How to fix an Apple iPhone XS Max that cannot send or receive SMS/text messages [Troubleshooting Guide]

Sending and receiving of text or SMS messages on an iPhone is irrefutably very easy. However, there are many factors that can make such simple messaging somehow complicated. Texting is one of the key features of both basic phones and smartphones. And for that reason, it would be inconvenient for anyone to have a phone that cannot send or receive text/SMS messages. But then again, such problems are inevitable given that network availability is among the key requisites for this feature to work. And network problems can occur at any time.

Thankfully, there are some workarounds that can be used to deal with these issues. In case you will need some inputs, I’ve lined up a few helpful procedures that are deemed generic solutions below. Read on to find out what to do in case your iPhone XS Max is suddenly unable to send or receive SMS/text messages.

Before we move on to our troubleshooting, if you are looking for a solution to a different issue, make sure you drop by our troubleshooting page as we’ve already addressed some of the most common problems reported by our readers. Find issues that are similar with yours and use the solutions we suggested. If you still need our help after that, then feel free to contact us by filling up our iPhone issues questionnaire.

How to troubleshoot iPhone XS Max that can’t send/receive text messages?

Before troubleshooting, check your phone’s cellular network connection. Make sure that it’s getting strong and stable network signal (cellular network). If you’re having signal issues like weak or intermittent signal, then that’s likely the reason why you cannot send or receive text messages on your device. Aside from texting, calling functions are likewise affected in this case. Aside from network-related issues, other factors including invalid contact details entered as recipient may also be the underlying cause. In that case, verify and ensure that you entered the correct contact details (phone number or email address). Also care to check your account status and outgoing services. Account-related issues from unpaid bills and account security or fraudulent matters are also among the probable causes. Carriers or service providers typically impose soft disconnection to accounts with unsettled bills and accounts with fraudulent transactions. To rule this out, talk to your service provider for account and service status verifications. Otherwise, try performing any of these subsequent methods to eliminate software errors from the possible triggers.

First solution: Force close Messages app then restart your iPhone.

Random glitches can occur to any app at some point and perhaps the Messages app is currently affected. A simple solution to this would be to quit and restart the application. If you’ve previously opened the Messages app and failed to close it, then it may still be running in the background and probably crashes. To rule this out, force close Messages or any other background apps on your iPhone XS Max with these steps:

  1. Go to the Home screen and once you get there, swipe your finger up and then pause.
  2. Swipe right or left to navigate through apps preview.
  3. Then swipe up on the Messages app preview to end it. Do the same to end all other apps running in the background.

Corrupted temporary files or caches in the internal memory can likewise affect the messaging system. To clear out junk files and corrupted temporary data that are stored as cache on the internal memory, reboot or soft reset your iPhone XS Max with these steps:

  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 and then drag the power off slider to the right.
  3. After 30 seconds, press and hold the Power/Side button again until the phone reboots.

Wait until the phone boots up then launch your messaging app and retry creating a sample SMS to send and receive on your device.

Second solution: Install new iOS version, carrier settings updates.

Updates are important because they offer a lot of things to ensure optimum performance on your device. Aside from new features and enhanced functions, new updates also offer fix patches to get rid of random bugs that may be affecting your apps and certain functions of the phone. If you’re using the stock Messages app for sending and receiving of SMS/text messages, then installing the latest iOS version available for your iPhone can potentially solve the problem.

  • To check for new update, go to Settings-> General-> Software Update menu.

An update notification will show up if a new iOS version is available. If there is, select the option to Download and Install. Doing so will prompt the phone to start download and installing the update. Your iPhone needs to have fast and stable Internet connection, ample of battery life and memory space to update iOS via over-the-air. If your phone is experiencing network connection problems, then you can install the latest software update using iTunes on a computer instead.

If you’re using a third-party messaging application for your SMS, then you can head over to the App Store and check for any pending updates for your apps.

