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Is there a way for my niece to use an iPhone 3GS with AT&T but not having to pay for the unnecessary "automatic" data plan charges?

Basically, we want her to use one device for cell phone service and games/music from Apple store on the 3gs. She doesn't have a need for data service, thus we don't want to pay for unnecessary charges. I have googled for the info, but couldn't find any concrete info.

I called AT&T and the answer is we must pay for a data plan, and it doesn't matter if it's not being used. The support person even told me that if the iPhone is a factory unlocked, I still have to pay for the data. Thanks in advance for your help.

asked 21 Dec '11, 14:46

hcgaloi's gravatar image


closed 13 Sep '12, 19:29

spockers's gravatar image

spockers ♦♦

The question has been closed for being "Off-topic/Irrelevant" by spockers, 13 Sep '12, 19:29

My friend was given an iPhone, he just put his sim from a Nokia or something.. It was unlimited calling/texting (no data) and he was able to use the phone fine. Just every time he open safari or the AppStore it'd give him a no Internet error. He had to use wifi for it all.

So If youre trying to set up a new phone line, I would just ask for a calling/texting plan only and not tell them its for an iPhone. Maybe even go prepaid


answered 21 Dec '11, 15:03

cybr1d's gravatar image

cybr1d ♦

edited 21 Dec '11, 15:04

Many of the functions of the iPhone are data reliant so it is very likely that you "need" a data plan. You could always sign up for a plan on a different phone, and then insert the sim in the iPhone. Turn data off in Settings, and only use WiFi. Most people who use iPhones (in States or EU) have unlimited everything plans.


answered 21 Dec '11, 14:49

JuergenWest's gravatar image

JuergenWest ♦

One of my friend got caught and one did not when they put their sim from a dumb phone into a iPhone, what he did was put the sim back into a dumb phone and dial 611 play dumb and ask what is going on request a data block and swap sims again did this like twice they stopped bugging him, this might help, doesn't hurt to try,


answered 21 Dec '11, 15:10

1L1keTurtles's gravatar image


The Deathstar's systems (att) checks the imei of the device periodically. It will auto add data and its part of the contract, and part of the terms of service on the month to month (out of contract)

Turtles friend has found the one work around. Trick them into a data block, but still check to make sure it doesnt get auto added later.

Why anyone would have an iphone without data (even if you are near wifi 90% of the time) is beyond me


answered 21 Dec '11, 18:25

theiphoneguy's gravatar image

theiphoneguy ♦

some people just dun want to carry a ipod touch and a phone at the same time :) Save pocket space

(21 Dec '11, 19:08) 1L1keTurtles 1L1keTurtles's gravatar image

@TheiPhoneGuy ATT = Deathstar.. lol.. ;-)

(22 Dec '11, 16:02) JuergenWest ♦ JuergenWest's gravatar image

The resemblance is quite striking, can't believe I never noticed it before.alt text

(22 Dec '11, 16:09) spockers ♦♦ spockers's gravatar image

Good question about why using an iPhone without a data plan. It makes me think that I under-utilize it. The way I'm using the iPhone while out of the house is basically like this:

iPhone = dumb phone + iPod + Reminder

For navigation, I bought TomTom with all the maps loaded (waste storage), so I only need data plan for traffic condition which doesn't a big deal. Also, I only needed to use it once for the past couple of years. So it doesn't not make financial sense to pay $30/mo for 24 months ($720) to use just one time.

I don't care about email, facebook, twitter, etc. I can wait to get home or somewhere with WiFi to do those. So what are some of the data plan uses that you MUST have while outside of WiFi areas?
Thanks in advance for your sharing....


answered 21 Dec '11, 19:55

hcgaloi's gravatar image


edited 21 Dec '11, 20:52

theiphoneguy's gravatar image

theiphoneguy ♦

AT&T does network sweeps. Even if you BLOCK data, they will still identify the iPhone and auto-add the $25 data plan (not even the cheaper $15 plan).

My daughter was using my old iPhone 3GS. I was paying $5 a month to block data. She used it mostly for texting and games at home. It was on WiFi 100% of the time. It did not need data. It did not use data. It worked GREAT without a "data plan". AT&T still added a data plan to my phone bill. Yes, $30 a month to not use data ($25 data plan + $5 to block data). I called and removed the data plan, but they said I needed to remove the SIM card from the 3GS as well.

Unfortunately, these companies can get away with this. iPhones work perfectly fine without a data plan. It's just a greedy money-grab.

