What Is SoS Only on an iPhone?
Mobile phones have been part and parcel of our lives for nearly three decades, and using them has almost become muscle memory.
But what do you do if you notice an “SOS Only” warning on your iPhone? Can you make calls or send text messages as usual?
This article takes an in-depth look into the matter while sharing tips and tricks to help get your phone back up and running again.
What Is SOS Only on an iPhone?
The “SOS Only” status appears when your iPhone cannot connect with your carrier’s network. In other words, your device cannot communicate with the cellular network and, therefore, cannot process regular calls, messages, or even mobile data usage.
Several issues can trigger the warning, but in most cases, it appears when you’re too far from a cell tower, resulting in a signal that’s too weak to sustain normal service. Other possible reasons include temporary network outages or damage to your SIM card.
The “SOS Only” status doesn’t interfere with the functionality of the applications on your iPhone, either from third parties or the manufacturer. You can access your photos, videos, and pretty much everything in your local storage, including your old texts and call history. However, you cannot send messages, make or receive calls, or even access the internet — unless you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network.
However, you can still make calls to emergency services like 911 or 112. When you dial an emergency number, your iPhone attempts to connect to any available network, even if it’s not your carrier.
So, what can you do to try and restore normal services? We’ll now look at several reliable troubleshooting methods that can help reconnect the device to your carrier’s network.
Restart Your iPhone
Before trying anything complex, you might want to try restarting your device. In some cases, a restart helps your iPhone to re-establish connections with the cellular network, which may resolve the “SOS Only” warning if the issue is related to a temporary connectivity problem.
In addition, it resets all internal processes and gives your iPhone a fresh start. This can resolve glitches or firmware errors that interfere with regular signal reception.
Check SIM Card
A damaged SIM card might develop reception problems, especially if its contact points are scratched, bent, or covered in debris. As such, it’s a good idea to remove the card and examine it for any signs of damage.
If the SIM card appears damaged, you should contact your carrier and request a replacement. Otherwise, reinsert the card carefully and ensure it seats correctly in the designated spot.
Check Network Coverage
There’s a possibility you may have “wandered” to an area that’s outside your network’s coverage. This can happen when camping far from home or visiting a new state. In rural areas, in particular, cell towers are spread out over an area of up to 10 miles, making it difficult to get a signal strong enough to sustain normal communication.
If the area has poor network coverage, the solution is to move to a different location. The good thing about mobile devices is they can detect network signals automatically in most situations. As such, you’ll actually be able to see the network bars increasing on your iPhone’s screen as you move closer to an area with better coverage.
Restart Cellular Data
Sometimes restarting your iPhone may not fix the “SOS Only” error message because the issue might be related to the cellular data connection. In this scenario, turning the device’s cellular data off and then back on can do the trick. Here’s how:
- Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
- Tap “Cellular Data.”
- Toggle the “Cellular Data” slider button into the off position.
After a few moments, toggle the slider button back on.
Alternatively, you can turn off cellular data via the Control Center shortcut. To do so, simply swipe up from the bottom of your screen and tap the “Cellular Data” icon once. One more tap after a few seconds will turn the data back on.
Enable Data Roaming
When you travel to a different country or region, your device may connect to a local carrier’s network to maintain access to the internet and other data services. This process is called data roaming.
Data roaming is usually turned on in Apple devices, but there’s always a chance you may have toggled it off. Here’s how to check the status:
- Navigate to the Settings app on your device and tap the “Cellular Data” option.
- If data roaming is enabled, the slider button next to this option should be green. If not, tap the button to activate data roaming on your device.
It’s important to note that data roaming comes with additional charges, which can be much higher than the regular data rates on your home network. These charges vary from region to region, depending on the agreement between your carrier and the foreign network operator.
Switch to 4G or LTE
Major carriers in North America, including T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon, have deployed 5G to take advantage of the faster data speeds offered by the fifth-generation network. However, some carriers have yet to deploy it in some regions, so you may notice low signal strength in your travels.
As such, switching to the more widely available 4G or LTE can resolve network errors and restore communication on your iPhone. Here’s how to make the switch:
- Open the Settings and navigate to “Cellular Data.”
- Tap “Voice & Data.”
- Select “4G” or “LTE” from the list of available data options.
It’s Not a Permanent Setback
The “SOS Only” error message can be frustrating, but there’s absolutely no reason it should turn into a permanent setback. That’s because plenty of troubleshooting options can resolve the issue and restore communication between the carrier network and your device.
Of course, contacting your carrier for assistance is also an option, but it’s always a good idea to try and resolve the issue yourself and save time.
Have you tried restoring the network connection to your iPhone using any of these tips? How did it go?
Let us know in the comments section below.