I often see posts telling iPhone users to set the APN in order to get cellular data working properly. Generally speaking, this is not applicable (and often not possible!) because the APN (amongst other settings) are established by a configuration file that gets downloaded to the phone (you can see this under Settings --> General --> About --> Carrier, where the profile should be something like Public Mobile xx.x).
Furthermore, most/all(?) carriers in North America hide the options to change APNs from the user. This is a carrier option established by the carrier profile. Any online references to changing/customizing APNs through the UI usually come from other international sources (e.g. UK), where carriers don't seem to hide/lock settings down. The only APN setting that typically can be changed on an iPhone is the Personal Hotspot APN for tethering, but users are often confused into thinking that's the APN they're setting for their phone's data.
Often, users encounter a Catch-22 for getting the Public Mobile xx.x configuration file during activation because this configures the APN so they can get a data connection, and without a data connection, they can't get this file. This is particularly common for activations at a store, etc. If you activate at home (or at a store), hopefully you'll have access to a WiFi access point, and you can download the configuration file that way.
It's a bit different on iPads, where the APN can be set. Carrier profiles usually don't lock down the setting like on phones. So, instructions on setting the APN are applicable for iPads, and if I remember correctly, it typically does need to be manually set before cellular data will work, at least on Public Mobile. Incidentally, cellular-enabled iPads (annoyingly) do not support cellular SMS or MMS, so these settings are moot/not applicable on iPads. (And before anyone comes to correct me -- this is different from message forwarding from an iPhone, where messages are sync'd between iOS devices through the AppleID.)
On older phones (iPhone 4 and older, which run iOS 7 and lower), the APN and other settings were hard-coded in the OS, and the phone did a look-up based on the country/network of the SIM card that's inserted. That's why inserting an encumbant carrier's SIM card (e.g. Telus or Rogers) into these will typically "just work", but newer/smaller ones (PM) won't. That's where the unlockit.co.nz site comes in handy (see my next post). Unlockit installs a network profile onto the phone (typically installed by corporate IT departments for VPN, or by carriers for customizations to override built-in settings) to configure the APN. Unfortunately, it doesn't configure the settings needed for MMS (not sure if it just doesn't, or can't), so MMS will never work for iPhone 4 and older on PM, unless the user can do the leg work of jailbreaking and patching of configuration files (probably more work than it's worth, given that better phones are readily available cheaply, even for their kids, parents, etc.!)
This is a walk-through for configuring the APN on iOS devices running iOS 7.2.1 or older (i.e. iPhone 3GS and 4). I'd like to emphasize that it is not applicable to devices running iOS 8 or later, which essentially applies to the iPhone 4S and up; for those models the carrier profile (see first post) will take care of the APN.
In case you're not sure which iPhone (4 or 4S) you have, the quick physical identification is to look for the antenna split lines (refer to picture below for clarity):
This procedure will let you use Safari and other apps that rely on the internet, but it will not enable MMS on Public Mobile. Sorry, if MMS is a must-have, you'll need to upgrade to at least an iPhone 4S or newer (or jailbreak the iPhone and figure out how to set the MMS proxy and other settings manually -- instructions which are outside the scope of these instructions).
This will open a new tab/browsing page, similar to the one below (Received date will be the current date). Click on the "Install" button. You'll be prompted to confirm installation of the profile.
You shouldn't need to restart your phone for the settings to take effect, but doing so wouldn't hurt.
Turn off your WiFi and ensure that you see "3G" at the top of the screen, to the right of "Public Mobile". In Safari or another browser, ensure you can access the internet to confirm that the APN has been properly set.
So, you've got the latest iOS and Carrier Profile, but you still can't access cellular data. What could be wrong?
Depending on the history of your phone (i.e. use in corporate environment, use on a previous carrier, roaming, etc.), you may have installed a network profile or perhaps a VPN profile, which overlays on top of the carrier profile/configuration. Corporate IT departments install these to allow VPN into corporate networks. Carriers (such as Freedom Mobile) install these to allow users to automatically go onto their WiFi hotspots. Foreign/roaming SIM cards can also set these up to allow access to their networks. Gamers/"hackers" often use these to route certain traffic through proxies to enable certain features, or bypass certain checks/rules. There are apps intended to be "data usage tracking/management" tools, or even "security" apps that proxy data through a VPN (e.g. My Data Manager, Onavo). All of these can also block proper functioning of cellular data (e.g. if the proxy server goes down, has certain blocking rules in place, or experiences network issues, or the company ceases operations). They may also be undesirable since you effectively allow them to see data being transmitted through them, and track the sites you visit ("spyware").
To check, go into Settings --> General, and scroll down to the bottom of this section. Above "Reset", you'll either see "Profile" or not. If it's there, it's recommended that you tap on it to go into the installed profile(s), and Remove each one.
Alternatively, you can delete everything in one fell swoop via Settings --> General --> Reset --> Reset Network Settings --> (passcode if prompted) --> Reset Network Settings (to confirm). The phone will clear settings and reboot, and you'll be back to defaults. Sorry, you'll also have to re-enter your WiFi credentials, etc.
If your APN is correctly set, your iPhone should acquire an IP address, which is needed to do anything on the internet.
There are a couple ways to check:
With an app. I recommend downloading the free "System Status: hw monitor lite" from the App store. Upon launching it, and scrolling down to the bottom, you can quickly see what dynamic IP address Public Mobile has given your device:
If you don't want to download the app (or can't, because you're running an older version of iOS which the app doesn't support), you can use the next method...
Access the APN and IP address via Field Test mode. Launch your phone dialer, and dial *3001#12345#* and then press the green "Dial" button.
This will put you into Field Test mode. Select PDP Context Info:
Then, tap "0" on the next screen:
This will reveal your current APN and IP address, if it's assigned (to confirm that you've got the correct APN, and you're receiving an IP address):
You can go back and check the other indices (1, 2, 3, 4, if they exist) but most should be blank, or may be present but simply show an IP address of 0.0.0.0 indicating it's not being used. If there are APNs other than sp.mb.com, then they could be preventing the establishing of a data connection, but seeing these will give some clues as to what's happening "under the hood".
If you don't see sp.mb.com for your APN, then this is what needs troubleshooting... see earlier posts for details!
Oh, and to exit this mode, simply press your Home button
"I still can't access the internet! I've checked that my Carrier Profile is correct, I've got a valid cellular IP address, and I've performed a Network Reset or removed Network Profiles that could be blocking my cellular data from working. Now what?"
Go to Settings --> Cellular, and then:
Oops, I think this thread should actually go under the Phones & Hardware section, but I can't move it. Can any of the Oracles kindly do this for me? Thanks!
I found that the same recurring questions were coming up, so I selfishly created these posts so I can easily provide permalinks in the future.
Done, great thread I am sure I will be referencing it many times in the future!!
@CalgaryBen a question...what does that mean if I have 0.0.0.0. for the ipv4? What can I do to receive one and is it important?? Thanks for sharing
Thanks for the good work. It looks like you've spent a bit of time to put this together for us.