Can't send or receive SMS text messages on iPhone? Here's the fix!

iPhone letting you text your blue-bubble iMessages friends but not regular old green bubble friends over SMS messages? iMessage works over data while SMS/MMS work over the carrier channel, so it's entirely possible there's a bug that can affect one but not the other. Luckily, there are several things you can do to try and fix it!

1. Reset your iPhone

The first thing you should always try when having issues is a hard reboot.

  1. Press and hold down the On/Off button on the right side (iPhone 6 or later) or top (all other iPhones, iPods, and iPads) of your device.
  2. While continuing to hold the On/Off button, press and hold the Home button on the front of your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad.
  3. Hold both buttons as the screen turns off, and keep holding them until the screen turns back on and displays the Apple logo.

If that miraculously fixes the problem, great. If not, keep reading!

2. Turn off LTE or use it for data only

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus feature VoLTE—Voice over LTE—and if you live in an area where your carrier is actively expanding or rolling it out, funny things have been known to happen. To remedy them, you can try and use LTE only for data, or not at all. It may not be ideal but should only be temporary.

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap on Cellular.
  3. Tap on LTE.
  4. Tap on either Data Only or Off.
  5. Reboot your iPhone (see above).

How to disable LTE on iPhone 6

Once your iPhone finishes rebooting, try and send a regular text message. If you still can't send or receive them, continue on.

3. Reset network settings

Resetting network settings is annoying—because you'll need to fill them all in again—but it can sometimes get you going when nothing else works.

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap on General.
  3. Tap on Reset, it's all the way at the bottom.
  4. Tap on Reset Network Settings.
  5. Confirm in the popup.
  6. Your iPhone will reboot

How to reset network settings on iPhone

How to reset network settings for iPhone

4. Restore your iPhone

Sometimes restoring from an old backup, especially a backup of a different device like an iPad, can be less than ideal. Cruft builds up and things just don't run like they used to. If you suspect that's the case, you can suck it up and set up your iPhone as new. Yes, it can be an incredible pain in the apps, but if you have a significant and continual problem, and nothing else can fix it, setting up as new can be a solution.

It's the nuclear option, no doubt about it. You will have to set up almost everything again, including passwords and settings, and you will lose all your saved data like game levels, health, and activities, but in most cases your battery life will be better than ever.

5. Contact Apple

Every once and a while you get a problem you just can't solve. Like any electronics, sometimes things go wrong. If you have AppleCare or AppleCare+, and you should absolutely book a Genius Bar appointment and avail yourself of it. If you don't live close to an Apple Store, you can call 1-800-MY-APPLE in order to set up a mail-in repair.

What worked for you?

If you were able to fix your SMS issue on your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, what worked for you?

iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.

