How to Use an iPhone Without Inserting a SIM Card


It is possible to use an iPhone without inserting a SIM card. While you won’t be able to make regular calls or use cellular data, you can still utilize many features of the iPhone by connecting to Wi-Fi. This allows the iPhone to function similarly to an iPod Touch.

There are a few key things to understand when using an iPhone without a SIM card:


  • Newer iPhones running iOS 12 or later can be activated without a SIM card as long as you have Wi-Fi connectivity.
  • Older models may require a SIM card for initial activation. You can borrow a friend’s SIM, activate, and then remove it.


  • You’ll be able to use apps, FaceTime, iMessage, and other features over Wi-Fi.
  • You won’t be able to make regular calls or send SMS messages without a cellular connection.

Tips for Setup

  • Make sure the iPhone is connected to a Wi-Fi network before starting the setup process.
  • You may need to select “Set Up Manually” during activation to bypass entering SIM card details.
  • Sign in with your Apple ID to access iMessage, FaceTime and more.

Step-by-Step Guide

Here is a step-by-step guide to using an iPhone without inserting a SIM card:

1. Connect to a Wi-Fi Network

The first step is ensuring your iPhone can connect to a Wi-Fi network. This provides the connectivity needed in place of cellular service.

Go to Settings > Wi-Fi and connect to an available network. Enter the Wi-Fi password when prompted.

2. Begin Activation Process

Turn on your iPhone and start the activation process. Follow the on-screen setup prompts.

If asked to insert a SIM card, select Set Up Manually to continue without one.

3. Sign In with Your Apple ID

During setup, you will be asked to enter your Apple ID. This allows you to access iMessage, FaceTime, the App Store and other Apple services over Wi-Fi.

If you don’t already have an Apple ID, you can create one for free.

4. Use iPhone Features Over Wi-Fi

Once activation is complete, you can use apps, iMessage, FaceTime and more on the iPhone via the Wi-Fi connection.

Things like regular calls and texts will not work without cellular service. But many key features are still available.

Tips for Using an iPhone Without a SIM Card

Here are some additional tips for getting the most out of using your iPhone without a cellular connection:

Enable Wi-Fi Calling

Go to Settings > Phone > Wi-Fi Calling and enable this feature. This allows you to place calls over Wi-Fi when connected to a network.

Use FaceTime for Video Calls

The FaceTime app allows you to make video calls to other iPhone, iPad, and Mac users over Wi-Fi. This serves as a full-featured phone replacement.

Send iMessages Over Wi-Fi

The Messages app seamlessly sends texts over Wi-Fi to other iOS users. This means you can effectively text anyone with an iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

Download Content Over Wi-Fi

The iTunes Store and App Store allow you to download music, videos, apps and more to enjoy media on your iPhone. Streaming apps like Netflix also work over Wi-Fi.

Use Social Apps & Web Browsing

Apps like Facebook, Twitter, web browsers, email clients and more work normally over Wi-Fi, allowing you to browse the internet and access online services.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I activate an iPhone without a SIM card?

Yes, newer iPhone models running iOS 12 or later allow activation without a SIM card as long as Wi-Fi connectivity is available. For older models, you may need to briefly insert a SIM card.

Do I need a SIM card for iMessage or FaceTime?

No, you can use iMessage and FaceTime over Wi-Fi on an iPhone without inserting a SIM card. They work normally when you sign in with your Apple ID.

Can I still use apps if I don’t have a SIM card?

Yes. As long as you are connected to Wi-Fi, you’ll have access to all the apps on your iPhone and can download new ones from the App Store. Data-reliant apps work normally over Wi-Fi.

Will my iPhone work without cellular service?

An iPhone without cellular service can still be used to access the internet, messaging, apps, media, and more as long as you are connected to a Wi-Fi network. But calling and texting won’t work.


While an iPhone does require a SIM card for full functionality, you can use many of its key features over Wi-Fi alone. Following the steps to properly set up and activate your iPhone without a SIM card allows you to use it as a media player, messaging device, internet browser and app platform despite lacking cellular connectivity.