iPhone & Apple Pay Activation
While I have nothing against Apple or iOS, I have sort of always been an Android guy. My wife and I have had iPads for years, but on the phone side I started with an HTC EVO 4G and stayed with Android from there. At times I have thought of crossing over to the “dark side”, but I have always found a new hot phone (such as my Galaxy S6) to fall in love with.
When Discover announced their Apple Pay promotion, I knew I had to break down and get an iPhone 6 or better. Then last week during one of those amazing 15% off eBay sales, I picked up an iPhone 6 for a crazy low price after the coupon, eBay Bucks and rewards. The only potential issue was that the iPhone is locked to AT&T (unlocked ones were much more expensive) and my family and I are on T-Mobile because of their free international data.
Trying to Unlock the iPhone & Activation
Since I figured this deal would be a good excuse to try out using the iPhone as my daily device, the first thing I did when I got the phone was try to unlock it. I paid someone $2.99 on eBay, but unfortunately AT&T won’t unlock it because the person who owned it previously didn’t pay off the NEXT plan. This means it was most likely a return or repair unit, which is fine, but no one can unlock it but AT&T.
The way iPhones work is they won’t even allow you to get past the first screen without a proper sim card for the carrier that the phone is locked to. While I could purchase a sim directly from AT&T, I wasn’t sure how long it would take to come, so I just bought one for $5 on Amazon. (I probably could have gotten one at an AT&T store as well.) The sim arrived last night.
Activating the Phone & Using Apple Pay
AT&T does have pay as you go plans, so I figured that would be my best option. After inputting the sim, I was able to activate the phone with iCloud and add my Discover cards to Apple Pay using WiFi. Not once did the phone ever ask me to activate the AT&T service. In fact, I put it in Airplane mode and then turned WiFi back on, so it isn’t even pinging the cell network anymore.
Once the cards were added to Apple Pay I was confident that everything would work and it did. As you can see in the screenshot above, I was able to successfully make a purchase at Staples. For some reason I had been under the assumption that the iPhone needed to be active on a network at some point to activate Apple Pay, but that isn’t the case. (Hence the trick.)
The Gift Card Issue
I do want to make a brief mention that gift cards are excluded from the promotion by Discover. It remains to be seen if they will enforce this or if they are even able to see what is purchased. We will know more in the future, but I am confident that it will work. Even if it doesn’t, 20% back on all of my spending is still well worth it.
If you simply want to get an iPhone to take advantage of this promotion, you just need to purchase the cheapest iPhone 6 that you can get your hands on along with a nano sim card for the network the phone is locked to. After that hook the phone to WiFi and activate everything. Then put it in Airplane mode and turn the WiFi back on. You basically end up with an iPod Touch that works well and most importantly can do Apple Pay. You never have to get a plan on the network.
While I am a little disappointed that I won’t get to play around with this phone a little more, I should be able to sell it for about $100 more than I paid for it once it has served its purpose. For now, I’ll be carrying around both the iPhone and my Galaxy S6, since 10% back (doubled to 20% in one year) is too good to pass up. Has anyone else out there purchased an iPhone specifically for this deal?