Old non-VOLTE iPhones locked to AT&T and 'active on another account'

If you still have one of these and have previously been unsuccessful with unlocking due to the phone being 'active on another account' (whether or not that's actually true), I suggest you try again on AT&T's unlock portal: https://www.att.com/deviceunlock

I kept around such a phone: an iPhone 5s with a lot of screen white spots. I had a hunch that it would get kicked out of AT&T's system after their 3G network shutdown. It didn't work when I tried in April but I tried again last weekend and it unlocked! It connects to the T-Mobile network when I insert an active SIM.

T-Mobile says it's shutting down it's native (not Sprint's) 3G network as of July 1, 2022.

The 5s might continue to work on T-Mobile on its 2G network for voice while retaining access to 4G LTE data. I know that my 4s works on T-Mobile's 2G network when I turn off 3G.

It might indeed and T-Mobile has not yet said when it will shut down its 2G network. Mostly, it's being kept alive for now for IoT devices.

  1. T-Mobile 2G network is still running and no sunset is scheduled. It is usable for voice and text and sometimes for slow 2G internet (assuming you have 2G coverage in your area; 2G internet is not available in some areas where 2G voice and text still work). New T-Mobile SIM cards may not work in non-VoLTE phones but T-Mobile's MVNOs SIM cards and foreign SIM cards in roaming within USA usually work in these phones.

  2. I have two AT&T VoLTE compatible phones that were "ineligible for unlock". Two days ago I was able to unlock them. "Active on another account" error is a glitch, the phone is not really active on some account. Usually if you try in a few months after you use AT&T locked phone with AT&T MVNO's SIM, then the phone will be unlocked via AT&T Unlock Portal or AT&T Device Unlock App (if installed on your phone).

Not sure that T-Mobile 2G will work on MVNOs. I'm suspecting that recent activations on T-Mobile are being executed without 2G/3G access whatsoever.

  • I pulled the my FreedomPop free GSMT SIM from my kid's smartwatch into an iPhone 4s. It doesn't work.

  • My data only SIM from main T-Mobile is working, but that SIM was activated more than 2 years ago.

After the July 4 weekend, I'm going to activate a Mint Mobile trial SIM and a Ting $.99 SIM I got from Target to see if they will work on the 4s.