How to Fix “SIM Failure” on iPhone 13/12/11/XR?

Have you ever tried to make a call on your iPhone but couldn’t because of a “SIM Failure” error?

iPhone “SIM Failure” error is frustrating and can make you miss important calls, texts, and data connectivity. Fortunately, this article will examine how you can solve this error and get your iPhone back online.

In this guide, we’ll look at the common causes of the iPhone SIM failure error and how to fix them yourself. You can follow the step-by-step instructions and leverage your iPhone’s built-in features to resolve SIM failure issues efficiently.

Let’s dive straight in.

Why Does My iPhone Say SIM Failure?

“SIM Failure” issue starts from the release of iOS 14.7 beta 2 in 2021. It’s first spotted by WipeLock and has multiple users are confirming this error. When you see “SIM Failure” on your iPhone, it means that your iPhone won’t be able to make or receive any calls.

sim failure

There are countless reasons why your iPhone might be displaying a SIM failure. In most cases, it’s just a small error in the settings or physical insertion, which you can fix quickly. However, you might need to do a bit of troubleshooting before you get to the exact problem.

Below are some of the most common reasons your iPhone might display a SIM failure error.

SIM Card Tray Issues

Your iPhone’s SIM card tray is supposed to hold the SIM card in place securely. If loose, faulty, or damaged, it can cause connection issues and trigger a SIM failure error.

Airplane Mode

It’s also likely that you left your iPhone in airplane mode and forgot about it. You could have also triggered it accidentally. Airplane mode prevents your SIM card from connecting to your mobile network, which can cause a SIM failure error.

Hardware Damage

In rare instances, iPhone SIM failure error might be caused by a hardware malfunction. For instance, if you’ve dropped your iPhone or exposed it to moisture, the network hardware could be faulty.

Software Update or iOS Compatibility

Sometimes, you can experience a SIM failure error after updating your software or iOS. This is caused by compatibility issues between the SIM card and the updated software.

Carrier Network Issues

In some cases, the SIM failure error might be caused by problems with your network provider. Network outages, maintenance, or other technical issues can temporarily disrupt SIM card connectivity.

SIM Lock or Activation Issues

If you’ve recently obtained a new SIM card or switched to a new carrier, your iPhone might display a SIM failure error if the SIM card isn’t properly activated.

While these are just a few of the possible causes of a SIM failure error in an iPhone, we’ll look at various methods that you can use to troubleshoot and fix the SIM failure error permanently.

15 Solutions for a SIM Failure Error on an iPhone

The SIM failure error can occurs on Verizon, AT&T, or any other carriers. Nevertheless, the steps to troubleshoot these errors are quite similar.

Here’s what you should do if your iPhone doesn’t recognize your SIM card.

#1. Restart Your iPhone

Sometimes, a restart is all it takes to fix your iPhone’s problems. This is a one-size-fits-all for simple software issues in most machines.

Therefore, if you experience a “SIM Failure” error after inserting a new SIM into your iPhone, switch it off, wait about a minute, and switch it back on. You might be surprised how often this works.

slide to power off

There are 3 ways to restart your iPhone, depending on its generation.

iPhone SE (1st gen), 5, and Earlier

  1. Hold the top button until a slider with the Power Off option appears.
  2. Drag the slider and wait for your iPhone to shut down.
  3. Wait another 30 seconds and press the top button until the Apple logo appears.

iPhone SE (2nd and 3rd gen), 6, 7, and 8

  1. Hold the right side button until a power slider appears.
  2. Slide it to Power Off.
  3. Wait 30 seconds after the iPhone shuts down and hold the right side button until the Apple logo appears.

iPhone X, 11, 12, 13, and 14

  1. Hold the right side button and either volume button until a power slider appears.
  2. Slide it to Power Off.
  3. Wait 30 seconds, then hold the right side button until the Apple logo appears.

#2. Clean the SIM Card

If restarting the iPhone doesn’t do the trick, your SIM card could be the problem. Some dirt or grease could interfere with the card’s connection with your iPhone’s SIM card reader. This is especially possible if you’re using an old SIM card.

To fix this:

Step 1. Use a SIM ejector tool to eject the SIM tray and your SIM card.

