iPhone 4S Users Around The Country Having Problems Activating With AT&T

iPhone 4S Users Around The Country Having Problems Activating With AT&T

Hey, what a shock! The weak link in Apple’s iPhone 4S launch, for the fifth year running? AT&T? Reports abound on Twitter and in the blogosphere that AT&T’s servers are being hammered, preventing users from activating their devices. During this time, the iPhone 4S will return a message saying that “It may take up to 3 minutes to activate your iPhone”… a message which displays for over half an hour in some cases, then falls over.

We’re not seeing similar reports about Verizon or Sprint. Anyone having problems with those two carriers in activating their iPhone 4S? Let us know.

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  • Sggladden

    Hmm I wonder if they would have a problem if when they went to collect their bill the bank said we’re sorry there was a problem connecting to the server. Please try again later.

  • Rick

    The only reason I stayed with AT&T is my (grandfathered) unlimited data plan. Not a happy camper here in Central MAssachusetts.

  • Joe J. Haro

    Sprint activated mine flawlessly. It took a minute or two, but everything works flawlessly. 

  • Matt Bobafett Battle

    I’m having that problem with AT&T.  On the second attempt I got a message: “Your activation is still pending.  You will receive an email notification once your activation is complete.”.  

  • glen

    im in utah, having this same problem. they are really testing my patience now

  • livehappy8

    No problems on my end (AT&T – received phone at 9:35am CST in mail)

  • Jeremywester00

    That is the same reason I’m still with AT&T.. Grandfathered data plan.. I’m on the gulf coast of Mississippi sitting here watching the rotating loading wheel spin and spin endlessly..

  • Berubah

    Had this problem repeatedly when trying to activate without connecting to a laptop. Then I tethered the new phone and ran the set-up through iTunes and it worked the first time… Coulda been a coincidence, I s’pose.

  • b. souris

    Yea I’m in Boston, same message. Tried to activate both on iPhone and via iTunes about 10 times now. :\

  • Rickdoez1

    here in philadelphia having the same problem … att will email me when their ready!! huh??? i have places to be thanks. -_-

  • aha!

    I have also been unsuccessfully trying to activate my iphone4S with AT&T, (upgrading from iphone3GS); activation times out repeatedly. I’ve tried activation on the iphone4S itself and via itunes, it times out via either method.

  • Letsboogiedown

    Same problem here in VA with ATT

  • Rick

    Keep trying. Took me about 90 minutes to finally get it to “take”. Syncing now and updating the phone, but no email confirmation from AT&T

  • Rick

    Keep trying. Took me about 90 minutes to finally get it to “take”. Syncing now and updating the phone, but no email confirmation from AT&T

  • Tgsanford

    Same here north of Atlanta….

  • Theuninvitedguest

    I don’t know if this has anything to do with location, but I am in Boston as well and having the same problems.

  • Jeremywester00

    I guess 10 minutes made all the difference lol.. Recieved mine at 9:45am CST.. tried to activate as soon as I got it but it was to late

  • jbach67

    I guess this is the only reason I’m glad my ‘pre-order’ from AT&T didn’t arrive yet. No status for me except that the order is in the system.

  • Hellnheelz

    In Colo. Springs and having the same failure to connect to activation servers everyone else is reporting.  I’ve been trying to connect for an hour now….

  • opticalserenity

    I love the tech behind AT&T, I really love simultaneous voice and data, and the super fast network is great. BUT, I’ve been waiting for thirty freakin minutes on activation. It’s 2011 and we’re STILL having these problems. As Steve Jobs used to say, the only thing bad about iPhone was that Apple couldn’t control the entire experience. What a disappointment.

  • Michele

    I’m with Sprint and i’ve been trying to activate my phone for over and hour now with no luck.

  • Bwood3

    now itunes is not able to “complete your request”…   been trying for 3+ hours now… thanks at&t

  • Steve Peterson

    In Austin.  Been trying to activate since around 10 a.m.  Almost noon now and still can’t get through (getting a message on the iPhone that the activiation servers are down).  This is like trying to pre-order last week….

  • Doug Gross

    Been waiting one hour.  Can’t activate phone.  AT&T is the worst

  • Reag

    Miami
    whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?

  • Wswinford

    In Virginia Beach, going on 3hrs now…  this is crap.

