With substantial rises in network speeds and availability, many of us rely on cellular data more and more these days. And, cellular (mobile) data be that LTE or 5G, is something you usually don’t have to worry about. As long as you have a data plan and carrier support, there’s nothing you should configure, or adjust for cellular data to work. However, some iPhone users are getting the Physical SIM Network not available error on their devices.
That’s a rather strange error unless you don’t have data to use, use eSIM and physical SIM with the same phone number, or you are out of network coverage. So, why the error appears, and how to fix it? We have a few ideas so make sure to check them out below.
Table of contents:
- Restart your device
- Enable and disable Airplane mode
- Disable Bluetooth
- Check the SIM Card
- Install carrier configuration file
- Reset Network settings
- Reset your iPhone to factory settings
Why is the physical SIM not working on my iPhone?
1. Restart your device
Let’s start with the simplest of steps. Before doing anything else, power off your device, and power it on again. This usually fixes mobile network issues. Also, make sure that you are in an area that has good network coverage. In addition, have in mind that you can only use eSIM or a physical SIM for one registered number.
If the issue persists, make sure to move to the next step and try Airplane mode.
2. Enable and disable Airplane mode
The next thing to do is to enable and disable Airplane mode. Some users managed to resolve the problem by doing so, but we can’t say with certainty whether this will or won’t work for you.
Either way, it won’t cost you to give it a try. Here’s what you need to do:
- On the Home Screen, swipe from the right side downwards or from the bottom to bring Control Center.
- Expand the Connectivity box.
- Tap on Airplane Mode to enable it.
- After a minute or so, disable Airplane Mode.
3. Disable Bluetooth
Some users pointed out that Bluetooth somehow conflicts with cellular reception. Although the reports are scarce, you can try disabling Bluetooth. Just for the sake of troubleshooting.
If disabling Bluetooth does nothing and you are still getting the Network not available prompt on your iPhone, make sure to move to the next step.
4. Check the SIM Card
This is a big one. The majority of cellular issues have something to do with either SIM settings or the actual physical placement of the SIM card. If you are using a Dual SIM option with eSIM, make sure that you’ve chosen the right SIM card to use with cellular data.
Hardware-wise, open the SIM card compartment and remove the SIM card. Place it again and ensure that the SIM is properly positioned and that it’s not physically damaged. Restart your device once again. Now, if you are still getting the Network not available message on your iPhone, check the carrier settings, as explained in step 5.
5. Install carrier configuration file
Cellular configuration files are usually automatically sent by the carrier as soon as the SIM card is placed. These messages will, when applied, insert all necessary phone APN Settings. However, sometimes, for various reasons, you might miss the message and, without it, your SIM card and all related services won’t work.
So, either check the way to get the message via carrier dialer code or with a carrier app that most service providers have these days. Alternatively, contact your carrier and ask for a SIM configuration message. Once you get the message (or multiple messages), make sure to apply settings.
If you still get the Physical SIM Network not available on your iPhone, try resetting the network settings.
6. Reset Network settings
Now, if the issue is still present and your cellular data still won’t connect to the internet, let’s reset Network Settings. These settings cover only Wi-Fi, cellular (APN settings), and Bluetooth. So, only settings under these respective connectivity features will be affected by the reset.
Have in mind that this action will clear all saved Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth pairings. If that’s too much of a hassle for you, you can skip to the factory reset explained in the step below.
Here’s how to Reset Network Settings on your iPhone:
- Open Settings.
- Tap General.
- Select Reset.
- Tap Reset Network Settings.
- Enter your password or PIN and then confirm the selection.
7. Reset your iPhone to factory settings
So, in the end, the only remaining step we can think of is to reset your device to factory settings and restore it from an iCloud backup. This can take some time but it’s the last thing you can do on your own before either taking your device for repair or contacting your carrier and reporting the Physical SIM Network not available error.
You can either use iTunes on your Mac or PC or go straight to iPhone settings. The latter is explained below.
- Go to Settings.
- Select General.
- Tap Reset.
- Tap Erase All Content and Settings. Make sure to back up everything to iCloud. Navigate to Settings > Your Account at the top > iCloud > iCloud Backup and tap Back up Now.
- Enter PIN/Password when prompted and confirm.
- Once your device reboots, choose Restore from iCloud Backup.
Editor’s note: This article was initially published in March 2021. We made sure to revamp it for freshness and accuracy.