How to fix a cell phone that says Emergency Calls Only

Has your Android cell phone started displaying Emergency Calls Only? Does your phone no longer have service? Can you no longer make or receive calls or message others? Well there is little point in owning a cell phone if it has no service. This guide will provide some suggestions and advice on what you can do with your android phone to try and get it out of Emergency calls only and working properly once again.

Before we begin

There are so many factors that can cause a cell phone to display Emergency Calls Only and fixing this problem can be a real challenge. As I am sure you already know… It can be a software issue (which we want it to be as a software problem can be the easiest to fix), it can be a hardware issue where an actual physical piece of the device is malfunctioning (often difficult to fix), it can be a problem with the wireless network itself (which is also difficult as this is usually outside of your control), the location, a feature on the wireless account, the list of possible causes can go on and on which makes this issue one of the hardest problems to try to fix on an Android cell phone.

This guide will concentrate primarily on what you can do to fix your cell phone so take ALL the advice listed on this page into consideration when troubleshooting this issue. 

Power cycle your cell phone

Power your phone off, leave it off for 30 seconds to a minute, and then power the phone back on. Wait for the phone to power on all the way and then try your cell phone to see if it’s working properly. Restarting the phone will force it to try and reach out and attempt to connect to your network again. If it was just a hiccup with the software this extremely simple reboot can fix the issue.

Second level reset

If power cycling didn’t fix the issue then power your phone on and while it’s on remove its battery. This is a type of “soft reset” that can also fix minor software issues on Android phones. Just make sure to have the phone unplugged from its charger and to pull the battery out of the phone while the phone is on and running.

Some cell phones are not designed to have a removable battery. If your phone is one of these types of cell phones then you will not be able to perform a second level reset and you can move onto the next step in troubleshooting.

Check the SIM card

Be aware that not all cell phones have SIM cards. If your phone doesn’t have or require a SIM card to function properly then you can skip this portion of the article. If your phone does require a SIM card then read this section as problems with a SIM card can certainly cause problems with your service.

A SIM card or (Subscriber Identity Module) is used by some cell phones to connect or communicate with the phones wireless service provider. SIM cards are not bound to the phone and contain the subscriber’s information including their telephone number and on a side note can also be used by the user to save contacts to as well. A SIM card is NOT a memory card or SD card but it is a very important factor in some phones when they are getting an Emergency Calls Only error message as it is the thing that connects a phone to the mobile network.

If you were to remove the SIM card from a phone that was working perfectly fine then that phone would no longer have any service and would display an Emergency Calls Only error message. So check your SIM, if your phone has one, and make sure that there is no signs of damage and that the connectors are clean.

For extra measure you can remove the SIM card and clean off the connectors with a pink eraser. Just make sure the SIM is nice and clean and that there are no signs of damage. If there are signs of damage or defect or the tips on the rest of the article don’t seem to help fix your device then you should head down to the closest store that sells your phone and get a replacement SIM. So if your ATT phone was displaying Emergency Calls only then you would go to an AT&T store for a replacement SIM card, if it was a T-Mobile phone then a T-Mobile store, etc.

If you are using a SIM card that you have had for a while, which can be common as SIM cards can be used from phone to phone, then you might want to get a replacement anyways. Replacing your SIM card every couple of years is usually a pretty good practice as it will keep your SIM up to date with the latest technologies.

Best way to test a SIM card

If someone else in your family or social network has the same service provider as you do then you can also try your SIM card in their phone and there SIM card in your phone to try and pinpoint whether it’s a software or hardware problem. If you remove the SIM card from your phone and insert it into their phone and their phone works fine you can rule out the SIM card as the problem. If you put your SIM card into their phone and their phone loses service and displays Emergency Calls Only then you will know it’s a bad SIM, you can get a replacement, and be good to go.


Does this happen everywhere and is it a constant issue? If not and it only happen in specific locations then chances are this issue is due to a poor signal from your wireless network in that area and will be outside of your control.

