Ben Ward

Reactivating a UK iPhone after moving to the USA


Today I got my replacement iPhone (1st gen) from the Apple Store. The earphone speaker had broken down, rending it rather less useful as an iPhone. Apple service was outstanding, I booked in, they ordered a replacement (going out of their way to find acceptable evidence for my returning the iPhone outside of the warranty period which expired a month ago). The replacement came within 48 hours, despite the Christmas holiday.

Going in again today, things went less smoothly. The new handset needed to be ‘activated’ — the process of enabling the handset through iTunes and linking it to the mobile contract you have for the SIM. That requires you to log in to your Apple account. Upon doing so, I get an error: ‘This account is not registered in the UK’. And so, I run into the pain of geographic migration again.

To activate a UK model iPhone, you need a UK Apple account. I moved mine from the UK to US a few months ago when I got US billing details. It’s the same account. The only way to activate it was to move my account back to the UK again.

Moving exposes a lot of interesting engineering edge cases like this. They’re not impossible to overcome, but generally cause a bit of inconvenience. The number of people you run into this is likely rather few, but clearly some paths don’t get tested quite as thoroughly.

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