10 Fixes For “No Sim Card Installed” Error For iPhone

iphone says no sim card installed when there is one

Are you unable to receive calls, messages, or data due to the No Sim card installed error? This article will give you a detailed guide on the best way to fix this problem.

Why does my iPhone says no sim card installed when there is one?

The iPhone shows a No Sim Card error message when you haven’t inserted the sim card in the tray or the phone has failed to recognize the card due to a malfunction.

Now, the iPhone will not be able to scan the contents of the SIM Card, thus failing to connect to a carrier. This results in you being unable to call or use mobile data.                                                                            

A SIM Card Error message can come out of the blue when life seems to go all perfect. You were living every moment and enjoying every bit of connectivity your phone offered. dreaming to be among the stars.

And then, one fine day you see that you have lost your connectivity. Now you can’t make calls or use cellular data on your phone.

There are various solutions that you could try to resolve the issue but first, we’ll get to the crux of the matter and understand why we need a SIM Card and the role it plays in your iPhone.

The Detailed Guide to Understanding SIMs

How does the SIM card work on an iPhone?

Each SIM Card has a unique account number stored in it that identifies which SIM Card is present in a particular phone. The phone network company then gives the iPhone access to the network towers that help us call and use mobile data. This is how a SIM card works.

But what is a SIM card after all? The word SIM stands for Subscriber Identity Module. It is an integrated chip that stores two codes. One code (which is called International Mobile Subscriber Identity, if you want to tell your tech-savvy friends) identifies the SIM Card and the other code authenticates the process.

This process gives you access to the carrier network using which you call or use data. Sometimes the chip in the SIM card can also be used to store contact data like phone number, location, text messages, etc. So, the SIM Card in essence acts like a key that opens up a world of connectivity.

Can I use any carrier’s SIM card on my iPhone?

iPhones that are bought from carriers are locked to them. Another carrier’s SIM card won’t work unless you unlock your phone by contacting your carrier. Ring up the carrier and request them for an unlock. Complete all the requirements requested by the carrier for an unlock.

Track the status of your request with the carrier. A final message will be received from the carrier to confirm that they have unlocked your phone. You can now insert any mobile operator’s sim card into your phone.

How to install SIM Card into the tray?

SIM card tray is designed according to the Nano sim dimensions. Here’s are the steps to fit the SIM card on the tray:

  • Locate a cut notch on the tray.
  • Now, find a similar cut end on the SIM.
  • Fit both of them hand in hand.        

How have SIMs changed over time?

SIMs have changed over time by decreasing in their size as the chip technology got better. The standard sim has a length of 25mm while micro and Nano have it at 15mm and 12mm respectively. The modern E-SIM is integrated into the phone’s circuitry. 

Back in time, bulky phones were beginning to show up. Researchers were looking around for ways to connect a smartphone to the carrier. Then, Giesecke and Devrient turned over a new leaf in 1991, coming up with the plastic card-sized standard SIM card.

The sizes of SIMs continued to decrease with the introduction of mini Sim, micro-sim, and finally Nano-SIM. The latest technology is called E-SIM where there is no need for a physical SIM card.

Can an iPhone work without a physical SIM Card?

An iPhone can work perfectly fine without a SIM Card. Most iPhones have eSIM embedded in them. The Sim authenticates the identity of the iPhone to the carrier using an internet connection. This eliminates the need for a physical sim card.

eSIM is the new cutting-edge technology. In essence, it is a partition in the memory of the device that stores encrypted account details of the carrier and is about 60 times smaller than the Nano sim card.

You can set up eSIM using either scanning a QR code, installing a carrier app, or manually entering cellular plan credentials in the settings. Follow these instructions to subscribe to the E-SIM manually:

  • Open Settings from the Home Screen
  • Now tap Mobile data
  • Click on Add Cellular Plan
  • Finally, enter the plan details.

How does a SIM Card compare with eSim?

The SIM Card and the eSim have their own advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a table showing the pros and cons of a physical SIM card and an eSIM. 

