iPhone Not Receiving SMS Messages? Fix

While using your iPhone, you may notice unexpected SMS text messaging behavior where you can’t receive SMS messages on your iPhone, while you can send SMS messages. There are few things you can try if you can send but cannot these types of messages using the Messages app. There may be several likely causes that you can investigate.

SMS Text Messages

It appears that this problem affects SMS messages and iMessages are not affected. iMessages only work between Apple devices. You can however receive SMS messages from any type of cellular phone such as Android phones. If you are having iMessage problems see this article.

Try the suggestions below in this order until your issue is fixed:

Follow these steps first:

1. Ensure that you have the most updated version of iOS. You can check for updates by going to Settings > General > Software Update. And if there is an update, you can follow the onscreen instructions to update your device. Updating your iPhone will also update the Messages app if you do not have the latest version installed on your device.

2. On your iPhone, turn on Airplane Mode (Settings > Airplane Mode), wait about 30 seconds and then turn it off.

3. Restart your iPhone. Here is how:

  • iPhone X, 11, 12, or later: Press and hold the volume up (or down) button and the side button together until the power off slider appears on your screen. Drag the slider to the right. Wait about 30 seconds for your iPhone to completely turn off. And then press and hold the side button until you see the Apple logo.
  • Other iPhone models: Press and hold the side or top button until the on-screen power off slider appears. Then drag the slider. Wait for your device to turn off. Then press and hold the side button again until the Apple logo appears.

4. Do you see “No service” or “Searching” in the status bar of your device? If this is the case, then try:

  • See if you have signal. SMS messages require that you have a cellular signal.
  • Make sure that you’re in an area with cellular network coverage. Go to another location and try there to get messages.
  • Disable, wait 10 seconds, and then enable cellular data by going to Settings > Cellular or Mobile Data.
  • Contact your carrier (Verizon, T Mobile, etc) to ensure that there are no issues with your carrier or account. Maybe you do not have enough to send/receive SMS messages.
  • See also: Cellular Data Not Working

5. Check your Do Not Disturb settings by going to Settings > Do Not Disturb.

6. Check to see if you blocked the contact that is trying to send you the SMS message. You can block and unblock contacts or numbers in Messages. To see your blocked contacts, go to Settings > Messages. Tap Blocked Contacts, under the SMS/MMS section.

7. If you cannot receive the SMS messages containing videos or images, ensure that there’s enough space on your device. Go to Settings > General > [Device] Storage to check your storage.

8. Ensure that your iPhone number can receive messages. Here is how you can check:

  • On your iPhone, go to Settings > Messages > Send & Receive.
  • In the “You can receive iMessages to and reply from” section, ensure that your phone number is checked.

9. Ensure that the “Send as SMS” option is enabled on your and the other party’s device (if it is an iPhone). You can check this by going to Settings > Messages.

Further steps:

If you are still having this SMS problem, then try the tips below:

1. If you have a SIM card, ensure that it is properly inserted. Try removing and then reinserting it. Doing so is simple. Simply locate the SIM tray, next to the tray there is a hole, insert your SIM-eject tool (when you bought your iPhone, the packaging included this tool, if you lost it you can use a paperclip) into the hole. The tray will pop up. Then you can remove the SIM card. See also: iPhone or iPad: No SIM Card Installed, Fix

2. Check for carrier settings update. There may be an update. You can check this by going to Settings > General > About. If there is an update, a popup will appear. Follow the instructions to update.

3. Reset your network settings. Please note that doing so will erase your network-related settings such as your Wi-Fi passwords, VPN settings, etc will be permanently deleted. On your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings.

If the steps above have not resolved the SMS behavior you are experiencing, contact Apple.

See also:

Dr. Serhat Kurt worked as a Senior Technology Director. He holds a doctoral degree (or doctorate) from the University of Illinois at Urbana / Champaign and a master’s degree from Purdue University. Here is his LinkedIn profile.

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