For some it may sound like a trivial thing that you may ignore, but if SOS doesn`t sound an alarm to you, well, you`re one cool individual.

Seriously though, all iPhone owners must be aware that this communication does exist within Apple`s domain, and if it happens it will affect your phone. So, what to do next?

If this already occurred to you, and caused a migraine, or if all this is news to you as an iOS user, we recommend to read on, just in case. Better be prepared, know the facts, the whys and possible solutions before it`s too late and you`re faced with the above mentioned message.

Quick Overview

One presumes that this “SOS Only” memo happens uniformly across the board within Apple`s ecosystem, but that`s not exact.

In fact, it seems that only iPhone users of European countries, USA, Canada and Australia get this pop up in their status bar. People from other regions like Asia and Africa would just note a “no network” or “no service”.

While we`re at it, it`s pertinent to note a peculiarity, which is that “SOS Only” feature shows on the right side of the iPhone`s status bar now with the latest iOS 16, while in all the previous iOS versions the text was shown on the left.

Still, once you get one of the above messages, the end result is similar for all – your iOS can`t find a network, while you cannot call or text anyone you want but only emergency numbers, which stands to reason as SOS implies emergencies.

SOS originally derives from Save Our Ship, as sailors out at sea used to send this message via Morse Code when in distress, but back to iPhones.

This “SOS Only” can`t be triggered manually on your iPhone, but it happens automatically especially during certain instances like when travelling and there`s no network.

Moreover, if you didn`t insert a SIM card or something is malfunctioning with your network settings, your iPhone will also show an “SOS Only” message.  

By now you can notice that the common factor which triggers the infamous “SOS Only” message here is the network, or rather, the lack of.

How To Settle This?

Fine, so whether you`re wondering why this “SOS Only” text popped up on your iPhone when according to you it shouldn`t have, or you`re on the lookout for some quick resolutions the next time it happens, well, we`ve got you covered.

We bet you`ll be ecstatic to notice that various short and rapid methods exist, not just one, and we gladly listed them hereunder for you! Thank us later.

Restart iPhone

Very straight forward, isn`t it? The first things that comes to mind really. True, but reasons or issues affecting network could be various:

  • Temporary bugs
  • Too many recent applications still open at once
  • Loaded with cache memory

Simply restarting your iPhone will fix these and SOS.

Restart Mobile Data

The first thing that comes to mind really, is to restart your iPhone and with it your mobile data. This can be easily executed via the Control Panel.

Ensure that your cellular data is enabled before you kick-start this.

  • Access Control Panel
  • Tap on Cellular Data Icon (Antenna symbol with waves around it) to turn it off
  • Give it few seconds, then tap again to switch it on

This will trigger your iPhone to start searching for an internet connection again, thus a refreshed network.

Data Roaming

When faced with an “SOS Only” on your iPhone, it might be that your iOS is unable to find networks in that particular region. For these type of scenarios, you must ensure that your mobile networks work on Roaming.

  • Access iPhone Settings
  • Open Cellular 
  • Enable Cellular Data Option
  • Tap on Mobile Data Options
  • Toggle On Data Roaming

Following this, your iOS will register to the surrounding network, thus resolving the “SOS Only” message.


If your iPhone stops using 4G for some reason, maybe you`re in a different region than usual, and regresses to 3G (although network carriers/providers are wearing out these conventional networks) switch as follows:

  • Open iPhone Settings
  • Go to Cellular Data
  • Cellular Data Options
  • Tap on Voice & Data
  • Select LTE 
  • Toggle on VoLTE

If that was the issue, the “SOS Only” should now vanish.

Check SIM Card

Obviously, this applies to those who hold a physical SIM card not an e-SIM one.

Sometimes, registering your SIM card into the usual slot or a diverse one delivers a steady or comparatively stronger network connection.

We also suggest to switch off your iPhone before and during the process, to eliminate the possibility of any technical issues.

If you are not sure how to inset or register a SIM card though, don`t dab and experiment, as you might unintentionally damage the iPhone`s SIM card slot, resulting in a different separate problem.

Update iOS

Always update your iPhone with the latest available software version to reduce or get rid of any possible defects.

Ensure you have a stable internet connection for downloading and installing the newest iOS like so:

  • iPhone Settings>General
  • Click on Software Update
  • Tap Download and Install

After an update your iPhone will restart, and any issues together with “SOS Only” should disappear.

Final Thoughts

We went through the most common methods to resolve “SOS Only” message, although others exist. However, if still in doubt, or you`re not that tech-savvy, we recommend to seek technical assistance.

As one can appreciate, Apple had good intentions when their developers came up with this “SOS Only” message, although admittedly it can be frustrating for some.

Nevertheless, iOS users are at least warned that something is not in line on their beloved iPhone, and can take action promptly.

Alternatively, you`re enroute to Hawaii and you know it`s normal for the “SOS Only” to appear momentarily, in which case you ignore it. Well, if that lucky reader happens to be you, we`re jealous, but augur you a bon voyage.