2O uses different settings than ST/N10 or AT&T so upgrading to carrier file 15.6+ won't help.

      Delete
  12. Dennis - Thank you for the site and advice,,,

    My iPhone 5 on iOS 6.0.3 let me do the SIM swap technique to get MMS on Consumer cellular...Same iPhone 5 running iOS 7.0.3 jumps to lock screen and reports activation required after I put the T-Mobile SIM in place and it displays that there is a new voice message...

    I contacted Consumer Cellular about the carrier fix offered by NET10 and they report that they do not yet have that capability...

    If this is about unlocking, might I do so with a friend that has AT&T? or pay to unlock/jailbreak?

    I welcome any guidance to get my MMS back on track preferably for FREE.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Go here Request a device unlock for your AT&T Mobile Devices (Phones and Tablets). If you get turned down have your AT&T customer friend try it although I hear they are pretty liberal about unlocking for non-customers as long as the ESN is clean.

      Delete
  13. iPhone 5 running iOS 7.0.2 AT&T 15.5...Might there be a way to get to 15.6 and get back on track for MMS with Consumer Cellular?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Consumer Cellular told you the latest Carrier file didn't contain their settings. If that's true 15.6 won't do anything for you.

      Delete
  14. I just got an (ATT) StraightTalk and upgraded my iPhone 4s to 7.0.4. ST support had me upgrade my Carrier settings to 15.7. I went from showing 4G on my phone to 3G. Searching the web it says ATT puts some sort of flag to show 4G instead of 3G is this true? or is this some sort of bug?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's just a cosmetic change. your actual data speeds did not change. The old carrier file 15.6 displayed "4G" when you were connected to HSDPA. Now it displays "3G".

      HSDPA has a maximum theoretical speed of 14.4 Mbps and is the fastest data standard that the iPhone 4S supports.

      If you had a LTE capable iPhone 5 or later it would display "LTE" when connected to LTE.

      I think Apple, AT&T and Straight Talk are trying to emphasize that they know support LTE. Displaying "4G" for HSDPA was false advertising as it's not officially recognized as a 4G technology

      Delete
  15. Okay, I have had Net10 with my iPhone 4s for over a year. My data and MMS just stopped working randomly. I had no issues the first 2 months after I updated to iOS 7. I am trying to do the SIM swap with a T-Mobile SIM card but my phone wont let me keep the wifi off! It keeps insisting that I connect to a wifi signal and wont let me do anything else!! Help!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't heard of that issue before. Perhaps some background process is trying to download something. Try connecting to WiFi to let the process finish and then see if it will let you turn WiFi off.

      Delete
  16. I have AT&T locked iPhone 5S. I am following this procedure exactly. I am trying to use an expired SIM card from Europe (instead of T-mobile SIM in the video). I used this SIM in Europe about 3 years ago. A few seconds after I insert the SIM, iPhone says "activation required", and then enables wifi by itself and offers me to choose the wifi network. If I remove the SIM and insert ATT SIM it works fine. If I insert H20 MVNO sim I get only voice working. If I try again the Euro-Sim, it again tells me "activation required". If I agree on wifi, then it tells me that this SIM NOT VALID, and that SIM is "from carrier that is not supported under activation policy that is currently assigned by the activation server... this is not a hardware issue..."
    I am using iphone 5S with 7.0.4 (latest rev). I used this phone successfully on AT&T network, and now switched to H20, but can not get data to work. I used H20 provided profile, but still no data. Any ideas what's going wrong. Is it the Euro-Sim that is to blame? Or with latest iOS the cellular settings trick does not work anymore on locked 5S? I am new to Iphones so please bear with me.
    I understand that if I un-lock the iPhone, then it should work, but unlocking now is at least $100. So thanks a lot for any advise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Before putting the foreign SIM in, go to Settings > General > Carrier Detect and turn off "Auto". That will give you more time after putting the SIM in before the Activation Required message comes up. With luck the "Cellular Data Network" option will appear and you can switch to it and then to Notes before the Activation Required error occurs.

      If you don't need MMS, just delete any data profiles that are installed and then re-install the H2O profile. That should give you data. If it doesn't, the problem is on H2O's side.

      Delete
  17. Beware before upgrading to 7.1. I have H20 I updated my iphone 5 yesterday to 7.1. I have spent most of my time since then trying to configure MMS settings. Phone is unlocked from T-mobile. I tried the above approach and it will not save the settings. I had used this method successfully on the same phone when it was 7.0. Does anyone have any experience with the new 7.1 update? Is this an issue? Thanks for the help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am having a similar problem. I am also using H2O but with an unlocked ATT iPhone 4s. I can't get mms to work. It looks saved and loaded as before but it won't send picture or group messages. I can download the APN profile for data but the above sim trick for mms is not working. Any thoughts. I have tried it numerous ways.

      Delete
    2. I THIRD THAT. DO NOT UPGRADE TO IOS 7.1 IF YOU ARE USING H2O (NOT SURE ABOUT OTHER MVNO's) I'VE SPENT HOURS TRYING TO GET MMS TO WORK USING THE SIM SWAP TRICK BUT NOW IT WILL NOT SAVE THE SETTINGS, ONLY MY DATA WORKS NOW. BEFORE THE UPDATE I HAD PICTURE MESSAGING WORKING WITHOUT A PROBLEM. I USE AN UNLOCKED AT&T IPHONE 4

      Delete
    3. I am using Consumer Cellular (an ATT MVNO) with an unlocked ATT iPhone 4. After I upgrade to iOS 7.1, the picture messaging no longer works even with the SIM card swapping trick. Don't upgrade to iOS 7.1 if you use an ATT MVNO until there is a solution to this problem!

      Delete
    4. Consumer Cellular is an Apple partner and has its own carrier update that should automatically configure data and MMS. The SIM swap trick and unlockit.co.nz are not needed or recommended with Consumer Cellular. Everything should just work.

      Try the following to clear out any manual or unlockit.co.nz settings and get the latest carrier update:
      - Go to Settings > General > Profile and delete any existing profiles.
      - Turn the iPhone off and back on
      - Go to Settings > General > About on your iPhone and check for updates
      - Install any updates that are offered
      - Test data and MMS. If they don't work the problem is on the network end, call Consumer Cellular.

      Delete
  18. After working with a Consumer Cellular representative and her supervisor for one hour and a half, MMS with my iphone 4 still does not work. They give up and ask me to wait for a future Apple fix.

    ReplyDelete
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