Are you getting SIM related errors on your iPhone and can’t see cellular signal bars? As a result, you can’t make calls, use mobile data, and send or receive text messages?
Usually, this is caused by problems with the SIM you are trying to use. Your iPhone will display error messages like Invalid SIM Card, No SIM Card , No SIM Installed Card , Invalid SIM Card , Unsupported SIM Card , SIM Card Failed .
Other times, the error might be with your iPhone that failed to recognize the SIM card. Let us tell you more and show you how to fix SIM card issues on your iPhone or iPad cellular device.
Was your iPhone purchased from a carrier and locked?
iPhones are of two types – unlocked and unlocked. Carrier-secured iPhones can only be used with one carrier (usually where you bought the iPhone). On the other hand, you can use any company’s SIM on your unlocked iPhone.
To check if your iPhone is locked or not, go to Settings > General > About . Here, if you see No SIM limitation next to Carrier Lock, then your iPhone is unlocked. Please skip everything below and go to the following address.
If your iPhone is locked, and you try to use a different carrier’s SIM card, an invalid SIM error screen will appear with the following text:
The SIM card you currently installed in this iPhone is from a service provider that is not supported under the activation policy that is currently set by the activation server. This is not an iPhone issue. Please insert another SIM card from supported service provider or request unlock this iPhone from our service provider. Please contact Apple for more information.
Fortunately, unlocking an iPhone is not complicated. Go to this post by Sebastién and also check out this Apple Support page .
A word about eSIM on iPhone
Do you use an eSIM on your iPhone? Normally, with an eSIM (built into your iPhone), you don’t see any SIM card failure or SIM card invalid errors.
In the event that the eSIM is not working on your iPhone, it is most likely because you have not paid your pending bill or prepaid SIM recharge. Pay the bill and your cellular services will work as before.
Rarely, your carrier may have deactivated your account by mistake. In this case, you need to contact them and ask for clarification. In the worst case scenario, you may have to set up the eSIM again on your iPhone.
Your carrier will provide the necessary instructions, QR code, one-time password, etc., as applicable. The process is slightly different for different companies around the world.
Activate iPhone via SIM card
Earlier, you needed a valid SIM card to activate your new or restored iPhone. But that’s no longer a requirement, and you can set up your new or restored iPhone using Wi-Fi. After setup, if your iPhone doesn’t recognize the SIM card, the following solutions will help you.
How to fix SIM card problems on iPhone and iPad cellular
Follow these solutions to fix invalid SIM, no SIM card, or other related issues.
1. Enable and disable Airplane mode
First, go to your iPhone Settings or Control Center and turn on Airplane mode. After waiting for 15 seconds, please turn it off. For a few seconds, you’ll see ” Search “, which is where you usually see cellular bars. If you see your carrier’s name in Control Center, your SIM card is working.
If it says no service , the SIM card is working, but there is no cellular coverage. In this case, make sure you are in an area with cellular coverage (by your carrier).
Tip: Go to iPhone Settings > Carrier > Choose Network and turn off the Auto switch . Now, your iPhone will manually search for all available carrier signals in that area. Tap on your carrier’s name when it appears. If not displayed, your carrier will not operate in this area because there are no cell towers here (or share partnerships with other carriers).
2. Turn on the SIM line
If you are using Dual SIM and No SIM appears , go to iPhone Settings > Carrier > tap on SIM and enable the switch for this line . Repeat this with the other SIM card.
3. Restart iPhone
Oftentimes, the most frustrating issues are fixed by a simple restart. If you’re experiencing SIM card errors on your iPhone, turn it off and after waiting a minute, turn it back on again. Don’t skip this solution, especially if you took out and inserted a new SIM card while your iPhone was on.
4. Gently wipe and reinsert the SIM card
Sometimes after restarting my four year old iPhone I will get invalid SIM or No SIM message even though a working one is inserted. To address this:
- Use a SIM ejection tool or an appropriate pin to eject the SIM card tray. On iPhone 12 and later, the SIM card tray is on the left side. On iPhone 4 through iPhone 11, the SIM card tray is on the right side. And on the original iPhone 3GS, 3G, and iPhone, the SIM card tray is on top.
- Next, gently wipe the SIM card with a soft, dry cloth. Do not use any liquid.
- Clean the SIM card tray.
- Next, blow some air into your iPhone’s SIM card slot (don’t accidentally spit out and inject moisture).
- Finally, put the SIM card in its tray and insert it properly inside your iPhone. Press hard.
