The first time I bought and activated a new phone at home was around ten years ago, and I was amazed at how painless the process was when I did it myself instead of going to a store. Since then, I’ve only gotten phones this way, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back.
Before the DIY era, setting up and activating a new phone was reserved for the phone carrier employees.
Buying a new phone was akin to buying a new car: You’d save up for it, research for weeks (or months), then go to an authorized retailer, and spend the better part of an afternoon in between making small talk to a sales employee and signing agreements, to walk out with a shiny new thing — albeit a little poorer.
Also: Which iPhone is right for you?
Nowadays the process is as simple as buying it online from a retailer and following some prompts to set it up. We’ll walk you through the steps to set up a new iPhone and how to troubleshoot any obstacles along the way.
How to activate a new iPhone
Do I need to call my phone carrier to activate a new iPhone?
You don’t typically need to call your phone carrier to help you activate your new iPhone, but it will depend on the carrier. When you buy a new iPhone from your phone company, like Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile, it’ll easily connect to the cellular network at setup. If you buy it directly from Apple, you’ll have the option to choose a phone carrier from a list of a few companies or choose to set it up later.
How do I activate an eSIM?
An eSIM can typically be activated at setup, but if you’re having issues connecting to your cellular network when you initially set up your new iPhone, you can skip this step and finish it later.
As I mentioned above, I use Mint Mobile, so when I got my iPhone 14 Pro Max from Apple, I chose to set up a phone carrier later, since Mint wasn’t one of the options. Once I received my iPhone and set it up, I couldn’t activate the eSIM at setup, so I skipped that step and once the iPhone was up and running, I followed these steps:
- Go to Settings
- Select Cellular
- Tap on Set up cellular
I had to chat with Mint’s customer service because eSIM activation was disabled on the Mint Mobile app, but they sent me an activation email within 24 hours.