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Apple iPhone SE Network Problems: no service, searching, cannot connect to cellular network, other network-related errors [Troubleshooting Guide]

Apple’s special edition iPhone, the #iPhone SE adopts the powerful features of the bigger iPhone 6s variant. This explains why the SE takes the reputation as a smaller yet more powerful iPhone released by Apple to date. Nonetheless, not all iPhone SE owners have the same positive experience with their device. In fact, a number of SE users are complaining about many different issues they have encountered since they’ve started using this iPhone.

Among the most prevalent concerns is on various network issues such as No Service, Searching, unable to connect to a cellular data or cellular network and other network-related issues. Because of this, several users of this iPhone often experienced messaging and calling problems like dropped calls, called failed error, and other pertinent errors with sending or receiving messages and calls.

If you are among those who have been troubled with any of these problems and that you’ve come across this site while searching for help in dealing with them, then this post might be able to address your concerns. Read on to learn the possible causes as to why network problems do transpire on your iPhone SE and what needs to be done in order to fix them.

For those who have other issues with their iPhone SE, visit our troubleshooting page for we have already addressed many issues reported by our readers. Try to find problems that are similar with yours and use the solutions we suggested. If they don’t work or if you need more help, fill up our iPhone issues questionnaire and hit submit to contact us. Make sure you provide us with sufficient information about the problem so that we would know where to start.

Possible Causes of Network Problems and Errors

As what was explicated by an iPhone carrier systems engineer, the iPhone SE is actually using a smaller and less powerful antenna than the iPhone 6 and 6s. Indeed, no users have expected to hear this. And this is purportedly one of the main reasons as to why many users of the iPhone SE experienced dropped calls or other connectivity issues more often especially when using the device in farther areas from the cellular tower. Should this be the case, a cell booster might be able to help but there are still some other things you can try on to deal with the main issue here.

Aside from purportedly having a less powerful antenna, there are also other factors that can trigger network issues to occur on this device. These would include but not limited to SIM card issues, inactive account, outages, software bug, misconfigured settings, out-dated software, and in worst cases, hardware damage.

Hardware damage usually occurs after instances of dropping or liquid exposure on the iPhone. Symptoms of hardware damage, particularly a liquid damage may not appear right after your iPhone got wet. More likely, the first few symptoms would begin to manifest after a few days, weeks, or even months from the actual date when liquid exposure on the iPhone took place.

For network issues that are caused by hardware damage, taking your iPhone to an authorized service center for hardware diagnosis and repair would be necessary.

Meanwhile, for network problems inflicted by other factors, you can attempt to fix the problem on your end using any of the applicable workarounds including the ones highlighted below.

Recommended workarounds and potential solutions

Often times, users are prompted with a No Service or Searching message in the status bar and therefore, unable to make or receive calls or messages on the iPhone. Here are a few things you can try on if you will have some network troubles on your iPhone SE.

Note: The following methods are only applicable when resolving network issues that are software-related.

Step 1. Verify and ensure that your account is in good standing and your services are all active.

If you suspect that the problem has something to do with your account status, then you should contact your service provider/carrier right away to check and ensure everything is good on your account. Some service providers would impose a soft disconnect or temporary disconnection to delinquent accounts. Accounts that are in a “soft disconnect” status are usually limited. This means that some services may not be available unless the account issue has already been settled. If necessary, settle all your accountabilities so as to re-activate services.

Step 2. Check for network outages.

Network errors like No Service or Searching can sometimes denote a temporary service interruption caused by scheduled maintenance or unexpected service outages affecting your network. Contact your carrier and have them check their system for any on-going outages that may have affected network services in your area. For outage-related issues, you don’t have to troubleshoot but rather just wait until it’s done. You may ask for an ETA or estimated time-frame as to when the services would be restored. That way you’ll know when to try using the network again.

Step 3. Check network-related settings on your iPhone.

As mentioned earlier, network problems can also be due to some misconfigured settings on your iPhone. There might be some options that are disabled but actually have to be enabled or turned on. Among the options you’ll have to look into would include Airplane Mode, Do Not Disturb (DND), Call Forwarding and Blocked Lists.

  • Airplane Mode – This option must be turned off or disabled in order to allow network-related services to work as they should. Toggling the Airplane mode on and off can also help in fixing network errors on an iPhone.

To do so, go to Settings-> Airplane Mode-> then toggle the switch to turn the feature on and off. For example, turn it on for a five seconds and then after five seconds, toggle the switch to turn Airplane Mode off again.

  • Do Not Disturb (DND) – This option is used to set some restrictions for your iPhone’s calling and messaging functions. You can enable or turn on this feature if you don’t want to get or answer any incoming calls or messages on your device.

To configure this option, go to Settings-> Do Not Disturb-> then make sure it is turned off or disabled.

