Apple iPhone Won't Activate (How To Fix)

Apple iPhone activation takes a few minutes, but sometimes even a few hours will not get you past the initial screen.

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Apple iPhone activation takes a few minutes, but sometimes even a few hours will not get you past the initial screen.

If you're tired of the "it may take a few minutes to activate your iPhone" message persisting for nearly an hour, you have to diagnose where the actual problem lies.

Apple iPhone won't activate if the Apple servers are down or your iPhone is unable to connect to the servers according to the updated requirements. The latter happens because of slow internet speed or an unreliable network connection.

In this article, you will discover five potential solutions you can implement immediately and one definite solution that even Apple recommends. The solution that requires more effort is added towards the end so that you can try the quick fixes first.

But before we can dive deeper into troubleshooting this problem, you need to check at a bare minimum that your SIM card works. You can also check the Apple System Status to check if the iOS Device Activation server is green/available.

Table of Contents

Why won't Apple iPhone Activate?

One of the most common reasons for perpetually waiting when activating your iPhone is that your WiFi signals are not good enough for the type of updates required. This single problem can be a result of multiple causes and can have corresponding solutions.

Let's explore each possible scenario and how you can fix it so that your iPhone gets activated.

Your broadband speed is slow

As covered earlier, slow internet is what keeps iPhones from activating without external device support. The first reason for slow internet is that your internet connection is slow from the source. If you have an ADSL or DSL connection, you can expect this issue.

Symptoms of a slow internet generally include low download speeds and long loading time for new websites. If you have not experienced this on any other device on the network, then this is not the problem.

But if you've been frustrated with slow downloads or are currently at a cafe, then the problem is indeed a slow internet connection. The only solution in this instance would be to connect the iPhone to a better WiFi network or to use a cellular data connection. You can also use an external device like your mac to activate your iPhone.

Too Many Devices Are Connected to Your WiFi

If you find download speeds satisfactory on your home devices, then the internet speed is fine at the source. In that case, your iPhone might experience slower internet speed because too many devices are connected to the WiFi network.

The biggest indication of this being the problem is a past instance where one person in your home could not connect to the internet while everyone else's internet was fine. If you have witnessed a steep internet speed discrepancy between devices, then the bandwidth distribution can be an issue.

This can be fixed by turning off the WiFi router and asking everyone connected to the network to temporarily disconnect from WiFi (turn off WiFi-seeking). Once you're sure no one else will connect to the network, you can turn the router back on and reattempt your iPhone activation.

A Single Device Is Consuming Most of Your Bandwidth

If someone in your household is notorious for downloading large files, then their device might be occupying a bulk of the bandwidth, leaving low speed and download capacity for your iPhone.

You can deduce this from one of the following symptoms:

  • Someone connected to the network is an online gamer
  • A network user downloads files via Torrent
  • A user of the network is using the internet to Livestream or conduct a live meeting

If any of the above apply, the solution is to request the person to temporarily disconnect from the network, then restart the router and activate your iPhone.

Your Cellular Reception Is Poor

If you're not using WiFi and are relying on your cellular data plan for the smartphone's activation, then the network provider's poor internet speeds (rare) or your cellphone reception (more likely) is the issue. This is, in fact, backed by Apple's own explanation for iPhone activation problems, albeit for a different error.

Generally, using mobile data plan is not recommended for iPhone activation. You can use a stronger WiFi network to activate your iPhone. Alternatively, you can use your computer or Mac to do so too.

The Phone Isn’t Picking up Signals

Finally, the most frustrating issue behind the iPhone activation problem is the smartphone itself. Sometimes, the iPhone software needs to be updated before it can function at normal speed. But the update doesn't happen until the smartphone is activated.

This creates a cyclical problem because, without the update, the activation is extremely slow. The meta-solution to this, slow WiFi, overused bandwidth, and slow cellular internet speed is using your computer to activate your iPhone.

How To Activate iPhone With a Computer/Mac?

To activate iPhone with a computer or mac, you need to follow these steps.

Step 1 - Get Your Computer Ready

For this, your computer or mac should have an internet connection and the latest version of the software that will be used to activate your iPhone. Mac devices need to have the latest version of the iOS, while personal computers need to have the latest iTunes installed.

Step 2 - Connect Your iPhone to the Computer/Mac

This is fairly simple. You need to use the USB cable that came with your iPhone to connect it to the computer or mac you'll use for the smartphone activation. Make sure the cable is resting on a flat surface like a desktop, so it doesn't move or get yanked during the activation process.

Step 3 - Detect the iPhone From the Computer

You can find the device from the Finder sidebar on mac computers. On other computers, you can use iTunes to do this. Look for the list icon right under the "controls" and "account" options at the top. Once you click it, you can see the devices that the iTunes software can detect.

Step 4 - Click "Set Up As New"

Just like turning on your iPhone for the first time can activate it if the smartphone has an internet connection, detecting it on a computer with the right software and internet connection can automatically activate it. If you see the option to set up the device, then the iPhone has been activated.

Alternatively, you might see an error indicating that the SIM card is incompatible, in which case you need to contact your cellphone provider. If you see an error similar to "activation information was invalid," continue reading. And in case of all other errors, you should contact Apple Support.

How To Fix the “Activation Information Was Invalid” Error?

If you try to activate your device from the computer after failing to do so from your iPhone, incomplete updates can make the activation impossible. This is signified by "activation information was invalid" or "activation information could not be obtained from the device" errors.

To fix activation information errors, you need to reset the phone by triggering recovery mode. On recent iPhones, this can be done by pressing and quickly releasing the volume up and then the volume down buttons, followed by pressing and holding the side button until recovery mode appears.

If you do this while the phone is connected to an iTunes-enabled computer or an iMac, you will see the option to update your phone.

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