In emergencies, we expect our ever-reliable iPhones to come to our rescue with their calling and numerous other features. But what if the problem is in the iPhone itself? Have you ever been frustrated by seeing the SOS or SOS only alert on your iPhone and didn’t know how to solve the problem?

fix sos only on iphone

In this article, we’ll show you some simple solutions to solve the SOS Only problem on your iPhone.

It’s not a setting that you have accidentally enabled, and you can remove SOS notifications from your iPhone’s status bar. The problem may have several causes. Before we get into the solutions, let’s first understand the meaning of SOS Only on iPhones.

What Does SOS Only Mean on iPhone?

Don’t worry if you find the SOS only notice on your iPhone confusing. You can be sure that this isn’t a bug or a vulnerability but one of the fantastic features that have been integrated into the iPhone 14 series. If your iPhone displays the warning “SOS only,” it simply means that there is no network connection available at your current location. As a result, you won’t be able to use cellular data, send SMS messages, or make normal phone calls.

However, the upside is that despite facing connectivity issues, you can still utilize the SOS emergency calling feature. This means that your iPhone will only allow you to make emergency calls to services like the police, fire department, ambulance, coast guard, mountain rescue, or any other emergency services available in your country when the SOS Only alert is activated.

Keep in mind that the SOS icon is only visible on iPhones in specific countries, including the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and Europe. So, it’s an essential feature to be aware of if you find yourself in a location with no regular network coverage.

Why Does My iPhone Say SOS Only?

There are several possible causes for your iPhone showing an ‘SOS only’ notification. One possibility is that your iPhone is currently in an area with limited network coverage. If network service is insufficient in such locations, your iPhone may display the SOS only warning.

Another reason could be related to your device’s settings, such as lack of roaming or changes in network settings. Also, it’s important that you check the condition of your SIM card. An incorrectly inserted or damaged SIM card can trigger the SOS only message on your iPhone.

Also, certain factors, such as bugs in the iOS system or your device’s airplane mode being enabled, can cause your iPhone to get stuck in SOS mode.

How to Fix SOS Only on iPhone

You probably now know SOS and also why SOS only appears on your iPhone. Now let’s take a look at all possible solutions to get rid of SOS Only on iPhones.

Turn off and Turn On Airplane mode

The main cause of SOS Only appearing on iPhones is often attributed to a network error. It’s possible that the network is slowing down due to poor connectivity, resulting in the exclusive display of SOS. To fix this problem, you can try turning airplane mode on and off. This will establish a new connection that can effectively fix the problem. To do that, follow the steps below.

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone.
  2. Turn on the toggle switch to the right of Airplane Mode.
  3. Once you click the toggle switch to the right of Airplane Mode, a popup will appear asking you to turn on Airplane Mode.
  4. Now wait a second and tap the toggle switch again to turn it off.

enable airplane mode

Alternatively, you can also enable and disable Airplane Mode directly from your iPhone’s Control Center. Simply swipe down from the top right corner of the Home screen and tap the Airplane Mode icon to activate it. After a short pause, tap the icon again to deactivate flight mode.

Move to a Better Network Connective Area

If disabling and enabling Airplane mode didn’t solve your problem, you should check if it’s related to your network. This step is important before you try other solutions because there might be a temporary network problem at your current location that might resolve itself over time.

To find out, first, change your location to an area with a strong network signal. Check to see if SOS still appears on your iPhone’s screen after you change locations. If SOS still appears, the problem is probably somewhere else, and you need to look for other solutions.

Restart Your iPhone

Restarting your iPhone isn’t only the most convenient but also a widely used method that often proves effective in solving various problems. If your iPhone displays ‘SOS only’ due to errors or glitches, a simple restart can often fix the problem.

Besides, resetting your iPhone can fix cache issues, errors, and incorrect settings, restore a stable network connection, and help you out of your predicament. To restart your iPhone, follow the steps below.

