How to fix an iPhone XS that can’t send/receive picture messages (MMS)

Modern smartphones already integrate advanced messaging features thus they are now capable of sending and receiving multimedia messages over Wi-Fi or cellular data network through Multimedia Messaging service (picture messaging). This messaging service requires data connection that offers a special internet protocol that’s used to link up network devices over GPRS. Nonetheless, these advanced messaging services are also not exempted from random errors. And this is what this post will attempt to address. Read on to learn what to do if your iPhone XS can’t send or receive picture messages (MMS).

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Troubleshooting iPhone XS that can’t send/receive pictures messages or MMS

Network-related issues, random software glitches and incorrect settings or message configurations are among the common factors that you need to rule out when dealing with messaging problems on your iPhone. The following solutions will help you eliminate software-related factors that might have caused conflicts to your phone’s messaging functions and thus give into MMS messaging  sending and receiving issues. 

Don’t forget to try sending and receive a sample MMS message or picture message to your own device and see if that will work. 

First solution: Reboot your iPhone XS (soft reset).

The basic solution to minor software issues including errors in sending and receiving picture messages is a soft reset or system reboot. This clears out random system errors that are inflicted by minor firmware glitches. It is also a way of clearing cache from your iPhone’s internal memory and likewise to refresh its operating system. If you haven’t already, then you should consider a soft reset as the first potential solution to try on. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Press and hold the Side/Power button and either Volume buttons simultaneously for a few seconds.
  2. Release the buttons when the Slide to Power off command appears.
  3. Drag the power off slider to the right to completely turn off the iPhone.
  4. After 30 seconds, press and hold the Side/Power button again until the Apple logo appears.

Performing a soft reset does not affect the internal data so no files will be deleted in the process. To see if that fixes the problem, create a sample MMS message to send and receive on your iPhone XS. If it’s still not working as intended, then you need to troubleshoot further and eliminate other possible causes.

Second solution: Ensure that data connection is enabled on your iPhone XS.

As mentioned earlier, multimedia messaging service or MMS is a feature that requires an internet connection to work. Whether you are using cellular data or Wi-Fi connection, you need to make sure that your iPhone is connected and has a stable access to the Internet. To rule out random Internet connectivity issues that might affect the phone’s MMS messaging functions, refreshing the Internet connection can help.

  • If you are on Cellular Data, simply go to Settings-> Cellular-> Cellular Data. Then toggle the switch to turn the feature off/on. Make sure Cellular Data is turned on.
  • If you’re using Wi-Fi for MMS messaging, head to Settings-> Wi-Fi menu, and tap the switch to turn it off/on. The Wi-Fi switch has to be turned on for you to use Wi-Fi internet services on your phone.

If your phone’s cellular data or Wi-Fi connection is enabled and yet you still can’t send or receive picture messages, try to toggle their respective switches to restart and refresh the feature 

Alternatively, you can also use the Airplane Mode trick to simultaneously restart and refresh the wireless services on your iPhone XS and get rid of the associated errors and problems. Simply follow these steps when ready:

  1. Go to Settings from Home.
  2. Select Airplane Mode menu.
  3. Toggle the Airplane Mode switch to enable the feature. All wireless functions should then be disabled automatically.
  4. While the Airplane mode is on, reboot (soft reset) your iPhone XS.
  5. Then go back to Settings->Airplane Mode menu and then tap the switch to turn disable the feature. Doing so will re-enable all your wireless functions including Wi-Fi and cellular network.

After re-enabling Wi-Fi or Cellular data connection, reconnect your iPhone to the Internet and then try sending yourself a sample picture message to see if the problem is fixed. If your iPhone still can’t send or receive the sample picture message, then there must still be something else that hindering the process. Proceed to the next procedures to clear out other culprits.

ALSO READ: How to fix iPhone 5s email problems after iOS update, cannot send/receive emails 

Third solution: Toggle Multimedia Messaging off and on again.

If the rest of your phone features work except for MMS functions, it is possible that the service itself is disabled or it could be that your phone’s MMS function had crashed. If that’s the case, then toggling the MMS feature on your phone off and on will likely do the trick. So here’s what you should try doing next:

  1. Go to Settings from Home.
  2. Select Cellular Data.
  3. If the feature is off, toggle the Cellular Data switch to enable the service.
  4. To go back to the previous menu, tap Settings on the upper-left corner of your screen.
  5. Tap Messages.
  6. Scroll to and select MMS Messaging option. Tap the switch to enable the feature. Otherwise, toggle the switch to turn the feature off and on again. This will refresh the MMS functions on your iPhone.
  7. Enable Group Messaging if you wish to send group messages on your phone.
  8. Then enable Send as SMS option for your phone to send messages using cellular data when iMessage isn’t available.

Restart your iPhone XS to apply all changes and to refresh its memory. Then check and see if that solves the problem on your phone’s MMS messaging functions.

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

Stubborn system bugs and network errors affecting your phone’s MMS functions can also be cleared out by installing the latest iOS and carrier settings updates. Software updates that are rolled by Apple periodically usually integrate dedicated fix patches that are programmed to get rid of bug-inflicted errors on certain devices.

To update your iPhone, it has to have a stable internet connection, sufficient memory space and battery life. If you wish to proceed, follow these steps to check for new updates for your iPhone XS:

  1. Go to Settings from Home.
  2. Select General.
  3. Tap Software Update. An update notification will appear on the screen once available. Review the update details and then tap Download and Install.

It is also recommended to update the carrier settings to the latest version available. Carrier settings updates are also rolled out by carriers to maintain stability of your phone’s network system and likewise to get rid of network-related errors. To manually check for and install a carrier settings update on your iPhone Xs, simply follow these steps:

  1. From Home, go to Settings.
  2. Select General.
  3. Tap About. If a new carrier update is available, an option to update the carrier settings will appear on your screen. 
  4. Follow the onscreen instructions to complete the update.

To install all these updates, your phone must be connected to a stable Wi-Fi internet. If your phone’s internet connection is not stable, then there’s a chance that updating errors transpire and so your iPhone won’t be able to install the update file.

Fifth solution: Reset network settings on your iPhone XS.

If you can’t send or receive picture messages after installing an iOS update on your phone or after modifying its settings, then it must be invalid or misconfigured network settings that caused some conflicts. Customized settings and current network configurations on the phone can be overridden by some updates and thereby results in some conflicts. To rule this out, delete all customized network settings and restore them to defaults by carrying out a reset on the network settings on your iPhone XS. Here is how:

  1. Go to Settings from Home.
  2. Select General.
  3. Scroll down to and tap Reset.
  4. Select Reset network settings from the given options.
  5. Enter your device passcode when prompted to continue.
  6. Then select Reset network settings again to confirm the reset.

Your phone should reboot by itself after the reset and then loads up the original network options and configurations. To use network/Internet features that are disabled by default, you will need to re-enable them individually. Don’t forget to enable Wi-Fi and/or cellular data so that you can use relevant services, like MMS or picture messages in particular. 

ALSO READ: How to fix an iPhone 5s that keeps disconnecting from Wi-Fi network

Is your iPhone XS still can’t send or receive picture messages/MMS?

If the problem continues after exhausting all possible solutions, then you are more likely dealing with more complex errors affecting the phone’s multimedia messaging functions. At this point, you may opt to troubleshoot further and eliminate major system errors through a full system reset or factory reset. And if that won’t help either, you can move on and resort to an iOS restore either through recovery or DFU mode. These methods result in permanent data loss so don’t forget to back up files before you try them.

For more advanced solutions to MMS problems, contact your Internet service provider/carrier or escalate the problem straight to Apple Support for official recommendations.

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