Can You Use An iPhone Without A SIM Card?

Can you use an iPhone without a SIM card? The iPhone has become associated with cool technology for the millennial generation. Apple’s big technology hit revolutionised the mobile phone market and ushered in a new era of smart communication that many other companies have been trying their best to emulate.

These days, there are lots of Apple competitors out there, but the iPhone remains one of the most beloved smartphones on the planet. Sometimes, you just need to use it like an iPod Touch rather than a phone, and this is where it can get a little tricky.

How To Use An iPhone Without A SIM Card

Making Your iPhone Into an iPod Touch

Unlike some other kinds of phones, the iPhone does need a SIM card inserted to activate properly. But once this is done, the SIM card can actually be removed, and you’ll then effectively have an iPod Touch.

So, what happens if you don’t have a SIM card handy? The easiest workaround for this is to borrow a SIM card from someone else temporarily. SIM cards can easily be removed using a SIM removal tool. These usually come with a SIM card if you buy one from the shops. If you don’t have one handy, you can use a pin or even a paperclip. Just be careful not to damage the device.

The other thing you need to know is that if your iPhone happens to be carrier locked, then you’ll probably need to use a SIM card from the same carrier service. Once you have a SIM card handy, it’s time to start the process:

1. Insert the SIM

Once you have either your own SIM or a friend’s ready to go, just insert it into the SIM slot of the iPhone that you want to use. As mentioned above, if the iPhone was originally locked by a carrier service, you’ll need to use a SIM card from the same carrier service.

2. Access a Wi-Fi Network

Turn on the iPhone once the SIM is inserted and just go through the usual setup options. These are usually self-explanatory. You will need to access a Wi-Fi network at this point to set it up. It doesn’t matter what network it is, as long as the phone can connect to it.

3. Activate and Remove the SIM Card

Once you’ve gone through the whole process of setting up the iPhone, you can then remove the SIM card you used. You might get an onscreen message about having no SIM card, but you can then use the phone without it. If you borrowed the SIM card, just remember to give it back!

What If You Have No Wi-Fi Access?

If you have no access to a Wi-Fi network, but you still want to set up the iPhone, you can activate it using iTunes. This is not the ideal workaround, but it will work if all you have is your phone and a computer running iTunes:

1. Get iTunes

Ideally, you should already have iTunes installed on your computer. If not, go and download it or update the existing version to the latest.

2. Connect the Phone

Just connect the phone to the computer and wait until iTunes opens. You might see a dialog box telling you that there’s no SIM card in the phone. If this is the case, the phone is locked to a carrier, and you’ll need to follow the instructions for activating with a SIM card instead.

3. Follow the Instructions

If the phone is not locked to a carrier, you should be able to follow all of the instructions from iTunes to activate it. This might take a while.

Why Would You Want to Do it?

The burning question is this: why would you want to use an iPhone without a SIM card in the first place? That’s a good question. After all, the iPhone shines best as a phone, so using it without a SIM card seems a little crazy.

Well, here are some good reasons why you might want to use one without a SIM card:

1. You Have Young Children

These days, lots of kids want a smartphone, and the iPhone is typically at the top of their wish list. This can be problematic because many young children are just not ready to have a phone.

It’s a wise idea for parents to exercise some controls in this area. Many parents set an age for their children when they can finally get a phone.

Sometimes, the child insists and as a parent you don’t want them to be left out, especially if all of their school friends have iPhones or other kinds of smartphones. This is when it’s a good idea to tale that old iPhone and take out the SIM card. They can then use it just like an iPod Touch over Wi-Fi, without parents needing to worry about excessive phone bills.

2. It’s a Spare

If you love iPhones, the chances are that you have a few spare ones lying around. Why not use some of them as iPod Touch type devices without a SIM card? This way you can use your current iPhone as your phone, and leave the older ones for use as spare internet-connected devices for the home or travel.

What Are the Disadvantages?

If you don’t have a SIM card inserted in your iPhone, you’ll not be able to access a telecommunications network. This means that you won’t be able to make normal calls or send and receive text messages. It also means that you need to access a Wi-Fi network if you want to use certain apps or do anything that involves the use of data.

Even though you can’t use it as a phone, there are plenty of applications these days that allow you to message and even call people just like you would on a normal phone. As long as you have access to a Wi-Fi network, you can use apps such as Facebook messenger, Viber, Facetime, Telegram, and WhatsApp to make your calls and send messages.


If you have a spare iPhone lying around, you might want to activate it for use on Wi-Fi without a SIM card. The easiest way to do this is with a SIM card, but you can also use iTunes. Once done, you can use it as an iPod Touch without restriction.

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About David

Hey there, I'm David. I recently joined the Spacehop team from Tech Devised, and love writing about all things TECH! When I'm not writing, you can find me enjoying the great outdoors with my golden retriever Lucy or enjoying a pint at my local Irish pub.

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