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.

Pages ( 1 of 2 ): 1 2Next »

About Author

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

77
Leave a Reply

avatar
58 Comment threads
19 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
23 Comment authors
jill mooreJustine DelimYossarian WallerJoe WhiteBrittany Selby Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
Notify of
Emilija Markoski
Guest
Emilija Markoski

Hello.
I have iPhone 5 with newest iOs version, and 1 week appeared No SIM card but after I restarted it was okay. I tried again today and it don’t lost, still stay No SIM card. I have tried all from above, but nothing work.
Please help.

yemi ali
Guest
yemi ali

hi there. I tried ALL but still the NO SIM error is not yet resolved. I took it in for repairs but it could not be fixed. what do I do now?

Foster Atteberry
Guest
Foster Atteberry

Thanks David, My No Sim Card error was fixed with a simple remove then reinsert. I appreciate the extra time that you have taken to educate the rest of us.

Why Does My iPhone Keep Restarting? Here's The Fix!
Guest

[…] If removing the SIM card doesn’t fix the problem, don’t put your SIM card back in until you’ve completed the next step. If you’d like to learn more about your iPhone’s SIM card, check out my article called “Why Does My iPhone Say No SIM Card?”. […]

Ruf1919
Guest

My IPhone 5C all of a sudden stopped working with the “No Sim” up in left corner where carrier should be. The phone had a Sim Card from a carrier in the USA and when we returned to Canada and inserted the Canadian Carrier card the problem started. Both carriers are lost on a solution and after speaking with Apple they insisted a do a restore which I did with no solution. Problem is, now I can’t even access the home screen. but it shows me a screen which asks for language, region, wifi network and then asks for a… Read more »

My iPhone Says No Service. Here's The Real Fix!
Guest

[…] in again. If you’re not sure how to remove your SIM card, read steps 1-3 of my article about why iPhones sometimes say “No SIM.” If your iPhone still says No Service, come back to this article and move on to the next […]

Brandon McGrath
Guest

I have a problem with my iPhone 5c SIM card. I’ve been getting invalid SIM card errors a few times and they would be fixed when I rebooted my phone but now it didn’t work so I got worried and tried taking the SIM card out to see if I could fix any problems with your methods but they didn’t work and when I reinserted the SIM card and rebooted it, it said no sim so am I completely screwed now!? Please help!

Michael E Hartigan
Guest
Michael E Hartigan

Feel I should mention what just happened to me. I followed all of the instructions listed above, down to the last step, of restoring my iPhone. So, I backed up my phone and went ahead with the Restore. After it was finished, I still had the no SIM card problem. But now, my iPhone is wiped, and iTunes can’t connect to it to restore the backup without a SIM card. So, you might want to add a note that this happens, as a warning to people who are about to try step #9. I just went from having a less… Read more »

Stephie Haron
Guest
Stephie Haron

I’m sorry David. P, your tips and techniques unfortunately did not resolve my IPhone issue. Please come up with realistic solutions that actually work. Thank you.

Ray High
Guest
Ray High

I have the 5s. I use my bluetooth headset some when I’m driving, so I flip the switch above the volumn controls on side of phone to vibrate only. Keeps phone from ringing outloud. When I get home and take off the head phone I’ll switch it back to ring. It took 2 or 3 times before I realized this was causing the No Sim Card Error. I turn the switch off and then back on again, and my Verizon signal bars return. I’m probably not turning the switch back on good. Works for me. Hope this helps someone else.

Efren Flowers
Guest
Efren Flowers

Worked! Thanks

Ivy Yeo
Guest
Ivy Yeo

My Mobile phone is telling me There is no Sim card, yet there is, and now I can’t text my Hubby who is away for a day or two. Please can anyone help. My supplier is EE.
.

susaneisaacs
Guest
susaneisaacs

My iPhone 4 is so old it doesn’t have a SIM Card. I did a restore to it to fix music sync issues. The restore process messed up the phone, now it says “no SIM card.” Took it to Apple. They absolved themselves of responsibility. Any ideas? Thanks!

Tyler Brandley
Guest
Tyler Brandley

Leecanon. Did you ever get an answer to your question? I did the same thing, ( except I did disable the motion calibration). I was curious abut this as well and am interested to know.

Leecanon
Guest
Leecanon

No I did not. However, the motion calibration monitors your physical activity. It is used by apps such as Health where it counts your steps etc. I.m told the cell network is searching for the stongest , best service IE: 3g, 4g . same for wifi. I’m guessing best to leave them on. I left all on and doesn’t seem to cause any big problems.

April Hall
Guest

This isn’t PF, but I I do have an idea on where your iTunes Store App maybe have disappeared to. When you place your finger on app and keep it there, the apps that you can move or delete begin to jiggle and show a black X in their upper-right-corner. As PF said in his article, there are a few apps that can’t be deleted, that are permanent on your phone, iTunes Store is one of these. If, however, you place one app on top of another app while moving apps around, iPhone will create and name a folder with… Read more »

David Payette
Guest

Hi Tyler and Lee, I apologize for taking a while to respond to your questions, and they are excellent ones at that. I had to do a little research about the Cell Network Search, but according to this Apple forum, “it records the tower ID of the towers within range of your phone as you move around throught the day and sends that back to Apple.” (see https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3850673) With regard to motion calibration, I believe that Lee is absolutely right in that it uses location data to increase the accuracy of the pedometer and the new M8 motion sensor included… Read more »

K Cielo D'Arcangelo
Guest
K Cielo D'Arcangelo

My iPhone 4 from Verizon did the very same thing earlier this evening when I connected to iTunes to do a back-up. Based on the time of your memo and your comment which is hauntingly similar to my own problem, it seems too curious to be a mere coincidence. I called Apple Care because my Mac is covered and I considered this an iTunes software issue. My phone was restored through iTunes but to no avail. Apple Care was closing so I’ll call tomorrow to let them know the restore failed. My error message reads: “SIM Required”. Since my phone… Read more »

susaneisaacs
Guest
susaneisaacs

NO WAY! Same phone, same carrier. Clearly this is an issue with the software restore feature doing something to destroy the phone. Let Applecare know and direct them to this message. I’m furious.

Almar
Guest
Almar

Sir tom, what if my itunes is already updated

K Cielo D'Arcangelo
Guest
K Cielo D'Arcangelo

If you que Google about the problem you will find very recent articles about the issue written by Apple technicians. I spoke with Apple Care again and received excellent customer service and the problem has now been corrected. It required the assistance of the Apple Care engineering team to manually override what is a software issue as it was communicated to me. I prefer using landlines in my business and don’t use my iPhone as much as so many people do and certainly not enough to warrant buying a new model at the announcement of the launch of a new… Read more »

nishanthnair
Guest
nishanthnair

Thanks.. looks like reset network settings did the trick for me!

Almaas Qureshi
Guest
Almaas Qureshi

I inserted SIM card in my ipad,it is showing signals but no one can call or send texts nor I can do so,how to fix it