iPhone stuck in SOS mode? So know how to get regular service

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When you’re traveling outside of populated areas, “SOS” may display in the corner of your iPhone, which means you don’t have regular cellular service and can only make emergency calls.

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Worse still, when you return to a populated area with good cell coverage, you still can’t resume regular phone service. That annoying SOS status stays in the corner of your screen, and no matter how high you lift your phone, you still can’t access the internet.

What is it? Let’s take a look at iPhone’s Emergency SOS service via satellite and see what you can do when your iPhone gets stuck in Emergency SOS mode.

While you’re here, check out how to use Emergency SOS via Satellite to contact 911 and how to stop your iPhone from automatically calling 911.

What exactly is Apple’s Emergency SOS via Satellite?

Emergency SOS via Satellite is a feature on the Apple iPhone 14 and later models that allows you to contact emergency services and share your location with them even if you don’t have cellular network service.

Whenever you don’t have cellular service or Wi-Fi, you’ll see an SOS in the corner of your iPhone, indicating that you can use Emergency SOS via satellite to get emergency help.

Comment, There’s also Emergency SOS on every iPhone, and while this feature calls your local emergency number and shares your location information with emergency services, it does require you to have the service. It’s not the same as Emergency SOS via satellite.

So what’s the problem with SOS mode then?

Once your iPhone loses service and is in Emergency SOS mode, your device may have trouble finding your network, even after you’ve returned to an area where service is available. You may notice that someone else in the area has service while you do not, or vice versa. Fortunately, there are several ways to deal with this problem.

Read more: Best iPhone in 2024

A man holding an iPhone in the woods. A man holding an iPhone in the woods.

Emergency SOS in action.

Kevin Heinz/CNET

What to do if you are stuck in Emergency SOS mode?

According to Apple, if you see “SOS” or “SOS only” in the status bar, you can do the following to help your device find a cellular network:

  • Make sure you are in an area with cellular network coverageYou can connect with people around you who have the service while you don’t.
  • Toggle your cellular data off and on. Go Adjustment , cellular and turn cellular data Off and then on again.
  • Restart your iPhoneOn iPhone X and later models, press and hold either of the volume buttons and the side button until the Power Off slider appears, and then drag the slider. Wait 30 seconds and then press and hold the side button to turn your iPhone back on. If you have an older iPhone model, here’s how to restart it.
  • Check for carrier settings update. Your carrier may send carrier settings updates to improve your cellular network connectivity and performance. As long as you are connected to the Internet, go to Adjustment , General , About this and see if there are any updates available.
  • Turn your cellular line off and on. Go Adjustment , cellular , your phone number And turn your cellular line off and on. If you’re not using an eSIM, remove the SIM card from your phone and insert it back.
  • Update your iPhone. If there is a bug in the software, it may be causing problems with your cellular service. To check for software updates, go here Adjustment , General , software updateYou’ll need the Internet for this, so if you can’t connect to cellular then Wi-Fi will be your only option.
  • Reset your network settingsWarning: This will reset all your Wi-Fi networks and passwords, cellular settings, and VPN settings, so only do this if you’ve already tried all the methods above. If you’re okay with this, go here Adjustment , General , Transfer or reset iPhone , Reset , Reset the network Adjustment,

Three tips to help you get service on your iPhone Three tips to help you get service on your iPhone

Restart your iPhone, toggle cellular data off and on and check for any software updates.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

Finally, if network connection problems persist, Apple suggests contacting your phone carrier, as there may be an issue with your carrier or account that’s affecting your service, such as an outage in your area or a defaulted account.

If you are traveling internationally and get stuck on SOS upon arrival, make sure data roaming is enabled. You can go here Adjustment , cellular , your phone number and turn on data roaming,

For more, learn everything you need to know about the upcoming iPhone 16.

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