If its constant and other people in the area are not having any problems with their service then continue reading.

Search for networks

Try going to your phones “Settings”, then tap “Wireless and Networks” (note: you might have to tap “More networks” depending on the cell phones version of Android), tap “Mobile networks”, then tap “Network operators” and then if available tap on “Search networks”.

Power the phone off and then on and see if your service has returned.

If your Android phone has its “Network operators” choice grayed out and does not allow you to open it to search for networks then this setting on your phone is likely setup properly and you can skip this step in troubleshooting.

Lost or stolen

If your phone was reported lost or stolen then your service provider is likely to block that phones IP address and prevent it from having service much less allow it to make and receive calls. Wireless service providers do not want stolen phones to function properly as it encourages fraud and theft, so if a phone is marked lost or stolen its likely to allow one type of call from that point forward and that is emergency calls only.

Unless you or someone that has access to your account reported the phone as lost or stolen then chances are that it wasn’t listed as such. If you feel that this might be the case then you can find out if your phone was reported stolen by contacting your wireless provider and asking them about the status of your device.

Physical design

Cell phones don’t tend to have visible antennas any more but that doesn’t mean that antennas are any less important today as they have always been as far as signal strength. Some phones have their antennas built into the back plate of the phone and if the back plate is removed or damaged then no more antenna and no more service.

So if the battery cover no longer fits snug or properly on your phone then you might need to contact the manufacture and see if you can purchase a replacement back plate.

Physical or liquid damage

If your phone was dropped recently or exposed to liquid around the time that this problem started then the phone might be damaged and if this is the case replacement might be necessary. Most phones have an LDI (Liquid Damage Indicator) that changes colors if the phone is ever exposed to enough moisture to cause damage.

If you are not sure if your phone was exposed to moisture you can locate your cell phones LDI and if it’s any color other that white or white with Xs on it then it indicates moisture and has a high chance of liquid damage. Usually if an LDI is exposed to moisture or gets wet it will change from a white to a red or pink color, so if your LDI is red or pink then your LDI has been activated, your phone is out of warranty, and you might have located the cause of the problem.


If you get a replacement phone because your original phone has no service and your replacement phone is having the same issue then it is highly likely that the issue is NOT the result of a faulty device but a problem with the network or location that you are in.

Time place and environment

Congestion can cause issues with service as well. If you are in rush hour traffic or in a highly populated area or at an event with a lot of people and there is no service or extremely poor service then there is a good chance that there are just too many people using the tower(s) in the area and wireless service can be difficult to hold onto. This doesn’t usually cause emergency calls only but it can certainly affect your phones service.

Weather and natural disasters

This is one of the more unlikely causes but I thought that I would mention that snow, rain, hail, wind, and nature in general can certainly effect whether a cell phone has service or not. Natural disasters are some of the worst causes of service related problems and are often outside of anyone’s control.

Hopefully this isn’t the cause of your issue or the service problems in your area but I thought I would just point out that Mother Nature can cause some extreme damage and doesn’t care for one second about whether your phone has service or not. When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005 it knocked out hundreds of cell towers and local residents were without dependable service for months. If you have no wireless service during or after a natural disaster then waiting might be the only option available.

Try to contact your wireless provider if you are left without service while towers are being repaired. You’re paying for a service and although it is not the wireless carriers fault that their towers were damaged or require maintenance it is not your fault either and there is no point in paying for a service that you are unable to use.

Software issues

Now for the fun part; something you can actually troubleshoot yourself to try and fix.


Software issues on Android phones are often related to a bad third party application that was downloaded and installed on the phone by the phones owner/user. If you recently downloaded an application around the time that this started happening on your cell phone then I highly recommend you uninstall the app from your phone as that is most likely the cause of the problem. The same goes for an application that might have recently updated as well.

