Should I Move 4 iPhones to Net10?

A reader Gail asks,

I  have three iphone 5′s and one iphone 4 on AT&T. We unlocked one iphone 5 and the iphone 4 and tried T-Mobile and had no service at our house. they made us give the sim cards back when we cancelled. I bought two cut down nano sims on ebay for 99 cents to try the net10 svc. Do I need to try it on the unlocked iphone 5 and 4 or can I try it on the locked ones? I got the codes to unlock the other 2 phones, should I go ahead and unlock them ? I picked up a cheap phone and airtime card and net10 works great at my house. I am scared to port my number until I am sure the iphone 5 works.

Hi Gail,

I decided to reply to your comment in this post.  Your situation is interesting and relevant to readers.  I am going to ramble a bit here, but please feel free to follow up with more questions.

I have been using my iPhone 5 with Net10 (AT&T SIM) for 9 or 10 months now. I originally bought and ATT iPhone 5 at full price(before they sold unlocked iPhone 5) and did an iPhone Restore through iTunes. I have had no issue other than havinf to figure out how to set up data and mms. Getting data to work is easy, mms is a bit of a pain..

Like you, I decided to try the sign up for Net10 but not port my number. I used it for a week or two and then finally ported my number.  The port was a confusing process, I started online, and ended up calling them.  The website said I needed a new SIM, and they told me that on the phone too. It sended up woth me getting a call from Net10 and my number being ported a few hours after I started the process.   If you look throught the comments on you can read about other people’s porting stories.  There were a few difficult ones.

The Net10 AT&T SIM should work fine for voice, sms, and data in all of your AT&T iPhones regardless of whether or not they are locked.  There is a debate about MMS though.  Read my guide about how to set up data and MMS.

Many readers have told me, that if your iPhone isn’t unlocked you will will not be able to see the Cellular Data Network when you do the SIM swap. Other people claim that is not the case. I can’t say for certain.

Testing Your iPhones with Net10

You mentioned you bought a cheap net10 phone with service.  Net10 buys their airtime from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon in bulk. Did the phone you bought have a SIM card? Was it pink or blue? Did you buy any data?  We really want to know which network it is on. We may be able to use this for the test below.

Here is how I would test Net 10.

  1. Make sure you have one Net10 nano SIM(for the iPhone 5) and one T-Mobile nano SIM.  
  2. Purchase a nano SIM to microSIM adapter (ebay or amazon less then $2)
  3. If MMS is important to you
  4. start with the iPhone 5 that is unlocked, verify you can get to the Cellular Data Network option. If yes, you’ll have a good chance to get MMS working on this phone
  5. repeat the process for the other two iPhone 5 (locked ones). If you don’t see the Cellular Data Network option, you may need to unlock these phones if you want to try MMS. You can try some of the other stepd on too.
  6. repeat the process for the iPhone 4, using the SIM card adapter.
  7. At this point, you’ll knoww if you will have a chance to get MMS working

After this you could test Net10

  1. activate one of the Net10 SIM AT&T nano SIM cards
  2. follow my guide to get Data and MMS working on the unlocked iPhone 5
  3. repeat the process for two locked iPhone 5
  4. repeat the process for the iPhone 4, using the SIM card adapter.

This will cost you $50, to see if Net10 will work on all of your family iPhones, and if it does, you can start using the working SIM in one of the phones.

iPhone Unlocking

You mentioned that you unlocked one of your iPhone 5. But you did not say how. If you pay the early termination fee AT&T will unlock your phone for free. They have some formula. I see if I can find it.

Other Options

It sounds like you want to move 4 phones from AT&T to Net10. Is the goal to lower cost, or get more service for the money? Let me know and we can run through a cost calculation to try and find you the best option.

Some other alternatives you could look at are Straight Talk and AT&T Pay and Go. Straight Talk is $45 a month vs $50 a month for Net10. The services are identical. Both are owned by the same parent company. Straight Talk was a Walmart exclusive.

You have three iPhone 5s.  On AT&T,  Are you getting 4G LTE speeds?  You won’t on Net10 or Straight Talk. You’ll get 4G HSPDA, which is fast but not LTE fast.  Does the data on your iPhone 4, show a 4G connection on AT&T?  ST and Net10 will be about that fast on your iPhone 5s. If you go with AT&T Pay and Go it’s $60 a month but you will get 4G LTE speeds and 2GB of data.

We have not discussed how important data is for each member of your family.  If you have low data requirements we could potentially find something more affordable.


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