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What to do if your iPhone says there's "no SIM"

Work your way through this list of options.
By
August 22, 2022

Setting up and activating a new iPhone is usually a very smooth and straightforward process. But occasionally, there can be an odd hiccup here and there, especially when your iPhone says there’s no SIM card inserted. If you get this message, and you’re wondering how to get rid of it, use the following troubleshooting tips to narrow and nail down your problem.

Read more: How to activate any T-Mobile SIM card

QUICK ANSWER

If your iPhone says there's no SIM, it can mean that the SIM hasn't been inserted, it hasn't been inserted properly, the SIM is damaged, your carrier account may have an issue, or the iPhone itself may have an issue. All can be fixed, however.


JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

Why does my iPhone say “No SIM”?

ultra mobile sim and iphone
Ultra Mobile

There are multiple possibilities as to why your iPhone is throwing up a “No SIM” message. But by a logical process of elimination, you can usually quickly find out the issue and fix it.

In short, you’re most likely looking at one of the following:

  • A hardware problem — the SIM card could be damaged, or the iPhone itself could be defective.
  • A software problem — the iPhone may need an important update.
  • A settings problem — an iPhone setting could be disabled and must be toggled on.
  • A carrier problem — your account with your phone carrier could have an issue, which means your SIM would be deactivated.

How to fix the “No SIM” error on iPhones

Let’s now look at each possibility, and how to check it and fix it.

Open the SIM card tray and check the SIM

If you have already inserted a SIM card, and the phone screen says ‘No SIM’, the first thing to check is to see if the SIM card is actually inserted properly into the SIM tray. It’s very easy to get it the wrong way around. A micro-SIM is also very fidgety to handle, so it also may not be sitting snugly in the tray.

Get a paperclip and straighten it out to form a straight piece of wire.

paperclip iphone
Mark O'Neill / Android Authority

Then locate the SIM card tray on the side of the phone and pop the end of the paperclip into the tiny hole.

iphone sim tray
Mark O'Neill / Android Authority

Now give it a very slight but firm nudge to pop the SIM tray out.

iphone sim tray out
Mark O'Neill / Android Authority

Make sure the SIM card is in the tray properly. Compare the shape of the SIM card to the shape of the tray and adjust accordingly. Make sure it is snug, with the gold-colored side face up.

Check to make sure the SIM card isn’t damaged

While you have the SIM card out of the tray, give it a thorough examination to ensure it isn’t damaged. If it has any scratches, scuffs, or if the gold side has been cut too far with a knife (which is easy to do if you are making a larger SIM card into a micro-SIM), then that will obviously cause the SIM card to malfunction. In this situation, you will have to buy a new SIM card from the phone carrier.

Make sure your iPhone has installed all updates

Assuming that there doesn’t seem to be anything outwardly wrong with the SIM card, and it seems to be fitted in the phone properly, the next step is to check that your phone has all the required updates.

ios software update

First, go to Settings–>General–>Software Update, and check to see if there are any uninstalled system updates.

iphone carrier settings

Also, check for an iPhone Carrier Settings update. As the name implies, these are settings from your phone carrier that enables you to use their service efficiently. In various parts of the world, including Europe, it will be called Network instead.

You will usually be notified if there is a carrier settings update, but you can manually check by going to Settings–>General–>About, and looking at Carrier.

Check with your phone carrier to make sure your account is valid

T Mobile logo
Kris Carlon / Android Authority

If the SIM card isn’t damaged, and the phone has all available updates installed, then the next step is to contact the phone carrier. They may not have activated the SIM card yet, or your account may have been deactivated due to a specific issue that needs to be addressed.

A quick premium rate call to them, navigating their phone menu that doesn’t understand your accent, accidentally choosing Spanish instead of English, starting again, then sitting in the phone queue listening to Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ for an hour should clear any outstanding matters right up.

Contact Apple Tech Support

iPhone Apple Support

If all the above options have been tried without success, then you likely have a defective iPhone. The only course of action in this scenario is to contact Apple Support and arrange for the phone to be sent back for repair or replacement.


Read more: How to use WhatsApp without a SIM card in your phone

FAQs

It means your iPhone is unlocked, and you can use any SIM card from any carrier.

Yes, you can activate your iPhone without a SIM card, but it must be unlocked first, and it must be running iOS 11.4 and above. If so, you can dismiss the ‘No SIM Card’ message during the iPhone activation process.

Yes, you can use an activated iPhone without a SIM card. You just won’t be able to call or text anyone, that’s all. But everything else will work on wi-fi.