51 Comments
  • That was awesome! Thank you, I had to restore from iTunes as well.
    My other issue is wifi, it's almost like my data and wifi connection are fighting each others will ask in the forums. Thanks again Sent from the iMore App
  • Does anyone know how to see old iphone messages, I know there is an option to permanently keep messages forever, and you can click on the messages for a user/contact and keep going back to the top, I am missing messages that are say older than 6 months, has anyone else noticed this? or anyone know of an fix for this ? running latest ios 8.x for iphone 5c, troubleshooting an issue for another person.
  • Settings>messages>Message history>keep messages
  • I'm running it to the same issue, but i only have this problem with one person in my contacts. We txt via iMessage, but I can only scroll back so far in to our conversation then it turns old messages in to SMS, and does not allow me to go back any further in the history or texts / i-m. I believe this started happening when my friend sent me a message where my iPhone powered off instantly when I opened it. Have you had any luck fixing your issue?
  • I'm pretty sure the easy fix is right there in the screenshot provided in the article: Send as SMS is Off; needs to be turned On, which will allow to send as SMS when iMessage is not available either because recipient is not on an iPhone or carrier issues... :-)
  • Precisely. This is one of the first features I turn on when I get a new iPhone. All of these "fixes" are overkill.
  • Where is this found, i cant find it
  • I simply deleted the text thread and resent. Seems to have worked.
  • Hi Allyson. In the article you said this happened to your iPhone 6 (or 6 Plus?) after switching devices. Which step ultimately fixed your issue?
  • Choosing a new default messaging a...........wait.
  • Dag, I love my iphone but nobody should have to go through all that on a new model device. I expect that from Android not iOS.
  • What? Apple is all about "going through all that". It wasnt until IOS 7 came a long that you had to click and tap away just to turn ON wifi. Dont get me started on what it takes to have a default mail app.... When you know better, everything is actually a PAIN on IOS because its such a dumbed down one lane road.
  • I would agree, why do I have to disable my other devices and my LTE. That is what I had to do to fix it for my IP6+. Anyone else having a wifi/data issue. It's like the two fight and don't allow either one to work. This is a huge issue for me. Sent from the iMore App
  • I can't click on LTE in #4., I just have a toggle button....
  • What network you on?
  • Sorry, forgot to mention. I'm on Rogers in Canada.
  • Does Rogers have VoLTE yet? If not, you won't have an option. You would just have the toggle button.
  • I didn't realize it was dependent on VoLTE for that option. I thought Rogers had it or at least said they would. Thanks for the help!
  • No worries. Glad I could help.
  • I have an iPhone 6 on Verizon Wireless. I have been using VoLTE since day one. I have never experienced any of these problems. Could it be an AT&T issue as I see that's the network you are using? My good friend is always having this issue and he is on AT&T. Usually happens when signal switches between LTE and 3G (or 4G as AT&T calls it). Texts are very delayed.
  • I've been using the iPhone 6 plus since release date... NO ISSUE with SMS so far...
  • Most of these sound like good advice, but you should never hard reset your phone unless it won't restart normally. Quoting https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201559: "You should reset your device as a last resort and only if you can't restart it." Sent from the iMore App
  • I would never hard reset the phone - it's exactly the same as turning your computer off without shutting it down; things can get corrupted.
  • I have a similar, related issue. My wife has a 6 and is on a cell/text only plan (AT&T GoPhone plan) - no data. It's really annoying that she only gets my iMessages once she gets onto wifi. I'm on a 5s and I am on a T-Mobile cell/text/data plan. Is there a way I can force messages to her to be SMS messages?
  • Just turn iMessages OFF under "Settings" > "Messages" switch iMessages to "OFF" at the top.
  • You can also sent a message and as it is sending hold the message and a option for send as text message will appear. You might have to do this several times till your phone remembers your preference for her phone number. Sent from the iMore App
  • It's her burden, not yours. Hold the message as it sends and an option will show to send as a text. Make sure she turns off iMessage and deactivates her phone. I also would recommend downgrading her iPhone to an iPad touch and getting a flip phone or qwerty phone instead so fellow iPhone users are spared the burden of always having to send texts as green buttons too. Sent from the iMore App
  • My issue was the exact opposite, can't send any iMessage text at all only SMS. The fix was quite simple really. I'm the only iPhone user among the 20 or so people I contact the most so we all just use Google Hangouts. Sent from the iMore App
  • I have a weird similar problem, and have tried all the steps in this article and then some and nothing has worked. When is send iMessages (sometimes) or mms (as iMessage or text, doesn't seem to matter), after a min or so and sometimes 30-40 min later I get the red exclamation mark and the message send error, but 98% of the time the person I've sent the message to has indeed gotten it. iPhone 6, iOS 8.2, AT&T in San Antonio, Texas. Sent from the iMore App
  • This article has no explanation on why this is or isn't bad. I own an iPhone 5, so this article doesn't concern me. While the article tells be nothing more than how to fix the problem, this article needs more reference for the casual observer.