My daughter still uses my 3GS, but with the SIM removed. It works almost the same, except she cannot make calls or text anyone that isn't using iOS. She uses iMessage to text me and some some of her friends.


answered 21 Dec '11, 23:58

Xenomorph's gravatar image


edited 21 Dec '11, 23:59

yep while we all dont agree with it, everyone rolls over and takes it. If there was public backlash it wouldnt happen, but we as americans just roll over and take it without lube even tho we dont like it....

(22 Dec '11, 00:01) theiphoneguy ♦ theiphoneguy's gravatar image

What can I do? Get a lawyer? Pay the lawyer hundreds or thousands of dollars to fight AT&T over an evil and wrong $180-$300 a year ($15 or $25/month) unnecessary data plan? That's why we "roll over and take it". I don't have the free time, patience, or money required to fight back. It's cheaper to either pay for the data, or just not use the phone as a phone.

(22 Dec '11, 00:07) Xenomorph Xenomorph's gravatar image

Honestly iPhones or any smart phone for that matter are not meant for children, that's what the iPod Touch is for and the Nintendo DS. Also keep in mind if you do not want internet on your iPhone, then maybe you really don't need an iPhone considering the "i" in iPhone actually stands for "internet". That was kind of the whole point of the iPhone, a phone with internet, hence the name.

So unfortunately for the needs of this post, there is no option to not "pay" for data as that is up to your carrier. You can how ever manually remove the APN info in the Settings App to block access to data. However as a coincidence AFee&Fee is also one of the few carriers in the world who block APN editing. I believe if you have a factory unlocked iPhone, you can edit, and block data via the APN settings even on AT&T.

hope this helps, good luck!

(22 Dec '11, 00:09) JuergenWest ♦ JuergenWest's gravatar image

Lawyer wouldnt help. its in the terms and conditions you agreed too. Lawyer would say "if you dont like it vote with your wallet"

(22 Dec '11, 00:12) theiphoneguy ♦ theiphoneguy's gravatar image

I must thank theiphoneguy for making me think twice on paying for data plan. Six months ago when I signed a 2-year contract with T-mobile, I got caught up in the "fear" of not having data when needed and the "fear" of unknown whooping charges if I went over the data limit. So, I pay $20/mo for unlimited data. Below is a 6-month breakdown of what was used and the charges on my family-plan:

Phone: Usage: Cost:

====== ========= ====

Line 1 0MB $120

Line 2 0MB $120

Line 3 2MB $120

Line 4 50MB $120

====== ======== ====

Total: 52MB $480

So, roughly for the 2-year contract and assuming the data usage is the same, my family would use ~208MB and pay $1920. This doesn't make any financial sense at all. So, I called T-Mobile and asked how long it would take to activate cellular data on a line. The answer was almost immediately. Thus, I told them to cancel the data plan (I can cancel without paying early-termination fee).

When a need arises, I will call to activate data on a single line and cancel at the end of the billing cycle. This way, at the most I would have to pay $10 (200MB limit) per need and have some extra time to use it. In the end, I will donate %50 of the savings and spend the rest on "extra" gifts for my family this holiday season.

Inadvertently, theiphoneguy helped a few in needs and brought more joys for my family. Thank you!

This answer is marked "community wiki".

answered 22 Dec '11, 15:23

hcgaloi's gravatar image


T-Mobile allows you to cancel/go-without a data plan?

Looks like I may be switching...

(22 Dec '11, 15:43) Xenomorph Xenomorph's gravatar image

u can purchase a phone for full price and go with out data plan on tmobile they don't care what phone your using as long as your using their service

(22 Dec '11, 15:48) 1L1keTurtles 1L1keTurtles's gravatar image

For T-mobile, you're obligated on the cellular service or pay an early-termination fee. On the data service, you can add/cancel whenever you like. For example, after signing the 2-year contract without data plan, I added data service about a week later. Today, I asked them to cancel the data at the end of this billing cycle, and I don't have to pay any fees whatsoever.

(22 Dec '11, 16:30) hcgaloi hcgaloi's gravatar image

Wow you guys get chumped. We get a free 100Mb a month on a £10/15 contract. You don't get a free iphone (just a cheapo) for that but they don't stop you using one either. Unlimited data is £10 on top of your contract.

Unfortunately I bought an AT&T iphone thinking I could just get it unlocked and the woman at AT&T said they NEVER release their phones..WTF? How can that be legal?


answered 22 Dec '11, 15:53

pornmonkey's gravatar image


They are the DeathStar, they do what they want. Except swallow TMobile, hahahahahaha...

