sos only iphone

How to fix “SOS Only” issue on iPhone

Imagine a scenario where your iPhone is rendered practically useless, unable to perform even the most basic tasks like making calls or browsing the internet. No, this isn’t a doomsday scenario; it’s the frustrating reality of dealing with the “SOS Only” issue on your iPhone.

This problem has plagued numerous iPhone users, and in this article, we will delve into what “SOS Only” signifies on an iPhone and explore methods to rectify this error.

Understanding “SOS Only” on iPhone

When your iPhone displays “SOS Only,” it means your regular calling, SMS, and cellular data services are entirely disabled, effectively cutting off your network connectivity. On iOS 16, you’ll see the “SOS Only” message in the top-right corner of the control center, while in previous versions, it appears in the top left corner.

Emergency SOS remains functional, allowing you to contact relevant authorities. However, please note that this service is currently available only in the United States, Europe, Canada, and Australia.

The primary reasons your iPhone might show the “SOS Only” error include:

  1. Being outside your carrier’s coverage area.
  2. Poor network reception.
  3. Using an older device.
  4. Lacking an active cellular plan.

If you’re encountering a “No Service” issue on iOS 16 instead of “SOS Only,” we have a separate guide dedicated to addressing that problem.

Ten Solutions to Fix the “SOS Only” Issue on iPhone

Now that you comprehend the implications of “SOS Only” on your iPhone and its potential causes, let’s explore ways to resolve this frustrating error.

  1. Enable Roaming on Your iPhone

Before embarking on a journey outside your local area, state, or even country, it’s crucial to enable roaming on your iPhone.

Enable roaming on iPhone

  • Open the Settings app.
  • Navigate to Cellular/Mobile Data.
  • Tap Cellular/Mobile Data Options and toggle on Data Roaming.

Keep in mind that some cellular service providers may charge extra for roaming.

  1. Update Carrier Settings on iPhone

Carriers periodically release updates to enhance cellular connectivity and overall network performance. Although these updates usually occur automatically, you can manually check and update carrier settings on your iPhone to potentially resolve the issue.

  1. Toggle Cellular Data On/Off

If your iPhone has a SIM card inserted, and you’re experiencing a lack of cellular service, a simple on/off toggle of Cellular Data might help resolve the problem.

  • Access the Control Center and tap the Cellular Data icon. Wait a moment and then tap it again.


  • Open Settings.
  • Go to Cellular/Mobile Data and toggle off Cellular/Mobile Data.
  • After a brief pause, toggle it back on.
  1. Switch to 4G or LTE

While the prospect of enjoying 5G on your iPhone is enticing, it may be the reason behind the “No Service” message shortly after activation. Since 5G infrastructure is still evolving, sticking with 4G or Auto mode can provide a more stable connection until 5G becomes widely accessible.

  1. Activate/Deactivate Airplane Mode

Airplane Mode serves as a quick method to restart your wireless connection, which can potentially resolve the “SOS Only” issue on your iPhone.

Refresh cellular network using Airplane mode

  • Open the Control Center and tap the Airplane icon. After a brief delay, toggle it off and check if the problem persists.
  • Alternatively, go to Settings and toggle Airplane Mode on/off.
  1. Adjust Automatic Network Selection

The Automatic Network Selection feature helps your SIM connect to the most suitable network, although it may not always identify the optimal one immediately. To address this, toggle Automatic Network Selection off and on again to re-establish the connection and potentially fix the “SOS Only” issue.

  • Open Settings and select Cellular/Mobile Data.
  • Choose Network Selection and toggle off Automatic.
  • Wait a few seconds, then toggle it back on.
  1. Reinsert the SIM Card

While rare, network connectivity problems can also stem from a physical issue with the SIM card. In such cases, removing and reinserting the SIM card might resolve the problem. However, if you’re using an eSIM, avoid resetting it unless your carrier advises otherwise.

  1. Reset Network Settings on iPhone

If none of the previous methods prove effective, you can attempt to resolve the “SOS Only” issue by resetting all network settings on your iPhone. Be aware that this process erases all saved data related to connected Bluetooth devices, Wi-Fi passwords, VPN configurations, and other network settings, including the “SOS Only” error (hopefully).

Reset Network Settings

  • Open Settings and tap General.
  • Scroll down and select “Transfer or Reset iPhone.”
  • Choose Reset and then opt for Reset Network Settings.
  • Enter your passcode and confirm the reset.
  1. If You’re on a 3G Network

With the advent of 5G and improvements in 4G networks, several cellular service providers have phased out their 3G services to allocate resources elsewhere. Consequently, older devices such as the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, or earlier, and the iPad 2 Wi-Fi + Cellular or earlier, may encounter the “SOS Only” message. If you own an iPhone 6 or a third-generation iPad or newer, consider updating your device.

  1. Other Common Solutions

If none of the above methods prove successful, don’t lose hope. Here are some additional options to explore:

  • Update your iPhone: Apple continually releases new iOS versions to address bugs and optimize the operating system. If you see the “SOS Only” message, consider updating your iPhone or iPad.
  • Restart your iPhone: Like all electronic devices, your iPhone can benefit from a restart. If it’s unresponsive, you can also attempt a force restart.
  • Reset your iPhone: While this should be considered a last resort, a full reset of your iPhone may help resolve the issue.
  • Contact Apple Support: If none of the aforementioned solutions yield results, consider reaching out to Apple Support for assistance.

Contact Your Carrier

If none of the above solutions prove effective, your final recourse is to contact your carrier provider and seek their assistance. They may be able to resolve the issue by providing a new SIM card or implementing other measures.


Living without cellular services can be a nightmarish experience, but with the guidance provided in this article, we hope to have empowered you to address and resolve the “SOS Only” issue on your iPhone. If you still have questions or require further assistance, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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