Step 2.Wipe the SIM card gently using a soft piece of cloth. Don’t use any liquids.

Step 3.Blow into your iPhone’s SIM tray carefully, ensuring you don’t spit into it.

Step 4.Reinstall your SIM tray and card, and power your iPhone back on. Check if the error is resolved.

#3. Enable and Disable Airplane Mode

Your iPhone’s Airplane Mode allows switches off your SIM card, cutting off your cellular connectivity. Therefore, if you’re not receiving a signal, you should always check whether your iPhone is in airplane mode. This is usually indicated by an airplane icon where your signal bars are supposed to appear.

Enabling and disabling airplane mode is the equivalent of switching your sim card on and off. This helps solve software issues that might be preventing your iPhone from accessing the SIM card.

Let’s look at how you go about it.

Step 1.Swipe down from the top-right corner to access the Control Center.

airplane mode iphone

Step 2. Locate the airplane icon, which represents Airplane Mode.

Step 3.Tap on the airplane icon in order to enable Airplane Mode. The icon will turn orange, indicating it’s active.

Step 4.Wait 10-15 seconds and tap the airplane icon again to disable Airplane Mode. The icon will turn white, indicating it’s deactivated.

Once Airplane Mode is turned off, your iPhone will search for the network and establish connections.

Step 5. Finally, check if the SIM failure error is resolved, allowing you to regain network connectivity.

#4. Check if Your SIM Card Is Active

If you’ve just pulled out an old SIM card from storage, there’s a good chance that your carrier has deactivated it. Some carriers deactivate a SIM card if it’s not been used for some time (say six months), while others deactivate it if it’s not been recharged for a while.

To check if your SIM card in your iPhone is active:

Step 1. Contact your carrier service provider and ask them to check the activation status of your SIM card.

Step 2. Provide them with your phone number, account information, and other required details.

Step 3. They will verify whether the SIM card is active or if there are any issues with its activation.

If needed, they can assist you in activating the SIM card or providing a replacement if it’s inactive or expired.

Step 4. Once the SIM card is confirmed as active, insert it securely into the SIM tray of your iPhone.

Restart your iPhone and check if the “SIM Failure” error is resolved, allowing you to regain network connectivity.

#5. Remove Your Cover or Case

According to business insider, almost 90% of iPhone users have a case on their iPhones.

However, in some cases, covers or lamination might obstruct the SIM tray and cause a SIM failure error. Therefore, if you’re experiencing a “No Sim” or “Sim Not Valid” error, you should:

  1. Remove your case, side lamination, or cover.
  2. Use a pin to eject your SIM card.
  3. Reinstall your SIM card without a case or cover.
  4. Only reinstall your case, cover, or lamination when the SIM failure error is fixed.

#6. Turn on the SIM Card

In case you’re using a dual sim iPhone, one of your SIM cards might be turned off, causing the “SIM Failure” error. So, let’s go over how to ensure both sim cards are turned on.

Step 1. Open the “Settings” app on your iPhone.

Step 2. Scroll to “Cellular” or “Mobile Data,” depending on your iOS version.

Step 3. Tap on the problematic SIM card and select “Turn On This Line.”

Step 4. Enter the PIN code associated with your SIM card, if prompted.

Wait a few seconds while your iPhone searches for the SIM card and establishes the connection.

If the SIM card is recognized successfully, the “SIM Failure” error should be resolved, and you’ll regain network connectivity.

Step 5. Repeat the process with the other SIM card.

#7. Remove Your SIM PIN

Apart from your iPhone passcode, you can secure your SIM card with its own PIN code, you’re required to enter this pin whenever you insert the sim card or restart your iPhone.

In fact, most new SIM cards come with a set PIN, which you can change or remove.

Removing the PIN of your SIM card may help you get rid of the “SIM Failure” error. You need to do this on another iPhone which can recognize your SIM card:

Step 1. Go to “Settings.”

Step 2. Scroll down and tap “Cellular” or “Mobile Data.”.

iphone cellular sim pin

Step 3. Find “SIM PIN” or “SIM Card Lock” and tap on it.

Step 4. Once in the SIM PIN settings, you should see a toggle switch next to “SIM PIN.” Toggle it off.

