Unable to Activate, An Update Is Required To Activate Your iPhone, Fix

This article explains how you can fix the “Unable to Activate. An update is required to activate your iPhone” error.

unable to activate an update is required

Several users have reported this issue. Users have said that they run into this error with a “No Signal” in the status bar, a shutdown button and an exclamation mark after they reset or update their devices.

The error message further says “learn more at apple.com/support.” which is the URL of Apple’s main support page. This page does not offer any real help for this issue specifically.

If you are having an issue activating your iPhone after updating iOS or resetting your device, please try the following troubleshooting tips:

Please try each step until you resolve your issue:

1-Remove the SIM card and put it back again. Simply locate your SIM tray and insert a paper clip to pop open. Apple explains how you can do this. And then re-place your SIM card. If this doesn’t not work, then try to remove the SIM and turn off your device and now put the SIM in and then turn on your device.

Remove SIM

2-Please follow the steps below:

  1. Restart your computer
  2. Open iTunes (make sure that you are running the latest version of the iTunes software. If not, update to the latest version of iTunes).  If your computer is a Mac, go to Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Software Update. If your computer is a Windows PC, you may download and update it. Click here if your computer does not recognize your device.
  3. Connect your iPhone to your computer using the USB cable
  4. Select your iPhone by clicking the iPhone icon
  5. Click Summary
  6. Click Update

See also: Software Update Is Required To Connect To Your iOS Device, Installation Failed

3-Update your Mac by going to Apple menu > System Preferences > Software Update.

4-Please follow the steps below:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer
  2. Open iTunes on your Mac
  3. While your device is connected, force restart your iPhone. Here is how you can do that:
    1. If your device is an iPhone 8 or later: Press and release the volume up and then volume down button and then press and hold the side (on/off) button until you see the recovery screen below. Do not release the buttons until you see the recovery mode screen.
    2. If your device is an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus: Press and hold the side and volume down buttons together until you see the recovery screen. Do not release the buttons until you see the recovery mode screen.
    3. If your device is an iPhone 6 or earlier: Press and hold the side and the Home buttons together until the recovery screen below appears. Do not release the buttons until you see the recovery mode screen.

      Recovery Mode Screen
      Recovery Mode Screen
  4. You will be presented with two different options: Update and Restore
  5. Choose Update and then follow the on screen instructions.

5– If your device is an iPhone 7, Apple has said that a small number of iPhone 7 models may experience this issue because of a hardware problem. Apple explains the problem here in more details. Model numbers A1660, A1780, and A1779 may experience this issue (please note that you may find the model number on the back of your device). If you think that your device is also affected, then simply contact Apple. Apple may have to replace your device.

If nothing above helps you, you may want to live chat with an Apple support representative or make a Genius Bar reservation.

See also: Unable to Install Update: An error Occurred Installing…

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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39 thoughts on “Unable to Activate, An Update Is Required To Activate Your iPhone, Fix”

  1. I got the iphone XS over 106 days out of warranty. The iOS 13.3 flashed and updated on my phone and my phone lost data connection. After Apple Tech did factory restore on my phone and the phone could not activate. The Tech said the same that told me buy a new phone.
    So, that mean that APPLE try to have new iOS sometimes to kill customers phone. If the customer still luck in the warranty or bought the stupid APPLE Care, they will replace the phone but with a refurbished. If not, we lost over $1,000 for an iPhone after a year.
    I feel I am so stupid when let the Software kill my phone.
    I hope there’s a group to bring this issue up to Apple let them responsible to this issue and fix the customers’s phone who got this issue.

    • Your suggestion is very right. It is unfair for us because we have done all the thing according to the instruction of Apple.

  2. I’m in the same boat.iphone x cannot actavite as the activation server cannot be reached. tried everything .contacted Apple no joy .Apple said it looks like I’ll need a new phone and they want to charge me €300

  3. Im experiencing the same too. Cant update yet because there is no update available yet. Be “No Service” For a couple of days now. So I decided to Reset my phone now its worst. planning to go to Apple Store tom hopefully they can do something.

  4. Am suffering from the same problem and I don’t know what to do because I have tried several methods but no good result. It is real annoying

  5. I have exactly the same problem, I took an appointment to the nearest Apple Store in my city.
    Today I’m going there to find out if they can repear my iPhone 7 or replace it.
    I will write down here if there’s any news with my iPhone, hoping that my problem gonna be resolved there.

  6. I got my iPhone 7 five months ago and this problem has been going on for a month. we brought it into apple but apparently they can’t do anything because it is a refurbished phone… now i have a phone that won’t work and i cannot activate, so I’m hoping this will get it to work, even if it is just long enough for me to be able to activate the phone again… 🙂

      • I had this same problem and had a really difficult time getting it back to work. I tried apple and they won’t replace it and the local apple stores are closed in my are due to COVID-19. I had to do a restore on my Apple MacBook Pro using iTunes and also put in a different SIM card from a different phone, that finally fixed it. For some reason though it didn’t work until like the 3 or fourth time. It kept failing during the update on my Mac. I also had to just use my iPhone 11 Pro Max to complete it. My iPhone 11Pro Max recognized it as a new device after I did the full restore and wiped everything. I just tried to log in using my other apple iCloud account and it worked. Just FYI I was working on my niece’s iPhone 7. This worked for me. Hope it helps you all. Just FYI we had the issue for like two weeks and was going to give up.

    • Hi there,
      we have the same problem with my son’s iPhone. It is extremely annoying, as the phone worked fine prior to the update. Norber Lopez, have you experienced the same and fixed the phone by inserting a new NAND chip?

      An answer would be extremely helpful,

  7. I am in the same situation. Had to upgrade IOS13 as the phone showed No service.
    Now I am unable to use my 7plus. Spending 4 hours to search around but still unsuccessful.


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