  • nicole

    Same here regarding why I stuck with AT&T. Unable to activate. Tried four times already.

  • 54321happy

    Activated fine with Sprint at 8:00am, but while in roaming, I can’t receive any calls.  When people try to call me, it won’t even go to voicemail or ring for them…it’s just a blank line…come on!!  I guess it doesn’t matter which carrier you are on…they all suck!

  • JimmyDChicago

    Yep, having the same issues with AT&T in Chicago.  Both wi-fi and itunes will not activate my new phone. “Siri, can you please activate my damn phone!”.

  • Kkorpos

    In Boston, have been trying for 3 hours — no dice….just got a message to connect to computer and open itunes…but itunes server is down too…thanks a lot AT&T….

  • Cindon83

    Verizon doing the same thing been a couple hours

  • Michael

    In ATL…  Received my iPhone 3 hours ago. Still won’t activate! AT&T is killing me!!!

  • Yoryi

    same issue in New Mexico.

  • Jpalva7

    Sprint.com supossably is not having any problems activating. You might want to try it out.

  • Armani335

    Has anybody activated a 4s on AT&T

  • Jpalva7

    From what sprint costumer in the sprint comunity there are having NO problem activating theri phone at http://www.sprint.com

  • Eli

    Been waiting for an 2 hours in Nashville. 

  • Popeyesmith

    Just seemed to get an activation through AT&T. In the process of restoring from backup but the new unit is showing connection to AT&T network

  • Loualfano

    F**K AT&T

  • tw

    Having the same problem in SEA. Spent 30 minutes on the phone with AT&T rep because I was concerned about losing my $5/200 text messaging and he was really patient as we waited and waited for activation. We finally gave up but he said that the phone will continue to try activating on its own so to hold tight. He is supposed to call me in an hour to check in. I’ve been an AT&T customer for 10 years and have never received this level of customer service before. I am really impressed. BTW, he said that I shouldn’t lose any of my current plan features with the new activation but if I do, they can revert back to the old with no problem as long as it is within 30 days.

  • Jonah Cohen

    I just don’t understand why the carriers don’t clue into this every single time there’s a major phone release.

  • POG

    Just north of Boston.
    Try a reboot. Turn off your old ATT phone.
    Mine activated after about 45 minutes.
    Had NO phone until then, though.

  • Nigel

    The phones when activated through an att store work fine.  the issue seems to be with apple itself.  apparently alot of ppl preordered the phone and it’s hosing up the apple servers. 

  • Exelhefe

    No dice in Southern California, either.  Good grief…

  • Gwyddia

    Three hours in Philadelphia.

  • Daybreaq

    Same issues in Miami with At&T. After multiple tries on Wi-Fi with the same result, I got a slightly different message to try connecting with iTunes on my computer. Got the same result though: all the way through to service agreements but then could not activate in the final step. I have somewhere I have to be now, so I’m taking a break trying to activate my 4S and will try again in a few hours. I did send an angry e-mail to AT&T first though. Thing that bothers me most is they had plenty of time to prepare and more experience with launches than other two carriers and they STILL can’t get it right!

  • Jay

    Sprint and Verizon are having similar problems and it’s in the press now.  AT&T sucks to be sure, but don’t let the others off the hook by bashing just one.

  • Jay

    My guess is they don’t care.  They got their money and the plan is locked in. I can’t access mine either right now but I’m sure they don’t give a damn and figure it will work when they are ready and not a second sooner.

  • Jay

    You’re impressed?  With what? A failed situation met with a smiling face saying “hold tight, we’ll get back to you?”  There’s nothing impressive here.  This is a 100% FAIL.

  • Jay

    Sprint and Verizon are having the same issues. They all blew it.

  • Nigel

    it’s every carrier if you ordered the phone from apple.com

  • Caroline

    I’ve been trying for hours and still unable to activate on AT&T. So frustrating.

  • al303

    “It may take up to 3 Millinnia to activate your iPhone”

  • al303

    “It may take up to 3 Millinnia to activate your iPhone”

  • Jessica

    In Nashville as well and have been waiting for an hour.

  • Mike

    been trying for 2 hours in miami.  no dice….
    upgrading from 3GS on ATT and preordered

  • Mandy Emel

    In Seattle trying to activate on Verizon, no luck here.