Step 5. Enter your current SIM PIN to confirm. The SIM card PIN will be removed, and your iPhone will no longer require a PIN to access the SIM card.

turn off sim pin iphone

Step 6. Finally, insert the SIM card back into your iPhone to check if the “SIM Failure” error is gone.

Further reading: How to Remove SIM Lock on iPhone

#8. Try a Different SIM Card

You can try a temporary SIM card on your iPhone to see if it works. If both your iPhone and SIM card seem to be working properly, you can reunite them, and hopefully, the error will be gone.

At the same time, you can remove your SIM card and try it on another phone to determine whether it is completely dead. The phone should preferably be an iPhone to test iOS compatibility issues, which we’ll look at below.

#9. Contact Your SIM Carrier For a Replacement

If you realize the SIM card is “dead” after trying it on another phone, you can visit your carrier’s shop for a replacement sim card. In most cases, they’ll offer you a free replacement.

If you don’t want to go all the way to your carrier’s shop, you can check their website or contact customer service to see if they offer SIM card delivery.

#10. Update Your iOS

Sometimes, your SIM card might be having compatibility issues with the iPhone’s current version of iOS. Apple is quick to notice these types of bugs, so there’s likely to be an update to fix it.

Here’s how you update your iPhone wirelessly.

Step 0. Before the update, ensure your iPhone is fully charged or plugged into power and connected to WiFi.

Step 1. Go to “Settings” > “General” > “Software Update”

Step 2. If an update is available, tap “Download and Install.”

Step 3. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the update process.

Once the update is installed, your iPhone will restart, and the SIM failure error may be resolved.

Keeping your iOS up-to-date is also a healthy practice that can help you enhance your iPhone’s performance and avoid potentially harmful bugs.

#11. Reset Your Network Settings

If you’ve been tweaking the settings, you might have interfered with the network settings by mistake, leading to a SIM failure on iPhone.

Network settings errors might be caused by various other things, especially on older iOS versions.
Instead of trying to find the exact setting you changed, you can just reset all your network settings using the steps below.

Step 1. Go to “Settings”.

Step 2. Navigate to “General” > “Transfer or Reset iPhone” > “Reset” > “Reset Network Settings.”

reset network settings iphone new

Step 3. You will be asked for your device passcode to proceed.

Step 4. A confirmation pop-up will appear. Tap on “Reset Network Settings” to confirm.

Your iPhone will then initiate the network settings reset process. Wait for a moment until the process completes.

Step 5. Once complete, your iPhone will restart automatically. Now check if your iPhone have a signal.

#12. Update Your Carrier Settings

If you still have a SIM failure error, you can try to update carrier settings on iPhone. Most carriers send updates to add new features and fix bugs.

Let’s look at how you find these updates and apply them:

Step 1. Connect your iPhone to a stable Wi-Fi or cellular network.

Step 2. Make sure you have the latest version of iOS installed on your iPhone. If not, update it using the steps we looked at earlier in the article.

Step 3. Open the “Settings” app and navigate to “General” > “About”.

Step 4. If a carrier settings update is available, you will see a prompt at the top of the screen. Tap on “Update” to install the update.

iphone carrier settings update

Step 5. Wait for the update to download and install. This process usually takes a few seconds to a minute.

Once the update is completed, your iPhone will display a message indicating the successful update.

After these steps, confirm whether your SIM card’s signal is back.

#13. Reset All Settings

Even after the network reset, there might still be some misconfigurations and conflicts causing your SIM failure error. You can solve this by resetting all your iPhone settings using the steps below:

Step 1. Go to “Settings” > “General”> “Transfer or Erase iPhone” > “Reset.”

Step 2. Tap on “Reset All Settings.” A warning message will appear.

new iphone reset all settings

Step 3. Confirm the reset by taping “Reset All Settings” again.

Step 4. Enter your device passcode to proceed.

Your iPhone will restart, and all settings will be reset to default. After this, check whether the “SIM Failure” error is resolved.

#14. Erase Your iPhone

If nothing else works, you can try one last solution: erasing your iPhone and setting it up again. First, let’s look at how to erase everything on your iPhone:

Step 0. Before proceeding, back up your iPhone to preserve your data. You can use iCloud or iTunes to create a backup.

