Why Isn't My iPhone Getting Service?

By Steve Gregory

Find the cause of your iPhone's cellular connection failure by checking the device's settings, wireless connection features and the SIM card.

As long as you are inside your wireless provider's coverage area and your cellular account is in good standing, your iPhone should connect to your carrier’s cellular network. If there isn’t a problem with your carrier’s network, troubleshooting your iPhone’s settings, wireless connection features and the SIM card can help to determine the cause of the problem.

Enable Cellular Data

Activate the Cellular Data feature to see if your iPhone can connect to the cellular network. When your iPhone has a cellular data connection, the corresponding cellular data icon appears in the status bar, such as 3G.

Tap the Settings icon on the device's Home screen to open the Settings menu, select Cellular and then slide the Cellular Data switch to the On position.

Warning

Depending on your cellular service plan, you may incur data charges while the Cellular Data feature is active.

Check the SIM Card

Open your iPhone's SIM card tray by pushing the SIM eject tool into the tray's hole. Remove the SIM card from the tray and inspect it for damage. If there is any visible damage, such as a crack, your iPhone may not be able to connect to the cellular network. Ask your wireless service provider for a replacement card.

Tip

Use one end of a paperclip to open the SIM card tray if you can't find the SIM eject tool.

Disable the Airplane Mode Feature

If you inadvertently activated Airplane Mode, your iPhone is unable to make any wireless connections. You can turn off the Airplane Mode from the Settings menu or the Control Center.

Airplane Mode disables all wireless connections.

Open the Settings menu and then slide the Airplane Mode switch to the left to disable the feature.

You can also activate Wi-Fi and Bluetooth from the Control Center.

Swipe a finger up from the bottom of your iPhone's screen to open the Control Center. The Airplane Mode icon is highlighted if the feature is active. Tap the Airplane Mode icon to disable the feature.

Tip

An airplane icon appears in the iPhone's status bar when the Airplane Mode is activated.

Reset Network Settings

Resetting your iPhone's network settings clears all of the stored cellular network data, which may be preventing the device from connecting to the network.

Step 1

Open the General screen.

Open the Settings menu and then tap General.

Step 2

Scroll to the bottom of the screen to locate the Reset option.

Tap Reset at the bottom of the screen to open the Reset screen.

Step 3

All the iOS Reset settings are on the Reset screen.

Select Reset Network Settings from the list of Reset settings.

Step 4

Enter your passcode to proceed to the next screen.

Enter your iPhone's pass code if you have activated a pass code for your device.

Step 5

Tap Reset Network Settings from the menu.

Tap Reset Network Settings from the pop-up menu to return the network settings to factory defaults.

Warning

Resetting the network settings also deletes all of your saved Wi-Fi network passwords and Bluetooth connections.

Check for a Software Update

Apple periodically produces iOS updates that are available for installation from the Software Update section of the Settings menu. Updating iOS can rid any bugs that may be causing a cellular connection failure.

Review the update's description.

Open the Settings menu, tap General and then select Software Update. Tap Download and Install to install the update.

Tip

Your wireless service provider may release a carrier settings update that can solve the device's connection problems. Open the Settings menu, tap General and then tap About to see if an update is available.

Restart your iPhone and then consider restoring the device to factory settings if the connection problem still persists.

Contact your wireless service provider or take your iPhone to an Apple retail store to determine if the problem is due to a failed hardware component.