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Bought a brand-new Samsung S4 mini and ordered a new SIM card which is due to arrive in a week. So far I've inserted the battery and charged it.

Should I turn it on, even without a SIM-card in it, or would all the settings go awry? For instance, I heard that WhatsApp needs some sort of SIM card (phone number) verification. Will Android keep nagging me about my email address and SIM card etc right from the start until I "give in"?

In short, I can wait till the SIM-card arrives. The question is: Is it better to wait (and if so, why)?

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There is nothing wrong in turning on the phone and using it. Put the phone in Airplane mode and start using Wi-Fi and install applications etc.

As for the nagging part, No, Google will not be nagging you to register your device or SIM till you choose to (if you have skipped registering the device in the first screen). Google never registers your SIM, it registers your IMEI/EMSI with your account. So even without SIM you can use Google account.

However, without registering the device with Google, you will not be able to enjoy any of the Google play services. Other services (accounts) can be used without any problem.

Whatsapp registers your mobile number (not SIM), if you are retaining the number you can activate Whatsapp in this phone (S4 Mini) by receiving message in another phone and entering the code in S4 Mini (the application has to be removed from that old phone since Whatsapp can run only on one phone at a time).

Also, Whatsapp can be changed from device to device without any issues, just have to re-register it when changing devices for the same number.

In short, just turn on the device and use like normal phone (except for calling). Nothing to be worried about.

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If you want to make yourself familiar with the device while waiting for the SIM to arrive, you might considering to turn on the device, skip the Google registration, and switch to airplane mode. Then you can start looking around how things are arranged, what apps came pre-installed, etc. As you didn't configure the Google account right now, installing apps should be out of question at this point (and you also should leave it aside here).

Once your SIM arrives, and before inserting it, consider going to Settings→Backup and Reset, and do a ; this will return your device to the state before you switched it on for the first time. Then turn off the device, insert the SIM, switch it back on again.

This time configure your Google account. Doing this for the first time on the (factory-reset) device, this will also trigger syncing your data (contacts, calendar, etc.) and, if you decided so, restore your Google Cloud Backup (if you had this configured on your old device as well). So from the view of your Google Account (and related apps/data), this is as if you just switched on the device for the first time. Now you can also go ahead installing and configuring all the apps you need.

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DISCLAIMER: I'm not familiar with Whatsapp SIM verification; I don't use it.

You can use your phone even if it doesn't have a SIM card. Google's services doesn't need a SIM card. As long as you have a Google account and Wi-Fi - you'd at least need Wi-Fi to use / log-in your Google account with your phone - you're good to go.

However, like you mentioned, it's possible that apps that require SMS verification won't work. So maybe you can install them at a later time.

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There's no harm in turning on your device and signing into your Google acct without a sim. It's no different than buying a wifi only tablet and signing in with your Google acct. The only apps you may not be able to use are those that require your device to have a phone number active on it. Whatsapp may fall into this category, although I don't use it so I'm not sure. You can go ahead and set your phone up however you want before the sim ever arrives, install all your apps, etc with no problem. The only challenge you may have on some devices is skipping the sim activation screen. Usually a quick google search will tell you how to do this so you can access the device.

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