How to Fix ‘No SIM Card Detected’ Error on Android and iPhone

Is your phone unable to read your SIM card?

No Sim Detected Featured

There are various reasons why your Android or iOS device won’t read the SIM card. Some possible causes could be that you didn’t insert the SIM card correctly or your device is experiencing a software issue. Whatever the reason, a solution needs to be found quickly when your phone says: “No SIM card detected.”

Here are some fixes for those times when your phone can’t detect the SIM card.

Note: Depending on the brand and model of your phone, some of the settings may not be available in the same locations as discussed below. For example, for certain settings, you may have to navigate to “Network & Internet -> Mobile Networks” instead of “SIM cards & Mobile Networks” on some phones.

1. Reboot or Shut Down Your Phone

If what’s causing your SIM card error is a software issue, sometimes a simple reboot is all it takes to fix the problem.

For Android:

Press and hold the power button until the pop-up window appears with the Restart option. Tap on it to restart the phone.

Reboot Android

This can fix a lot of problems, but if this isn’t enough to fix the “no SIM” error, you can try to shut down your phones (wait 30 seconds) and then start it up again afresh.

If this fixes your problem, you should stick to shutting down and then switching on your phone instead of rebooting until an Android update or carrier settings update gets released to fix the problem.

For iOS:

Hold down the power button on your iPhone until you see “slide to power off.” To turn off your iPhone, move your finger from left to right across the slider. When the phone has switched off, press and hold the power button to switch on the iPhone.

Reboot Iphone Se And Above
Image source: Apple Support

To get to the “slide to power off” screen on an iPhone X or newer, press and hold the power button and either volume button.

Reboot Iphone X

2. Switch Your SIM Card On

Another simple solution to the SIM error in more recent Android versions is to see if your SIM card is actually switched on.

To do this, go to “Settings -> SIM cards & Mobile Networks,” and make sure your SIM is turned on.

If you have a dual-SIM setup, this is also the screen where you can make sure that the SIM card you want to use is switched on.

Sim Card And Mobile Network Settings Android
Select Sim Card

3. Change the Network Mode to Auto

Modifying the network mode to auto is another method you can try. You can do this by going to “Settings -> SIM cards and mobile network -> Preferred network type” and choosing the first option, which will be LTE/WCDMA/GSM (auto connect).

Sim Card And Mobile Network Settings Android Merged

4. Choose the Correct Network Operator

If the network operator you’re with is not the one that’s selected in your Android device’s settings, you’ll definitely get the SIM card error. To make sure you have the right one, go to “Settings -> Mobile Networks -> Automatically select network.” Once your Android device is done searching and displays the results, tap on your carrier.

Mobile Network Settings 1

For iOS, go to “Settings -> Mobile Data -> Network Selection.” Here, turn off Automatic network selection and manually select your carrier from the displayed list.

Select Network Settings Combo 2

5. Enter Your Network APN Settings Manually

If the above methods don’t work, it’s possible your SIM card has completely lost contact with the network it’s supposed to be connecting to. If that’s happened, then you may need to enter your network operator’s APN settings manually.

On a modern Android device (9.0 Pie onwards), do this by going to “Settings -> SIM cards and mobile networks -> Access point names,” then clicking the “+” icon.

Android Access Point Names 1

At this point, you’ll need to either contact your network provider to get the necessary APN settings to enter here or check online to see if your network provider’s published. It may also be a good idea to take a screenshot and save your APN settings so you can quickly refer to them if you run into trouble again.

For iOS, you can request for a carrier settings update by going to “Settings -> General -> About” on your iPhone.

Update Carrier Settings

If there is an update available, you will see a pop up asking to you authorize the update. If you don’t see any such pop-up there probably is no update available. However, you can always contact your network provider to confirm this.

6. Remove the SIM Card and Battery

Another basic fix you can try is removing the battery (if it is removable) and SIM card from the SIM card tray. Before you do this, make sure you’ve turned off your device. Once you’ve removed everything, wait for about one minute and re-insert everything again.

Dropping your phone is a common practice, but even if it didn’t suffer any damage, the SIM card could have moved out of place. A cheap and unique method many have tried is adding some paper or even tape to get a tighter fit. That usually makes the SIM card fit nice and tight and resolves the problem.