(22 Dec '11, 15:56) spockers ♦♦ spockers's gravatar image

@spockers I was actually really hoping for the swallowing of T-Mobile USA by the DeathStar, I saw it as a win for us (more iPhone coverage) and a win for T-Mobile (the German company) as they would then get to own 15% of AT&T. Oh well, I guess now we wait for Sprint to merge with the incompatible T-Mo USA and see what kind of mess that brings? Or possibly T-Mobile Germany will take that $4 billion from AT&T and upgrade T-Mo USA with iPhone ready bandwidth? As one of Apple's original 3 launch partners for the iPhone I just can't picture T-Mobile continuing to avoid the iPhone in the United States.. doesn't make any sense..

(22 Dec '11, 16:10) JuergenWest ♦ JuergenWest's gravatar image

Are you kidding? They would have jacked the rates up to the moon (err, Deathstar) with no competition. More coverage, sure, but I guarantee you it would have been more money, too.

(22 Dec '11, 16:14) spockers ♦♦ spockers's gravatar image

Eventually, maybe, someday - I'm hoping the hammer falls on these crooked companies. After enough people realize they are being charged for data, even when it isn't needed, there will be a class-action lawsuit.

(22 Dec '11, 16:39) Xenomorph Xenomorph's gravatar image

I recommend installing the special tool which will control the traffic expenses. I know from own experience that it is a useful thing for the owner of the smart phone. [spam link removed]


answered 08 Jul '12, 08:14

klimentinas's gravatar image


edited 08 Jul '12, 08:34

spockers's gravatar image

spockers ♦♦

Don't bump 7-month-old threads, and above all NO SPAM.

(08 Jul '12, 08:36) spockers ♦♦ spockers's gravatar image

Oh, and to top it off, your answer has nothing to do with the question. Nicely done!

(08 Jul '12, 08:42) spockers ♦♦ spockers's gravatar image

spam.. lol.. I just read this entire page to find I was emailed because of spam.. thanks a lot.. at least now I can relive what ATT was doing a year ago..

(09 Jul '12, 04:57) JuergenWest ♦ JuergenWest's gravatar image

AT&T says all smart phones need a data plan. Lot of "Smart Phones" comes with the feature to turn it ON or OFF. My teenager, likes to use a jail broken iphone with the Data plan turned off - he listens to music, uses google calendar, email etc when in wi-fi area in college. AT&T insists that he has to pay the data plan even though he is not using the data transmission from AT&T. I think this is a rip-off, the devices are smart and the features are there to turn on or off the data plan (like they do on the ipad). When you can do that for iPad why not for all smart devices. They say it is an FCC regulation that all smart phones need to carry data plan on all carriers. AT&T and all the telephone companies have plenty of people in their lobbying group to lobby on their behalf.

I am not sure if any consumer advocacy group is looking in to this, hopefully such rip-offs can be avoided if enough people write to their state consumer protection board and also to FCC and Federal Consumer protection agency.


answered 13 Sep '12, 19:21

cut_the_cost's gravatar image



And you felt it necessary to resurrect a nearly YEAR-old thread to say this WHY??? It also has not a damn thing to do with jailbreaking.

(13 Sep '12, 19:28) spockers ♦♦ spockers's gravatar image

This is not a rip off, an iPhone (the i stands for internet after all) is a data reliant device and is somewhat pointless with out a data plan. If you insist on using it with out a data plan that is your own freedom of choice however don't force a carrier to do what you want, why not just choose the carrier or plan that suits you, that is the freedom of choice. eg AT&T pay as you go does not require a data plan and can be used in the iPhone. T-Mobile can be used in the iPhone and also does not require a data plan, although their $50 unlimited everything plan is a bargain and includes data. We have both of those accounts for our iPhone test SIM cards.

(13 Sep '12, 19:30) JuergenWest ♦ JuergenWest's gravatar image

I disagree with the decision to close this question. While technically it doesn't have to do with jailbreaking, it is good information.

(14 Sep '12, 14:48) Pepper ♦ Pepper's gravatar image

@Pepper it's still here and still readable, closing it keeps people from adding answers to a question that really has no answer anyway. :P

(14 Sep '12, 15:25) spockers ♦♦ spockers's gravatar image

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Asked: 21 Dec '11, 14:46

Seen: 33,362 times

Last updated: 14 Sep '12, 15:25

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