Step 1. Navigate to “Settings” > “General” > “Transfer or Reset iPhone.”

Step 2. Tap on “Erase All Content and Settings.”

iphone erase all selected

Step 3. If prompted, enter your device passcode to proceed. A warning message will appear, informing you that this action will delete all data and settings from your iPhone.

Step 4. Tap on “Continue” to confirm.

Step 5. If aksed, enter your Apple ID password or passcode to confirm the erase. Your iPhone will then begin erasing, which may take a few minutes.

Step 6. Once the erasing process is complete, your iPhone will restart, presenting the initial setup screen.

Now, let’s look at how to recover your data if you backed it up using the iCloud:

Step 1. Go through the initial setup screens until you find the “Apps and Data” screen.

Step 2. On the “Apps & Data” screen, tap “Restore from iCloud Backup.”

Step 3. Sign in to your iCloud account using your Apple Identification and password.

Step 4. Once signed in, you will see a list of available iCloud backups. Select the most appropriate backup that you want to restore from.

Step 5. If asked, enter any necessary verification codes to proceed.

Step 6. The restore process will begin, and your iPhone will start downloading the selected backup from iCloud.

Ensure that your iPhone is connected to a stable Wi-Fi network during the restore process, as it may take some time, depending on the backup size and the speed of your internet connection.

Step 7. Once the restore is complete, your iPhone will restart, and you can proceed with the setup process.

Step 8. Follow the on-screen instructions to set up your iPhone, including signing in to your Apple ID, configuring your preferences, and restoring any additional data from the backup, such as apps, photos, and settings.

If you chose to back up your iPhone using iTunes, here’s how you restore it:

Step 1. Connect your iPhone to the computer where you have previously created a backup using iTunes.

Step 2. Launch iTunes on your Pc or computer. If you have a Mac, it will be the Finder on macOS Catalina or later.

Step 3. Once your iPhone is connected, you should see the device icon appear in the iTunes or Finder interface. Click on it to select your iPhone.

Step 4. In the Summary tab, you’ll find the “Restore Backup” option. Click on it.

Step 5. A list of available backups will be displayed. Choose the most relevant backup that you want to restore from.

Step 6. Click on “Restore” and confirm your choice when prompted.

Step 7. The restore process will begin, and iTunes/Finder will start extracting the backup and copying the data onto your iPhone.

Keep your iPhone connected to the computer and wait for the restore process to complete. This may take some time, depending on the backup size and your computer’s speed.

Step 8. Once the restore is finished, your iPhone will restart, and you can disconnect it from the computer. Follow the on-screen instructions on your iPhone to complete the setup process, such as selecting your language, connecting to Wi-Fi, and signing in with your Apple ID.

Erasing and restoring your iPhone typically resolves all software issues. Therefore, if the “SIM Failure” error resulted from a software glitch, your iPhone should now have a signal.

#15. Book an Appointment With Apple Support

If the complete erase didn’t solve the problem, you might need to talk to Apple support and explain the problem. In most cases, they’ll require you to book an appointment at an Apple store so they can look at the iPhone.

The Apple store or authorized service center will check for hardware and software issues and fix them for you. As long as your SIM card is functional, you can rest assured you’ll leave the store with a signal in your iPhone.

To Sum it Up

Dealing with a SIM failure error on your iPhone can be frustrating, but with the right troubleshooting steps, you can resolve the issue and regain network connectivity.

We’ve covered various solutions to this problem, from simple fixes like turning on the SIM line, checking for an active SIM card, and wiping/reinstalling the SIM card to more advanced options such as updating carrier settings and resetting network settings or all settings on your iPhone.

Remember, your SIM card is essential for connecting to your mobile network, and any issues can affect your overall communication and connectivity. So, prioritize proper handling, and when in doubt, don’t hesitate to seek the guidance of a professional.

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About the Author

Darren is an Apple Certified Independent Technician with a passion for researching all aspects of phone locks, including Activation Lock, carrier lock, screen lock, FRP lock, and more. With years of experience in the mobile phone industry, Darren has become a leading authority in his field and has been a sought-after consultant for individuals and businesses seeking to unlock their devices.

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