You should also look out for slightly bent or misaligned SIM trays. Even a slight misalignment can cause the SIM card to not properly connect to the internal contacts of your SIM tray.

Sometimes the problem might not be with your phone but with your SIM card instead. To know for sure, ask a friend of yours for their SIM card and insert it into your phone. If your phone detects this temporary SIM card, then the problem is with your SIM, and you will need to replace it.

If your phone can’t detect the replacement SIM card, and you are confident that there is no physical damage to your phone, the tray, or the SIM, then it’s highly likely that your phone has a software issue.

7. Try Using Your Phone in Safe Mode

Unfortunately, not every app you install plays nice. Some apps can cause more harm than good and will cause this error. Boot your device into safe mode.

Stay in safe mode for a few hours and see if you continue to have this problem. If not, try to remember the last few apps you installed and uninstall them. Get out of safe mode and see if you continue to have this problem.

8. Airplane Mode Solution

If you’ve tried all of the above basic fixes, and you’re sure that the SIM card is not to blame, it’s time to try the Airplane mode solution. Swipe down from the top of your display (once or twice depending on where you’ve placed the icon), and turn it on.

Airplane Mode Control Pannel

Depending on the Android version you have, you may or may not get a warning message when turning Airplane Mode on. Enable it and leave it on for about thirty seconds or so. When you turn it off, your Android device will start looking for a network, and hopefully, the SIM card error will be fixed.

9. Fix the SIM Card Error by Clearing the Cache

Clearing your Android’s cache to try to fix the no SIM card error is extremely simple. Go to “Settings -> Storage -> Clear Data.” When you tap on cached data, you’ll get a pop-up telling you that this is going to clear the cache for all the apps on your device. Just tap on “Delete” to go through with it.

About Phone Settings

If there were only a way to know what is causing the no SIM card error from the very beginning, there would be no need to waste time trying different methods. Unfortunately, until the Android device shows a message telling you what the cause is, the trial-and-error method is all you have.

10. Reset Network Settings

If you are not sure what software issue your iPhone is going through due to which it is unable to detect the SIM card, you can also reset the network settings altogether. Doing this will not erase any data but only resets your network settings to default.

  1. Go to “Settings -> General -> Transfer or Reset iPhone,” and click Reset.
Reret Network Settings Ios
  1. When you click on Reset, you will see a menu with options to reset various iOS elements.
Click On Reset Network Settings
  1. Click on “Reset Network Settings.” You will then be prompted to enter your passcode, following which, your iPhone will reset the network settings.
Enter Your Passcode
  1. Enter your passcode to proceed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can third-party apps create problems with SIM card connectivity?

It’s possible. Your phone may have a malicious third-party app that’s causing the “no SIM card detected” error or the “cellular data not working” error on your iPhone or iPad. If you are doubtful about it, boot your phone in safe mode to disable all non-native apps from launching. If the issue is resolved, you have successfully pinpointed the root cause of the issue. Now all that’s left is to identify the malware and get rid of it.

Why am I getting a “SIM card not detected” error on my phone while traveling overseas?

This could most likely be due to the network not being unlocked or your SIM not being activated.

How to recover contacts from a SIM that is not getting detected?

If you want to recover your contacts from a SIM that is not showing up on your mobile device, you can use your Google account to back up its data, including all the contacts. However, it requires you to have linked your Google account prior to attempting this method.

What do I do if my phone got wet and now it shows the “no SIM card” error?

If you’ve dropped your phone in water, and now it is unable to detect your SIM card, it could be due to damaged connections caused by moisture.

The best course of action would be to let the phone dry. The next best solution is to contact customer care.

What do I do if my phone shows a "no SIM card detected" error after an update?

Software updates are usually helpful as they bring new security patches and bug fixes. However, if a new update is causing the error with your SIM card, there is a chance that this error is being caused by the old data. Try these fixes one by one:

  • Restart your device.
  • Reinsert your SIM card.
  • Reset your device to factory settings.

Image credit: Silvie Lindemann on Pexels

Ojash Yadav
Ojash Yadav

Ojash has been writing about tech back since Symbian-based Nokia was the closest thing to a smartphone. He spends most of his time writing, researching, or ranting about bitcoin.

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