What Does SOS Only Mean on iPhone?

The iPhone is one of the most important gadgets for many iPhone owners. They use it for many things such as checking e-mails, instant messaging, watching videos, etc., Though the basic use of an iPhone (or just any phone) is to make/receive phone calls. But if your iPhone is not able to serve this obvious purpose and displays SOS Only on the top of the iPhone screen, adjacent to the carrier’s towers, it is really frustrating. If you are wondering what does SOS Only Mean on iPhone, this article is going to be very helpful for you!

When this happens, you will see a bold “SOS Only” warning adjacent to the towers icon on the old version and next to the Wi-Fi icon in the latest iPhone versions. And, it means you will not be able to make regular calls.

However, you are still able to connect to emergency numbers such as 911.

Wondering what is the reason for the same and how to fix SOS only on your iPhone?

What Does “SOS Only” Mean on My iPhone?

“SOS Only” means your iPhone is unable to find connectivity with your mobile carrier.

There could be several reasons but the most important one is, that you are out of coverage area.

SOS only on iPhone

Your iPhone is not within the coverage of mobile carriers but it is still under the coverage area of the rival networks.

When SOS Only appears next to the Wi-Fi, it means you can not make or receive calls.

You also will not be able to send/receive text messages and even the mobile data that connects your phone to the internet will work.

However, you can still call emergency numbers such as 911, coastguard, ambulance, hiking rescue, etc to get help in case any urgent help is required.

Why My iPhone Says “SOS ONLY”

The SOS Only notification appears when you travel to remote destinations such as top hiking points, or traveling out of the country where the mobile carrier’s coverage is missing.

Sometimes moving around in search of getting in the coverage area can fix this problem temporarily.

In most cases, the reason behind SOS Only on iPhone is network coverage area but it can also be caused by glitches with your iPhone as well.

However, it is not necessarily you who went off the network coverage area. If your phone’s mobile carrier is experiencing technical problems at their end, you may see SOS Only as well.

If you have an update pending, there are chance it is restricting your phone from connecting with a mobile carrier.

The other probable reason for SOS Only could be a damaged phone SIM or it is not placed in the tray properly.

Apart from that, there can be some random glitch with your phone, mobile towers, or the phone’s framework.

How to Fix SOS Only on an iPhone?

The “SOS Only” notification is not so common when you are in a city. It is often experienced when you go to remote areas where the mobile carrier’s coverage is not available.

If you are experiencing SOS Only on your iPhone, you can try these fixes.

#1- Restart your iPhone

Restarting an iPhone shouldn’t be a difficult task.

If you are using iPhone X or later, follow these steps:

  1. Press either the Volume Up or Down button and the side button.
  2. Power-off slider will appear on the screen.
  3. Drag the slider.
  4. Wait for a few seconds and your iPhone will go off.
  5. Press and hold the side button until you see the Apple logo on your phone’s screen.

If you are using iPhone 8 or lower, follow these steps:

  • Press and hold the side button.
  • Power-off slider will appear on the screen.
  • Drag the power-off slider and your phone will go off.
  • Press the side button again until the Apple logo appears on the screen.

After restarting, the iPhone will attempt to join the mobile network which helps to resolve the “SOS only” issue if it successfully finds the network coverage.

#2- Move Around in Search of Network Coverage

If you believe the place you are currently at should have network coverage and still your phone shows SOS Only on the notification bar, move around to check if the iPhone finds the network area.

#3- Disable Airplane Mode

It happens to me often that I enable Airplane mode in the night so that nobody disturbs me while I am sleeping, I forget to disable it in the morning.

Also, I generally enable Airplane mode while taking flights and turn it off after the flight lands.

Airplane mode iphone

If you are the same kind of person and have enabled Airplane mode on your iPhone but forgot to disable it, go ahead and do it first now and check if the SOS Only warning goes away.

You can try to enable and then disable it as well in an attempt to fix the “SOS only” problem on your iPhone.

#4- Check iPhone SIM

Although, it happens very rarely but if you are within the network coverage and still see SOS Only on your iPhone, there are chances that your phone’s SIM may get damaged or may not be properly placed in the tray.

Removing and re-inserting the SIM properly may fix SOS only problem on your iPhone.

If you using the latest iPhone, the SIM tray is on the left-hand side however the older versions of iPhones have it on the right side.

  • Insert a paper pin or SIM-ejecting pin in a hold adjacent to the SIM tray.
  • Press it gently towards the phone.
  • The SIM tray will come out.
  • Remove the SIM and clean it with a piece of cloth.
  • Place SIM back in the Tray.
  • Push the Tray inside.
  • Restart your iPhone to check if the “SOS Only” warning went off.

#5- Reset iPhone Network Settings

The SOS Only issue on your iPhone can also be resolved by resetting the network settings.

By resetting network settings, you will set the phone’s network settings to default.

It will erase all the settings for VPN, APN, and Wi-Fi you have used before and probably fix the problem.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Then select Reset
  4. Tap “Reset Network Settings

#6- Update iOS System

If your iPhone has received an update and you haven’t installed it yet. I would recommend doing it now.

The company keeps adding new features, fixing bugs, and releasing updates for the devices.

Sometimes pending updates may create various problems.

  1. Go To Settings
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Software Updates
  4. Turn on Download iOS Updates
  5. Enable Automatic Updates
  6. Enable Install iOS Updates and your iPhone will automatically download and install the updates.

#7- Contact Mobile Carrier

If the problem persists even if you are within the network area, have properly inserted your SIM, and installed the latest iOS updates, it’s time to contact the mobile carrier.

Go to the mobile carrier website and check the customer support number.

Call the number and explain the situation, they will help you resolve the issue.

If you are using Verizon, call 1-800-837-4966.

Wrapping Up

SOS Only warning displays on your iPhone primarily because of the network problem.

Moving out of the network area of your mobile carrier can be a problem and this is one of those problems.

When you see an “SOS Only” warning, you are not allowed to make regular calls, send text messages, or even use mobile data.

But you can call emergency contact numbers such as Mountain Help, 911, lifeguard, etc.

This problem can be fixed by restarting your iPhone, Re-inserting your SIM card, updating your iPhone, etc.

However, if you are planning to update your phone believing the current iPhone you have is creating problems, you can check out the latest iPhone release date so that you can decide whether you should buy the current version or wait for the upcoming iPhone.