Home 9 Apps & Devices 9 What Does SOS Mean on iPhone and How to Fix it? (2024)

What Does SOS Mean on iPhone and How to Fix it? (2024)

by | Dec 10, 2023

If your iPhone shows “SOS” in the top-right corner and you’re unsure of what it means or how to resolve it, you’ve come to the right place. When you’re traveling or in a remote area, your iPhone may get stuck in SOS mode, preventing you from using the internet, sending messages, or making calls. We understand how frustrating and worrisome this can be, especially when you’re unsure of what it indicates and what to do in such situations. However, there’s no need to panic, as there are some ways to troubleshoot it on your own. In this article, we will explain what SOS means, why you encounter it, and how to fix the issue of being stuck in SOS mode on an iPhone. Without further delay, let’s begin!

What Does SOS Mean on iPhone?

When your iPhone displays ‘SOS Only’ or ‘SOS,’ it means that your device is currently outside the coverage area of your network carrier. In this situation, you won’t be able to make or receive regular calls, send text messages, or access the internet. Instead, you can only make emergency calls to specific numbers like:

  • 112 (India & Europe),  
  • 911 (United States), 
  • 999 (UK), and so on. 
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When you have a weak or no cellular connection, basic functions like making calls or sending messages won’t work. The purpose of this restriction is to ensure your safety by allowing you to contact emergency services such as the fire department, ambulance, police, and other emergency services available in your country or region, even if your iPhone cannot connect to the cellular network.

Why is “SOS” appearing on my iPhone?

In many cases, the reason why your iPhone displays “SOS” in the top-right corner, where you usually see the network signal strength, is due to a weak network connection. However, there are a few different situations where you might see “SOS” in the status bar. These include:

  • Your SIM card has stopped working properly.
  • You haven’t enabled the option for your iPhone to automatically select the best network.
  • You’re traveling to another country and haven’t turned on Data Roaming on your device or activated a roaming plan provided by your network carrier.
  • Your network provider may be experiencing temporary service disruptions.

How to Fix SOS on iPhone

1. Find an area with better network coverage

To resolve the issue of your iPhone displaying “SOS Only,” the best solution is to move to an area where the network coverage is stronger. If you’re in a basement, an elevator, or a remote location, it’s common to see the SOS signal. Once you’re in an area within your network carrier’s range, things should return to normal.

2. Toggle Airplane mode

Sometimes, even in areas where you previously had a good signal, your iPhone may get stuck in SOS mode. This usually happens when your phone fails to establish a connection. One effective way to fix this issue is to toggle on and off the Airplane mode on your iPhone. Here’s how:

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Toggle Airplane mode
  1. Open Control Center and tap on the Airplane mode icon. Wait for 5 to 10 seconds, then tap on the icon again.
  2. Alternatively, go to Settings, turn on Airplane mode, wait a few seconds, and then turn it off.
  3. In iOS 17, you can also use Spotlight search to quickly toggle Airplane mode.

3. Restart your iPhone

If the Airplane mode trick doesn’t work, you can try restarting your iPhone to re-establish the network connection. Simply turn off your iPhone, wait a few seconds, and then turn it back on. Once your iPhone restarts and you’re in an area with cellular coverage, the SOS signal should disappear.

4. Check your iPhone’s cellular settings

Incorrect cellular settings can be another reason why your iPhone shows SOS. If you haven’t enabled Automatic Network Selection, your iPhone won’t connect to the appropriate network automatically, leading to the SOS issue. Also read How to Turn off Low Data Mode on iPhone [2023]. To ensure optimal connectivity and avoid such problems, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app and tap on Mobile Service/Cellular.
  2. Tap on Network Selection.
  3. Make sure the toggle next to Automatic is turned on. If not, you’ll see a list of available networks and need to select one manually.

5. Contact your network carrier

If your iPhone frequently goes into SOS mode even in areas with good network coverage, it could be due to a faulty SIM card or a network outage. Contact your network provider to verify the issue and inquire about any outages in your area.

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It’s worth noting that a faulty SIM card slot can also trigger the SOS mode. If you suspect this is the problem, visit an Apple store to have your phone diagnosed. If you have an iPhone XR or a newer model, consider switching to an eSIM, as this has helped some users resolve the SOS issue.


We hope these solutions have helped you understand why your iPhone shows SOS only and have restored normal functionality. We’d love to hear how you resolved the SOS mode on your iPhone. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments, and we’ll get back to you.

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