reactivating a factory wiped 3gs


SatelliteGuys Master
Original poster
Sep 22, 2005
L.A., Calif.
Over the holiday, a friend finally got a replacement iPhone.
His 3gs had a badly cracked screen, and I inherited it.

Having spent some weeks researching the problem, I though I knew how to repair it, and was looking forward to experimenting with it over wi-fi for a while.
It was jailbroken, and on T-mobile.
Apparently, he factory-wiped it, and I've not been able to get it activated again.

I was able to get it onto my home wi-fi link, both with and without a sim card.
I plugged it into iTunes with and without a sim card.
Best I could get was a "the servers are not responding" lie, or "no sim card detected" errors.
(I had some old sim cards from a few years ago, including a GoPhone sim, but wasn't about to insert my current active AT&T sim)

Knowing where to buy parts, how to remove the screen, and such I've got a clue.
But this "easy stuff" I just haven't found an answer for.
Anyone point me in the right direction?
A valid AT&T sim is what you need to put in it. As long as you take it out right after activation it should not affect anything.
You are suggesting I insert my active sim in the phone, maybe shield it so it won't get a signal, and plug it into iTunes?
Even at that level of care, I'm not anxious to get my old plan screwed over by having a data plan attached to it, much less an iPhone plan! ;)

Or, suggesting I get an unactivated sim and just go for it?
One poster on youtube said you could get one for free at an ATT store, but even if that were ever true, it seems unlikely today.

Are there any other options or resources?
You can put any 3G sim in it. It will not change anything on the sim card when you restore the iPhone. It may associate the phone number the active sim card has to the iPhone, but it wont be permanent. Yes. You can get a free 3G sim card from most places that sell phones. I have done that before.
Ok, here's what I know about hacking and repairing iPhones.

My son gave me his old 1st generation iPhone several years ago.

At the time I was on Centennial Wireless before it was consumed by the ALL EVIL, AT&T.

Jailbreaking that phone was simple, I just used one of the many apps that you could download then.
You follow the prompts about holding down the buttons and boom. Done deal.
Then you go into Cydia and install an unlock app and then it's working on your network, for me, it was Centennial.

Later on, my best friend dropped that phone and broke the screen. :(

I decided I would try to repair it so I bought a new screen on ebay and I found a website that showed how to do it.
Getting the case apart was not easy. I kind of messed it up a little. Oh well.

I got the new screen plugged in but when I turned the phone on the screen lit up fine but it had dead zones where it wouldn't recognize that I was touching the screen.. :(

So heck with it, I bought another one on ebay. It was already jailbroken and unlocked when I got it, all I had to do was put my Centennial SIM in it.

Last year I bought a 3GS on ebay. I overpaid.. :(

The seller wiped it before sending it to me and he had been an AT&T customer.
He also did an update on it before sending it to me, he plugged it into iTunes (I HATE iTunes) and updated it to the latest version of the iOS at that time, I think it was 3.0.2 :mad:

In the process, iTunes updated the "baseband" (I have no idea what a baseband is, I only know it's part of the iPhone.) to the current one and forever locked it to a point that would make future hacking extremely difficult. He married it to AT&T... :mad:

He told me that he had jailbroken the phone before using an app named "Spirit" but that he never unlocked it because he was a legit AT&T customer and did not need to use it on another carrier.

That app, Spirit, had a reputation of messing up iPhones and leaving them in a state that was very difficult to update.

Now this has been over a year ago so my memory is a bit foggy here on the fine details.

So I got the phone in and it refused to let me do ANYTHING with it, period. It demanded that I put an EVIL AT&T SIM in it. :mad:

All I had was my Centennial SIM. By now Centennial had been consumed by the EVIL AT&T but my Centennial SIM was still valid and working fine.
It was supposed to be grandfathered in. I did not want to go to them and tell them I was using an iPhone because I had a really, really good "plan", 200 minutes a month outgoing, which I never came close to using, and unlimited, free incoming minutes 24/7/365. ALL my incoming calls were totally free on my Centennial plan. I didn't want data or internet on it and mainly, I didn't want a $100+ month phone bill. My Centennial bill was $29 a month and had been for almost 10 years. It had 100% met my needs over the years and I wasn't about to change it one bit. So I played stealth games with AT&T and my hacked iPhone and they never once said "HEY! You're using an iPhone! PAY UP!!" as many people warned me would happen.

So I got on ebay and I bought a brand new AT&T SIM for $2 + $2 postage. When it came in I put it in the 3GS.