  • Ron Akanowicz

    On Cape Cod and having issues activating. Got the pending email message too. ATT.

  • Berubah

    Have you tried activating thru iTunes (i.e., with it tethered by USB)? I had the same problem (also on the Cod!) & that fixed it. :D

  • Russbartee

    DRW. AT&T. 2 hours. Ditto.

  • Russbartee

    Sorry, DFW area… no joy.

  • aha!

    Still not activating.

  • roqfish

    Has anyone received this “YETI” email notification?

  • Johndrop7

    According to AT&T and everything else I have been reading its not the carriers but apple itself. Makes sense I’ve never been through a launch day but this does make sense to me

  • aha!

    Nope. My first activation attempt was around 11:30 am eastern. Been trying repeatedly to activate via itunes/usb after each failed attempt. No email. No activation success.

  • aha!

    I do not live near a major nor a minor metropolitan area and have been unable to activate for over three hours. For every 20 attempts I make via itunes with the usb cable, I’ve tried once on the iphone itself. Neither way is working.

  • fivecolors

    I’ve been trying since 11:30. At 3:00, it finally activated. Hopefully they’re getting it together. Good Luck all!

  • aha!

    Mine just activated!!! It only took 3 hrs and 45 min.

  • Rickdoez1

    its apple itunes i switched sims n the sims ok its itunes thats having the traffic problems.. it’ll be updated by 12am est here n the east coast their saying.

  • Brian Grant Langlois

    ATT Maryland, no luck, been trying for 4 hours

  • rcave

    Same issue in Atlanta… I have been trying for 3 hours

  • rohitkapur

    att in new york not working

  • Pscottjr

    ….. just activated i think … restoring from backup now …. fingers crossed

  • Zachery BinX

    Still waiting to activate…. 3.5 hours 

  • Connor Mulcahey

    Same issue in CT

  • Debinsj

    Hmmm, you’d think they would have anticipated this problem after selling over 4 million phones!  I’ve been at it for almost 5 hours and still no luck.  I live in the midwest.  AT&T said the process has to clear Apple servers before going to AT&T.  Really took a lot of excitement out of the launch!

  • Ron Akanowicz

    2 hrs and still trying here in MA w AT&T

  • Douglas Boldt

    3.5 hours and still trying in PA with.. you guessed it.. AT&T

  • Morongo

    same issue i wonder for how much longer

  • Douglas Boldt

    It’s only happening on AT&T iPhone 4S’s.  Sure looks like it’s a carrier problem to me.  In fact, it seems glaringly obvious that AT&T has always been the weak link.

  • Julian | Velasquez

    It’s been 2 hours for me already. :\

  • Julian | Velasquez

    That’s so fast! Lol.

  • Julian | Velasquez

    Where do they even send the email to? It’s not like we’ve signed up with an apple id email, etc. by that point…

  • Douglas Boldt

    Thanks, AT&T, for making me spend my afternoon in iTunes entering my billing zip code, last 4 of my SSN, accepting your TOS, and repeating over and over.  Perhaps it’s time to cut my losses and head over to Verizon.  

  • Julian | Velasquez

    Yeah, it’s the servers being overloaded. Normally not everyone is trying to activate an iPhone at one time, so it will likely be fine for people who get their phones after the initial activation wave is done. 

  • Julian | Velasquez

    I tried activating through iTunes and got the same exact message. 

  • appleofmy_i

    new jersey. got phone at 11.30 est. been trying for 4.5 hrs with a lunch break in between. no dice. called att they transfered to apple and they said its att server issue. Just crazy. After waiting and tracking all these days this is just a serious bummer. Worst part is not knowing if server is down or just overloaded. Is it worth keeping on trying and it will work sometime?

  • appleofmy_i

    its funny how the reports say “some” customers having issues with activation. Barely anyone is getting thru!

  • I want my Iphone!!

    Same issue in Studio City, CA

  • bostondog

    Still cannot activate here on Cape Cod.  Have been trying for 3 hours. Tried wifi and USB to iTunes.  Same message indicating the server is unavailable.  I hate AT&T.  Even went to their e-mail Contact Us web site and that is not available.  Are these guys complete idiots or what?  How many times will it take them to get activation day right?  And don’t get me started on the fact that I cannot use my iPhone as a phone on their network.  They are useless. 

