Reported iMessage bug is not a bug says Apple

After receiving help from an Apple Genius at a retail store, a customer started getting texts sent to the employees iPhone. While Gizmodo classified the mishap as a bug, Apple says the employee didn’t follow protocol.

To help the customer, who was using the iPhone without a SIM card, the Apple employee placed his SIM card into the phone. Unfortunately, the iPhone married itself to that number, so any texts sent to the phone were also sent to the customers phone.

It was like the perfect storm of circumstances. If the employee had of simply toggled the iMessage on and off, or if the customer had of put in a different SIM card, none of this would have happened.

“This was an extremely rare situation that occurred when a retail employee did not follow the correct service procedure and used their personal SIM to help a customer who did not have a working SIM,” Apple representative Natalie Harrison told The Loop. “This resulted in a temporary situation that has since been resolved by the employee.”

  • Giantsjoe

    That doesn’t sound too genius to me.

  • Anonymous

    I thought iMessage required that you sign in with the iTunes ID. So just because it marries a SIM I don’t understand how this could still happen.

    • Jesse Hollington

      If you’re using an iPhone, iMessage works in the same manner as FaceTime — it registers the phone number on your SIM card regardless of whether you’re signed in with an Apple ID or not.  This has the benefit of allowing iMessage to immediately be used instead of SMS by just about every iPhone user on the planet without requiring them to set it up or even know about it.

      • Anonymous

        I see but when you pull the SIM card out, the iPhone still sends/receives iMessages – why doesn’t it deregister automatically when you pull the SIM out?

        • Jesse Hollington

          I dunno — ask Apple 🙂   The likely answer is that Apple doesn’t expect you to ever use an iPhone without a valid SIM card, and of course when you insert a new one, it re-registers with the new number instead.

  • Jesse Hollington


  • Guest

    Big fan of the Loop, but this post is too apologetic. This was not the perfect storm, but rather, it is simply a bug and should be fixed.  

    Also, not to nitpick, but please refrain from saying “had of”!

    • Anonymous

      This is not a bug, anymore than putting any sim card into a phone allows that phone to make phone calls using the phone number on the card. That’s how it’s designed to work.

      • Anonymous

        Although I agree, I wonder what you think or make of this though:  when you take the SIM card out of the iPhone, supposedly the iPhone still gets iMessages from that person’s SIM.  Isn’t that a bug?

  • Tao Saur

    That “had of” construction is taking a common error, “would of,” to a whole new level. “Would of” is a mis-hearing of “would’ve,” a contraction of “would have.” You can say “would have” or simply “had,” but “had of” does not work.

  • Adam

    Yeah, Apple is glossing over the real issue here. While this employee may not have followed procedure in this particular circumstance, the fact of the matter is that people whose phones have been lost or stolen are still receiving messages even after they were remotely wiped and the SIM cards were disabled. If that’s not a bug, I don’t know what is… Can’t expect “procedure” to be followed when someone steals your phone.

    • Jesse Hollington

      Based on my own testing, I’m not entirely convinced that this is really the case.  It may have been at one time (and the rumour is still persisting), but I haven’t been able to reproduce it, and I’ve actually tried to do so with multiple iPhones and SIM cards.

      The only loophole is that you will continue receiving iMessages (and FaceTime calls too, BTW), addressed to whatever phone number was on the SIM card that was last inserted, until such time as you insert a new one.

      See my post here: for more information on how this all seems to actually work.

    • Whatever it is I find iHaters love blowing it up.

  • Rafael

    Okay. Here in Brazil (I don’t know if this is possible elsewhere, I think it is) we have a thing called “portability”: Let’s say that you want to change your carrier but keeping your phone #. When you do this, you have a 3-day limit with a temporary number until the process is finished. So here is what happened after this period and I was good to go: I kept sending and receiving iMessages from the temporary number even some time after toggling the iMessage switch on and off again several times.

  • Patrick Kee

    This is obviously NOT A BUG. Apple doesn’t have bugs.

  • 78613 Maddie

    Genii & FRS using there own SIMs is common in Apple Stores & will be until their retail management figure out a way of keeping a full set of operational SIM cards in one place without them getting lost. I’d advise glueing the SIM cards into a set of SIM trays & attaching them to a keying. Not rocket science but I’m just an FRS so what would I know. You need to go on a management training course & learn to explain technical ideas using words like “inspiration” & “vision” before anyone in an Apple Store even acknowledges you exist.

  • dave

    I like to take all my old apple devices and cram them in to the black of my butthole.

  • jessijean

    ive just experienced that imessage misdirected a text to the wrong contact. The truth is, the person i intend to text was local, using same iphone and ios5.0.1, but this time instead it sent to my mother (same iphone 4, ios5.0.1) who brought this to my attention, to an international number (!) where i cant even send imessage naturally.  All i did before was, that i switched imessage off and back on again to send this particular text for free not using my txt allowance. These iphones never shared the same sim card. I only share my itunes account where icloud isnt enabled only to find my iphone! This really is a serious security issue. I also noticed that not all of my texts are delivered to the receipents (all iphone users) and i wonder if theyve been sent someone else who didnt think it was worth to mention. I rather switch this "its not a bug, it`s a feature” off..

  • Allan

    I sold my IPhone 4 to an friend, and my mum sent me lots of SMS, but I did not receive them on my new (non-Iphone) phone.

    I had a look at my mum’s phone and it reads that my number is still “on” for IMessage.

    Have to get my friend to toggle on and off for me.

  • Has Apple resolved this yet? I had my iPhone stolen and I’m worried that the thief is receiving my iMessages.