I ran an app that made a modified version of the iPhone OS then saved it to disk. I plugged it into iTunes and then you go to do a restore. I think you hold down the shift key and click restore and it asked for the file to restore. You point it to the modified file the app created and click start. It takes awhile to load.
After it told me it was done I shut it all off, swapped the SIMs and put my Centennial SIM back in.

On my home screen there was an app called Cydia. I went into that and found another app that was for unlocking, I forget the name of it.
I ran that app to unlock it and rebooted the phone, it came right up on Centennial. Centennial towers were still operational at that time even though they had just been bought by AT&T. Now everything was working as it should.

I upgraded it over the next few months to 3.1.3 and it worked fine, still with my Centennial SIM.

Then in the middle of the night of December 2010 AT&T changed my old Centennial plan, they terminated it and put me on a really cr***y plan that was super expensive to me and they DID NOT NOTIFY ME OF THE CHANGES!! :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad::mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad:

As I had done for years, I had my friends calling me so that the incoming call would be FREE to me and we could talk for hours and hours on end.
AT&T did away with that and next thing I know, in January of 2011 I got a phone bill from those SCUMS for almost $800 for one month!

OH H**L NO...............

GOODBYE A$$****S!!!! I terminated the contract that day. I have nothing but BAD THINGS to say about AT&T.
NEVER, EVER will I use them for ANYTHING. NOTHING.. EVER.....

I then went to Walgreens and I bought a throw away T-Mobile phone. I also bought a minutes card, it was 1,000 minutes for $100 and I have 1 year to use the minutes up.

I put the T-Mobile SIM in my iPhone and BOOM. Instantly worked. I did not have to do anything at all to my phone.
Now I still do not have internet on it but I really do not care. It's not a big deal to me.
I would like to have it so when I go shopping I can scan bar codes in the store and find the best price on things. I could use it as an extreme money saving shopping tool. But I don't want to get tangled up in an expensive monthly phone bill. So I just use it as a cell phone away from the house. At home I have WIFI and then I can do anything I want with it. Or anywhere there is free WIFI. Sadly, stores do not have free WIFI.. :(

Anyway.. So all this year I ran on that old iOS, 3.1.3 and I kept getting told I couldn't install many apps because I needed a newer iOS. :(

So about a month ago I decided it was time and I found another app that would bring me up to iOS 4.3.3

Because the original owner got the baseband (I still don't know what a baseband is) stuck at a certain number, I can not upgrade it to any newer version, it is now permanently stuck at or below 4.3.3 :(

I can not upgrade to 4.4.x or 5.x, at all. Well, I can but then it would revert back to being 100% locked to AT&T and I would not ever be able to unlock it for use on any carrier. It would be a pure AT&T only phone from then on. And baby, that ain't happenin.... :mad:

So, I'll just leave it on 4.3.3 and use T-Mobile for $100 a year until next fall when the new VERIZON iPhones come out.
I read that on Verizon you can't talk and use the internet at the same time. Not cool.
They also don't have the new 4G chips ready yet but they will be ready by August and will go into the October iPhones. These chips will allow the new iPhones to talk and surf at the same time and have real 4G capability. On Verizon.

So next fall I plan on getting a new Verizon iPhone 5 with an "unlimited" plan. Yes, it will cost me $100+ a month but pretty soon I'll be needing internet everywhere. My financial situation has taken an unexpected upturn and this is altering a lot of my life plans. I can afford the bill but it just irks me to have to pay so much. I hate greed and ALL for profit corporations are greedy.

When I get that phone, believe me, I will be jailbreaking it. There are apps I want that you can't get through the app store and I like being able to modify the theme of my phone to MY liking. And you can not have a Tinkerbell theme if you don't jailbreak.. :)

As for the other phones, the ones running Android and what-not, NO WAY... ALL of those phones are rooted with Carrier IQ and they are all plagued by viruses and every other sort of evil you can imagine. I wouldn't have one if they were free. In theory they sound like a great phone system but in practice they are the worst. Google for Carrier IQ and see what I mean.. Truly awful.. iPhones are also rooted with this BAD stuff but they don't transmit as much stuff back as Android phones and in the iPhone you can turn off this privacy leak. Apple announced that they are removing Carrier IQ in future versions of iOS.

Now, I have to say this, I am not an iPhone expert. I spend a LOT of time reading on Apple / iPhone hacking forums so that I will have at least some faint glimmer of understanding about what's going on. I am a rebel and a renegade, I do not toe the line and I believe in breaking ALL the rules. I am not a "team player".. And because I have no one to do these things for me (My son moved 800+ miles away to OKC) I have to do things for myself.
Most of it, I don't understand what is going on behind the curtain. I read forums where they post instructions on how to do these things. I follow the instructions with pictures and I usually do OK. But what makes it all work, I do not understand. I try but it's way above my head.

