What Does No Service Mean On My iPhone?

You go to make a phone call or send a text, but it does not go through. You just can’t get it to send. Then, you notice that your phone says ‘No Service’ where your bars usually are. What does it mean, ‘No Service’? Are you simply in a dead zone, or did you forget to pay your monthly bill?

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What Does No Service Mean On My iPhone?

Whether your phone has run into a hardware problem, software issue, or your plan itself has incurred some sort of dilemma, a ‘No Service’ message on your iPhone can crop up. There can be different causes of this problem, so you will need to try various troubleshooting techniques to figure out what is causing this. You might need to update software, reset your network settings, or check for water damage – all things I will walk you through.

I’ve had it happen while driving along back country roads. I’ll be listening to my Apple Music via my Bluetooth adapter, then bam! The service totally drops as I enter a dead zone. 

At first, I was really confused as to why my music would just randomly stop for a few minutes then start back up again. But, as it turned out, I had been winding my way through one of the many dead zones where my cell phone service provider simply does not reach.

As it turns out, this is the case for most ‘No Service’ messages – but it isn’t the only cause. There are instances in which a phone will give this message when there should indeed be service. That being said, it is important that you know how to fix this problem if it ever happens to you.

Check With Your Cellular Service Carrier

The first thing you should do is check in with your carrier. If your carrier suspects any type of fraudulent activity or hasn’t received your payment yet, they might turn your service off. If your account was cancelled for any reason, your phone will say ‘No Service’.

If this is the case but shouldn’t have happened, you might want to look into switching carriers, especially if it happens more than once.

Update Carrier and Software Settings

Sometimes, a software problem can lead to a ‘No Service’ message. If you are able to get on WIFI, you can update software and carrier settings to try to fix it. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Connect to WIFI (if you are able), then go to your iPhone’s Settings > General > Software Update.
  2. No iOS update available? Then go to Settings > General > About to look for any carrier settings updates. You’ll have to remain on the About page for 10 seconds.

If you can’t access WIFI, simply connect your iPhone to your computer. You can open up iTunes or Finder (if you’re on a Mac running Catalina 10.15 or later) to look for a software update for your iPhone. It will ask if you want to update your iPhone, should an update be available.

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Reset Network Settings

If you reset your iPhone’s network settings to their factory defaults, you might be able to fix a variety of WIFI and cellular issues. This essentially forgets your WIFI networks, which means you will need to reconnect them and re-enter your passwords. After your phone reboots, the ‘No Service’ glitch will hopefully disappear.

If you need to Reset Network Settings, open up Settings > General > Transfer or Reset iPhone > Reset > Reset Network Settings. Next, enter your passcode. Finally, tap on Reset Network Settings.

Check Your iPhone’s Cellular Settings

If your cellular data settings are improperly set up, a ‘No Service’ message can appear. What you will see in your Settings unfortunately varies from carrier to carrier, but it is definitely worth a shot. Here’s how to check:

  1. Go into Settings -> Cellular. Check that Cellular Data is on. Try turning it off and on again.
  2. Go into Cellular Data Options > Roaming. Ensure that Voice Roaming is on. If you’re based in the US, it should be. Carriers don’t charge for roaming as they once did.
  3. Go to Settings -> Carriers, then turn off the automatic carrier selection. 

Remove the SIM Card

How exactly does a SIM card work? Well, it connects your iPhone to the carrier’s cellular network. and is basically how the carrier tells your iPhone from every other phone. Your iPhone might stop saying No Service if you remove the SIM card, give it a moment, and put it back in again. You will probably want to get an ejector tool to use or resort to the good old paperclip removal method.

Look For Water Damage

If your phone is smashed to smithereens, it will likely say ‘No Service’. But the same could be true for a phone that has sustained water damage. If water gets into those internal electrical components, it can cause a short, and that might result in your phone not being able to properly communicate with your cellular provider. 

Apple won’t repair a phone that has been the victim of water damage, but they will replace them if you have the phone covered under AppleCare+. Otherwise, you are going to be out hundreds of dollars to get another iPhone.

Back Up and Restore

If your iPhone tends to overheat or experiences rampant battery drains, your phone might struggle to receive service due to software corruption. You can try to back up and restore your iPhone to factory settings. 

But, as you might already know, a factory restore will wipe all info from your phone – hence why you need to run a backup first.

Just bear in mind that restoring a phone with ‘No Service’ can be hazardous since the iPhone has to be activated prior to use after a restore. If you restore it and still see ‘No Service’, then you’ve just rendered your phone totally useless. Only do this if you have an Apple Store close by that you can go to if this doesn’t work.

Consider Your Repair Options

If nothing else works, consider repairing or replacing your iPhone after you’ve contacted your cellular carrier to make sure the problem isn’t on their end. Carriers can give you special activation codes when you stop receiving service for no reason, so it is a good idea to check with them before you get Apple to repair your iPhone or you replace it. 

If the carrier cannot fix the problem, they will direct you to an Apple Store so that a technician can diagnose your iPhone instead.

Closing Thoughts

Not getting service on your iPhone can be as simple as hitting a dead zone and as complicated as a serious software corruption. Whatever the case, there are troubleshooting methods you can try, as I have outlined above.

Do this before you cave and go to an Apple Store to repair or replace your phone. Otherwise, you could be looking at a couple of weeks without a phone or having to shell out hundreds of dollars on a new iPhone. With any amount of luck, one of these troubleshooting techniques will resolve your ‘No Service’ issue.