iPhone 5 Works on T-Mobile Network With Four Days of Preparation

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2012-12-12 Print this article Print

So I headed upstairs to the T-Mobile store to see if I could get help from the staff in configuring the iPhone. The store personnel showed me that there’s a website that will lead you through the process and install a couple of apps for use by T-Mobile iPhone customers. But wait, as they say on TV, there’s more.

The first page of iPhone settings doesn’t finish the job. There are additional settings that need to go into the iPhone for Internet access and picture messaging. Those instructions are on another page. To get everything working, you’ll need to type in some IP addresses and some web addresses by hand, since the T-Mobile automated tool doesn’t set these. And finally, if you have an iPhone 5, you’ll need to go to yet another set of instructions for MMS messaging.

One hopes that when T-Mobile starts selling iPhones, these settings will be handled before you ever see the device. It’s not that any of them are difficult, especially if you squint so you can see the tiny letters, but it’s much more time consuming than just buying a phone and popping in a SIM card, which is all that most people think they have to do.

It took me a couple of days to get all of the settings done right. This is partly because T-Mobile support is still modifying the instructions for the iPhone 5 and partly because everything isn’t all in one place. But once you find everything (which I’m pretty sure I have) then the iPhone works. But suppose you’re not buying the unlocked iPhone for T-Mobile? Then you’ll have to change the same settings, but the values you type in will be different. You’ll only be able to find them out from your phone company’s support staff.

I’ll share a word of warning that’s not exactly part of using an unlocked iPhone, but rather is one of the effects of the Apple ecosystem. If you’re using iCloud to keep things synchronized and you want to keep your Outlook Calendar along with your Contacts on the iPhone you should back up your Outlook mailbox. iCloud ate my calendar, contacts and tasks and moved them to iCloud without telling me. Fortunately, an Apple Senior Technical Advisor of astonishing competence helped me get them back.

So after four days of buying a SIM and an iPhone, and then configuring the device, was it worth it? It is if you want an iPhone and don’t want to wait until T-Mobile starts selling them in March or April. But if you’re intimidated, you might want to wait or get a tech-savvy 14-year-old relative to do the setup for you.


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