This forum has been a huge help to me, iPhone Hacks - MacRumors Forums

This is another invaluable site, iClarified - Tutorials - iPhone

and, iClarified - Tutorials - iPhone

So to be honest, I know just enough to be dangerous... :whistle:


  • IMG_0368.PNG
    9.7 KB · Views: 171
  • IMG_0260.PNG
    201 KB · Views: 163
  • IMG_0259.PNG
    222.6 KB · Views: 178
Last edited:
I went to an AT&T store tonight.
They gave me the royal run-around, and wouldn't part with a sim.
Amazon has them for about $2.50, as Dee said above.
I guess I can order one, but even so I don't have 100% confidence it'll work for me.

Not giving up, and not through with research.
Darned shame there's so much to know, and way too many sites have old info mixed in with new, to the point you can't tell what is going on.
Anole, these guys are THE best iPhone hackers around.

Google dev-team
google Geohot ( )

Along with the links above in my previous post you'll find the right info, all others are jokers that will have you chasing rabbits in the dark.

If nothing else, go to the Macrumors forum and ask questions.

Google and download an app called "tinyumbrella" and use it before you do anything.
It makes back ups of some important files on your phone so that you can revert things if stuff goes wrong.

I read on this for weeks before I made my move.

And the last time I upgraded to iOS 4.3.3, I waited MONTHS because I was confused and couldn't get a straight answer from anyone.
So I just read and read and read and I finally decided to go for it when I felt I was about 80% sure I could do it.

Once you do it you'll be like "Whew! That wasn't so bad after all!" and you'll be diggin your new 3GS.
You didn't mention what carrier you are wanting to use it on, AT&T, T-Mobile, etc..

That can make a BIG difference between easy or hard..

If you're going to use it on AT&T then it's easy and you don't have to sweat the unlocking part at all.

Otherwise, it's more difficult.

If you are on AT&T then you have no need for unlocking which allows you to use it on other carriers. You can upgrade the iOS to newer versions without any real sweat. Jailbreaking it is all you would need to do and that just allows you to add and run apps from other sources outside of the Apple money machine..
It will install Cydia during the jailbreak which is a 3rd party app store that offers paid apps and LOTS of cool, free apps. This is the BIG DEAL that everyone wants. Cydia opens the doors to a whole new world of coolness that Apple does not want you to have..

Just be patient and take your time, it's easy to jump in and mess things up. It's well worth it to go slow, do the research and get it right. You don't want a pretty paperweight named iPhone.

I love my iPhone.. You will too.. :D
Geohotz works at Facebook now and the famed jailbreakme guy comex works at samsung. Don't buy a AT&T sim. Look online for a geyvey ultra blue sim unlocked for iPhones. I think that's the newest. It works on all basebands that are out now. I have my iPhone on 4.3.3 with baseband 4.1.6 on my iphone4. Also If you want I can tell u how to make it work on straight talk for 45 bucks a month and u don't even need a unlock
Oh and on iOS 5 and above dee tiny umbrella is useless. Apple changed how the firmware is signed so the blobs are useless. If u go to 5 now there is no way back down. Plus 5 is tethered jailbreak.
....And some of us LOVE Android and everything it stands for, and wouldn't urinate on Apple if it was on fire. Steve Jobs was a despicable human being, I don't care if hes dead or not. I was softening to the point of maybe trying an iphone in the future, but after reading that biography, I will keep the promise I made in the 1980's, NEVER will an Apple product soil my home. NOT.EVER.

And the CIQ issue is a CARRIER issue, because not all android phones have it. My Moto Atrix doesn't. Verizon's android phones don't.

And I have already recommended Anole sell that iphone, his experiences PROVES Apple's vise-like grip on a device that HE owns is total BS.

But that's his choice. He's a grown Lizard, after all. But he will have tears aplenty if he stays with it, if he had an Android phone he'd already be enjoying it. :D
Oh and on iOS 5 and above dee tiny umbrella is useless. Apple changed how the firmware is signed so the blobs are useless. If u go to 5 now there is no way back down. Plus 5 is tethered jailbreak.
Tiny Umbrella is obsolete now, but iFaith 1.4, released yesterday, allows you to dump iOS5.x blobs and build a pre-signed ipsw, thus having a way back to where you are now.
Thanks Stogie and Pepper for your input.
Last night (Sunday) I ordered a sim from ATT and one from Simple Mobile (about $4 total).
By mid-day Monday, both have apparently shipped.
First class letter envelope should get here by Friday, and I can spin my wheels 'till then.