Firmware and software updates

If there is an update available for your cell phone then make sure to upgrade your phone to the latest version of Android or the most current software available. This goes the same for any applications on your device that might need to be updated as well.

Check your cell phones IMEI

This is such an extremely rare cause that I almost hesitate to add it to the list but check your Android phones IMEI number to make sure that it is correct.

To access your phones IMEI number you can open your dial pad as though you were going to dial a telephone number and instead of typing in a telephone number type in *#06#. The IMEI number should automatically pop up.

You can compare the IMEI number that displays on the screen to the IMIE that’s printed on a sticker on the phone which is usually located under the phones battery or in the cell phones SIM compartment. The IMEI number on the display might have a couple of extra digits compared to the printed IMEI but if the IMEIs don’t match up then there is a problem with your phones identity and it’s likely that your wireless providers towers are not communicating with your phone properly and the phone will likely need to be replaced.

If you get an UNKNOWN error or the screen pops up but there is no number displayed then reboot the phone and try it again. If it displays UNKNOWN or the IMEI field is blank a second time then try to check your IMEI with *#06# and then through the phones settings. You can review How to find the IMEI number on the Samsung Galaxy S 4 for a visual demonstration on how to locate your phones IMIE. If this UNKNOWN pops up in place of your IMEI then look into your warranty or replacement options as your cell phone is defective. This is so extremely rare though, like I said before it’s almost not worth bringing up.

Glitch bug or virus

Sometimes things happen that are outside of our control or sometimes might end up on our phones by accident. If a bad application or a file was downloaded online that put something bad on the phone it can be hard to track that file down and properly remove it from the device. Even removing a bad app does not guarantee that it didn’t leave something behind designed to cause trouble on the phone.

Viruses are not overly common on the Android OS (Operating System) yet but our Android phones are mini computers and as such they sometimes require a little cleaning

Cleaning up the phone

An almost surefire way to resolve software related issues on an Android cell phone is to perform a factory data reset also known as a hard reset. A hard reset erases everything from the phone and puts it back to its factory default settings.

So a hard reset will wipe out any software bugs, glitches, viruses, bad apps etc. but it will also erase all user data as well. So make sure to backup all the information on your phone first before doing the hard reset that way you will not lose any of the important information that’s saved on your Android cell phone. If you would like help with the backup process you can read How to backup and reset an Android phone for detailed instructions about the backup process.

Additional tips and tricks that MIGHT help

Here are a few more things that a person can attempt to try to get the Emergency calls only error message to go away. These tricks are not usually permanent solutions and are often, if anything, just a band aid to get the phone working properly, even if just temporarily, but I thought I would just mention them for good measure.

Airplane mode trick

Activate the “Airplane mode” feature on your cell phone and then turn it off. Make a call and see if the phone was able to reach out, connect to the network, and make a call.

Remove the SD card

Unlike SIM cards memory cards rarely cause issues on cell phones and when they do cause problems its even less likely to be network related; but for good measure and to rule out another possible cause you can power the phone off, remove its memory card (if it has one), and then power the phone back on. Try the phone to see if removing the SD card fixed the Emergency calls only issue.

If it did resolve the issue then reboot the phone with its memory card inserted again to see if the “Emergency calls only” error pops up again. If it does then you found the culprit and you should try a different SD card or try the SD card in a different cell phone to see if the memory card is faulty or if it’s a problem with the phone itself.

Prepaid – Out of time

If your cell phone is prepaid then check to make sure that you have minutes or days left on your service. Cell phones that no longer have any service can still make emergency calls and can make a good emergency phone for your vehicle but you won’t be able to make normal calls without paying for the wireless service.

Contact your wireless service provider

If you have tried the suggestions in the guide above, including a factory data reset, and still have no service and are seeing an Emergency calls only message then this issue is probably not because of your phone but is likely the result of a problem with your wireless service itself.