  • To do so, go to App Store-> Updates section. Then navigate through the list of apps with pending updates. To update individual app, tap the Update button next to an app. Or tap the Update All button to install all app updates at once.

Don’t forget to reboot/soft reset your iPhone XS Max after updating all apps to ensure all new app changes are properly applied and likewise to refresh apps and iOS.

Third solution: Delete old text/SMS messages from your iPhone XS Max.

Old messages that are no longer needed must be deleted. Aside from freeing up space on the phone’s messaging storage, it also helps clear out any corrupted messages that might have caused troubles with the messaging app’s normal operation. Please note though that there’s no way to recover a deleted message. Here’s how to delete old text messages from your iPhone XS Max:

  1. Open the Messages app.
  2. Locate the conversation or thread that you want to delete.
  3. Swipe left over the thread or conversation.
  4. Tap Delete.

To determine whether or not this is an isolated problem with the built-in messaging app (Messages) on your iPhone XS Max, you can try using other alternative messaging platforms. Just download and install your preferred third-party messaging app then create a sample SMS message to send and receive.

Fourth solution: Reset network settings on your iPhone XS Max.

Network-related errors are usually the main causes. The simplest way to clear this out is to perform a network settings reset on the phone. Doing so will clear all your current network settings including APNs and server settings. Device issues that are attributed to network or server errors are usually resolved by performing this method, so you might as well want to give it a shot. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Tap Settings from your Home screen.
  2. Select General.
  3. Scroll down to and tap on Reset.
  4. Select Reset network settings from the given options.
  5. If prompted, enter your device passcode to continue.
  6. Then tap the option to confirm.

Wait for your iPhone to reboot and then you can set up and reconnect to your Wi-Fi network.

Fifth solution: Reinstall your SIM card.

SMS problems may also be attributed to SIM-card errors. This is usually the case if the SIM card is loose or dislodged from the tray. The same thing can occur if the SIM card is damaged. To rule this out, removing and reinstalling the SIM card on your iPhone XS Max can help. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Turn your iPhone off completely.
  2. While your phone is turned off, insert the SIM ejector tool into the small hole on the SIM tray on the side.
  3. Gently push the ejector tool until the tray protrudes and then pull it out.
  4. Remove the SIM card from the SIM card tray.
  5. Examine the SIM card for any signs of damage like scratches or liquid traces. If everything looks fine with the SIM card, place it back into the SIM card tray in the same placement before you took it.
  6. Secure the SIM card and then push the SIM card tray back into the phone.
  7. Lock the tray in place and then turn the phone back on.

Wait until your phone re-establish network signal/connection then open the messaging app and retry sending and receiving a sample SMS/text message. Be sure to put the correct contact details.

Other options

If none of the above solutions is able to fix the problem and your iPhone XS Max is still unable to send or receive text (SMS) messages, then you can try other options as follow:

  • Disable LTE and switch to other network bands. Go to Settings-> Cellular menu, then toggle the Cellular Data switch to enable it. While cellular data is enabled, navigate to Cellular Data Options and then tap to change Enable LTE to any other options like Voice and Data, Data Only, or Off. Try creating a sample SMS message after switching to a different network band to determine if the problem is fixed. If you can send and receive SMS messages using other network bands except for LTE, contact your network service provider for further assistance.
  • Reset and restore factory settings on your iPhone XS Max. Go to Settings-> General-> Reset menu and then select the option to Erase all content and settings. Enter your device passcode when asked to continue and then tap the option to confirm full system reset. This is usually needed when dealing with more complex system error that ruined the phone’s SMS messaging functions.
  • Call your network service provider/carrier. If you’ve already tried all applicable tweaks and possible solutions but to no avail, the problem could be on their end. You can ask them to check their outage system for any temporary outages that me be temporarily affecting network services, particularly SMS messaging.

I hope that we’ve been able to help you fix the problem with your device. 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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