Why Does My iPhone Say No SIM Card? Here’s The Real Fix!

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and all’s well with the world, until you notice that “No SIM” has replaced your mobile carrier’s name in the upper left-hand corner of your iPhone’s display. You didn’t take the SIM card out of your iPhone, and now you can’t make phone calls, send or receive text messages, or use mobile data.

If you’re wondering, “Why does my iPhone say no SIM card?”, or if you have no idea what a SIM card is, you’ve come to the right place. This issue is generally pretty easy to diagnose, and I’ll walk you through the process step-by-step so you can fix the “No SIM” error for good.

What Is A SIM Card And What Does It Do?

If you’ve never heard of a SIM card, you’re not alone: Ideally, you should never have to worry about it. When you experience issues with your SIM card, having a little knowledge about what your iPhone’s SIM card does will help you to understand the process of diagnosing and fixing the “No SIM” error.

If you ever want to stump your techie friends with mobile phone trivia, SIM stands for “Subscriber Identity Module”. Your iPhone’s SIM card stores the tiny bits of data that distinguish you from all the other iPhone users over the cellular network, and contains the authorization keys that allow your iPhone to access the voice, text, and data services that you pay for on your cell phone bill. The SIM card is the part of your iPhone that stores your phone number and allows you to access the cellular network.

It’s important to note that the role of SIM cards has changed over the years, and many older phones used to use SIM cards to store the list of contacts. The iPhone is different because it stores your contacts on iCloud, your email server, or in your iPhone’s internal memory, but never on your SIM card.

The other notable evolution in SIM cards came with the introduction of 4G LTE. Before the iPhone 5, carriers like Verizon and Sprint who use CDMA technology used the iPhone itself to link a person’s phone number to the cellular data network, not a separate SIM card that would be placed inside. Nowadays, all networks use SIM cards to store their subscribers’ phone numbers.

Why Do We Need SIM Cards Anyway? What’s The Advantage?

SIM cards make it easy for you to transfer your phone number from one phone to another, and they tend to be very resilient. I’ve taken SIM cards out of many iPhones that had been fried by water damage, put the SIM card in the replacement iPhone, and activated the new iPhone without a problem.

SIM cards also make it easy for you to change carriers when you travel, provided your iPhone is “unlocked”. If you travel to Europe, for example, you can avoid exorbitant international roaming charges by briefly signing up with a local carrier (commonplace in Europe) and putting their SIM card in your iPhone. Put your original SIM card back in your iPhone when you get back to the states, and you’re good to go.

Where Is The SIM Card On My iPhone And How Can I Remove It?

iPhone Eject SIM CardAll iPhones use a tiny tray called a SIM tray to hold your SIM card securely in place. To access your SIM card, the first step is to eject the SIM tray by inserting a paper clip into the tiny hole in the SIM tray on the outside of your iPhone. Apple has a great page that shows the exact location of the SIM tray on every iPhone model, and it will be easiest for you to take a quick look on their website to find its location and then come right back here. We’re about to diagnose and fix the “No SIM” error for good.

If You Don’t Want To Use A Paperclip…

If you don’t feel comfortable sticking a paperclip inside of your iPhone, you can pick up a handy SIM card adapter kit from Amazon.com that includes a professional sim card ejector tool and an adapter that allows you to use the nano SIM card from an iPhone 5 or 6 in older model iPhones or other cell phones. If your iPhone is ever damaged, you can use this kit to pop out the SIM card and stick it in your old iPhone (or other cell phone that takes a SIM card), and be making phone calls with your phone number right away.

How Do I Fix The iPhone “No SIM” Error?

Apple has created a support page that addresses this issue, but I don’t necessarily agree with the order of their troubleshooting steps and there isn’t any explanation of the rationale behind their suggestions. If you’ve already read their article or others and you’re still experiencing the “No SIM” issue with your iPhone, I hope this article provides you with a solid explanation of the problem and the knowledge you need to fix it.

This may seem obvious, but it’s helpful to restate the problem here: Your iPhone says “No SIM” because it’s no longer detecting the SIM card that’s inserted in the SIM tray, even though it actually is there.

Like many issues on the iPhone, the “No SIM” error can be either a hardware or a software problem. On the next page, we’ll start by addressing the possible hardware issues because they’re usually easy to see with a visual inspection. If that doesn’t fix it, I’ll walk you through the software troubleshooting steps that will help you diagnose and solve your problem.

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About Author

I'm a former Apple employee and the founder of Payette Forward, and I'm here to help you with your iPhone.

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1 month ago

My iPhone xr doesn’t have cellular internet. When i got to the office it shows that its connected to wifi but at the top right corner it shows its still working off the cell service. Soft reset, removed and installed SIM card, turned off and on. Nothing seems to work.

