A few weeks ago, I was at wit's end. I couldn't upgrade to an iPhone 3GS, and apparently neither could many other people who bought their 2008 3G in the window that AT&T had promised would net "most customers" a 2009 3GS subsidy.
AT&T was never really forthcoming about what, exactly, would trigger being qualified for an update versus not. I gave up, and then had an idea: my wife was eligible for an upgrade to her 2G iPhone, but didn't want to pay $15 more for a 3G data service. In an incredibly generous move, she allowed me to use her upgrade eligibility for an experiment.
We went to the Apple Store at Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, bought an iPhone 3GS, and then headed home. I swapped my SIM out of my 3G and into the 3GS, and synced with my home MacBook. In seconds, it seemed like a fluid swap had occurred.
Then I took my wife's new 3GS SIM and put it in her old iPhone. The iPhone 2G displayed a "plug into iTunes" screen and emergency call display when I restarted, but plugging back into her Vaio brought up an iTunes page that required reauthorization before an AT&T activation. After entering her social digits and billing zip, a funny thing happened: iTunes itself recommended to me that I downgrade my wife's newly-minted 3G data plan back to 2G, to match the phone detected. I agreed, and moments later, her first-gen iPhone was up and running once again. … Read more