You’d think that a list of instructions on “using an iPhone without a wireless service plan” would stem from some obscure blog run by a couple of geeks who love to hack their Apple hardware. But no, this guide is coming straight from 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, California.
Apple reveals to those who are unaware of the additional ways to use an iPhone that it is possible to continue employing one without an active cellular service (using it with Wi-Fi only), even if they upgrade their iPhone to a newer model or cancel their wireless service account/tariff for their iPhone. To do this, one needs to follow the steps for their particular iPhone model, Apple says.
As such, for original (first-gen) iPhone owners, “To continue using your original iPhone without active cellular service, leave the inactive SIM card in place,” Apple explains. As simple as it sounds, “You will be able to use the iPhone as you would an iPod touch (Wi-Fi only, no cellular service) as long as you keep the SIM with which it was last used, even if you update or restore the operating system of the original iPhone,” support document HT3406 reads. The document also contains instructions to re-activate an original iPhone that displays the “Connect to iTunes” screen.
For those owning an iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS, the steps required to continue to use the phone without a service plan are slightly different. The company developing Mac OS X says that owners of one of the two devices “can use any SIM card associated with the carrier that your device supports to activate the phone.” The instructions are simple – “[...] Place a SIM card from the last carrier with which you used your iPhone into the device, and activate it,” Apple says. “Then remove the SIM card. You can now use the iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS as you would an iPod touch (Wi-Fi only, no cellular service),” the document reads. Additional info is also available for iPhone 3G and 3GS (re)activation.