giffgaff & the iPhone 4 – my experience

Originally posted on the giffgaff blog.

Since switching my main personal number to giffgaff I’ve used it in Nokia handsets, most recently the E72. However last week my iPhone 4 arrived and is now running on giffgaff. Having compared the various operator options with subsidised handsets against a SIM free purchase from Apple and finding the tariff you actually need, it’s clear that there’s little financial difference and when the giffgaff cost savings are factored in, SIM free and giffgaff seemed the logical solution for me.

Although the iPhone 4 isn’t officially supported by giffgaff, i.e. no micro SIM and no carrier profile, it’s a simple business to giffgaff the iPhone 4. Rather than risk hacking up my giffgaff SIM with a knife I asked a friend with a SIM cutter to cut down my SIM. A SIM cutter makes it a very simple process and I used the micro SIM in a mini SIM sized holder in my Nokia until the iPhone arrived. Activating the iPhone 4 via iTunes follows the usual process. Once the iPhone is activated, it’s a simple process to use WiFi to download Dan Lane’s giffgaff profile from http://invalid.name/giffgaff to create the handset giffgaff profile and set up the correct data settings.

As you’d expect, the giffgaff community contains lots of information on switching to the iPhone 4. In particular, a great resource is the giffgaffer’s guide to the iPhone 4 from essexmate.

Despite the lack of official support I haven’t experienced any problems with giffgaff and the iPhone. It’s a case of combining my favourite handset with my favourite mobile provider! Checking through the community forums at giffgaff.com a number of people have experienced setup issues but for me it’s been very smooth.

There are a few points that refugees from the big mobile operators should be aware of.
  • giffgaff doesn’t support visual voicemail but I use a third party voicemail service so not a problem for me.
  • You don’t get any bundled WiFi access although again not a problem for me as I have a separate WiFi account and giffgaff offers unlimited cellular data anyway (unlike the big guys).
  • The iPhone 4 displays O2 rather than giffgaff – an observation, not a problem.
  • If you accept new carrier settings via iTunes the giffgaff settings will be replaced with O2 settings so you need to manually reinstall the giffgaff carrier profile. I believe this can happen when the iPhone’s firmware is upgraded via iTunes, although I’ve yet to experience an upgrade (4.2 is imminent). This issue seems to be linked to using a handset locked to O2.

And that’s it! A few minor points but nothing to stop you going ahead.

Current rumours that Apple plans to integrate SIM card functionality into future devices so that Apple can control the end-to-end sales process and remove the need for handsets to have an operator branded SIM inserted could have profound implications for small MVNOs like giffgaff. Presumably anyone who doesn’t link up with Apple would be unable to provide service via a future device. Interesting times!

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