  1. Begin by simultaneously pressing and holding the Power button along with either the Volume Up or Volume Down button for a few seconds.
  2. After that, the power menu will appear on the screen.
  3. Swipe the Slide to Power Off option on the power menu screen to turn off the iPhone.
  4. Allow a short pause of at least 30 seconds before moving on to the next step.
  5. After the short pause, press and hold the power button for a few seconds to restart the iPhone.

Enable Data Roaming

SOS is implemented due to the restriction that the data roaming option can only be disabled on iPhones. If you travel to another state or country with your iPhone, you must enable data roaming on your device.

Your iPhone may automatically connect to a local network while abroad, or you may need to connect manually. To enable data roaming on your iPhone, simply follow the steps below.

  1. Launch Settings on your iPhone
  2. Tap Mobile Service.

    mobile service

  3. Tap Mobile Data Options.
  4. Finally, under Mobile Data Options, turn on the toggle to the right of Data Roaming.

    data roaming

Once data roaming is enabled, you should wait some time for the network to be restored. If the network isn’t restored even after waiting, try enabling and disabling Airplane Mode on your iPhone. Check the network again. If the problem persists, proceed to the next troubleshooting step.

Switch to 4G or LTE

With the global rollout of 5G connectivity, significant concerns have arisen regarding widespread functionality issues that lead to a degradation of the user experience. This has led to the activation of SOS only mode, which negatively impacts signal strength and drains the battery.

If you encounter this issue, you can disable your iPhone’s 5G feature and use the more reliable 4G network. To do so, follow the steps below.

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Select Mobile Service from the options.

    mobile service

  3. Navigate to Mobile Data Options.
  4. Within Mobile Data Options, choose Voice & Data to switch the network from 5G to 4G or LTE.
  5. Toggle the switch next to VoLTE to enable it when on 4G.

    voice & data

Update Carrier Settings

Carrier Settings is designed to improve cellular connectivity and the overall performance of your iPhone. It can improve network performance, and you can get rid of SOS Only on iPhone. The carrier settings can be updated automatically or manually. Make sure you have a stable Wi-Fi connection and enable cellular data before proceeding.

If you’re using an eSIM, you can manually download the new carrier settings if they’re needed. If you don’t see a prompt to update, it means your device is already up to date.
  1. Open Settings.
  2. Scroll down and tap General.
  3. Click on About.


  4. Scroll down to Carrier.
  5. If a new update is available, you will see an Update button next to the carrier. Tap Update to install the new carrier settings.

If you don’t see an Update button, then your iPhone already has the latest carrier settings installed.

Disable and Enable Automatic Network Selection

Sometimes network settings can become corrupted, requiring a reset to restore proper function. If you’re facing the SOS only problem on your iPhone, one possible solution is to disable automatic network selection.

When you enable automatic network selection, your iPhone will perform a thorough scan for available networks and connect to the most appropriate one to solve the SOS-only problem. Normally, this feature is enabled by default, but it may have been disabled or you may have encountered problems. To disable and re-enable automatic network selection, follow the steps below:

  1. Open the Settings App.
  2. Select Mobile Service.
  3. Choose Network Selection from the options.
  4. If the Automatic option is enabled, temporarily disable it by tapping the switch to the right of it and waiting a while.


  5. Activate the toggle switch to the right of Automatic again.

If you find yourself encountering the SOS-only problem even after enabling Automatic Network Selection, you might want to consider attempting further alternative solutions.

Re-Insert SIM Card

Occasionally, the SOS only issue on an iPhone could be related to the physical SIM card. To resolve this, try removing the SIM card from your iPhone and then reinserting it. This simple step should help fix the problem.

  • Locate the SIM card slot on the side of your iPhone.
  • Use the SIM ejector tool or a paper clip to open the SIM card slot.
  • Carefully remove the SIM card from the tray.
  • Wipe the SIM card with a soft, dry cloth to make sure it’s clean.
  • Carefully place the SIM card back into the tray.
  • Finally, close the SIM card tray securely.
Don’t reset your eSIM unless you’re prompted to do so by your carrier. If you reset the eSIM, all settings will be erased, and you’ll have to set it up again. Avoid resetting your eSIM unless your carrier specifically advises you to do so, as you’ll need to reinstall it afterward.

