YES! The 2 year contract finally expired so the days of our bank account being held hostage to the tune of $156/month by AT&T is finally over. Needless to say this rat jumped off that ship faster than the Titanic.
If you’re signing up with AT&T as your provider and you want an iPhone, buy the phone from Apple, NOT AT&T.
After a little digging I discovered another carrier who not only uses AT&T’s network but also supports iPhones that were pimped out by AT&T. A quick check on our average and maximum data usage revealed we could get by on a $50/month plan with room to spare! Yes, I WILL take a $100/month savings, thank you. Signed up online and a few days later the new SIM cards were in the mailbox, shipped free of charge. To make sure this wasn’t too good to be true I decided to convert my phone first. Powered down, swapped the SIM card (which BTW Apple says you just use a bent paperclip ti open the drawer, check the manual), power up and presto! a new provider name comes up with full bars. Make a quick call and yes it works. Oh but wait, texting and web are not available. The new provider’s support page instructs it needs to be set up separately, no problem. But wait, there is a problem. The APN settings I need to access and change aren’t there. I spent a few hours over 2 days trying to get to the bottom of this. Several web sites discussed where to find the APN settings but they just aren’t there, anywhere. There’s a lot of proffering as to why but without specifically saying so, it would seem this is an AT&T locking scheme. But that’s my guess. Bottom Line :: If you’re signing up with AT&T as your provider and you want an iPhone, buy the phone from Apple, NOT AT&T.
So, on with fixing this. I eventually found www.unlockit.co.nz and they offer APN configurations for countless providers all over the globe, no charge. Make sure wi-fi is turned on and direct your iPhone browser to this web site to make it work. I found settings for my provider and installed and that fixed it, except for a slight tweak my new provider needed to make on their end specifically for iPhones to be able to send photos and videos as a text message (MMS), something to keep in mind no matter who the provider is.
I later found wiki.apnchanger.org that also appears to offer the same APN settings change function but I never tried it.
But not one to ever be satisfied with not knowing what is going on behind the scenes I figured there had to be a way that I can edit these settings myself. Several more hours revealed Apple has a Mac app that will allow you to get in to your iPhone and modify the APN settings. It’s called the Apple Configurator. The latest version is 1.7 and requires your Mac be running Yosemite (OS 10.10) and as of this writing they offer no way to get previous versions of this app. This wasn’t going to help me since I’m not yet running Yosemite on my iPhone managing Mac. More searching surprisingly did not reveal any place I could get an older version either. On my final attempt to find something (it’s always the last place you look isn’t it?) I found another Apple app that will do the same thing and runs on Mountain Lion or earlier – score! Kudos to theiphonewiki.com for the link to the iPhone Configuration Utility. If you might need this better get it now, who knows how long Apple will keep this up. This did the trick, although I admit I have yet to try to use it to change the APN settings now that my poor iPhone is fully functioning again after 2+ days. But it sure has the ability to edit the APN settings. On a slow day when I feel adventurous I’ll give it a go.