- Within a few seconds, you should see your carrier name and cellular bars in Control Center. If it doesn’t work, try the above process several times.
5. Remove the iPhone case, cover or lamination
Do you use a thick or unusual case on your iPhone? Or have you wrapped the sides of the iPhone with thin plastic or leather that sticks above the SIM card tray? If yes, please remove these obstructions and then reinsert the SIM card. Do not put the cap or case back on until you get cellular signals.
6. Check if your SIM card is active or not
You’ll only see your carrier name and carrier’s strength when the SIM you’re trying to use is active. The SIM is considered active when you use it regularly (on any phone) or recharge/pay your bills on time.
If you’re trying to use an abandoned SIM, it probably won’t work because it’s inactive. In my country, if you do not recharge the SIM card for about three months, most carriers may render it inoperable. And if you don’t recharge for six months or more, they may assign that phone number to someone else!
So, if you’re trying to use an old SIM in your iPhone, recharge it first (if it’s prepaid) or pay its bills and ask your carrier to reactivate it. Usually, it’s an easy process.
7. Remove the SIM PIN with a different phone and re-insert it in your iPhone
You can secure your SIM card with a PIN code. This feature has been available for several years on almost all phones, including feature phones.
Suppose a PIN code is set on the SIM card. If you try to use this SIM on any phone, you will first have to enter the correct PIN.
When you insert a locked SIM card into your iPhone, it will show you a screen to enter and unlock the SIM card PIN. However, you may not see this screen to enter the PIN in rare cases due to software errors.
In this case, go to iPhone Settings > Carrier , and you may see the option to enter your PIN. If you don’t, restart your iPhone, and then you will.
In rare cases, the iPhone may not recognize the PIN-secured SIM card. This can be due to unexplainable bugs in iOS. To remedy this, put this SIM in your iPhone, other Android phone , or feature phone and turn off the SIM PIN.
Typically, you’ll see this option under SIM or Carrier settings. Next, reinsert the SIM card into your iPhone, and it should recognize it.
8. Try another SIM card
Do the following to see if the problem is with your iPhone or the SIM card:
- Try the failed SIM on a different phone and see if it works.
- Try using a different SIM card on your iPhone and see if it works.
Tip: Don’t hit allow or OK in any popups asking to activate iMessage and FaceTime with this temporary SIM card.
9. Contact your carrier to replace the SIM card
You should visit a nearby telecom store and ask them to replace your SIM card if:
- Another SIM works on iPhone and
- The SIM you are trying to use on the iPhone does not even work on other phones.
In most cases, the carrier will replace the card for free or charge a minimum amount. After all, they want you to have an active SIM so you can use it and pay them a monthly fee!
If you’re hesitant to take a trip to your carrier’s store, visit their website and see if your carrier provides you with SIM cards.
Useful: Apple Support page with website links for wireless carriers
10. Update your iPhone
It is possible that your iPhone will not accept a different SIM card due to the errors. To remedy this, go to Settings > General > Software Update and update your iPhone.
11. Try updating carrier settings
Your carrier pushes updates that may add new features and ensure everything is working properly. Before moving on to the remaining solutions, learn about carrier settings update and how to check it.
12. Reset network settings
Still unable to turn on the SIM card? Go to Settings > General > Transfer or Reset iPhone > Reset > Reset Network Settings .
13. Reset all iPhone settings
If the network reset does not work for you, consider resetting all settings and hopefully, that will fix the annoying SIM card issues.
14. Erase and setup your iPhone again
If nothing helps and your SIM card is fine, but the problem is on your iPhone, your only solution is to have it checked at the Apple Store.
However, before you do that, you can try one final solution: wipe your iPhone and set it up again. This should fix the problem if the iPhone does not recognize the SIM cards due to software issues. Here are all the tutorials you’ll need:
- Create an iPhone backup in iTunes or iCloud, and why it’s important
- How to erase everything on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch
- How to set up iPhone from an iCloud backup
- How to set up iPhone from iTunes backup
15. Contact Apple Support to book an appointment
Finally, if scanning your iPhone doesn’t help (or doesn’t because of the complexity), chat with Apple Support and ask them to schedule an appointment at an Apple Store or authorized service center.
At the specified date and time, scan your iPhone. It should not recognize the SIM card due to hardware issues, and the Apple Store will fix it for you.
FIXED: SIM card errors on iPhone
Now hope your SIM issues are fixed and you’re back to enjoying calls, texts, and mobile data. If there is a different solution that works for you, please share it in the comments section so that your experience can help some other iPhone users who are struggling with this annoying issue.