  • After reading other people's posts. Still seems most people seeing these issues are on AT&T. Anyone on Verizon having issues? Most friends and family are Verizon users and none have this issue. 2 friends on AT&T are having similar issues with text and iMessages.
  • Excellent article I tried all of that and had no luck. My provider is AT&T after reaching out to them numerous times I learned that it's a glitch in their system. I had to be unregistered from the tower I was on and switch me to a different tower and place a code in the system that would allow other texts to come through with no problem. As of today I had no problem with my text, and I am an iPhone 6 plus user.
  • Hi Cody, how did you contact AT&T to do this? I am having this problem ongoing and feel this may be the only solution
  • Today, I was not able to receive text or calls. But I was able to send and make calls. The only thing that worked for me, was to get a new SIM cards from Bell. Might not be related, But I did not tried the disabling the SMS forwarding. I had to rebind each device after activating the new SIM card.
  • Lol... Just... Lol Posted via the Android iMore App!
  • Ally, I love your articles, but one thing that always stands out is I often see you suggest restarting by performing a hard reboot. Why? In my experience troubleshooting computers and iOS devices, just powering off/on normally addresses the sort of issues that would be addressed by restarting just fine. It's great the hard restart is there as an option, like when the whole OS is frozen (rare these days), but as a first troubleshooting step? What worries me about that step is that it is not unlike pulling the cord to a running desktop, or yanking the battery out of a portable without first explicitly telling the OS to save its state and shut down. In the '90's, I was always told not to do so, because there could be issues with file corruption and the such. I have to assume it's still a risk, as there's so much going on in the background that is not readily visible (or even easily possible) for the user to view in iOS.
  • I can't text my son with my iPhone 6. It tells me that it is an invalid number (it's not). Never had a problem on my iPhone 4
  • Thank you! You saved me a trip back to the store! Step 1, a simple reboot fixed my SMS issue with my new iphone 6.
  • Hi Guys similar Issue here.... HELP! Bought my phone in the US (unlocked - through Sprinit server) brought with me to China and I have never been able so send SMS. I can receive them but never send them. I followed the instructions above but when I click on "messages" there is no function for "TEXT MESSAGE FORWARDING" I only have "iMessage" and "Send Read Receipts". Same goes for when I click under Cellular I do not have the function for "Enable LTE" I only have "Enable 4G". Help!!!
  • I have to reboot each time I want to send someone a message that doesn't have an iPhone! I have to go through steps 1-3 before it will work. Trust me this is really getting to be a big pain in the butt.
    Although I am very pleased with your very easy instructions on how to do this. Thank you very much and my 88 and 99 year old aunts thank you as well since they love seeing photos of my 5 grandchildren.
  • Hii , There are great solution . You should go to your operator store & request for replacement of sim . Then You get a new sim with same number & plan as well, Pls. don't change settings because it does default . Pls make sure about plan is working & signal strength as well .
  • I had the same problem and I figured out what it was! I had earlier turned off my cellular and when I turned it back on I received a whole bunch of pictures that were previously sent to me! Also you mentioned to turn off fwd messages but I don't have that option in my mess settings? Do you know why? I've had tons of problems with this new phone to include my old phone was on iTunes but not everything transferred!? Frustrating! Ideas? Btw my old phone got wet and died so had to rely only on back up on iTunes only!!Thanks!
  • Hi This issue seems to be ongoing - I have a new iPhone 6s on AT&T - Androids on AT&T will receive my texts - but Androids on other networks usually are not. It's almost as If I text and it just goes into outer space. Any advice on how to fix this or solutions?..... Thanks
  • Thanks for the excellent article. It was easy, straight forward & step by step instructions; just like I like articles on fixing things. I got my iPhone fixed at step #4, change the Enable LTE setting. I may have accidently changed it when I turned on my cellular. On my old Android (brfore Lolllipop version) you could get apps that would turn the cellular off/on on your screen. They were simple ones, press to turn on, press to turn off. Getting to cellular on Android could be a real pain. I don't keep my cellular on & the app was handy if I was driving & needed cellular on. So does anyone know if such an app exists for iPhones? I did every search that I could & couldn't find anything.
  • Finally!!! I was able to fix the bug. I used "Reset the network settings" suggestion and voila! My incoming text messages are all working.
    Thanks for the tip.
  • Thank you for this list! I had to turn off LTE on my brand new iphone 6 plus.....this was a huge timesaver!
  • Step 5 should be "Call your carrier" step 6 would be Apple. Also, should make sure you can do phone calls too, as it likely can be bad service in general.
  • It's amazing I have called at&t about this same issue about 5 times and never got a permanent fix and they couldn't tell me what the problem was. Thank you this was a lot of help. Sent from the iMore App