iPhone is Not Activated Contact Your Carrier

Some errors are common albeit incredibly frustrating. Fortunately, most errors have a simple explanation and a simple resolution. Others may be a tad more difficult to work with but either way, there’s always a solution to overcome any error. These errors can affect your phone’s ability to send messages, make phone calls, access cellular data, and more.

Apple, a company so beloved by its loyal fans, is known for its great technical support and user-friendly interface. Apple products, just like any tech device, do have some bugs, glitches, and insanely frustrating errors. So, what can you do if your phone says “iPhone is not activated, contact your carrier” and what even does this mean?

Whether your iPhone was purchased brand new, refurbished, or from an individual this type of activation error can happen. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile customers are all susceptible to the activation dilemma as well as smaller cellular providers.

Let’s review this error and the steps you can take to overcome it.

What Does the Error Mean?

You’ve put your SIM card into your iPhone and it should instantly give you access to the hassle-free, reliable service that you pay for right? Well, yes, it should. But sometimes activation errors cause serious inconveniences to your life and this glitch is one of those inconveniences.

As the error states, there is an issue with activating the device on the cellular network. You may receive this error if your SIM card has gone bad (or another one has been activated which is a sign of fraudulent activity), you do not have a SIM card in your phone, your phone is not compatible with the SIM card that’s in it (i.e. the phone isn’t unlocked), or some other major issue.

There are times when the motherboard fails on an iPhone and it will throw crazy errors as seen with the iPhone 7 “no network” fiasco. Some times the iPhone just won’t activate because the carrier’s or Apple’s activation systems are down. You can check the status of Apple’s outages here.

Each solution first requires understanding the problem. Let’s first talk about some basic troubleshooting tips.

Troubleshooting

You can spend hours trying different things until your phone begins to work properly, or you can take a few minutes to test different components and go straight to the solution.

Note: If you’re using the iPhone 7 with model number A1660 these likely will not fix your “No Service” error. If you have this model phone and you can’t update the software nor are you able to get cellular access contact Apple’s support team. See the screenshot below to determine your phone’s model number.

Check the SIM Card

If you receive an activation error on your phone one of the first things to try after a power cycle (turning your phone off and back on) is to check your SIM card. There are a lot of reasons why this tiny chip may fail but you’ll want to check that it is properly installed and free of any dust or debris.

Use a SIM popper, paperclip, or earring to open the SIM tray on the right side of the phone’s body. Use a clean dry cloth to remove any lint and place the card back into the tray ensuring that it is seated properly.

Restart the phone after you’ve completed these steps to see if the activation error goes away. If it remains, continue to the next troubleshooting steps.

Carrier Issues

It’s possible that the problem is originating from your cell phone carrier. A few important questions to ask yourself:

Porting – Have you recently switched cell phone carriers? The issue could be that your phone number is not ported to the new carrier properly.

Unlocking – If the original carrier of your iPhone has not unlocked your device you will receive this error when inserting another SIM card.

Account Issues – The activation error may appear if your account has been suspended or if another phone is active on your phone number. If this is the case, contact the carrier and verify that your IMEI and SIM card are still active.

Device Issues

To determine if the problem is with your device you can swap your SIM card into another phone and see if it works (this will only work for those on the GSM network which is AT&T, or T-Mobile). If the backup device works then the issue is with your phone.

Another option is to go to your carrier and get a new SIM card. If a new card doesn’t work then you can deduce that the issue is with your phone.

Apple Issues

If you’ve recently factory reset your device you may receive an activation error upon restoral. Apple’s activation lock can cause issues if you don’t know the password to the iCloud account that originally used the device.

iPhone activation is done through a process that involves the carrier and Apple. If Apple’s system is not cooperating you should call the Apple Support Team for further assistance.

How to Fix iPhone Activation Errors

Now that we’ve discussed the probable causes there are a few things you can do to fix the error yourself. As stated above, this may not work for those with the iPhone 7 A1660 model. If you’ve recently made a change to your cell phone account or you’ve just purchased the phone your best bet is going to first verify that the carrier has the right SIM card and IMEI numbers in the system.

Other than those few points, let’s move onto fixing your iPhone activation errors.

Restart
A quick restart of your iPhone can be an easy and simple way to fix the error that shows up. Restarting your iPhone does not guarantee that your activation issues on your iPhone will be fixed, but it’s a good place to start as it makes sense to start with the simplest solution.

To restart your iPhone, hold the power button (or the power button and volume up button on new iPhones) until the slider bar shows up and slide it to turn your iPhone off. Then turn your iPhone back on again to see if your activation issue has been resolved.

Performing this power cycle will disconnect your phone from the network the reconnect it.

Network Issues / WiFi


Sometimes your network and WiFi settings will prevent your phone from activating. Unfortunately, iPhones must have a strong internet connection to activate. Try connecting to a different wifi network to activate your device.

iTunes
If things still don’t work, you should try to activate your iPhone via iTunes.

To do this, simply follow these instructions:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer via the USB cable
  2. Turn the phone off and reboot it, which triggers iTunes to open. (If it doesn’t open automatically, manually open iTunes)
  3. Your computer will detect and attempt another activation of your device
  4. An alert to “Set up as New” or “Restore from Backup” may appear. If this is the case your phone is activated once again.

Restore

Performing a restore can refresh can update and restore the software on your phone. If the issue is happening because your software is out-of-date, or there’s a system glitch, this is the option for you.

  1. Turn off your iPhone and then connect to your computer.
  2. 
Open iTunes and then switch your iPhone on.
  3. iTunes will tell you that it has detected an iPhone and ask if you would like to restore your device.
  4. Yeah, we do need to restore the iPhone, so go through the restore process.

Final Thoughts

If none of these options work for you and you haven’t made any changes to your device or cell phone plan recently, it’s likely that the issue is with your phone’s hardware. If your iPhone has ever been exposed to moisture, erosion may occur in the components over time causing errors such as this one. An activation error can result from severe drops as well. Even if no physical damage appears on the outside of the device, there may be damage inside.

The only other option is you’re experiencing a major component failure. As seen with the iPhone 7 “no service” issues, motherboard failure will most certainly cause activation errors. If this is the case, contact Apple. Even if your phone is out-of-warranty they may be able to help (assuming you haven’t used third-party screens and there is no physical damage of course).

 

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