Access Point Names

For many people, buying the Nexus 4 will be their first time stepping into several different arenas. First GSM device, first unlocked device, first time using a prepaid carrier. Once everything is setup there's not a whole lot of difference in using an unlocked GSM phone, but unfortunately it's not always 100 percent frictionless. One of the only things that the user is likely to have to change on their devices when putting a SIM in is the APN (Access Point Name) settings.

Each carrier has distinct APN settings that let the phone operate on the network. It works in conjunction with the SIM to get you setup and registered on the network for full-speed data as well as texts and MMS. We're going to give you a quick run-down of the most popular U.S. carrier's APN settings and just how to set them up on the Nexus 4. Join us after the break.

Choosing the right APN

If you plan on using your newly unwrapped Nexus 4 on either AT&T or T-Mobile postpaid services, you won't need any extra configuration. The devices come out of the box with the carrier's proper APN settings preloaded in the software. That's a good thing, because you shouldn't have to fiddle with APN settings to use your phone right out of the box.

Our resident Brit, Alex Dobie, also explained that every unlocked phone that's come across his desk (that's a lot of phones) has had the correct APNs loaded or available without any special configuration -- even for the more obscure carriers out there. Maybe it's just lucky, or maybe he lives in a continent of civilized individuals that like network interoperability, who knows. What we do know is that using the Nexus 4 (or any other unlocked device, for that matter) on a Prepaid carrier here in the states takes just a touch more work.

We've gone to the major Prepaid carrier's support pages and found the APN settings that are suggested by the carrier. Setting up your device with these APNs should get you up and running without any major troubles. Fill in everything exactly as you see on the chart below, leaving blank anything either not listed or grayed out here:

Prepaid Carrier APN Chart

Unfortunately, there's really no golden APN that works perfectly for every person on every carrier. For the obscure fringe cases, we suggest you take a look in our Nexus 4 forums and see what other users can report for your area and carrier.

Creating and editing APNs

Although adding and editing APNs isn't the most transparent thing ever, it's pretty darn close. Open up the settings menu of your device, head to "More..." and "Mobile networks." You'll be greeted with an "Access Point Names" menu, tap that to get into the fun part.

You'll likely see some type of default APN loaded when you insert the SIM card into your device. As we discussed above, this may or may not (likely the latter) give your phone completely working cellular functions. Hit the overflow menu button down at the bottom right corner of your screen and tap "New APN". Once in this view, you can take a look at the chart above (or another APN listing that you've found) and go down the list entering the proper values. Again, anything missing or grayed out in the chart above can be left blank with no adverse effect.

Once you're done creating that APN, tap that overflow menu button again and hit "Save". You can now tap the radio button next to the new APN to activate it, and then continue on to delete the preloaded non-working APN if there is one. Reboot your phone and you should now have working data, texts and other cellular functions -- assuming that the APN was created properly.

Enjoy your new Nexus 4 and the freedom of an unlocked GSM device!

Source: Straight Talk; T-Mobile; Red Pocket; Simple Mobile

More: Google Nexus 4 Forums


Reader comments

How to set up the right APN on your Nexus 4


Thank you for clarifying that T-Mobile Postpaid has the APN settings pre-loaded. One less thing for me to do before I can play with my new device on Monday.

One nice thing about my Galaxy Nexus is that when you swap SIMs it remembers any custom APNs you entered for that SIM. For example, I use a standard post-paid T-Mobile account (until my contract expires next October) most of the time, but when I'm in rural areas in the Mid-West during the summer vintage racing season I swap that out and use a Straight Talk AT&T SIM. I only had to set the APN up once for that SIM, every other time I swapped from the T-Mobile SIM to the Straight Talk one it correctly switched to the APN I had manually entered previously. Nice touch, which I'm assuming is just part of Android?

You don't need to add the web proxy for AT&T on Straight Talk. In fact best not to if you want to use adblock.

Learned this the hard way. Not so much with adblock, but with plain old browsing in the first place. I had no browsing capabilities at first, but when I took the proxy off, I was golden.

Straight Talk offers two completely separate SIMs in order to access T-Mobile or AT&T. You choose at the time of purchase. Changing the APN doesn't change which network you run on.

Just another person chiming in. I'm on the new $30 t mobile plan and I didn't have to do any of this. And pulled 18Mbs last night at Hess microbrewery in San Diego, so I assume I have access to the DC HSPA+ network.

Right, not everyone will have to change the APN every time. But often in order to get functions like MMS working, people need to get an APN set up.

Actually many of these APNs that the no-commitment plan sellers insist you use are there to LIMIT your capabilities, not to provide capabilities.

Almost anything running on AT&T is perfectly happy with the settings that are in the wap.cingular apn provided by any AT&T sim. These settings are widely published on the web.

Anything else is simply to provide AT&T or your plan seller with a way to limit what you can do.

Lots of AT&T phones come with multiple APNs. Some of these are selected when you turn on tethering, and serve only to alert AT&T's billing. (This is why tethering with an generic GSM phone never gets you in trouble with AT&T unless you exceed some magical amount of bandwidth.)

I had the 'wap.cingular' setting APN on my Gnex when I first got it. Was getting 2mbps on 4 bars of H+, until I did some tweaking, and now up to about 4mbps. I'm not sure if I can get it to go any faster or not.

Thanks for clarifying that Andrew. I didn't even think of MMS. I only use Google Voice now. Cheers :)

I used an app from Play called Tweakker. It recognizes what sim you're using and can auto set the APN settings for you. I used it with a sprint moto photon in London with an O2 sim. Was too easy.

I've not been able to get Tweakker to work. Pretty sure it doesn't play well with 4.2.

That said I haven't needed to. The pre-loaded AT&T APN seems to work just fine.

Having run nothing but unlocked international phones for the last several phone purchases, I've never had the set the apn while using AT&T.

A properly configured SIM will set this for you. At least as far as AT&T is concerned.

This was a lifesaver. I had everything else set up as soon as my Nexus arrived but I couldn't find where to set up the APN - it was very simple once I found this. Thanks.

I noticed during the set up of my new nexus 4 that there are areas for user name, password, and server setting. what are the advantages/disadvantages of setting these?

Sorry to jump right into the convo but I have a question.
I have a GS3 bought from ebay "unlocked" I have a
Strait Talk sim in it that just says sim chip. What are the
Correct settings ti get this phone up n running??

I have the spectrum2 verizon with at&t sim pre paid. I have been using for.a while without mms. I just cant get the right apn and i have tried many. I just want my mms receiving that all and i be ok with that if there is anyone who can assist me i would be greatful.