You’re just about to make a call, text a friend, or surf the web when the words “no service” pop up in the top corner of your phone. Grr! But don't worry—the fix is usually as easy as restarting your phone, changing locations, charging your battery, or quickly activating and then deactivating airplane mode. We’ve outlined a few common “no service” issues, along with some easy fixes. Give a few of these solutions a whirl to see if they solve the problem.
Your phone needs to be restarted.
Press the proper button combination to reboot your phone.
Sometimes, turning your phone off and on again helps clear away any pesky connectivity issues.
- On Android phones, open up a quick settings menu by pressing and holding the power or volume down/up buttons (the exact button combination depends on your phone model). From there, tap the “Restart” option and let your phone reboot. If your Android phone doesn’t have a “Restart” button, shut down your phone using the “Settings” app instead.
- On iPhone 8/8 Plus models or older, press the power button until the power slider shows up on your screen. Move the slider to power down your phone and press the power button for a few more seconds until the Apple logo pops onto the screen.
- On new iPhone models (X or later), shut down your device by holding down the volume up or volume down button along with the power button. Then, turn on your phone by pressing and holding the power button.
Your phone battery is running low.
Plug your phone in to get it juiced up.
Your phone battery helps keep your phone running in top form, including your phone signal. If your phone’s battery drops beneath 25%, your phone might have some trouble picking up a good signal. If you’re able to, plug in your phone until it’s over 25% charged. Then, check your signal again to see if anything improves.
- Keep a portable charger on hand if you won’t be near a wall outlet for a while.
Your phone is in airplane mode.
Check your settings menu to make sure that airplane mode is switched off.
The process is the same for both Androids and iPhones—just slide your finger down from the top of the screen to pull up your quick-access settings menu. Then, see if the button with the airplane icon is toggled or not. If it is, tap the button once to turn it off.
- Airplane mode switches off your phone’s wireless capabilities, so you won’t get any signal when it’s toggled on.
Your phone isn’t connecting to the best signal.
Switch your phone into “Airplane mode” for 10 seconds.
Pull down your iPhone’s “Control Center” or your Android phone’s “Quick Settings panel.” From this menu, tap the airplane symbol, which will completely shut off your phone’s network connectivity. Wait at least 10 seconds, and then toggle the airplane button off again. This may help your finicky phone get cell service again!
You’re blocking your phone’s antenna.
Grip the sides of your phone with 2 fingers instead of using your entire hand.
In rare cases, your hand might be blocking your phone’s antenna bands (back in the day, this was a notorious problem with the iPhone 4). Try to hold your phone along the sides and see if your signal strength changes.
- Antenna band issues probably aren’t the source of your troubles, but this trick could still be worth a try!
Your network settings are not correct.
Reset these settings directly on your phone.
To reset your iPhone’s network settings, tap the following buttons in your “Settings” app: “General,” “Reset,” and “Reset Network Settings.” Unfortunately, Android phones don’t have a universal way to reset your network settings; on some phones, you may have to tap “Settings,” “Reset options,” “Reset Wi-Fi,” “Mobile,” and “Bluetooth.” On other phones, you may only need to hit “Settings,” “General management,” “Reset,” and “Reset network settings.”
- Keep in mind that resetting your network settings will erase any Wi-Fi passwords that are saved to your phone. Be sure to jot down any important passwords before you hit the reset button.
Your iPhone’s carrier settings aren’t up-to-date.
Look for an update in your “Settings” app.
Carrier updates help optimize your phone’s network connectivity and may solve your cell signal issues. In your “Settings” app, hit the “General” option, along with “About.” Then, tap the “Carrier” button to see if there’s an available update.
- Carrier setting updates only apply to iPhones.
Your phone is connecting to a weaker cell tower.
Switch to a lower “G” if your “5G” service is weak.
Some phone carriers will automatically be connecting to “5G,” even if this means hooking your phone up to a distant, weaker signal. Instead, switch your phone to “4G” and see if you notice a change in signal strength. You can even switch to 3G if your phone offers it—both “4G” and “3G” may provide a stronger signal than the “5G” default.
- If you have an iPhone, pop over to your “Settings” app and tap on “Cellular,” “Cellular Data Options,” and “Voice and Data.” From there, you should be able to pick a specific “G,” like “5G” or “LTE (4G).”
- On Android, open your “Settings” app and tap on either “Connections” or “Wi-Fi and Internet.” Then, hit “Mobile Network” or “SIM and Network” to get a list of different “G” choices.
- It may also help to switch on the “Data roaming” setting.
Your SIM card is grimy or worn-out.
Remove your SIM card and clean it off.
SIM cards can get pretty icky and worn down over time, which can interfere with your phone’s connectivity. Start by removing your iPhone or Android phone’s SIM card. Then, wipe down the metallic surface with a disinfectant wipe or a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Slip the SIM card back into its proper compartment, and see if your cell service returns.
- An older, pre-5G SIM card might not connect to 5G networks. If you’ve just upgraded your cell service and are running into service issues, call your provider and ask them if you need a new card.
You’re in a place with bad cell service.
Turn on “Wi-Fi calling” in your phone’s settings.
Check that you’ve connected to your home Wi-Fi network or a free, public network. On an iPhone, simply tap on the “Settings” app and hit “Cellular” and “Wi-Fi Calling.” If you have an Android phone, open up your “Settings” app and hit “Networks and Internet” or “Connections,” along with “Mobile Network,” “Advanced,” and “Wi-Fi Calling.”
- Some Android phones may have a “Wi-Fi Calling” option that pops up in your “Networks and Internet” or “Connections” section.
- Rural spaces and crowded areas can both lead to poor service.
There’s a problem with your phone account.
Call your carrier to double-check your account status.
Overdue payments and other issues may cause your carrier to cancel or suspend your service. To be on the safe side, call your cell carrier to clear up any discrepancies.
- Consider buying a network signal booster if your at-home cell signal is really poor. These devices start at $200 and may improve your phone service.