How to Get Service If Your iPhone Says Searching

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When an iPhone shows a No Service or Searching message on its status bar, it typically cannot find or connect to its cellular network. This may happen if you're in an area without cell coverage or if your cell carrier has a network problem. If the problem persists and the iPhone can't find a signal, troubleshoot its settings, the SIM card, updates and network connections.

Call the iPhone

The iPhone may have coverage, even if it says it is searching, and the message may just be a glitch. Try to make a call or call the iPhone from another device. If you are able to connect, the searching message may clear when you hang up.

Check Cellular Data Settings

(Image: Image courtesy Apple)

Open Settings and tap Cellular. Check that the Cellular button is on: If it's off, tap the button to enable it. If the button is on, try tapping it off. Wait a couple of minutes and tap it on again.

Tip

  • If you're overseas and have disabled data roaming, enable it to see if this solves the problem. Keep in mind that you may incur data roaming charges if you leave this setting on.

Enable and Disable Airplane Mode

Sometimes you can fix a network glitch by turning off the iPhone's connections completely and restarting them using Airplane Mode.

(Image: Image courtesy Apple)

Open Settings and tap Airplane Mode. When you see the airplane icon, tap the button again to switch off the mode. The iPhone will now try to reconnect.

Do a Restart or Reset

Restarting or resetting an iPhone may clear glitches that prevent it from connecting. First, try turning the handset off and on. If this doesn't work, move on to a reset.

  1. To restart, press and hold the Sleep/Wake button. When the slider appears, swipe to turn off the iPhone. Wait until the shutdown circle stops spinning and press and hold the Sleep/Wake button until the Apple logo appears.
  2. To reset, press and hold down both the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button. The iPhone will shut down, reset and restart automatically. 

Install Carrier Updates

If you have a pending carrier update that you haven't downloaded yet, install it.

(Image: Image courtesy Apple)

Connect the iPhone to your computer and open iTunes. If there is an available carrier update, you'll see a message when iTunes opens. Select Download and Update.

Tip

    • You can also check for carrier updates from the iPhone. Open Settings. Tap General and then About to see if you have notifications. 
    • While you're in iTunes, it's also useful to check whether you need to
      update the iPhone's iOS; this may even fix the problem. Select theiPhone's picture from the iTunes menu and open Summary. Select Update if there is a notification or Check for Updates to see if any are available.

Remove and Reinsert the SIM Card

Push the iPhone's SIM eject tool into the SIM card tray's hole to open it. Take the card out of the tray and check it for damage. If the card is bent or damaged, it may be preventing the iPhone from connecting to the network, and you may need to contact your carrier for a replacement SIM.

If the SIM card looks okay, put it back in the tray and reinsert it in the iPhone. Wait to see if it connects.

Tip

  • If you don't have the eject tool, unbend a paperclip and push one of the ends in the hole.

Reset the iPhone's Network Settings

You can sometimes fix connection problems that prevent the iPhone from finding a network by deleting its network settings and reinstalling them. You need to know your network passwords before you reset — if not, you won't be able to reconnect to the networks when the process is completed.

Step 1

(Image: Image courtesy Apple)

Open Settings. Tap General and then Reset.

Step 2

(Image: Image courtesy Apple)

Tap the Reset Network Settings button. If you've enabled password protection on the iPhone, you need to enter your password before you can continue.

Step 3

(Image: Image courtesy Apple)

Tap the Reset Network Settings button. The iPhone resets to factory network settings and then restarts and reconnects.

Tip

  • If you can't fix the problem and the iPhone continues to search for its network, contact your carrier or Apple Support.

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