See How Easily You Can Get Your iPhone 4S To Work on Cell C

The title of this article is slightly sarcastic… But here is why:

I recently got my iPhone 4S. Very excited to set it up and get it working, I went to my service provider, got a mico-sim and went home to set it up. I put my micro-sim in and tried to set up the iPhone, only to hit a problem when iTunes tries to activate the phone, with the following error:

Could Not Activate iPhone

Could Not Activate iPhone

Frustrated, I started checking what the cause of the issue could be. I noticed that the sim-card didn’t seem to be active and the iPhone kept showing “Searching” where the signal should be displayed. Eventually I tried using a different micro-sim and used my father’s Vodacom micro-sim and the process went through and I was able to set up my new iPhone.

While I was syncing all my content to my iPhone, I put my Cell C micro-sim into my father’s iPhone 4 and it connected and everything worked. So, thinking the micro-sim was now active and ready to use, I put my Cell C sim back into my iPhone 4S, only to see “No Sim” displayed. Frustrated all over again, I called Cell C support and enquired about the issue, explaining that the micro-sim works in the iPhone 4, but not in my iPhone 4S. They weren’t very helpful and so after going to the nearest Apple Store and the excellent staff at the iStore trying their best to figure out what the issue was, they were also unsuccessful and suggested I go see the people at Cell C, which I did. They in turn told me to wait 24-48hrs for the sim to be activated, despite not being able to make sense of how the sim could work in one phone, but not another. As I bought my iPhone cash, due to my service provider(Cell C) not offering iPhone’s on their contracts, they also blamed the fact that they don’t offer the phone as a reason for the issues.

So I left the phone overnight in hope that it would be working and sorted the next day… It wasn’t.

It was while thinking about the issues, that I got the idea to take my old sim from my iPhone 3GS and cut it to micro-sim size, just to see if the iPhone pics up the sim-card. Using this template, I cut the sim-card to fit and put it into my new iPhone 4S. It worked 100%, with the only issue being that the sim-card was de-activated due to doing a “Sim-swap” in order to get the micro sim.

Excited that I now knew the solution, I went to the Cell C store again and explained what I had discovered. What is it I discovered? Cell C micro-sim’s are rubbish and besides that, if you compare the size of the copper contact section on the back of the micro sim, to that of the regular, non-micro-sim. their sizes differ drastically. Some regular sim-card’s copper contact sections also differ.

Anyways, enough of the rant and rave on this, here is how to fix the issue, if you are, like me, unable to cancel your contract and move to a better service provider at the current stage:

The fix:

*Please note that throughout the steps below, you can click on the image to enlarge the photo, if needed

Go buy a usual sim from Cell C(or do a sim-swap if needed), but VERY important is to make sure you check the copper contact section at the back of the sim you get/get given by the staff… If you compare it to the size of the copper contact section on the back of the micro sim, the sim card you want to get is the sim with the larger copper contact surface area(See pic). To make sure its the right one, check the back of the different sims. You will immediately see the difference.

Here is a picture of the different sim-card’s “Copper Contact” sections:

Sim Card Copper Contact Sections

Sim Card Copper Contact Sections

Take that sim and get yourself a micro-sim template, you can use the one I used, here. Cut the sim-card to micro-sim size. Put it in the sim tray, insert and BOOM… iPhone 4S = Now working on Cell C.

Why this is an issue remains a mystery to me, but my theory is that the sim-card loading tray or whatever you want to call the internal construction of where the micro-sim is inserted on the iPhone 4S is different to that of an iPhone 4 and therefore the micro-sim has an issue. My suggestion, if you’re not from South Africa and experiencing similar issues, is to try make a micro sim from that of a regular sim, as I mentioned above and see if it works. It’s worth a try!

I hope this helps as many people as possible and thereby skipping the stress, frustration and saving you some money at the same time, as I ended up having to pay R100 each time to get a new sim-card, and I ended up getting 3 until I got it working, but that’s another story.

If you need anything further, please leave a comment on this post or see my contact page and I will do my best to help you.

Always remember, give a jackass an education and you’ll have a smartass!

Signing out.


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