Physical SIM CardeSIM
All carriers provide physical SIM card service. The technology is new, so you might not find all carriers providing it. 
It can store some data like phone numbers, location etc.No data storage can be done. 
In case something goes wrong with your phone, you can still call using another phone as a SIM is removable. When your phone battery dies there is no way to place a call. 
You may lose your SIM card. It is safe and secure.

What is a SIM Card tray and where is it located?

The SIM tray holds the SIM in its place in an iPhone. It is located in the middle right of the phone. To pull out the SIM Card tray follow these steps:

  • Locate a small hole in the middle of the right side of the iPhone.
  • Push the Pin Ejector tool into the hole forcefully.
  • Finally, pull out the tray that has appeared above the hole.

Did I hear that right? You have lost your pin ejector and are looking for ways to open the SIM tray? Well, here are the common household items that can be used:

  • Toothpick
  • Paper clip
  • Safety Pin
  • Earing
  • Staple Pins

If the SIM tray is damaged, the SIM card will be misaligned in the phone. Dust particles and water can also enter the iPhone and cause damage to iPhone internals.

Top 10 fixes for No Sim Card Error

The exact issue that we are facing is that the iPhone is not detecting the SIM Card although we have inserted it. The error could be a hardware issue, a software glitch, or, an invalid SIM card. 

The hardware malfunction could have occurred during a fall or due to water damage. Before you get your tail to the nearest Apple Store real fast, you should first go through the steps listed below atom by atom. They would help you confirm that the damage is in the hardware.

The second most probable cause of the error is a software update. About eight updates were issued in the 90 days after the release of iOS 11 instead of six after iOS 10. Research shows that the updates are a nightmare for older iPhone models. A No Sim Card error may be due to a software bug.

In such a case, go for troubleshooting common software bugs. Other software issues like wireless setting errors may also occur. The carrier may have delivered a faulty sim card too!

Here are the top 10 solutions that to resolve the No Sim Card Error:

  1. Check with the Carrier if the Sim is activated
  2. Restart your iPhone 
  3. Examine the SIM Card Tray
  4. Turn Airplane mode on and off 
  5. Try swapping SIMs 
  6. Scan for carrier setting update
  7. Check for iOS update
  8. Enter safe mode
  9. Reset network settings
  10. Factory reset your device

Let’s dive into solving the error once and for all without further ado.

1. Check with Carrier if the SIM is activated:

When carriers issue a new SIM card, they take time to activate it. It is also possible that the carrier may be undergoing an update process due to which your SIM signals were abruptly cut off.

Mobile tower repair could also be an issue. Due to all these, it is recommended that you call your carrier to know whether everything is good at their end.  

2. Restart your iPhone

Restarting the iPhone is a shot in the dark. It may resolve the issue in some cases. To restart your iPhone follow these instructions:

  • Press the power button on the side of the phone for about 30 secs.
  • Slide the slider towards the right to shut down your phone.
  • Hold the power button until the Apple logo appears on the screen.

3. Examine the SIM Card Tray

Check if both the sim tray and the sim card slot are clean. If you find the tray dirty, clean it with a soft cloth and reinstall the sim. Did the error go away? If yes then whoa you’ve solved the issue!

However, if the error persists a hardware defect may have occurred on the SIM Card tray. Inspect if the tray aligns the SIM in its place in the phone. If you find a fault, you should visit the nearest Apple store to repair it. 

Liquid damage due to coffee or tea may have occurred. Get a torch and look inside the SIM tray opening to check for liquid damage. There should be a white circular sticker visible. If the dot has turned red, this might indicate that water has damaged the internals of the iPhone. 

4. Turn airplane mode on and off

Airplane mode turns off all the radio frequency signals like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or SIM signals. To turn it off or on follow these steps:

  • Touch the settings icon on the homepage.
  • Click on airplane mode to turn it on/off.

5. Try swapping SIMs 

You can also try inserting someone else’s sim into your iPhone. If it works then this is the light bulb moment for us. You have got SIM card issues. It is defective. There is no need to get your hardware inspected or software checked. Go get a replacement sim card which will most probably work.

