Blog: Etisalat iPhone 4 woes

By on October 3, 2010
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Incoming was blocked, and here is how I fixed it.

Teeming with jealously over my colleague Taimoor Hafeez’s iPhone 4 and finally wanting to break away from the Samsung not-so-Jet, I gave in and bought myself an iPhone 4. I didn’t want to change my number, so I went for Etisalat’s 16GB iPhone 4 data package plan 1.

Before purchase, I expected glitch free transition to my new phone and expected great service as Etisalat has always been good for me, at least in terms of signal strength.

How dare I?!

The problems began from the purchase itself. Unable to find stock at the nearest Etisalat center, I decided to purchase one from the Etisalat stall in Sahara Mall (they are sold out now, by the way). There, I was initially turned away saying that a pre-paid number cannot be transferred to a post-paid number for the iPhone 4. What? I caught the next CSR at the stall and thankfully, he had a bit of knowledge. After going through the cumbersome process of getting a copy of my passport when they denied using my yet-to-be-used Emirates ID, the CSR registered my number and told me to come a whole day later to get things rolling. Guess, what though? The process took 15mins flat and I was too stuck in Sharjah’s traffic to bother going back.

Next day, I was informed that I will be getting a new number, despite telling the CSR specifically that I wanted the data plan on the same number. Hell, why would I register my old number to get a new number? The CSR went “aha” and then pulled out a SIM card replacement form with a swipe of his hand. The form would fetch me the micro SIM card needed for the iPhone in, guess what?, a whole day later. I came back the next day and was turned away as the supervisor who activates the iPhone would not come before 7pm.

That’s two days worth of trouble for a process that takes no less than 15mins collectively. Finally, I was handed over my shiny new black device and the dual SIM card package. I asked the procedure to meter my bandwidth and expectantly, the service code provided by the CSR did not work. I couldn’t be bothered with them anymore.

Firing up the device, I went through the usual procedure to check if everything was working fine – music player, movie, touch screen and finally call quality. Everything good and dandy, I thought.

Not quite.

Today I called up our head-honcho Hitesh Uchil to ask what time he would be coming to the office after his meeting. He told me he had SMS’ed me the details. SMS, what SMS? I called up my brother and asked for him to send me a text message. Nope. Then it clicked: I can’t receive either calls or SMS, but I can make them. And then in a flash of terror it dawned on me: I will have to call 101. Oh boy.

Frustrating doesn’t quite capture what I went through with the 101 CSRs. Everyone suggested I to reboot despite telling them I have already done it. I am in tech, I know the reboot joke. After six calls to different CSRs, I finally got someone telling me a service code to activate my SIM card for incoming. The code was *149*1#. It didn’t work even though it told me the activation was successful. I was told to reset Networking Settings and Phone Settings, but those didn’t help either. Finally a CSR said “You will have to go to the head office for a replacement”. This pretty much sums up my feelings.

In desperation to seek out a workaround, and avoid dealing with Etisalat at all costs, I decided to hard reset the device, deleting all the contents and settings. After the reboot, the phone became inaccessible except for emergency calls. The phone needed an iTunes connection, which I promptly presented, and it somehow fixed my no-incoming issue.

If you face the same problem, here is what you can do:

-          Hard reset your iPhone 4 by going to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings

-          The phone will boot up and give you the emergency call screen

-          Plug it in and fire iTunes. The phone will instantly boot the iPhone homescreen.

-          Now dial *149*1# and wait for the ‘successful’ confirmation

-          Trying giving your number a call

-          Success!

Of course, this may not necessarily work for everyone but it did for me and saved me a trip to the dark corners of Etisalat. I have sudden profound love for iTunes.


Mufaddal Fakhruddin is the Editor for IGN ME and thinks writing in third person about himself in an about me section is weird.

  • Jogi

    has had nearly the same procedure with etisalat… i got the phone immediatly, but they needed two(!) days to activate the new number… i also booked the postpaid plan 1… it is still not working… called 101 and the CRS told me that there is no iPhone data plan on my number registered… he also told me that i've to go to the etisalat shop where i got the device from… will see what happen next….

