How to activate a new device

When you purchase a new phone, it’s important to sign up for a wireless service that can support its features. But before you can use it, you’ll need to activate it. Whether it’s a new iPhone or SIM card, we’ll tell you how to activate your new device.

Can I activate a new cell phone by myself?

Yes, you can activate a new cell phone by yourself, whether you want to set up a new iPhone or activate a new Samsung Galaxy S24. But how you go about activating your cell phone may depend on what kind of device you have. First, make sure you back up all the important content from your cell phone, or transfer it from your old device to your new device. The best way to transfer your content may also depend on the kind of cell phone you have, so do a search online or check the official website of your cell phone manufacturer for guidance.

Next, it’s time to check out your SIM card situation. If you bought a new Android cell phone, or your new cell phone requires a SIM card, make sure the SIM card is inserted into your new cell phone. If you’re activating an eSIM, you’ll need to coordinate your cell phone activation with your wireless provider. Some will send your cell phone fully ready to activate—all you need to do is turn it on and follow the prompts. If you purchased your cell phone independent of your wireless carrier, you may need to take some extra steps.

For example, if you’re bringing a new device to AT&T, you can visit our activation page to activate an AT&T SIM card, choose whether you have AT&T WirelessSM service or AT&T Prepaid®, then follow the prompts to activate your device.  

What does it mean to activate a device? 

Activating a device means connecting it to your wireless network for the first time. Whether you purchased your cell phone from a wireless provider or bought a cell phone and then signed up for wireless service—say, for example, an AT&T Wireless plan—you’ll need to perform an AT&T cell phone activation to use it. When you activate your device on a new wireless network, you’re also connecting your cell phone to your customer account, ensuring that the network knows which cell phone belongs to which network.