Sprint customers running into some activation problems with Nexus 5

by: Andrew GrushNovember 5, 2013

nexus 5 officialAlthough the Nexus 4 only supported GSM networks such as T-Mobile and AT&T in the United States, Google officially revealed last Thursday that the newly announced Nexus 5 also works with Sprint’s CDMA network.

Considering the last Sprint-compatible Nexus device was the aging Galaxy Nexus, this was pretty exciting news for Sprint Android fans. Even better was the revelation that you could forgo buying the handset through Sprint and instead could pick up the device directly from Google Play.

Some users have found success with getting the 16GB model to work after troubleshooting in-store or via phone with a Sprint rep, but getting the 32GB model working seems to be much more difficult.

Unfortunately, now that the Nexus 5 has actually landed in the hands of Sprint users, it looks like things aren’t going as smoothly as one might hope.

Reports on the XDA developer’s forum and Sprint’s community page show that a lot of confusion is surrounding the activation process.

For starters, Sprint doesn’t generally sell its SIM cards directly to Sprint users, except for in situations where existing cards need replaced due to damage. That means quite a few people are unclear on how to get their hands on a card.

While some users have been told by local Sprint stores that they would have to wait until November 8th and even then might need to return their Play order for a handset sold by sprint, the Sprint’s Community page tells a different story. Apparently you can get your SIM card from a Sprint Corporate store, where they will give you one with no charge. It’s also possible to receive a card via the mail.

The Nexus 5 requires a SIM/UICC card in order for us to activate it. The device is being sold through Google Play, but it does not include the card. Without this card, the device will not function correctly. In order to obtain a SIM/UICC card for the device, you can go into a Sprint Corporate Store and they can sell one to you at NO CHARGE. This way the device can be successfully activated.

Besides the SIM card confusion, some Sprint customers are also running into issues with the actual activation process — particularly when it comes to the 32GB model.

So what’s the hangup here? Forums like the XDA seem to suggest the problem is probably in Sprint’s activation system, which requires a verifiable range of MEID numbers. Unfortunately, Sprint doesn’t sell the device until November 8th, and so it’s possible that the number range isn’t yet in Sprint’s system.

Some users have found success with getting the 16GB model to work after troubleshooting in-store or via phone with a Sprint rep, but getting the 32GB model working seems to be much more difficult. Further complicating matters, Sprint’s own representatives present conflicting information about whether or not the 32GB model will even be supported.

At this time, we are only supporting the 16GB Nexus 5. The system is/will not recognize the serial number for any device outside of that. I deeply do apologize for the inconvenience this has caused. www.sprint.com/newsroon is a great place to stay on top of updates, should there be any.

As you can see in the quote above, one rep flat out says no. The quote below, says basically the exact opposite:

I apologize for any confusion about locating a UICC/SIM/ICCID card for your Galaxy Nexus 5 purchased through Google Play. The Galaxy Nexus 5 16GB and 32GB is supported by Sprint. They do not come with a UICC/SIM/ICCID card and would need to pick one up from a Sprint Corporate retail store.

The good news is that most of these issues will probably be worked out within the next few days, after Sprint rolls out the device to its own network. We have reached out to Sprint for further clarification on how to properly activate the device, and whether or not it plans to support the 32GB model. We will update this post if and when we hear back.

In the meantime, you might want to hop on over to Sprint’s community page for more information or to get troubleshooting help if you are running into any problems activating the Nexus 5 on Sprint’s network. Did you manage to get your Nexus 5 working on Sprint’s network? If so – which model, the 16 or 32GB version?

  • Jack Parker

    The galaxy nexus 5? Either a typo or they don’t actually know what their selling.

    • Andrew Grush

      Yah, that’s the actual quote. So apparently Sprint isn’t just confused on whether the 32GB model is supported – the name is an area of confusion as well. :)

      • Mayoo

        So your telling me Sprint is confused using the word “Nexus” with the number 5. Or they are doing like my mom and they call every freakin’ Android phone “Galaxy”. This is the kind of typo that you can ONLY do if you don’t know sh*t about what you are talking about.

        • Michael

          Oh god, this is a thing now? I thought “the Nintendo” was bad enough…

        • MadCowOnAStick


    • RanRu

      I’ve spent two hours on the phone with Sprint customer service trying to get help with a Sprint-branded mobile hotspot that was bought at a Sprint store because ethey assured me that my item didn’t exist and they had no idea what I was talking about.

