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Booting Verizon Samsung Galaxy S4 Without SIM Card?


Well-Known Member
Sep 4, 2013
I have a dying Samsung Galaxy S4, and it is increasingly looking like recovering data from that phone will become a months-long project, with maybe a 30% chance of succeeding (not great odds). If I upgrade my phone now, and try to get on without the data on the old phone, will it be possible for me to boot the old S4 once I get it into a bootable setup? Can a Verizon-specific Samsung S4 be booted without a SIM card?

A related question: If I upgrade to a Google Pixel 6 with a different carrier - probably T-Mobile - will the T-Mobile SIM card be able to work in the old Samsung S4? Once I get the S4 to boot, some applications like Whatsapp will want to see the phone having its original phone number.
All a SIM does is provide the connection to the cellular network, so I can't think why any phone would need a SIM to boot (and have frequently booted phones without SIMs). But why not just remove the card and see for yourself? Though if this is the s4 that isn't booting at the moment I guess we don't expect it to anyway.

A T-Mobile SIM will only work in a Verizon s4 if that phone has been unlocked so that it can accept non-Verizon SIMs. It will only give you a network connection if a VZW phone of that age has at least 1 cellular band in common with T-Mobile (it certainly won't work with 2G, but may with LTE - you'd have to check the specs for the precise model against what bands T-Mobile use in your area).

I expect that transferring a WhatsApp backup from old to new phone will erase any messages the new phone received inbetween, so you probably want to try to get the data off first if you can (though that doesn't sound easy).
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You can indeed boot an S4 (and many old Android phones) without a SIM. You'll get the 'No SIM' error alert and a persistent notification but it will work on Wifi if needed. It basically becomes a Galaxy Player. FYI You can get rid of the 'no SIM' notification by using Airplane Mode and using Wifi.

I've got an unlocked S4 Mini (but it's still branded Verizon) and a T-Mobile SIM will give bars, but zero data. I never tested calls or SMS but I do remember only getting bars, and under the status it showed 'not in service' and 'mobile network state disconnected' and 'mobile network type unknown'.

The only phones I remembered that would absolutely refuse to boot without a SIM were really, really old J2ME dumbphones I called 'Smartphone wannabes' since they had touchscreens and apps but were not true smartphones. Some of them required a SIM to get to a usable home screen or just ended in an error.
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