  • Call Forwarding – This option is best when you don’t want to answer phone calls or messages and therefore redirect these calls or messages to other phone numbers or devices. To ensure this is not causing your problem in making calls or sending messages, be sure to turn off Call Forwarding on your iPhone.

To do so, head over to Settings-> Phone-> Call Forwarding-> and then make sure it is turned off or disabled.

  • Blocked List – This option is where you can set phone numbers or email addresses to be blocked. You won’t be able to get any message or call from a contact number in the blocked list.

To check your blocked list, go to Settings-> Phone-> Call Blocking & Identification-> and then locate the phone number or email address you are having issues with sending or receiving messages and calls.

Step 3. Update iOS.

Software updates generally contains new features, system enhancements as well as bug fixes. Some network errors are triggered by certain bugs on the existing system. If you suspect that the network problem you have is triggered by a software bug, then performing an iOS update might be necessary. Existing bugs will have a higher chance of being eradicated with a dedicated fix patch.

  • To check if an update is available on your iPhone SE, go to Settings-> General-> About -> Software Update. You will be notified if an update is available.

If you want to proceed with iOS update, be sure to back up your iPhone before you download and install the update. You may wish to proceed with a wireless update (OTA) or update iOS manually through iTunes. Choosing the latter (via iTunes) would require you to secure a computer (Windows or Mac) that runs the latest version of iTunes program. After confirming, connect both devices and follow the onscreen instructions to complete the software update download and installation procedures.

Updating carrier settings is also necessary if you use or insert a new SIM card into your iPhone and that you’re getting network errors after doing so. You will need to download the carrier settings for your new carrier in this case. Some carrier settings updates are mandatory while others are optional. Mandatory updates are installed automatically on your device.

Step 4. Remove and re-insert the SIM card.

Do not fail to check the SIM card and make sure it is not damaged. You can see if it’s damaged based on its external facade. In case you are getting SIM-card related errors on your iPhone SE, try to remove and re-insert the SIM card. Doing so will rule out the possibility of a loose or improperly installed SIM card causing you this network problems.

Be sure to power off your iPhone completely before you remove the SIM card. When removing the SIM card, you will need to use a small paper clip or SIM eject tool to pop the SIM card tray open. Also be careful when removing the SIM card to prevent causing any damage or scratches.

After re-inserting the SIM card, turn on your device and see if there are any changes.

Step 5. Reset network settings on your iPhone SE.

If the problem persists after performing all the aforementioned procedures, then the next possible solution for you to try on this time is a network settings reset. While this method might be able to fix any network troubles caused by incorrect configuration to certain iPhone settings or options. But you should consider a network settings reset as your last resort since you will lose your network credentials in the process. Hence, be sure to take note of your network details including the network password beforehand.

  • To reset network settings, head over to your iPhone Settings-> General-> Reset-> Reset Network Settings. Doing so will erase all current saved settings including your preferred networks, VPN settings and Wi-Fi passwords.

After the reset, restart your iPhone and then try to make or receive calls in a different location.

You can also try switching between various network bands.

  • To do so, go to Settings-> Cellular-> Cellular Data Options-> disable LTE, and use 4G or 3G instead.

Note: Menu options may vary depending on your carrier and device model.

Step 6. Restore your iPhone as new (factory reset).

Consider this as your next option if the network problem continues after resetting the network settings. Restoring your iPhone as new simply denotes that your iPhone will restore to its factory defaults, which means that all your customized information will also be erased. You may opt to use iTunes or your device settings to erase or factory reset your iPhone SE.

Important Notes:

Be sure to sign out of iCloud before you erase your iPhone SE with iOS 10. Failure to do so will get your device stuck in Activation Lock.

 

  • To erase your iPhone SE via settings menu, go to Settings-> General-> Reset-> Erase All Content and Settings. Wait until the entire reset is complete.

 

Depending on your device, it can take a few minutes to complete the process.

Contact your carrier or Apple Support for further assistance

If none of these methods is able to fix the network problem you are having and that your iPhone SE is still showing No service or Searching in the status bar, then at this point you should contact your carrier or Apple Support to escalate the problem and ask for further assistance and/or recommendations. Or you can just take your iPhone to an authorized service center and have it diagnosed by an iPhone technician for possible hardware damage.

Engage with Us

We are here to help! Should you need our support in dealing with other issues on your iPhone or other iDevices, you may do so by filling up this form available in our iPhone Troubleshooting Page. Simply fill up the form with all the required information and then submit it to us. We would appreciate if you could provide us with all significant details including error codes, warning messages, or any other prompts you may get, as they will help us determine what has possibly gone wrong with your device and what needs to be done in order to fix it. The more information we have the easier for us to come up with more efficient solution and recommendations. You may also browse for more solutions to other iDevice issues we’ve previously addressed through dedicated contents posted in our troubleshooting pages.

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