      After an eternity, they finally told me that I would have to call a completely different company. Bunch of morons.
      One reason I fully intend never to deal with Sprint again.

  • Mayoo

    “they can sell one to you at NO CHARGE”.

    That is “giving one to you” where I live…

  • doode

    If they give me any issue activating mine when it comes in I’ll quickly pay the ETF and walk out of there.

    • T.J.

      Wouldn’t this give you reason to leave without having to pay the ETF?

      • doode

        Probably not as I’d still be under contract and they’d try to pressure me into buying a new phone from them to ride the contract out. I don’t think they’ll let me get out of it without paying seeing as they’ll try to say it’s my fault for buying an unsupported phone. Just a speculation though.

  • Andy Cao


    If you scroll down there were some people that were successful so you should give it a try again.

  • Robb Nice

    You notice a lot of people who work for Carriers know nothing about the phones they are selling! I swear in the last maybe 3 years of buying phones I met one person who had a little knowledge of what they where doing, these sale reps know nothing about the phones they are selling!

  • Jonathan Sosa

    Activating this on sprint isnt the only problem :p

  • blindexecutioner

    I ordered one through chat after calling several stores that had none to give. The stores really have no idea what’s going on with this phone yet. I would suggest just using the chat support on sprint.com and ordering one. They know what’s going on and will send you one for free. You can pay $13 to have it overnighted if you want as well. I didn’t have to give the MEID or anything which means you could order one ahead of time so that you have it when the phone arrives.

  • Cal Rankin

    We’ll just have to wait. By the way, if I pay full price for the device, and sign up for a new Sprint plan, does that mean I don’t have to finance a phone?

    • Amadeus Klein

      New customers have a 2 year contract with or without subsidized phones, and your price will be the same either way for monthly payments…

      • Cal Rankin

        well, screw that. Hopefully that this is available on One Up.

  • Tylerstravis

    I walked in because I wanted to test service vs tmo… they said they would not support the Nexus 5.

  • Harry

    I was seriously considering using Sprint until I ran into a number of obstacles :) (I am with VZ right now).

    So if you are an existing user, then you would be allowed to upgrade. If you are a new customer, you NEED to sign a 2-year contract (even though you never got a device subsidized from them). The contract will carry a termination penalty (although rep was not sure if it was the feature phone or smartphone one). You will NOT be allowed to use the “On the Go” plans since they are few precious phones that are allowed on it and Nexus 5 is not one of them (not now, at least). So if you do not currently have service with Sprint, I do not see why we should go to them with a fully-paid Nexus 5 :)


    Heads up, I was able to activate my N5 with my SIM card from my HTC One, and I did it over the Sprint chat. Went very smoothly.

    BTW, I have the 32gb N5 and it is picking up 4G LTE.

  • xxxninja

    i just left sprint with my 3 lines after 10+ years. horrible cell/data service, finally decided to pay more and go to att and i’m extremely happy. waiting for my nexus 5 which should be here thursday. avoid sprint!

    • Say What?

      AT&T?? Good luck with them! LOL

      • Archie Williams III

        Ive had them for landline, broadband & wireless for 14 years with zero problems. NO sprint customer can say that

  • jon

    I took a minute but the customer service on the international side of Sprint was able to mail out one without charging me. They said that it was on back order due to the high demand with Nexus 5 devices.

  • Qwerty1gr

    I just activated my 32Gb Nexus. Took a few minutes and had to use chat, apart from entering all the details on sprint.com/activate. It now works but only in 3G, even after updating the radios. hopefully that will be resolved at some point.

    • Amadeus Klein

      Just a dumb question but is sprint LTE available where you are? They haven’t even come close to a full LTE rollout yet, so I’d be sure you have a sprint LTE signal to connect to…

  • Demku

    I called 5 stores and none had any cards to give me or sell me. They said they never have any cards in stock, and that they order replacements after they confirm that the customer has a sim card issue.

  • A_Noyd

    Moved my Phone# from my Galaxy Note over to my new Nexus 5 on the AT&T network with no issues in the store. LTE is all present and accounted for. :)

  • Archie Williams III

    Its not worth paying “cash” for an unlocked Nexus 5 for a crap carrier like Sprint. At&t, net10, straighttalk even not as quite as crappy T-mobile are much better candidates than sprint. Too much trouble for very little(no) gain