AT&T iPhone 3G contract obligation and canceling your iPhone 3G contract

iPhone 3G contract cancelingWe’re going to go out on a limb here and assume that there are a lot of you legit iPhone 3G owners out there lamenting your contract obligation to AT&T and their iPhone-only rate plans. Unlimited iPhone data plans are now $30, as opposed to the original iPhone’s $20 unlimited data plan. Monthly rate plans are are a pain in the rear compared to the flexibility offered by AT&T’s GoPhone plans.

So, with the iPhone 3G’s first-month AT&T-anniversary coming up, we have to wonder how many of you out there are planning on ditching AT&T and going at it by your lonesome.

You see, iPhone 3G owners have the interesting option of canceling their AT&T contract after 30 days of service, paying the ETF (Early Termination Fee), paying off their monthly bill, and taking their iPhone 3G to any GSM carrier in the world. Granted, there’s no viable software-based SIM-unlock solution for the iPhone 3G just yet, so any contract-ditchers will be limited to jailbreaking (pwning?) their handset and using an AT&T pre-paid SIM card. But, a software unlock solution could be released soon, allowing you to take your contract-free iPhone 3G around the world.

The thing is, iPhone 3G owners would be wise to wait out the first 30 days of service before canceling their contract, lest they be requested to return their handset to AT&T. After the first 30 days of service, however, AT&T allows customers to keep the iPhone 3G after paying up the ETF and settling their final month’s pro-rated bill.

As we pointed out in our previous coverage of AT&T’s iPhone 3G rate plans, “To cancel service within the first 30 days, the customer must return their equipment to the place of purchase (no exceptions). If the customer cancels service after 30 days, they will be charged the ETF. The customer is not required to return the device to cancel after 30 days.”

So, what’s your call? AT&T offers 3G data plans for $20 a month on AT&T GoPhone plans, and pre-paid minutes are easily more flexible than post-paid plans. On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with giving AT&T an extra few bucks a month in return for their service.

  • Zeon

    So how much is the termination fee? And do they unlock your Iphone when you pay the termination fee after 30 days of use.

    • Johnny C

      If you purchase the iPhone 3GS for the 2 year agreement price (99, 199, or 299) then you are not necessarily stuck with the 2 year plan. You can cancel the plan, but there is a lot of red tape to go through (unfortunately through experience). This sounds like a nice option instead of paying the several hundred dollars extra to get the phone outright, but it’s not.

      If you cancel within the first 3 days, they will not deactivate your account without first returning the iPhone. If you want to keep the iPhone, but not have the service plan agreement, then you will have to wait 30 days with the service and then pay a $175 early termination fee. The problem with this is that you are actually paying 2-months work of service for the phone since they conveniently charge you for the following month on the 30th day. And don’t try to call customer service, they will have no sympathy.

      I can’t wait for Apple’s agreement with AT&T to end, terrible decision by Apple but kudos to AT&T for roping in so many customers.

  • Xevor

    I just canceled my at/t service today as I keep dropping all of my calls in my home / local area (chandler az… grr.. big enough city should work), but i get full bars with tmobile.

    customer service rep advised me that there would be no fee if i returned phone, but i said i wasn’t going to and she said there would be $175 term fee.

    that’s fine. still makes my 3g less than $400 and i can use shitty free phone from tmobile until software unlock comes along (days?)

    if there is some other fee beyond the term fee the customer service rep didn’t tell me that and there 4 i will not have to pay.

  • Amanda

    If you cancel outside of the 30day policy, the ETF is UP TO $175.00. Theres no additional fees, besides the last of your monthly bill. And no, AT&T WILL NOT unlock your iPhone, no matter how much you pay. The prepaid AT&T SIM can be used in an iPhone because it is still an AT&T fon, therefore not requiring it to be unlocked…I should also say, AT&T does moniter the IMEI’s of their prepaid fons, so that if they find you are using a prepaid fon on a contracted account, they will suspend your account…now wether thats the same with postpaid fons on prepaid accounts, I dont know, but just a heads up 🙂

  • simon

    So you are saying that the fee after the 30th day will be just 170$, for customers that are owners of the first generation of the iPhone or it doesn’t matter. Because I red that if you don’t have the previous generation of the iPhone if you cancel the contract the fee will be 400$, so I’m wondering which is right?

  • JP

    I just got an iPhone 3G and I am planning to cancel my service after 30 days. Should I have any problems with using another AT&T SIM after cancelled the service? I have another AT&T SIM (company paid) that I would like to use with my iPhone.

  • Shawn

    No you shouldnt have any problems

  • prhor9


    Did you cancel within the 30 days?

  • b200377

    Wow how lame is this post. First of all, you just paid $199 for the 3g iphone plus a $36 activation fee or $18 upgrade fee plus $30 for a data plan and any min plans you have. SO just to start you just paid a minumum of $325. Then you have to add the ETF which is $175 plus a prorated ammount of your plan. Then your gonna switch to prepaid which is lot crappy then post paid. At&t regulates the ammount of reception that you get when your on prepaid. Also prepaid come out to be more expensive. If they ever do come out with a jailbreak you will be lucky if it doesn’t brick your phone and it become useless. So all in all to say yall are dumb and you don’t think at&t hasn’t thought about this before they came out with the phone.