If I had a clue what firmware and what crack were on this phone, I'm sure I could fire up redsn0w (or one like that) and get right back in.
All this b/s isn't what I envisioned, when I set out to fix a broken screen. :(
Pepper, thanks for the iFaith program.
Going down that path led me to other utilities by the same author at
His utility, F0recast v1.3 reports this about my phone:

iOS ver: 5.0.1 - big disappointment
baseband: 6.15.00 - total nightmare!

And it recommends Ultrasn0w, so I'll go look at that for a while and see what it's capable of.
I'd have known all this a week ago, if I could have gotten into the locked-up device.

Got a fresh AT&T sim coming (maybe tomorrow) so we'll see what does for me.
Just running it as an iPod for a week or two, should give me a feel for capabilities.
Pepper, thanks for the iFaith program.
Going down that path led me to other utilities by the same author at
His utility, F0recast v1.3 reports this about my phone:

iOS ver: 5.0.1 - big disappointment
baseband: 6.15.00 - total nightmare!

And it recommends Ultrasn0w, so I'll go look at that for a while and see what it's capable of.
I'd have known all this a week ago, if I could have gotten into the locked-up device.

Got a fresh AT&T sim coming (maybe tomorrow) so we'll see what does for me.
Just running it as an iPod for a week or two, should give me a feel for capabilities.

The dude married that phone to AT&T.. Forever.. Not good at all.

I suspect that at best you can jailbreak it but only use it on AT&T, period.
The chances that you can unlock it for use on another carrier are extremely dim..

Well, it will make a nifty paperweight..

On the bright side, I have a few old iPhones that I keep to use as WIFI only gadgets. I just put them in airplane mode, turn on WIFI and then I can use them around the house for remote controls.
I bought an app called "Air mouse" that lets me control my PC. This app has been indispensable with the stupid mismatched displays. In my bedroom I have no keyboard but it always messes up and that's where I need a keyboard the most. Air mouse gives me a mouse and keyboard via my iPhone so I can unstick it when the screen goes black, which is several times a week.

When I travel I throw an extra one in my purse, just in case, I can go to any McDonalds and use it on their WIFI or anywhere else it's free.
I have a working 3GS but it's good to have a backup just in case.

If nothing else, you could sell it on ebay and buy another one that's not been messed up like that so you can unlock it and use it on whatever you want.
I read that AT&T is charging 99 cents for a 3GS w/contract now. If you sign up for one through they are free.

The 3GS is a decent phone, I like mine. I despise AT&T but I like the phone. It works pretty well on T-Mobile. For $100 a year I can't complain.
Well, it was running fine for him on T-mobile.
Not sure if he's the one who screwed it up or if his "friend" did it for him.
Not even sure it is screwed up. ;)
And I certainly don't want to be the one to do it.
I did use the iFaith program to do a backup of whatever sort it offers, just in case. :)

But, I do think, that now knowing the iOS version and the baseband version, I can make up an unlocked image (IPSW?) and push it to the phone.
(maybe with iTunes 10.something?)
If the sim I have coming doesn't do it, I may take the poison pill and fire up the jailbreaking software.
Just a little more than I had bargained for, these many months ago. :rolleyes:

Wish I understood why nobody has worked out a way to restore an arbitrary old firmware version to the phone.
Baseband 6.15 will be unlockable with ultrasn0w, once they update it to support firmware 5.0.1. There are some "workarounds" out there, but I can't vouch for them.

Restoring "arbitrary old firmware versions" just is not possible, because of Apple's SHSH and APticket mechanism, which basically requires it to call home at every restore to verify that it's allowed. iFaith can get around that, but only for the version currently installed on the device, sometime in the future when that one isn't allowed anymore.
As of late November, it looks like Sn0wbreeze 2.8b11 (and iBooty) is the (a) recommended solution for a tethered jailbreak.
Of course, that's just what I found today.
More research may result in better answers, plus, I'm not anxious to screw something up.

Here are three sites that say pretty much the same thing:

Anyone else notice that Advanced Editing is totally screwed up?
My text was all run together.
Last edited:
The JailBreakQA site is still MIA. :(

I got my fresh AT&T Sim today.
Put it in and tried to get past the first screen.
Couldn't do it over wifi, 'cause: the activation servers are down (a lie)
So I plugged into iTunes and got: no sim detected (another lie?)

Could I actually have a problem in the sim slot?
I did look at it when I had the phone open to swap the screen.
Everything seemed okay.

Or is this just a wild goose chase with lots of hand-waving, to distract from the real problem.
Namely, Apple detected my baseband or something else not right, and wants to be a pig about it?

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Total: 0, Members: 0, Guests: 0)

Who Read This Thread (Total Members: 1)

Latest posts