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iPhone ‘SOS Only’: What it Means and How to Fix It



It can be alarming to see only SOS at the top of your iPhone’s display without your carrier’s name. However, you don’t need to panic, and fixing the SOS or SOS Only message is straightforward.

The SOS symbol at the top of your iPhone’s display means you can still call emergency services but can’t make other calls or use a data connection. That’s the bad news. The good news is when you see “SOS only,” you can still call emergency services, such as 911, in the United States.


Why Your iPhone Says “SOS Only.”

The most common reason your iPhone says “SOS” or “SOS Only” is that there is no signal from your wireless carrier at your location. This can happen if you’re too far from your wireless carrier’s cell towers or if you’re in a building that blocks your carrier’s wireless signals.

When you see SOS or SOS only on your iPhone, that means another wireless provider’s network is available for emergency calls. This will show up, rather than just the four dots indicating no signal, when another carrier’s wireless network has a stronger signal at your location.

All wireless carriers sometimes have faults due to storms, network errors, and other glitches. However, if your carrier’s network is down in your vicinity, you may see the SOS icon rather than their logo until the issue is resolved.

At times, your iPhone may be the source of the issue, and you may be able to resolve it without too much trouble. This is likely the case if your iPhone displays the SOS message but others’ iPhones on the same network are not.

How to Fix “SOS Only” on Your iPhone


If you are somewhere that usually receives good wireless coverage but see the “SOS only” message,  you may be able to fix it by resetting your wireless connection.

  1. Swipe down from the top-right of your iPhone’s display.
  2. Tap the green icon, and it will turn gray.
  3. Wait a few seconds and tap the icon to turn it green again.

If that doesn’t work, you can try restarting your iPhone to get rid of the SOS message. To restart your iPhone, simply:

  1. Hold one of the volume buttons and the right-side button at the same time
  2. Slide the power icon from left to right.
  3. Wait a few seconds after your iPhone’s display goes black.
  4. Press the button on the right side of your iPhone to turn it back on.

If either of those methods doesn’t work, you may need to try going outdoors to search for a better signal. If you’re already outdoors, moving towards major roads or more populated areas, your best bet is to get a better signal.





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