That doesn’t just mean a possible problem with a nearby tower either, service related issues can mean a problem with your account or even a feature on one of the lines on your wireless account.

So call the customer support for your wireless provider and let them know that this is happening on your phone. Have your phone with you just in case they ask for information to be read from the phone, like your phones IMEI number.

Be patient but firm

This is one of the most frustrating issues to have on a cell phone because it could be a feature on the account that needs updating or changing, which might be one department, or it could be the network such as a problem with a tower and you might get transferred to a tech department, who might say it’s a phone issue and transfer you to a warranty department, who might want to transfer you to the manufacture, who points out that no service needs to be handled by your Service Provider so the manufacture transfers you back to your wireless carrier where you get to start all over again.

Don’t get me wrong your main goal is to fix your issue NOT to simply get a replacement device. If you have a problem that’s related to an issue with your account or the network then a replacement phone is going to have the exact same problem as your current phone is having, so you might have to speak to a few departments while your service provider tries to locate the cause of your problem.

If you feel like you are getting tossed around, which can happen, especially with this issue, then consider going into an actual store and speaking to a representative in person.

A store representative may not be the best person to go to when it comes to troubleshooting but they can often replace a SIM card right then and there and if that doesn’t solve the problem (if the phone uses a SIM) then they can get the right department on the line when it comes to solving these types of issues. Store reps don’t put up with getting the run around very often either. Just mention that you have been having communication problems when you speak to someone from customer service and have the store representative do most of the talking.

Try not to leave the store until the problem is resolved or a solution is in progress. Just be nice, polite and reasonable and you shouldn’t have any problems getting your device fixed or replaced. Remember that if you get a replacement and the replacement has the same issue right out of the box (no added apps etc) then it’s going to be a SIM or service issue and you should contact your service provider as soon as you find out that the replacement has the same issue.

Review – How to fix a phone with No service and Emergency calls only

So a quick recap of what you can do when your phone has no service and displays Emergency Calls Only.

  • Surroundings – consider your current environment and location trying to bear in mind any possible causes.
  • Power cycle – power the phone off for 30+ seconds and then power it back on.
  • Battery pull – if possible remove the battery from the phone while the phone is powered on. After 30+ seconds reinsert the battery and power the phone back on.
  • Airplane mode – switch Airplane Mode on and then after a few seconds switch it back off.
  • Check the SIM – if your cell phone has a SIM card then make sure that it’s inserted correctly, that it’s clean and functioning properly.
  • Check your Apps – the most common cause of problems on Android phones are app related. Make sure that none of your recently added, updated or out of date apps are causing issues.
  • Reset – often the best solution available for software related issues on an Android cell phone is a hard reset.
  • Contact your Wireless Carrier – Sometimes you won’t be able to solve this issue yourself as it can be a problem on the network or a problem with your wireless account. So contact your wireless service provider and let them know about your problem. After all if you cannot make and receive calls then what is the purpose of owning a cell phone?

Emergency calls only and no service can be one of the most frustrating problems to have on a cell phone but if you follow this guide then you will be one step ahead when trying to locate the actual cause and of course get your phone working properly again.

If you found this article helpful or would simply like to let me know you liked it then don’t hesitate to hit the Facebook Like button or Google + buttons below. Thanks for reading and have a fantastic day.

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE

This INTEL was submitted by:

If you found this content

Informative Helpful Instructive Beneficial Valuable Educational Useful



Help others find this by sharing it...

78 thoughts on “How to fix a cell phone that says Emergency Calls Only”

  1. Elizabeth Quiles

    Emergency Calls Only
    I followed the first step by turning off my phone and then turning it back on. It’s working. Thank you 007!!

    1. Trying to fix Emergency Calls Only

      Hi Ronnie,

      Sorry to hear that you are still having issues with your cell phone showing an “Emergency Calls Only” message. What type of smartphone do you own? When did this start happening? Who is your wireless carrier?