1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis

I fixed it. I deleted my express VPN from the settings menu. Settings/General/VPN. Chose Express VPN and deleted. Voila, it’s back to normal. I haven’t tried to reinstall yet.

4 months ago

I need help, i removed it and put it back in again and reset my iphone. It still says No Sim in the corner

Kasey Ramos
4 months ago

D.P. I popped my SIM card tray out pushed it back in and I’m back in business 🙏

Liam Shotwell
4 months ago
Reply to  Kasey Ramos

Isn’t it great when it’s just that easy? 😊

Tim S
4 months ago

Thank you. Popped out the SIM card and put it back in and restarted my phone. And it worked again.

Liam Shotwell
4 months ago
Reply to  Tim S

Glad we were able to help! 😀

5 months ago

Oh my gosh, you’re amazing! You just helped a 57-year-OLD very tech-unsavvy mom fix her phone!😘

Payton Reynolds
7 months ago

Hey, I have an iPhone 11 and it says no SIM Card for me. I have gotten a new one but still having the same issues what could it be?

7 months ago

Hey, I have an iPhone 11 and it says no SIM Card for me. I have gotten a new one but still having the same issues what could it be?

olivier hoga
7 months ago

my iPhone 6s is keeping saying no service while there is a sim card in and i don’t know what is the problem if you are able to assist please do it for me

Lee clark
7 months ago

i have tryed all these and still no signal , i just payed to get my phone unlocked , will i need to take it to the store

Liam Shotwell
7 months ago
Reply to  Lee clark

I would take it to the store if I were you. Try to make an appointment if you can and take the precautions you need to in order to not get sick. I’m not sure what iPhone you’re using, but it’s possible that even though it is carrier unlocked, the connectivity technology may not be supported by your carrier. It’s also possible that there is some hardware damage.

7 months ago

I recently upgraded from an SE (Gen 1) to a 7 Plus. I can’t get the cellular data to activate. I can make and receive phone calls. I went through your other article on how to troubleshoot and nothing worked.

8 months ago

Hi! Need help. iPhone 11 stopped connecting to cellular service. All other phones/ devices connected with plan still working. Getting a message that that there is no cellular plan connected with account. Acting like a new iPhone. Any suggestions?

Liam Shotwell
8 months ago
Reply to  Jojopop

If you’ve tried everything in this article, I would try contacting your carrier and seeing if the device (and the SIM card) is still connected to the account. It’s possible that the SIM is broken or that they removed service for your device.

8 months ago
Reply to  Liam Shotwell

Hi. It appears that service is still connected according to Verizon. Could be the SIM card. Good idea. I’ll ask. Txs

Beverley Stephenson
9 months ago

Hi want to know if you can help I have done a reset on my iPhone 7s I can send a text but can’t call or receive calls

10 months ago

My phone says “no sim” when there is a perfictly fine sim in there.. Ive taken it out and put it back in and i have also turned my on and off multiful times. I have a straight talk refurbished [email protected] iphone 8 plus..

June eales
8 months ago
Reply to  Samantha

My iPhone keeps saying no service I have switched it off and on several times but still comes back the same message

11 months ago

Thank you, this solved my issue with sim card

sean c lacon
11 months ago

Did the trick thanks , Sean in Virginia

1 year ago

Used my wife’s SIM card and the phone worked, so I knew that problem is with the SIM and not the phone. Cleaned SIM card with an alcohol pad and let it dry, reinstalled and it started searching the network. It worked. Thanks.

jill moore
1 year ago

was sent a new sim card from virgin and now my phone won’t work it just says No Service

Yasin Moh'd
2 years ago

hi sir
i need your help,am using iphone x 256 gb warrenty finished but this problem is no sim .am any sim put it same problem plz solution

Sonya Muhl
2 years ago

Thank heavens, this worked! My husband’s phone did it, then he inserted my sim into his phone and my sim then did the same in my phone. I fixed both with your way! Thank you!

George Watson
2 years ago

I did all of the above steps to no avail. Then I removed the sim card, laid it flat and used an eraser to rub the gold areas. After reinsertion everything worked.

Morgan Brewin
2 years ago

I got a iPhone 6 and when I put in my sim it comes up with either searching or no service Ive reset the network settings and everything. Please help

Clive Ford
2 years ago

hi there my iphone 4s is not registering simcard im on the activation screen of the iphone wont let me go further than sim required i have sim card in there but it has not got a connection

Carole Cottle
2 years ago

Thank you! I removed the SIM card (by following your link “exact location of the SIM tray on every iPhone model” ), and put it back in and voil! The “no service” message has been replaced with the carrier! Thanks for helping!

Mark Snodgrass
3 years ago

Awesome article! Thanks for the help. the SIM card cleaning did the trick. Thank you!!