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Regardless, I took it to the Apple store and a very nice young man named "Fiori" spent some time with it and kept asking me if I was sure the SIM was okay and I kept responding that the AT&T dealer clerk said it was. We were just about to complete a transaction for a replacement phone [of the same vintage] when he said he wanted to try the SIM in the new iPhone. It didn't work.
So, he went back to the parts area and got a new SIM card and ... it worked just fine... and that would be no charge. Nice surprise.
When I got to that AT&T store, another young man named Joe quickly got the needed information. Said some magic words and my old iPhone was working as good as new. Amazing. I learned that there is a difference between and AT&T-owned store and an AT&T Authorized Dealer in terms of service capabilities. Go to the AT&T-owned store.
My wife and I plan to purchase the next model of iPhone when it becomes available.