Friday, November 01, 2013

Installation notes from buying a new AT&T contract phone iPhone 5s - and advice on 'managed device' updates

This post, I think, is mostly useful for me, though it may be of interest to someone ordering a new contract phone that will be swapped to a different number.

I had an iPhone 5 and Emily had a 4S, we're on an AT&T corporate-discount family plan. My i5 was "blessed" by my employer; I can access our Exchange server with it. I ordered a 32GB AT&T 5s from Apple using Emily's contract, but my plan was to switch it to my account, Emily would get the 5, #1 son gets the 4S and his 4 goes to the phone bin [1]. (Somewhat unfair, but the fingerprint activation is very nice when security controls limit unlocked sleep to 5 minutes.)

It may also help to know that we still USB sync to iTunes rather than do iCloud backups -- a retro behavior that will probably go when the iPhone 6 is released.

Some notes on the transfer - which had more than a few glitches:

  • The 5s (gold fwiw) came with a SIM w/ Emily's number. So once I activated her other phone was offline. That was a nuisance, it left her without a working phone during the transition.
  • I think an Apple shipped phone should be first activated with the SIM (Emily's #) it shipped with. That's what I did, but AT&T activation failed. A message said it was offline. I ended up connecting it to iTunes and doing the activation there.
  • In iTunes I decided to first activate as a new phone, then worried the automatic renaming would match my old phone and confuse the backups. Fortunately I'd changed my old phone name from the default. 
  • During the activation process I entered data, like Location Settings and my iCloud credentials, both by iPHone and iTunes. This is weird; there must be a more standard way. In any case it worked.
  • Once the phone was activated I switched SIMs, then confirmed the numbers had switched. I could reach the 5 with Emily's SIM by phone, but not the 5s. (I'll get to that part).
This is where things got messy; I've revised my original post because I think I know why it got messy. I was giving Emily my 1yo iPhone 5 -- and that device had been attached to the corporate network. It was a 'managed' phone, and managed phones are odd. I should have wiped it first then restored from her 4S backup, but instead I did a simple restore. I ran into these problems:
  • The full restore required a double-sync, where the first sync only restored config data, and the 2nd restored apps and media. The 2nd sync was held up because the iOS corporate configured security settings demanded a passcode. 
  • When I restored Emily's 4S backup to her new iPhone 5 I first had to turn off 'Find My Phone'. After restore her passcode didn't work, but my old passcode did. I also ran into the usual odd experience of having to enter iCloud credentials multiple times (icloud vs. me confusion)?
  • Emily's AT&T visual voice mail was out of order, it behaved like regular voice mail. Fixing this was an odyssey of its own.
  • After the restore Emily had a very large number of apps -- all of my old ones and all of hers.
  • To my surprise her iMessage and Facetime services actually worked.
Emily used her phone like this, but we did see some flaky iMessage behavior (which can be flaky anyway). After a day or so I did another backup, then did a full wipe of her phone and restored from iTunes backup. That's what I should have done the first time around.
Incidentally, I bought a SwitchEasy Frost White Numbers case, largely because of a Wirecutter recommendation. I turned out to be a frosty clear case with port seal plugs. I wonder how long the plugs will last, but I like the idea of some water damage protection. 

[1] It needs a new Home button and a new battery; I may pay for a refurb 4 before Apple runs out of them. iPhones have a long useful lifespan and it would be handy to have an unlocked 4 in reserve.

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