  • Dan

    New question: Say you upgrade from old iPhone to iPhone 3G. Then (after a month) cancel your plan and pay the ETF. Can you then reactivate your old iPhone (with cheaper data & SMS plan) then switch the sim card to your iPhone 3G? The 3G plans are $15 more (because they slipped by charging an extra $5 for SMS plans) so the ETF will be recouped in a year of service. Then you have iphone 3G with old cheaper rates. And yes the old sim card works on iPhone 3G. Thanks.

  • Andrew

    How exactly do I go about cancelling my iphone contract… I have to call att cust. service or can I email?


  • Paul

    Apple is realy playing dum in this situation. I just cancel my plan and I’m going to Europe to the country where is Autorized Apple iphone Provider. I ask Apple if I can change the network. The answer is NO. They suggested me to by same 3G iPhone from the service provider in that country where I’m going. So this is really stupid suggestion. I was trying to do things legal and I end up having to unlock my phone because of the stupid rolls.

  • Raul

    If you did the upgrade from original Iphone to 3G iphone, why would you even consider paying ETF and cancelling? Because all Apple and AT&T stores activate the 3G IPhones during purchase, all you have to do when you get home is slap the new sim that they activated into your old phone. Because the original Iphone is locked, you’ll have to re-activate which will show up as a CHANGE to your rate plan. You’ll get the option for the $20.00 Iphone plan w/ included 200 text. Pretty much you have just downgraded your plan to the old plan! After doing so, pop that sim card back into your 3G Iphone and you now have 3G Iphone w/ old plan. 3G networks are still accessible. It works.

  • zahi

    Wut happend after u cancel and have a “free phone” will it still wrk w/o the 3g? will the phone get bricked or not wrk after a period of time? just wondering

  • veeraj

    hi i want a friend based in u.s to buy an iphone 3g 8gb and then terminate the contract after 30 days and send the phone to india he claims it will cost him 650 dollars excluding the shipping cost can someone confirm this please….. really desperate for an iphone…….

  • rishi

    hi…wanted to know what all documents are required to purchase an iphone in america? if i buy d phone and unlock after 30 days what would be my total cost? pls reply asap..wanna get dis phone soon!

  • pimp luscious

    Liscence, Social Security Card. The phone is 199 8gb and 299 16gb both 2yr agreement

    Unlocking can be done for 25.00 or free

  • Bren

    I had an I Phone, one of the older ones. My son lost it. I went to the store to get a new phone, in which when I originally signed up it was a two year contract, I am almost 1 year in, and they told me I had to sign a new two year contract, which means my fees and all change, right?

    I don’t understand why I have to sign a new contract when I am still in a contract.

    Does anyone have any advise for me?

    I read a few comments saying the 3G rates are more for using the phone, is this correct?

    Thanks for the help.

  • michaelelgrande

    1. Your math is a little off 2. ATT cannot limit signal stregnth per account. Dumb people give me headaches…….

  • Jay

    My sis and i have 3G iphones, its kind of expensive to have them.
    During winter break we left usa, our at&t account was canceled, so we had to pay $1000 to reactivate it.
    This summer we r gonna leave again and we dont wanna pay all those charges if we dont even use at&t.
    Do u have any suggestions?

    we were thinking about canceling our contracts. I
    f we do we also have to change our sim cards and unlock iphone somewhere?
    is there any damage for the iphone after canceling contract with at&t?

  • Blessed4

    If I cancel iphone service can I use iphone as an iPod touch? If so, tell me how.

  • Sarah

    My ex has the iphone but its under my name. I’m wanting to cancel it, since we won’t be living together. He’s had it for almost a year now and I know I won’t be able to actually get the phone back. So will I just have to pay the ETF $175 and the rest of the bill or will it be more?

  • Bobb

    Bren says:
    “I had an I Phone, one of the older ones. My son lost it. I went to the store to get a new phone, in which when I originally signed up it was a two year contract, I am almost 1 year in, and they told me I had to sign a new two year contract, which means my fees and all change, right? I don’t understand why I have to sign a new contract when I am still in a contract. Does anyone have any advise for me?”

    You have to sign a new 2 year contract in order to get a new iPhone 3G at the reduced rate ($200). If you don’t sign a new two year contract, you can only purchase the iPhone at the full purchase price – which is approx. $600. AT&T, of course, would not sell you a new iPhone for a subsedized price, unless they also get a new contract out of it.

  • gutted

    you lot are some next cheep guys its just a line rental lol

  • amit

    I am resident in US. I want to send me a gift to I phone as a gift. Is there any document required when i purchase I phone.I don’t want to take ATL connection with it.

  • Kayla

    So I just signed a new contract with AT&T and got a new iPhone and then 5 days later, I drove off with it on top of my car. I am trying to find a way to get out of my contract within the 30 day window without returning any equipment, since it is lost! Will I be able to buy a go phone and put that on my account and then cancel within 30 days and return the go phone as the equipment? Or will I have to return the iphone and the go phone? Help Please!!!

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