However, if the SIM isn’t the issue, insert your sim into another device. If the SIM works then the issue is probably with the hardware or software of your phone, not the SIM. 

Take out your SIM, readjust it and re-insert it back into the iPhone. If the error goes away then all hail the king you have solved the issue!

Should I shut down my iPhone before removing the SIM?

Yes, you should turn off your iPhone before you insert a new SIM card. A better option is to turn on the Airplane mode. Remove the old SIM and re-insert the new SIM and then, turn off the Airplane mode.

6. Scan for a Carrier Settings Update

Carrier Settings help to ensure connectivity and stability between your phone and carrier network. Follow these steps to update your carrier settings:

  • Open Settings and go to General>About
  • If an update is available a pop-up as shown below will appear.
Carrier Settings Update
  • Click Update to install new settings.

7. Check for iOS updates:

Updating your iOS may remove software glitches from your device. Check if you have an active Wi-Fi connection and then follow these steps:

  • Tap Settings from the home screen.
  • Scroll a bit down and go to General< Software Update.
  • In case an update is available, tap Download and Install.
  • Wait for the download to complete then tap Install Now.

8. Enter the Safe Mode

Another way to end the problem is by using the Safe Mode. In this mode, all the third-party apps are turned off. Safe mode helps confirm the error with the system software or the third-party apps. To enter the safe mode on iPhone follow these steps:

  • Turn your phone off.
  • When your phone is off, turn it back on by pressing the power button. 
  • Press the volume down logo until a prompt appears.
  • Now confirm by tapping on Safe Mode.

When the error goes away in the Safe Mode, then this means some third-party software is causing the error on your device. Follow through the next two steps to fix software bugs.

9. Reset network settings

You can attempt to take a bold step by trying to reset network settings. This will remove saved Wi-Fi passwords, SIM settings, and Bluetooth settings. Save them all before you go for this step. To reset network settings follow these instructions:

  • Go to Settings< General.
Reset Network Settings
  • Now tap on Transfer or Reset settings. 
  • Press Reset Network Settings.
  • If prompted, enter your passcode. Now, tap Reset Network Settings to give final confirmation.

10. Factory reset your iPhone

A factory reset is the last-ditch effort to resolve the issue. We are now going all in to resolve the issue. To reset your iPhone to factory defaults, follow these instructions:

  • Tap Settings from the home menu.
  • Scroll down and go to General.
  • Click on Erase All Content and Settings.
General Settings
  • Now, press Reset to give the final confirmation.

Warning: Always backup all your files and folders to the iCloud before you initiate a complete reset of the phone. 


Wrapping it up, we have discussed various methods at length to solve the issue. You should try all the above methods to make things good on your end. If the error is not resolved then try to contact apple support. Finally, if there is a hardware defect visit your nearest Apple Store. 


Should I Visit The Apple Store Right After My Phone Shows No Sim Error?

Ans: No, the error could be due to a variety of reasons many of which can be resolved at home. Visiting the Apple Store is always the last option.

Is It Safe To Use Items Other Than A Pin Ejector Tool To Pull Out The Sim Tray?

Ans: Household items may cause damage to your phone. It is recommended that you use a sim ejector tool. It has a standard size that exactly fits into the Sim hole.  

How To Clean The SIM Card Tray?

Ans: SIM card tray and Sim Card hole can be cleaned using a microfiber cloth. If the hardware is dirty, you can dip the cloth in spirit or alcohol. Stuff the cloth into the Sim Card hole to clean it thoroughly. 

In Case Of Liquid Damage, Should I Get A Replacement SIM?

Ans: SIMs are generally waterproof. So, there is no need to get a replacement SIM. iPhone internals can be damaged by water for which repairs should be done by visiting the nearest store.  

What Should I Do If I Get A No SIM Card Error After I Update My IOS?

Ans: There are many software glitches after an iOS update. You should contact the Apple support page to end these errors.

Which Kind Of SIM Should Insert Into My IPhone?

Ans: All iPhone models above the iPhone 5S use a Nano Sim. iPhone 4 and iPhone 3 have micro and standard sim cards respectively. eSIM is used by iPhone models X and above.