  • UA3

    You wasn't able to receive calls or SMS because you're using SIM B, that's how Tawa'am service works:

    When I bought my iPhone 3G in March 2009 and my iPhone 3GS in March 2010, I used my National ID without any problem, Apparently those CSR are new in etisalat and don't have a good experiment.


  • UA3

    one more thing, as a postpaid customer you can't Inquire about your data usage by dialing *144*3#, you'll need to signup to Etisalat Online Services:

    *144*3# is only for prepaid customers.


    • Mufaddal Fakhruddin

      You can’t check your bandwidth usage from EOS. There is nothing in there that tells you how much net you have used.

      I did call up CSR yesterday and inquired about it. He said that there is no way from Etisalat to monitor iPhone 4′s bandwidth. The only way to meter is to go to Settings > General > Usage and count the sent and received numbers. It’s a good solution but in case you are needed to reset the phone settings, you stand to loose those numbers, which is quite a bummer.

      • UA3

        They are wrong, I’m using EOS to check my iPhone Data usage since March 2009.
        also it’s mentioned in the link below that Postpaid customers can check for data usage through EOS: (

        Here is how to find your data usage through EOS:
        1. Login to your EOS account.
        2. Select “Current Bills” from the right menu.
        3. Select your postpaid account and click GO.
        4. You’ll find the iPhone package details there, screen-shot: (


        • Mufaddal Fakhruddin

          Thanks for this! Yes, it actually shows you the ‘units’ consumed. My plan, however, shows as iPhone 8GB 3GS…guess Etisalat haven’t updated that. What does the Ramadan GSM postpaid promotion mean?

          • UA3

            I’m glad that helped you !!
            and don’t pay attention to the description, because it’s wrong and mean nothing.
            just keep in your mind the 2,000,000 units is for Data usage, and the others is for SMS & Calls.


          • nasir

            i checking eti online acct eos. can anyone tell how freq 3gs data usage gets updated. yestday i used around 100 mb it is not reflected in the consumed units immed or next day either.101 says withun 2hrs (as usual dump ppl sitting in suppot)

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  • g0dzuki

    I didn’t face much of a problem either. It was all done in 25 minutes flat. You just need to make sure you carry the appropriate documents needed for registration; I got my phone, sim card and even a migration from prepaid to postpaid done in less than 30 minutes. I did have the Sim A and B problem, but that was fixed with the entering of a simple code and I was able to receive calls and smses.

    To be honest, I never quite trust the people appointed at stalls in malls. No offense, but their knowledge in regards to the products their offering lacks quite a bit as compared to Etisalat centers. I always go to the Deira office.

  • mubin

    Ok…for people having problems with 3G data connectivity….well….here’s my story…I bought the phone from etisalat on the 3rd of october and logged acomplain on the 4th of october for data package not working! Today is the 11th! NO SOLUTION from 101! I went to the etisalat office and all they told me is 101 is my only source! whatever 101 decides, they can action!
    I spoke to the supervisors on 101….no use…all they say is that investigation is on!

    Anyways….i figured out the solution on my own…if you were using an unofficial iPhone before this, and if you setup fake APN settings to disable 3G on it….then most likely your iTunes restored the fake APNs again. You have to setup your iphone 4 as a new iPhone. So…just reset your phone from settings and then setup as new iphone. Your 3G should work!

  • nasir

    For more than one week, My current bills was showing just increment of 5-10 mb. But suddenly in the lask weekend, it got incremented by 700MB, which is almost near to my 1 GB quota. i would have been billed heavily though if was checking ETI online regularly. ETISALAT can make good money like this by ripping non-tech customers community like this.
    Also when we contact 101, their usual answer is RESTORE your device. (for EOS not updating my online account ; This is height of EIT MONOPOLY in DUBAI). Also they say can not raise a complain in this regard .. God save Eti Cusotmers !!!

  • Admin

    Thanks mate – this did the trick: *149*1# – amazing how Etisalat can release phones (or sim cards) with incoming calls and text messages blocked… all working now. Thanks mate.

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