  • Steve

    Same in Colorado a dozen tries later

  • Done

    Plenty of reports that sprint and Verizon having the same problems. As well on twitter. Nstop hating. You should have picked the other carriers if you couldn’t stand AT&T. It’s your own fault….

  • A+

    Worked perfectly here in El Segundo, CA. I called the activation line and I was in :)

  • Fleechow

    Looks like the Northeast is being hammered!

  • PWORD9D8

    Just got mine and having same problem here in LA

  • PWORD9D8

    Just got mine and having same problem here in LA

  • synchronism

    activated. austin, texas.

  • tw

    I’m impressed at the fact that the rep keeps calling me every hour to check in to let me know that they are working on trying to fix the issue. He doesn’t have to do that. If there are a million people trying to activate their phone at roughly the same time, there are bound to be issues.

  • rohitkapur

    just activated… 3.5 hrs later

  • Rmoor

    No luck since 830 am here in Phoenix.

  • Rmoor

    BTW..I was at a ATT corporate store and they were activating phones on the spot, no delays.

  • think

    What the hell didya all expect?  NO company is gonna invest in server capacity that’s needed *at most* once per year.  You waited 16 months + 1 week for the phone already.  Is waiting ’til tonight–or tomorrow–to activate gonna kill ya?

  • MWinNYC

    Just got my 4S in NYC- no luck with activation. Got message, “Your activation is still pending.  You will receive an email notification once your activation is complete.  . . We’re sorry.  There was a problem connecting to the server.  Please try again later.”  I wonder if they are having problems activating the phones that were purchased in the stores today.

  • roqfish

    congrats! did it go through via itunes, wifi or ATT network?

  • Roldy

    Orange County, CA. Ordered straight from the Apple site. It was waiting for me when I got back home this morning. Been trying to activate it since 11:00am.

    lol, nope.

  • Gq

    GQ shares: Bell Gardens, CA. here and received iPhone from Apple (UPS) and been waiting for more than 2 hours. On phone with Apple now. Keep you guys updated 

  • Frustrated at&t user

    I’ve been trying for 6 hours now through both iTunes and cellular network many, many, many times.  I’m in Dallas.  I called the AT&T activation phone line and they said the problem was with Apple and to try during dinner time because they thought less people would be trying to activate their phones… really?  That’s the best technical advice they could give me??

  • Done

    Lol. Then why did you re-up? Hahahaha…blame yourself, oh had a choice and you FAILED.

  • GQ

    No f**king way! I called Apple and they contacted AT&T and I am just holding to hear a response from both 

  • Graveley

    To keep us on our toes, they have changed the activation error screen to now read: 
    “You can restart the activation process by turning your iPhone off and on.  If activating via iTunes, please disconnect and reconnect your iPhone”  
    No more mention of an email… I give up! 

  • Gq

    UPDATE!  After calling Apple I was transferred to AT&T and was asked to provide the SIM # which I had trouble removing slot. You can also find the SIM # on the home screen (as soon as you wake up iphone) by tapping on i logo. The AT&T employee also shared there was a delay and we have to wait a bit. I was advised the activation can take anywhere from 1 min to 12 hours because of all the customers activating their iPhones. iPhones will be activated in order. :( AT&T employee said iPhones are being activated slowly and if I had an previous iPhone to turn it off because it can delay the activation process. 

  • LauraC

    I have been trying for almost 6 hours in Austin, TX and still no luck…damn, you AT&T.

  • Ramshackleinc

    North central Ohio, 8 hrs and 3 calls to customer support(Verizon) finally getting ahold of an apple rep who states ” you just have to keep plugging and unplugging it from the computer and wait”. R u frigging kidding me. Its no wonder why I buy pc’s instead of mac’s. You maybe should have not released soo many phones!

  • roqfish

    ATT – activated SF area……when setting up there was no option to restore from icloud – only “set up as new phone” or restore from itunes. So I setup as new – now I want to restore from the icloud and can’t find an option to do so? I backed up my 4 last night to the icloud so there is a back up there. Anyone know how to restore from the cloud? Thx y’all

  • Kay

    What is the # to the activation line?  Never got that in my documentation!

  • whatsjohnupto

    I have an old iPhone 4. Suddenly it said it was restored and needs to be activated. Does not work.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his girlfriend and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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