Taking an iPhone from Australia to USA

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This issue has been solved.
See how to resolve at bottom of post.

I first got an iPhone 2G in 2008. It was a magical device that advanced me into the 21st century. I’d like to thank Chris for making that possible.

I used the phone on AT&T (I got a no-contract, month-by-month plan with data and all the bells & whistles) and it worked smoothly. In June 2009 I traveled back to Australia and left the iPhone here (in the USA) with Rachel because I knew the iPhone 3GS was going to be released in Australia at the end of June.

I signed a 12 month contract with Optus (and Australian phone/internet/tv carrier) and got an iPhone 3GS. I made sure the phone could be unlocked (NOT unlocked using ‘hacking’ software like QuickPWN) from the Optus network so that I could bring it to America and use it here.

I flew to America and kept the phone in Airplane mode, and have used it to access the Internet using Wi-Fi connections. That’s worked fine, but I have always planned to get an AT&T SIM card for it so that I can use it as a phone over here.

Last week I put that plan in motion and received a new AT&T SIM card in the mail yesterday. I ended up having to call AT&T to activate the SIM card. They were able to activate it, but were unable to get a connection to it; it only shows one bar of reception on the phone and it can’t make calls or transfer any data. AT&T phone customer service suggested I take it in to an AT&T store.

Today I visited an AT&T store. I explained the entire situation to a cool guy named Dustin and he tried putting in a new SIM card just in case the one I received in the mail was faulty. The new SIM card didn’t work either. He tested the new SIM card in another phone and it worked fine. Thus, it’s an issue with the phone. Dustin tried a hard reset (holding the ON/OFF button and the home button). Doing so resulted in the phone not booting up correctly; it just held the white Apple symbol on a black screen. Also, iTunes on Dustin’s computer would not recognise my iPhone before and after the hard reset. Thus, there was no way to restore the phone

Dustin suggested I call an Apple Store to see what they could do. I walked out of the AT&T store a little frustrated, but I knew there was nothing else they could do.

After about 15 minutes I looked at the iPhone again and realised it was on the home screen (i.e., it did finally boot up). I went back over to the AT&T store and Dustin said he couldn’t do anything because the phone said ‘No Service’ in the top left of the screen.

I called an Apple Store, explained the entire situation (again), and they told me to call Apple Care. I called Apple Care, explained the situation again, and I was passed on to a senior technician. The first technician understood my situation completely, so the senior technician was up to speed by the time I got to speak to him. In short, he told me I’ll have to call Apple Care in Australia — which wasn’t open at the time (0700 hrs), so I have to wait.

As it stands right now, I’m currently waiting for Australia to wake up, so that I can call Apple Care there and see if they can remedy my situation at all.

If anyone reading this knows any solutions to my situation (besides hacking/unlocking/jailbreaking the iPhone), then please leave them in the comments, e-mail me, or @djsteen me on Twitter.

UPDATE: After many phone calls to AT&T, Apple, and Optus, I eventually figured out that Optus has never unlocked my phone. I had to restore my iPhone through iTunes with my Optus SIM inside.

At the end of the restore iTunes showed this screenshot:

itunes-iphone-unlocked450px

I hope that helps anyone else in my situation.

I’m returning to America in 2010!

Update: I’m flying out of Sydney on the 9th of February, 2010. I arrive in the USA on the same day. If we’re “friends” on TripIt, you can follow the details there.

As many of you know, I traveled all across the USA and up to Vancouver, Canada, from June 2008 to June 2009. It was truly magical! So many online friends became real life friends, and so many more friends were made during the trip.

Well, I’m heading back!

Last time it was all travel and exploration. Although, I didn’t make it to the Grand Canyon — must change that! This time is more of a move-(ish). The reason I say “-ish” is because I’ll always be able to call Australia home (queue Qantas commercial).

No, I’m not bringing my bed. No, I’m not packing lots of boxes. No, I’m not taking my iMac. Gosh, I’m even leaving my Drobo (which I just had sent over from America) in Australia!

Yes, I miss Rachel. Yes, I’m going back to live with her in Texas. Yes, I’m only planning on bringing one suitcase.

Did you know? During my 2008-2009 year in the USA/Canada I lived out of one suitcase and a duffel bag for 90% of the trip! (I added a second suitcase in the last month; my original suitcase was 9 years old and had been beaten around a lot!)

Side note: I’m listening to “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z | Alicia Keys on repeat. I first heard it a few days ago. Darn you, inspirational beats. 😉

The reason for this post is because I’m excited, and I realised not many people knew. I just assumed most of my online friends knew, but how could they know if I hadn’t directly told them? Ha, silly Derek.

I’m trying to catch up with as many of my Australian friends as I can while I’m still here. I’m flying out at the beginning of February, so there’s only about a month left. That’s four weeks, folks!

I’m eager to go out on adventures in and around Sydney. Whether it’s just ‘hanging out’, eating some tasty food, taking photographs, recording video, or anything else you’d like to include me in. I’m in.

I have big plans to explore more of Australia and the rest of the world in a few years time. Read more about that here.

You can buy “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys on iTunes and Amazon1. More information about the song can be found on Wikipedia.

Disclaimer: I use affiliate links for iTunes and Amazon, so if you buy something I recommend, then I get a tiny percentage. Yo, I’ll buy you lunch some time. 😉