What Does SOS Mean on iPhone? 12 Easy Fixes!

When your iPhone shows “SOS” at the top right corner of your screen, it has a hidden meaning. This mode prioritizes your safety by ensuring you can contact emergency services if needed. You should know what SOS stands for on your iPhone and how to use it to stay connected to the outside world.

What Does SOS Mean on iPhone

What Does SOS Mean at the Top of My iPhone?

If your iPhone says SOS, it means that your phone’s normal cellular services are disabled, and you can only make emergency calls. This happens due to bad cellular reception, a defective SIM card, or incorrect cellular settings. 

If your iPhone displays ‘SOS only,’ your smartphone cannot connect to the standard cellular network and only make emergency calls. This feature means you can still contact emergency services even in difficult situations where regular network connectivity is unavailable. 

Related Post: What Does Cancelled Call Mean on iPhone?

8 Reasons for SOS Mode Being Activated

What does SOS stand for on iPhone, and why does it show on your phone? There are a few reasons why the SOS sign shows up on your iPhone. Here they are:

1- Network Outages

iPhones enter the SOS mode during network issues or maintenance by cellular service providers. Cellular services can be unavailable during such disruptions, and the iPhone’s functionality is limited to emergency calls only. 

2- Roaming Issues

Your iPhone can go into SOS mode when traveling abroad or in areas with limited or unavailable roaming services. This can happen if the iPhone’s SIM card does not have roaming settings activated. So make sure you haven’t turned off roaming in the device settings. 

3- Poor Cellular Reception

The iPhone enters SOS mode in places with poor cellular reception, such as distant rural or underground areas. Hence, emergency calls are prioritized over ordinary calls or internet services.

4- Failed SIM Card

A faulty or malfunctioning SIM card can activate SOS mode on an iPhone. This can happen if the SIM card is physically damaged and not properly inserted into the SIM card tray. The validity of the SIM card could also have expired.

5- Incorrect Cellular Settings

Manually selecting networks instead of automatically selecting them can activate SOS mode. When the iPhone cannot connect to the specified cellular network due to improper settings, it can go to SOS mode to prioritize emergency calls.

6- Software Glitches

Software flaws or defects in iOS can also cause the iPhone to display SOS mode incorrectly. Faulty system files, insufficient software updates, or incompatibilities between software components could cause these issues. 

7- Carrier Settings Update

Failure to update carrier settings on the iPhone can cause compatibility problems with the cellular network and activate SOS mode. Cellular service providers regularly update carrier settings to improve network compatibility and performance and address security concerns.

8- Hardware Damage

SOS mode can be triggered by physical damage to iPhone hardware components. This is especially true for the components connected to cellular connectivity, like the antenna or radio frequency module. Accidental drops, liquid exposure, and manufacturing faults can all cause damage to these components.

Related Post: Why is My iPhone Not Sending Text Messages to Android?

How to Fix iPhone Being Stuck in SOS Mode?

If your iPhone is stuck in SOS mode, there are a few things you can do:

pexels bruno cervera 1125048

1- Restart Your iPhone 

In certain cases, a simple restart can resolve software issues that have caused the iPhone to remain in SOS mode. Press and hold the power button until the slider displays, then move to turn off. When the phone turns off completely, press and hold the power button again until the Apple logo appears.

2- Check Cellular Reception

Make sure you’re in an area with good cellular service. If not, move to a new location with a stronger signal to see if that fixes the problem.

3- Reinsert SIM Card

Turn down your iPhone and remove the SIM card tray with a SIM eject tool or a paper clip. Remove the SIM card, clean it with a soft cloth, and firmly insert it into the tray. Turn back on your iPhone to see if the problem continues.

4- Check the Cellular Settings

Go to Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data Options > Voice & Data, then pick LTE or a compatible network option. Also, if traveling internationally, ensure Data Roaming is activated.

5- Update the Carrier Settings

Go to Settings > General > About. Now, update the carrier settings. Updating carrier settings can assist in overcoming compatibility issues with the cellular network.

6- Reset Network Settings

If the problem persists, you can return your iPhone’s network settings to default. Go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings. This will reset Wi-Fi networks, Bluetooth devices, and VPN settings.

7- Update iOS

Make sure your iPhone is running the most recent version of iOS. Go to Settings > General > Software Update to find and install any available updates.

8- Contact Your Carrier 

If none of the above methods resolve the issue, there could be a problem with your carrier’s network or account. Contact your carrier’s customer service for additional help and troubleshooting.

9- Reset Location and Privacy Settings 

Incorrect location or privacy settings can interfere with cellular access. Go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Location and Privacy. This will return the location and privacy settings to their default state.

10- Turn on the Airplane Mode

Enabling and disabling Airplane Mode can help reset the iPhone’s cellular connection. Swipe down from the top-right corner of the screen to access Control Center, then hit the Airplane Mode icon to activate it. Wait a few seconds, then hit the symbol again to turn off Airplane Mode.

11- Remove the Case or Cover

If your iPhone has a case or cover, it could interfere with the cellular signal. Remove the case temporarily to see if the iPhone exits SOS mode.

12- Update Carrier Profile

Updating the carrier profile apart from the iOS update can help to fix connectivity issues. Go to Settings > General > About. To update the carrier profile, follow the onscreen instructions.

Related Post: What is TFW Meaning on iPhone?


What Does SOS Mean in an Emergency?

“SOS” is a signal sequence which means ‘Save Our Ship’ or ‘Save Our Souls.’ Sailors invented the phrase “Save Our Ship” to signal for rescue from a distressed vessel. 

Why Does My Phone Say SOS and No SIM?

If you fail to insert the SIM card properly, you will receive an SOS or No Service error. Re-insert your SIM card.


When your phone says SOS in corner, it means there is a problem with the cellular connection. Despite this, your iPhone still allows you to place emergency calls. To resolve the issue, try the fixes given above. If these fixes do not work, contact your carrier or Apple Support for assistance. Remember, SOS mode allows you to contact emergency services even if regular calls are impossible.

Mike is a professional business and Tech blogger that writes for a variety of leading sites. He loves content partnerships with advertisement agencies.