How to fix iMessage waiting for activation error on iPhone

The ‘iMessage waiting for activation’ error on your Apple iPhone could be just a result of a minor problem with the app you use or a sign of a firmware problem. Things like this can happen anytime and all you can do about it is troubleshoot your device to learn more about the problem and hopefully fix it.

This post highlights possible solutions to iMessage waiting for activation error. We will try to consider every possibility and rule them out one by one until we can figure out what the issue really is. Read on to learn what to do if you encounter the same error when trying to activate iMessage on your iPhone.

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Things needed to start using iMessage on your iPhone

Apple’s very own instant messaging service, iMessage allows you to send text, photo, video, audio, and other files to anyone else using iMessage on other Apple devices. Unlike standard SMS messaging, iMessage does not cost you anything to use it. All it needs is your data connection as messages are sent via Wi-Fi or cellular data.

Here are the basic requirements to start using iMessage on your iOS device:

  1. Internet connection. A stable Internet access is one of the key requisites for iMessage to work on your iPhone. Thus check and ensure that your iPhone has it. Otherwise, you will need to deal with Internet connectivity issues first.
  2. Correct date and time. Also ensure that your iPhone’s date and time are correct. If you haven’t already, set the date and time to automatic. Just head over to Settings-> General-> Date & Time menu and then select the option to Set Automatically. With this setting, your device will utilize the date and time information based on your current location timezone.
  3. Server availability. It is also imperative to check the current status of the Apple server, particularly for iMessage. Simply visit the official website of Apple and then navigate to the system status page. On this page, you will see a list of all Apple services including iMessage along with their respective status indicator in a form of a radio button before each of them. If the radio button appears green, it means that the service is currently up and available. If it’s gray, it means that the service is currently down and unavailable. If the status indicator for iMessage appears gray, then there’s not much can be done on your end but to wait until Apple engineers are done fixing whatever problems affecting the iMessage server. Apparently, there is no problem on your iPhone and so you don’t need to troubleshoot. But if the iMessage status is green or available but couldn’t get to activate on your iPhone, then that’s when you should rule out software-related factors on your device.
  4. Credits/account balance. Verify and ensure that you have sufficient credits or balance in your phone carrier. Some people who have had trouble activating iMessage later found that a top-up is still needed. For more details on this, contact your carrier.

To get started using iMessage, you need to set it up on your device. In order to do this, you will need a valid Apple ID that will be link to your iMessage account. Once you have that information ready, go to Settings-> Messages and turn on the iMessage switch to activate the feature. In normal circumstance, iMessage should already be working as intended after enabling it. But if you’re not lucky, you’ll be prompted with some errors including the iMessage waiting for activation. If that happens, then you can utilize the following solutions to correct the error.

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Possible solutions to iMessage waiting for activation error

After performing each of the following procedures, head back to Messages settings then retry activating iMessage and see if the problem is fixed.

First solution: Turn Wi-Fi off and on then soft reset your device.

Minor internet problems may be the main reason as to why you’re getting the iMessage waiting for activation error while attempting to set up the service. To clear out such random issues, turn off Wi-Fi for a few seconds and then turn it on again. It’s like refreshing your Internet connection, thereby eliminating random Internet flaws. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. From the Home screen, tap Settings.
  2. Select Wi-Fi.
  3. Then toggle the Wi-Fi switch to turn the feature off and then back on again.

Wait for your device to reconnect to your Wi-Fi network. Once it’s connected, retry activating iMessage on your iPhone again.

If you still can’t activate iMessage, reboot or soft reset your iPhone. If you’re using an iPhone X or later model, follow these steps:

  1. Press and hold the Side button and either Volume button until the Power off slider appears.
  2. Drag the slider to power off your iPhone completely.
  3. Then after 30 seconds, press the Side button again to turn your iPhone back on.

If you’re using an iPhone 8, 8 Plus, or earlier iPhones (with a Home button), use this method to reboot/soft reset:

  1. Press and hold the Top or Side button until the Power off slider appears.
  2. Drag the slider to power off the phone completely.
  3. After about 30 seconds, press and hold the Top or Side button again to turn the phone back on.

Performing a soft reset is one of the first recommended procedures when dealing with random problems that are attributed to minor software glitches. This doesn’t affect any saved data hence, very safe to do even without backing up files to iCloud or iTunes.

ALSO READ: How to fix Face ID that is not working on Apple iPhone XS Max

Second solution: Disable iMessage and enable again.

Sometimes, the error can occur among other random in-app flaws with the built-in Messages app or iMessage itself. To rectify such flaws, turn iMessage off for a few seconds and then turn it back on again. Here’s how:

  1. From the Home screen, tap Settings.
  2. Tap Messages.
  3. Select iMessage then toggle the switch to turn it OFF..
  4. Restart your iPhone (soft reset).
  5. Go back to Settings-> Messages-> iMessage menu.
  6. Then toggle the switch to turn iMessage ON.

ALSO READ: How to fix intermittent charging issue on your Apple iPhone XR, wireless charging interference

Third solution: Toggle Airplane Mode on and off.

