iPhone Isn’t Activated? Here’s Why & The Fix.

You’re trying to use your iPhone, but an error message keeps telling you it’s not activated. Now you can’t connect to your carrier’s wireless network! In this article, I’ll explain what to do when you see the iPhone isn’t activated error.

What Does “Not Activated” Mean?

The message “iPhone Is Not Activated” on your iPhone when it’s unable to connect to your carrier’s activation servers. This error could be caused by a minor software problem, an issue with your carrier’s network, or a hardware problem. The steps below will help you diagnose and fix the real reason why your iPhone isn’t activated!

Restart Your iPhone

A great place to start with most problems is to turn your iPhone off and back on again. Restarting an iPhone can resolve some of the glitches preventing it from performing basic functions, including activation.

iPhones Without Face ID

Press and hold the power button on on the right side of your iPhone until “slide to power off” appears. Swipe the red and white power icon from left to right to shut down your iPhone.

Wait 30–60 seconds, then press and hold the power button again until the Apple logo appears on the screen. Release the power button when the Apple logo appears.

iPhones With Face ID

Simultaneously press and hold the side button and either volume button until “slide to power off” appears on the screen. Use a finger to swipe the red and white power icon from left to right to turn off your iPhone.

Wait 30–60 seconds to let your iPhone completely shut down. Them, press and hold the side button. Release the side button when the Apple logo appears on the center of the screen.

turn off your iphone

Check For A Carrier Settings Update

Apple and wireless carriers occasionally release carrier settings updates to improve your iPhone’s connection to your carrier’s network. Out-of-date carrier settings could be the reason why your iPhone isn’t activating.

It’s a good idea to install a new carrier settings update as soon as it becomes available. It only takes a few seconds!

Generally, a pop-up will appear on your iPhone letting you know a carrier settings update is available. They’re hard to miss, but if you do, you can manually check for a carrier settings update by opening Settings and tapping General -> About. If a carrier settings update is available, a pop-up will appear within 10–15 seconds.

update carrier settings on iphone

Turn Cellular Off And Back On

Toggling Cellular off and on again can fix a minor software issue preventing your iPhone from activating using cellular data. Your iPhone gets a second chance to connect to your carrier’s wireless network.

Open Settings and tap Cellular. Tap the switch next to Cellular Data to turn it off. Wait a few seconds, then tap the switch to turn Cellular Data on again.

Try Using Wi-Fi Instead

If your iPhone isn’t activating while using Cellular Data, try connecting to a Wi-Fi network instead. Wi-Fi usually provides a more reliable internet connection than Cellular Data.

Open Settings and tap Wi-Fi. Tap on your Wi-Fi network under Networks. Enter your Wi-Fi password, then tap Join in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. A checkmark will appear next to the name of your Wi-Fi network once your iPhone is connected to it.

make sure wifi is on

Update Your iPhone

Updating your iPhone to the latest version of iOS can sometimes fix software bugs and wireless connectivity issues. Some iOS updates include “modem updates” which occasionally fix Wi-Fi and Cellular connectivity problems.

Open Settings and tap General -> Software Update. Tap Download and Install or Install Now if an iOS update is available.

install ios 15 on your iphone

Eject And Reinsert Your SIM Card

The SIM card is what connects your iPhone to your wireless carrier’s network. Removing and reinserting your SIM card can give your iPhone another chance to connect to your carrier’s network. It’s also possible the SIM card isn’t sitting perfectly inside the SIM tray, preventing your iPhone from connecting to your carrier’s network and activating.

First, locate the SIM card tray on your iPhone. Apple has a handy guide if you’re having trouble locating the tray. Then, use a SIM card ejector tool or a straightened-out paperclip to open the tray. Once the tray is open, adjust the SIM card if necessary, then push the tray back into your iPhone.

Check out our other article if you need more help ejecting the SIM card on your iPhone!

Reset Network Settings

Network settings control how an iPhone will connect to Wi-Fi and cellular network, Bluetooth devices, and virtual private networks (VPNs). Reset Network Settings will erase the Wi-Fi, Cellular, Bluetooth, and VPN settings on your iPhone and reset them to factory defaults. This can sometimes fix a lingering software issue.

Open Settings and tap General. Then, tap Transfer or Reset iPhone -> Reset -> Reset Network Settings. Enter your iPhone passcode, then tap Reset Network Settings again when the confirmation pop-up appears.

Your iPhone will shut down, reset, then turn itself on again. Try activating your iPhone when it turns on after the reset!

Contact Your Wireless Carrier

If your iPhone still says that is not activated, it’s time to reach out to your wireless carrier for help. There might be an issue with your account only a customer service representative can fix. Google the name of your wireless carrier and “customer support” to find the appropriate number to call. Reaching out to your carrier’s support team on Twitter is also a great way to get help quickly!

iPhone: Activated!

When an iPhone won’t activate, it can get very frustrating very quickly. While it may sound like a serious problem, in truth, there are several easy steps you can take at home to resolve this error. Start with the basics and keep troubleshooting, your iPhone will be functioning normally soon! Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave them in the comments below.

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