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

How To Fix The No SIM Card Error On iPhone and iPad

1. Eject The SIM Tray

Insert a paperclip into the tiny hole in the SIM tray and press until the tray ejects. You may need to apply a fair amount of pressure to get the tray out, and that’s normal – but use your common sense. If you’re not sure of the exact location of the SIM tray on your iPhone, this Apple article will help you find it: Remove the SIM card from your iPhone or iPad.

2. Inspect The SIM Card, SIM Tray, And Inside Your iPhone

Take a close look at the SIM Card and SIM Tray for any damage. If they’re dusty, wipe them off with a soft damp cloth, but be sure they’re completely dry before reinserting them into your iPhone.

Next, check if the SIM tray is bent, as even a tiny misalignment can cause the SIM card to not fully connect with the internal contacts in your iPhone.

Finally, use a flashlight to take a look for any debris inside the SIM tray opening. If there’s gunk in there, try to blow it out with some compressed air.

A Note About Liquid Damage

If you have an iPhone 5 or newer, you’ll see a white circle sticker if you look closely inside the SIM tray opening. That sticker is one liquid contact indicator that Apple techs use to determine whether your iPhone has come into contact with water. If that white sticker has a red dot in the middle, it means that sticker has gotten wet at some point, and water damage can sometimes cause the “No SIM” issue — but not always. Remember that while the SIM card is resilient to water, the internals of the iPhone are not.

3. Reinsert The SIM Tray

Put your SIM card back into the tray, reinsert the SIM tray into your iPhone, and cross your fingers. If the “No SIM” error goes away, congratulations — you fixed the issue!

4. Try Using A Friend’s SIM Card

Find a friend with an iPhone, and try putting their SIM card into your SIM tray and inserting it into your iPhone. If the “No SIM” error goes away, we’ve determined the culprit: You’ve got a problem with your SIM card. Instead of making an appointment with the Apple Store, it might be easier to visit your carrier and tell them you need a replacement SIM card for your iPhone. It’s a quick process and you should be back up and running in no time.

If the “No SIM” error remains and you’re confident there isn’t any physical damage, you may have a software problem with your iPhone. Remember that the software on the iPhone is the brains of the operation. If the software isn’t working correctly, the hardware won’t either.

5. Turn Your iPhone Off And Back On Again

Hold the power button on your iPhone until “slide to power off” appears. Move your finger across the slider to power off your iPhone. After the wheel has stopped spinning and the iPhone display has gone completely black, hold down the power button until you see the Apple logo appear to power your iPhone back on.

If you have an iPhone X or newer, press and hold the side button and either volume button to reach the “slide to power off” screen.

slide to power off power icon on iphone

If the “No SIM” error is gone, congratulations — we’ve just resolved the issue! My gut tells me that some people may have to go farther to keep the problem from coming back, and if you’re one of those people, keep reading.

6. Reset Network Settings

Head to Settings -> General -> Reset and choose Reset Network Settings on your iPhone. This restores the network configuration to the factory defaults, which can resolve software glitches in the invisible processes that are always running in the background and that are responsible for managing your iPhone’s connection to your cellular and other networks.

reset network settings on an iphone

Before you do this, note that Reset Network Settings will erase your iPhone’s saved Wi-Fi connections, so make sure you know your Wi-Fi passwords before you give this a try. You’ll have to reconnect in Settings -> Wi-Fi after your iPhone reboots.

7. Update Your Wireless Carrier Settings, Preferably Using iTunes On A Computer

Plug your iPhone into your computer (or you can use a friend’s) and open iTunes. I recommend using iTunes because before it upgrades your iPhone, iTunes will automatically check if a wireless carrier settings update is available for your iPhone, and if there is, iTunes will ask if you’d like to install it.

Alternatively, you can go to Settings -> General -> About on your iPhone to install the wireless carrier settings update, but there isn’t a button to check. Your iPhone will automatically check for the update and a screen will appear after a few seconds if an update is available. I believe that using iTunes to check is more reliable, however, because network issues may prevent your iPhone from connecting to the update server.

Carrier Settings Update On iPhone

8. Update iOS, Preferably Using iTunes

If an iOS update is available, install that too. Along with new features, iOS updates contain bug fixes for all sorts of issues, including those that can cause the “No SIM” error.

I recommend using iTunes to update your iPhone’s software because if your iPhone is already experiencing software problems (as evidenced by the “No SIM” error), I wouldn’t trust the software on the iPhone to do the iOS update if I could avoid it. Chances are, everything would be fine if you updated your software by going to Settings -> General -> Software Update, but my gut tells me that given a choice, using a computer would be the safest option.

update iphone to ios 12

9. Restore Your iPhone

If you’re still seeing the “No SIM” error, it’s time to hit the software with “the big hammer”. We’ll restore your iPhone to factory defaults, reactivate with your carrier as part of the setup process, and restore from your an iTunes or iCloud backup.

A Strong Word Of Warning

Your iPhone needs to be activated after you restore it. Activation happens the first time you set up your iPhone. It’s what connects your unique iPhone to your wireless carrier’s network.

Here’s where things can get tricky: Your iPhone needs to be activated before it can restore from a backup – or do anything, for that matter. If the restore process doesn’t fix the “No SIM” error, your iPhone might not be able to activate. You won’t be able to restore your backup, and you’ll be left with an iPhone you can’t use.

I learned this lesson the hard way, and unfortunately, so did the person who couldn’t use his iPhone because it wouldn’t reactivate after it was restored. Here’s what I recommend: Don’t try to restore your iPhone unless you have a backup phone you can use if restoring your iPhone doesn’t fix the “No SIM” error.

Always Backup Before You Restore

If you do choose to restore your iPhone, make sure you have a backup. You can backup your iPhone to iTunes or iCloud, and I’d like to point you toward two Apple support articles that do an great job of explaining the process: “Back up and restore your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch using iCloud or iTunes” and “Use iTunes to restore your iOS device to factory settings”.

Still Seeing The “No SIM” Error?

If the “No SIM” error still hasn’t gone away, you’re going to need support. When dealing with Apple support, I find it easiest to start at Apple’s support website or call my local Apple Store to make an appointment with the Genius Bar.

If you’re out of warranty and Apple’s repair costs are too high, Puls is a new service that will meet you at a location of your choice, fix your iPhone today, and guarantee their work for life — all for a lot less than Apple.

This may also be a good time to consider switching wireless carriers, especially if this isn’t the first time you’ve had SIM card issues on your iPhone. You can use UpPhone to compare cell phone plans from dozens of different wireless carriers. You might even save money if you switch!

Wrapping It Up

I really hope this article has helped you to understand, diagnose, and fix the “No SIM” warning on your iPhone. If have any questions or comments you’d like to share, please leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to respond as soon as possible.

Thank you so much for reading and I wish you all the best,
David P.

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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.