Another simple solution to random issues affecting wireless network services including iMessage is the so-called Airplane mode trick. It’s been among the widely used tweaks to deal with wireless connection errors on an iPhone. Performing this trick might be able to solve the iMessage activation error you’re dealing with. If you wish to try it, then here’s how it works:

  1. Tap Settings from the Home screen.
  2. Select Airplane Mode.
  3. Toggle the Airplane Mode switch to turn it ON.
  4. While it’s turned on, reboot your iPhone.
  5. Go back to Settings-> Airplane Mode menu.
  6. Then tap the switch to turn Airplane Mode OFF again.

Fourth solution: Update carrier settings or iOS to the latest version available.

Updates can also be considered solutions to software-related errors on an iPhone. In this case, the updates you can try utilizing are carrier settings and iOS updates. Carrier settings update are pushed by your carrier to enhance and optimize network services on your device. They are also used to address network-related errors including iMessage. Considering that your iPhone can connect to the Internet, follow these steps to install new carrier updates:

  1. From the Home screen, tap Settings.
  2. Select General.
  3. Tap About.
  4. Scroll to the Carrier section and then see if there’s a new carrier update notification.

Installing the latest iOS version available for your iPhone may also be considered among the possible solutions as updates usually contain bug fixes. If the error is attributed to some sort of system bugs, then an iOS update will likely be able to address it. If your iPhone has stable Internet access, then you can update its software via over-the-air or wirelessly. Here’s how to check for an iOS update on your iPhone:

  1. Tap Settings from Home.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Software Update.

An notification will show up if a new iOS version is available for your iPhone. Read and review the message to learn what the update offers and its system requirements. Once you’re all set, follow the onscreen instructions to start downloading and installing the update on your phone.

Reboot your device after updating to apply the recent system changes. Then try to activate iMessage and see if it goes through already.

Fifth solution: Sign out of iMessage then sign in again.

Account-related issues may also be the underlying cause of the problem. Often times, problems like this occur as minor glitch and therefore, can easily be remedied by signing out and back into iMessage. So here’s what you should try doing next:

  1. Go to the Home screen to get started.
  2. Next, tap on Settings.
  3. Tap Messages.
  4. Scroll down to the Send & Receive section.
  5. Then tap on your Apple ID.
  6. Select the option to Sign Out.
  7. Then turn off iMessage.
  8. While iMessage is turned off, soft reset/restart your iPhone.
  9. When your iPhone is finished rebooting, go back to Settings-> Messages-> then turn on iMessage again.

If you’re still prompted with the iMessage waiting for activation error, then you may have to consider doing resets at this point.

Sixth solution: Reset network settings on your iPhone.

Network errors that could not be rectified by the previous network solutions usually require resets. At this point, the next possible solution to try is a network settings reset on your phone. This erases all your current network configurations and server settings on the phone. Any errors affecting network functions including iMessage will also be cleared out in the process. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Tap Settings from your Home screen.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Scroll down and tap Reset.
  4. Choose the option to Reset network settings.
  5. Enter your passcode when asked to continue.
  6. Then tap the option to confirm that you want to reset network settings on your phone.

The phone should restart when the reset is finished and then loads up the default network configuration. To get back online and use online apps and services, you will need to set up and reconnect to your Wi-Fi network.

Last resort: Factory Reset or restore your iPhone.

The last option to consider if the iMessage waiting for activation error continues is a factory reset or iOS restore on your iPhone. This reset erases everything from your device including saved data and personal information. That said, creating backups beforehand is recommended. Complex system errors that caused persistent errors are likewise eliminated in the process, thus giving your phone a clean fresh start. A faster way to factory reset an iPhone is through settings, with these steps:

  1. From the Home screen, tap on Settings.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Scroll down and tap Reset.
  4. Select the option to Erase all content and settings.
  5. Enter your device passcode when asked to continue.
  6. Then confirm full system reset.

You can also use iTunes to restore your iPhone from a previous iOS backup. This can be deemed as the last resort if the iMessage waiting for activation error was triggered by an iOS update and that it persisted. To get started, you will need to secure a Windows or MAc computer that has the latest version of iTunes app installed. Once everything is set, proceed with these steps:

  1. Launch the iTunes app on your computer.
  2. While iTunes is running, connect your iPhone to the computer using the Apple-supplied cable or Lightning cable that came with it.
  3. If prompted to enter your device passcode or Trust This Computer, simply follow the onscreen instructions to proceed.
  4. Select your iPhone when it shows up in iTunes.
  5. Navigate to the Summary section.
  6. To back up files before restoring, just click the Back Up iPhone button.
  7. Then click the button to Restore [iPhone].
  8. Finally, if prompted with a warning message, click the Restore button to confirm.

Allow your device to finish restoring and then disconnect it from the computer.

If you’re still getting the same iMessage waiting for activation error, after exhausting all possible solutions, contact your carrier to escalate the problem and request further assistance in activating iMessage on your device. Just let them know exactly of what you’ve done so far in an attempt to solve the problem on your end. Alternatively, you may opt to report the issue straight to Apple Support so that they can double-check the current status of iMessage on their end.

I hope that we’ve been able to help you fix the iMessage waiting for activation error on your Apple iPhone. We would appreciate it if you helped us spread the word so please share this post if you found it helpful. Thank you so much for reading!

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