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"No Service" on your Cell Phone? 14 Ways You Can Fix That!

Oct 17, 2018

No service message? If your cell phone has no service, there are many different factors that can cause this. Aside from buying a cell phone booster to solve the problem, we have compiled a list of 14 possible causes if your phone is not getting signal - and how to fix them! While some may be obvious, there are others that might surprise you!

  1. Check your account status.

Before you start hunting for technical reasons why you have no service on your cell phone, check your account status with your carrier. You may have forgotten to pay or your payment was late, or there might have been a problem with your payment from the bank. Even if you’re sure that your account is fully paid up, there are many reasons why cell phone carriers cancel a customer’s account. These range from suspected fraud to a mistake on their side.

  1. Check your phone settings.

While it is true that your phone’s settings should not randomly change, it can happen if a software update was done to your phone. Depending on the phone’s settings, many apps and even the OS will update automatically as soon as a new version becomes available. If the OS has updated, it could have introduced new bugs or settings might have been changed. It could also be that a new version of OS is available that has to be downloaded before the phone will work again. You can connect your phone to WiFi or a PC to check if a new version is available.

  1. Reset to factory defaults.

Resetting a phone to factory defaults, especially the network settings, often fixes a no service problem. When you do this, be aware that the WiFi and other connectivity passwords will be gone and you will have to configure those again.

  1. Cellular data settings.

Apart from network settings, all phones have a number of cellular data settings that could cause problems. Changing a data setting and then changing it back again often fixes a problem. This also applies to the automatic carrier selection setting.

  1. Voice Roaming.

A glitch in the wireless network roaming partner of your carrier can cause this when it gets you onboard their network per their agreement with your carrier. Such problems are common worldwide. Users report that turning the voice roaming setting off and on again often resolves a "no service" problem.

  1. Remove the SIM card.

Your SIM card may, for whatever reason, not have a proper connection to your cell phone anymore. Removing the SIM card and then putting it back in will likely cure this problem and resolve your no service issue. You might also try to blow into the SIM card slot before putting it back to remove any dust or particles that may prevent proper connection with metallic terminals in your phone that connect to metal chip in your SIM card.

  1. Bent phone.

Put your phone on a flat surface and check if it is bent. This might have been caused by sitting on the phone while it is in your pocket. If this is the case, bending the phone back might solve the problem. If bent too badly, it may need repair or the mother board replaced if tiny metal plate connections are ripped apart. In most cases though, bending the phone back solves the problem because connections fall back into place and connect everything together as before.

  1. Water damage.

Cell phones, like any other electronic device, don't like water. If your phone got wet, it could still look like it is working but the water might have damaged components responsible for connecting to your carrier. Unfortunately, water damaged cell phones can’t be repaired easily and usually have to be replaced (or repaired by replacing circuit board or other parts that may have damaged or corroded due to excessive moisture).

  1. Backup and restore.

Software can be corrupted by viruses, the phone getting too hot, or excessive battery drain. Although backing up and restoring your phone is an option to try and fix the no service problem, it is very dangerous. The restore will delete everything on the phone and if it is not successful, the phone will be useless. Although you will still, in theory, have your data backed up and it could be restored to a new phone, be aware that you could lose everything by doing this step unless you seek help of a professional at a reputable cell phone store, or preferably a cell phone authorized repair center that the service providers use.

  1. Carrier activation code.

Carriers sometimes have special activation codes that can be used to resolve the no service problem. It is worthwhile to contact your cell phone service carrier to see if this is the case with your smartphone.

  1. Software bugs.

Sometimes, a specific version of phone and OS have specific bugs that cause a no service problem. For example, with the iPhone 5S, it used to show "no service" after the airplane mode has been switched on and off twice. Although the phone will show no signal, trying to make a phone call will solve the problem and the signal bars will show that there is signal.

  1. Phone case.

If you have recently bought a new cover or pouch for your cell phone and the no signal problem started after that, try removing the case. Some users report that a new case caused the problem. This may be hard to realize because it may take days, weeks, months or even years to realize if signal reception gets reduced only "slightly" after purchasing the cell phone case. However, in very weak signal areas, that slight difference may dictate whether or not you can make or receive a call. Once we received a call where the wife's phone signal was weak and her husband's phone signal was strong, although both had same brand and model phones from the same service carrier. Her's had a cover whereas her husband's did not. Upon removing it, the strength showed equal on both smartphones.

  1. Send your phone in for repairs.

If you have tried all the steps above and have still not managed to sort the problem, it might be time to take your phone to a professional repair facility to see if they can identify and repair the problem.

  1. No signal, or weak signal in your area.

If you are in a remote area where there are no cell phone towers nearby, you might get a no service message. In this case, there is nothing wrong with the phone, but it won’t work if there is not a strong enough signal available to work with. The same could happen at certain spots in buildings where the cell phone signal might be blocked.

If you're experiencing this problem, buying a phone booster will likely solve the problem, as long as there is at least some signal available for the booster to amplify. Cellular signal boosters are available for many different applications, including vehicle, small homes or offices and large building, but they all need some signal to start off with.

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  • Usually I’ve found that setting up and new APN for the phone usually fixes it….usually

    Rick on
  • I updated a software yesterday night then this thing of No service appear I’ve tried to clean the card slot but still and inserted another Sim card no service still

    Sandile on
  • I’m glad you mentioned one of the biggest reasons for getting a “no service” message on your phone—not paying the bill. LOL. I think everyone has done this either from an expired payment method or just forgetting to pay (not everyone uses autopay). Some of these recommendations are things I never would have thought could affect your reception (like a new case) so thanks!

    Evie Watson on
  • I don’t want to buy another phone I will never use straight talk again this pgone is less than a year old and should still be under warranty this is an ALCATEL PHONE purchased at WalMart

  • Nice compilation of tips. Appreciate it. However, which tips are for when you have a “No service” message and which tips are for fixing just a weak signal?

    Lauren on
  • Install CCleaner and run it on your phone incredible app! Also turn on wifi calling and set up your emergency location. This fixed my wife’s phone!

    Jeff S on
  • sometimes my cell phone works inside, sometimes not. I got rid of my regular phone and i dont want it back. any statement would be appreciated in this annoying problem

    teresa linton on
  • Can’t use internet. No data outside of home. On a plan with Robert Connelly. Bill has been paid

    Heather Connelly on
  • When it comes to cell phone reception problems, you have to understand the many ways that cell phone signals can get disrupted en route from a tower to your device. A tree can block a signal as can atmospheric changes due to storms or high winds. As discussed here, even something that seems trivial like a cell phone case can interfere. Just look at these tips and you’ll see signal interference going on.

    Willis Fields on
  • This is a nice supplement to some of the blogs I’ve read elsewhere that talk about how to fix a weak cell phone signal for free (or you can buy a phone booster). Honestly, I was unaware of the many conditions that could lead to a “no service” signal (other than not paying your bill. LOL). Cell phones are sturdy devices, but apparently some minor changes to them can affect your service. I’ll have to print these up and save them for any future problems (except paying my bill—that’s a problem we all wish we could fix by printing up a sheet of paper). One thing I won’t try to do is to execute a system restore on my phone. That’s an “all or nothing” gambit I’ll pass on.

    Frank Maclin on

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