We purchased an iPhone 8GB today (after waiting in line at the local AT&T store for about 8 hours), only to find that once home and opened, the device lacked a SIM card. iTunes and the phone both displayed a message indicating that no valid, unlocked SIM card was inserted, and that the card is required for activation. Our iPhone lacked both a SIM card and a SIM card tray.
Fortunately, though the iPhone was sold out at the original place of purchase, our local Apple Store still had several dozen units on hand, and we were able to painlessly exchange the incomplete iPhone for a unit that does include a SIM card, and successfully activate it. Make sure your iPhone has a SIM card before leaving the store.
We could dismiss this as a one-in-several-hundred thousand fluke, but we've seen other reports. A poster on Apple's discussion boards writes:
"It didn't say anything in the activation video about having to install your own sim card... But my iPhone says 'No SIM card installed?!' Did AT&T forget something?"
Note that in some cases of this issue, the SIM card may simply be improperly seated. For these instances, Apple's iPhone manual states:
"Try reseating the SIM by pushing an unfolded paper clip into the small hole on the top of the device to open the SIM tray."
However, our SIM card was completely missing, along with the SIM card tray.
Did your iPhone ship without a SIM card? Please let us know.