How to fix SOS only on iPhone?

Written by: Clyde



Time to read 5 min


The "SOS only" feature on iPhones started with the introduction of iOS 8 in 2014. Prior to iOS 8, when an iPhone had no cellular service or was out of range, it would simply display "No Service" or show the signal bars with a "No Service" label. However, with the release of iOS 8, Apple introduced a new feature called "Emergency Calls Only" or "SOS only" to indicate that the device is limited to making emergency calls.

This change was implemented to emphasize the ability to make emergency calls even when the iPhone has no cellular service or is not connected to a network. When an iPhone displays "SOS only," it means that the device can only make emergency calls to numbers like 911 or local emergency services. It signifies that regular cellular services, such as voice calls, messaging, and data, are not available until the iPhone establishes a proper network connection.

Since the introduction of the "SOS only" feature, it has become a standard indication on iPhones to communicate the limited emergency calling capability in situations where regular cellular service is not available.

"SOS only" is a message that may appear on your iPhone when it is unable to connect to the cellular network and can only make emergency calls. It indicates that your iPhone is not receiving a strong enough signal from your network carrier to establish a regular voice or data connection. This can happen for various reasons, such as network outages, weak signal strength in your location, issues with your SIM card, or software glitches on your iPhone.

When your iPhone displays "SOS only," it means that you can only make emergency calls to numbers like 911 or local emergency services. Regular phone calls, messaging, and data services will not be available until your iPhone can establish a proper network connection.

To resolve the "SOS only" issue, you can try the troubleshooting steps mentioned below. These steps aim to address common causes such as incorrect network settings, software glitches, or issues with the SIM card. If the issue persists, it is recommended to contact your network carrier for further assistance, as they can provide specific guidance based on your account and network conditions.

When your iPhone displays "SOS only," it means that the device is limited to making emergency calls due to the lack of a stable cellular network connection. Let's expand on the possible causes and solutions for the "SOS only" message:

  1. Weak Signal Strength: One common reason for "SOS only" is being in an area with poor network coverage or weak signal strength. This can happen in remote locations, inside buildings with thick walls, or in areas with network congestion. Moving to an open area or closer to a window may improve the signal reception and allow your iPhone to connect to the network.

  2. Network Outages: Temporary network outages or maintenance activities by your network carrier can also result in the "SOS only" message. In such cases, the issue is typically resolved automatically once the carrier restores normal network operations. You can check for any reported network outages by contacting your carrier or visiting their website.

  3. Incorrect Network Settings: Incorrect cellular network settings on your iPhone can prevent it from connecting to the carrier's network properly. Ensure that your iPhone's cellular settings are configured correctly by going to Settings > Cellular (or Mobile Data) and checking if Cellular Data is enabled. Additionally, make sure your preferred network carrier is selected, either manually or through automatic network selection.

  4. SIM Card Issues: Problems with your SIM card can also lead to the "SOS only" message. Ensure that the SIM card is properly inserted into your iPhone, and there are no physical damages or debris on the SIM card or the SIM card tray. You can try removing the SIM card, cleaning it gently, and reinserting it back into the device.

  5. Software Glitches: Occasionally, software glitches or conflicts on your iPhone can disrupt the normal functioning of the cellular network connection. In such cases, restarting your iPhone can help resolve the issue. Press and hold the power button until the "slide to power off" slider appears, then power off your iPhone. Wait a few seconds and then turn it back on by pressing and holding the power button again.

  6. Carrier Assistance: If none of the above steps resolve the "SOS only" issue, it is recommended to contact your network carrier's customer support. They can provide specific troubleshooting steps based on your account, network conditions, and location. They may also check if there are any known issues or network outages in your area.

Remember, "SOS only" is a temporary state, and your iPhone should regain regular network connectivity once the underlying issue is resolved. If the problem persists or occurs frequently, it might be necessary to visit an authorized service center or contact Apple Support for further assistance.

iPhone on the table


If your iPhone is showing "SOS only" or "No Service" instead of the usual cellular network signal, there are a few troubleshooting steps you can try to resolve the issue:

  1. Check your Cellular Settings:

    • Go to Settings on your iPhone.
    • Select Cellular or Mobile Data, depending on your iOS version.
    • Make sure that Cellular Data is enabled.
    • Check if your preferred network carrier is selected. You can try selecting "Automatic" to allow the iPhone to search for available networks.
  2. Restart your iPhone:

    • Press and hold the power button (or the power button and volume button together) until the "slide to power off" slider appears.
    • Slide the slider to power off your iPhone.
    • Wait for a few seconds, then press and hold the power button again until the Apple logo appears to turn your iPhone back on.
  3. Update iOS:

    • Make sure your iPhone is running the latest version of iOS. Go to Settings > General > Software Update to check for any available updates and install them if necessary.
  4. Remove and Reinsert SIM Card:

    • Locate the SIM card tray on your iPhone. The location varies depending on the iPhone model.
    • Use the SIM card removal tool or a small paperclip to gently push into the small hole next to the tray. The tray should pop out.
    • Remove the SIM card from the tray.
    • Inspect the SIM card for any damage or debris. If necessary, clean it gently with a soft cloth.
    • Place the SIM card back into the tray, ensuring it is properly aligned.
    • Insert the tray back into the iPhone until it clicks into place.
  5. Reset Network Settings:

    • Go to Settings > General > Reset.
    • Select "Reset Network Settings."
    • Enter your passcode if prompted, and confirm the reset.
  6. Contact Your Network Carrier:

    • If the issue persists, it might be related to your network carrier. Contact your carrier's customer support for assistance. They can check if there are any network outages or account-related issues affecting your iPhone.

If none of these steps resolve the issue, it may be necessary to visit an authorized Apple service center or contact Apple Support for further assistance with your iPhone.

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