New sim card activation

How to activate your new SIM Card in a SIM free iPhone

Find out all you need to know about how to activate your new SIM card with your sim free iPhone in the UK.

When do you need to activate a new SIM card?

There are a few scenarios where you perhaps need a new SIM card, maybe you’re opting for a new iPhone but the package comes with a certain mobile network, or possibly you found a better SIM-only plan and you’re looking to switch SIM cards, or it could be you’re visiting the UK and need a new UK SIM card with your iPhone whilst traveling. Whatever the reason, the question still remains - how do you activate your new SIM card? What do you have to do to be able to use it with your SIM free iPhone? Is there black magic involved? It is actually not difficult at all to activate a SIM card, and especially with a sim free iPhone too, but each provider has slightly different steps. For some networks you only need to insert the SIM card and you're done, but for others, you may need to either dial a number, send a text, visit their retail store, or create an online account first. Who knew different network providers had different approaches? Find out everything there is to know with activating your new SIM card with a SIM free iPhone, and what you can expect with different UK network providers.

Basic quick steps for activating a new SIM card

  • First of all, you need to ensure your iPhone (recently purchased or old) is not locked to any network provider currently. This is often found in iPhones which were on contract before, and may be locked to the network’s SIM cards only.

  • Second, make sure you have the correct SIM card size for your iPhone - iPhones nowadays mostly come in nano sized SIMs since the iPhone 5 model onwards.

  • Best practice is to turn your iPhone completely off before switching SIM cards. However, the majority of iPhones today can conveniently recognise when you have swapped SIMs whilst the iPhone is still on.   

  • If it is an online activation process, there is normally an activation key provided, in which you’ll likely need to visit the carrier’s website or mobile app to enter the key, followed by further instructions. 

  • Simply wait for your iPhone to recognise the new SIM card, and this can vary from a few hours to under 24-hours (rarely). If nothing has changed, try turning your iPhone on and off again, or contact your carrier.      

For a better understanding on how each UK carrier varies with their SIM activation process, we have detailed below their particular process.

How to activate O2 SIM card

For SIM-only plans with O2, it comes pre-activated already so all that needs to be done is for the SIM card to be inserted. 

With Pay-As-You-Go SIM cards, you’ll need to visit the O2 Pay As You Go web page and follow the activation instructions there.