Reset Network Settings

Performing a network settings reset on your iPhone is a highly recommended solution to the problem of your device constantly displaying only SOS. If the previously mentioned methods fail to solve the problem and your iPhone continues to display SOS, a complete network settings reset can effectively fix the issue.

However, be sure to note that doing so will erase all saved Wi-Fi passwords, connected Bluetooth devices, and other related configurations. To start resetting the network, follow the step-by-step guide below:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap on General.
  3. Scroll down and select Transfer Or Reset Settings.

    transfer or reset settings

  4. Tap on Reset.
  5. Select Reset Network Settings among the options prompts.
  6. As soon as you click on Reset Network Settings, a confirmation popup prompts, then tap Reset Network Settings again.

    reset network settings

Check For Software Update

We have exhausted almost all possible troubleshooting steps from your side. The last recommendation is to make sure your iPhone has the latest iOS update. It’s possible that the problem with SOS Only is related to a software issue. If you check your iPhone for available software updates and install them, you should be able to resolve the issue with SOS Only and have a fully functional device again.

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Scroll down and tap General.
  3. Now, click Software Update.
  4. If an update is available, the update information is displayed directly on the screen.
    If you don’t see an available update, it means your iPhone is already running the latest version of iOS.
  5. Here, you will see two options to update; Update Now or Update Tonight.

    software update

    If you click Update Now, the software update process will begin. If you choose Update Tonight, your iPhone will try to update while the device is locked and the battery is still sufficiently charged. The installation of this update usually takes about 20 minutes.
  6. Once the update is complete, tap on Download and Install.

Contact Your Carrier

If you encounter the recurring problem of witnessing SOS or SOS only next to the Wi-Fi icon, the recommended step is to contact your carrier for assistance. They possess the expertise needed to help you resolve this matter effectively. Initiate a phone call with them and provide comprehensive details about the troubleshooting steps you’ve already performed. If their suggestions do not lead to a solution, you may consider seeking further assistance from Apple Support by booking an appointment with the Genius Bar.

Guide to Fix SOS Only on iPhone

Experiencing the SOS Only message on your iPhone can be quite frustrating, especially if you depend on your phone for your daily work, entertainment and communication.

Don’t brood, if you follow the eleven walkthroughs described in this article, you can diagnose and fix the problem and restore your iPhone’s network connection. Thanks for reading; cheers!

FAQs about Fixing SOS Only iPhone

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The SOS Only notification isn't limited to specific iPhone models. It is available on all iPhones running iOS 11 or later. It can be found on any iPhone model that has the Emergency SOS feature enabled. If you want to try this feature on your iPhone, go to Settings and find the Emergency SOS section to try it out.

No, you cannot receive incoming calls when your iPhone is in SOS Only mode. When your iPhone is in SOS Only mode, it can only be used to make emergency calls. This is because SOS Only mode is designed to be used in an emergency situation when you need to be able to get help quickly. If you need to be able to receive incoming calls, you will need to turn off SOS Only mode.

Yes, you can send text messages when your iPhone is in SOS Only mode. However, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • First, you can only send text messages to your emergency contacts.
  • Second, the text messages will be sent using SMS, not iMessage. This means that they will count against your monthly SMS allowance.
  • Third, the text messages will not include any location information.

If an iPhone's SIM card is damaged, it can cause the SOS Only alert to appear. This message may appear if the iPhone is unable to connect to a cellular network due to a damaged or incorrectly inserted SIM card.

The 'SOS Only' warning doesn't affect the ability of emergency services to accurately determine the location of the iPhone. Every time an emergency call is triggered from an iPhone, the device automatically sends its location to the emergency services, regardless of whether a 'SOS only' alert is displayed.

An SOS only iPhone is an iPhone that is in a special mode that allows you to quickly and easily make emergency calls. This mode is activated by pressing and holding the side button and either volume button for 5 seconds.

When your iPhone is in SOS only mode, it will:

  • Display a red SOS slider at the top of the screen.
  • Make a loud sound.
  • Vibrate.
  • Send a text message to your emergency contacts with your current location.
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