      This issue can be extremely frustrating and can sometimes be difficult to resolve so make sure to follow all of the suggestions listed above and if worse comes to worst make sure to contact your wireless service provider so that they can check their end and make sure that there isn’t any problems with the service itself.

      Thanks for visiting the site Ronnie. If you experience any more trouble or if you have any questions then don’t hesitate to ask.

      1. thank you
        I ended up going with the factory reset. I lost some stuff. But it worked. Now I can’t send or receive picture messages. But I have had this problem before. Im going to call customer service. They will walk me through it. But thank you.

        1. You are most certainly welcome

          Your welcome Ronnie,

          Thank you for coming back to the site to show your appreciation as well as to let others know how you ended up getting your smartphone back up and running again.

          I find it funny that your MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) is giving you issues right after a hard reset but if that customer service representative was able to help resolve the issue last time then its possibly a configuration issue on their end and they shouldn’t have too much troubling helping you to fix it again.

          In any case, thanks for taking the time to come back and comment. Enjoy your working Android smartphone and have a fantastic day.

  2. Boss the rubber technique
    Boss the rubber technique worked for me. Thanks a lot for solving this annoying problem …. 😀 _/_

  3. SIM registration problem (Really frustrating)
    I recently bought an unlocked Xperia Z1 D5503 in Singapore and had been using it with a prepaid SIM for a couple weeks after which I moved to another country (South Korea). I got a local SIM there, but it could not register on any network. (I have already used this SIM on another phone here in Korea, so I know it works). The error I got when I manually tried to register was: Could not register on selected network. Please make sure SIM is inserted and selected networks are available.” Sometimes I get this error: “Network with limited service found. Do you want to initiate a Network Search?”

    I contacted the service provider and after an hour of struggling with my phone, they offered to provide me with a new SIM at a discounted price. So, this new SIM worked on my Xperia D5503 for three days until yesterday.

    Yesterday, I inserted my Singpaore M1 SIM into the phone for a couple minutes, took it out and inserted my new SIM that I had been using for the last 3 days and all of a sudden it wouldn’t register on the network. It should automatically register on the network but it doesn’t.

    The SIM card has worked before on this unlocked phone so I’m really confused as to why it stopped working after I briefly inserted my Singapore SIM card.

  4. Signal strength bars flashing on and off
    I tried power off, battery reset and factory reset. Still the same problem The signal strength bars keep flashing on and off. So its obviously connecting to the network and disconnecting.
    Thanks for the very thorough instructions. Learnt a lot about the phone.Its a Medion and have had it for about a year. The manual is pretty useless.

    1. You are welcome — Network vs. Hardware

      Hey Doug,

      Your welcome, I am glad that you found this article helpful. Good description of your issue by the way. The more information I have about a problem the better I can try and diagnose a phone and try to discover the cause of that problem and your right cell phone user manuals are typically not that great, consider yourself lucky though, more and more cell phones don’t even come with a user manual at all.

      From your description it’s hard to say whether it’s a hardware or network issue. It’s not likely a software issue as a hard reset should have resolved it if it was. It could be hardware like a loose antennae thus it loses a network connection when the antenna becomes dislodged or becomes lose or detached from the phone. A SIM card that’s loose or that doesn’t have proper contact with the phone can also cause such problems.

      At this point there is not much more that you can do and I would certainly contact your wireless service provider if you have not already done so. If they cannot seem to solve this connection issue and if you have not had the phone for more than a year then I would ask them about any replacement options they can offer and then if necessary try to file a warranty claim.

      Manufactures usually offer a one year warranty with their phones and this issue should certainly be covered. If your phone doesn’t have a warranty any more than you can try taking it into a local repair shop to see if they can take the phone apart, pinpoint the problem, and rectify it. It might be as simple as plugging the antenna back into its proper place in which case they might not even charge you for it.

      Sorry to hear that your phone is having problems Doug, I hope that this advice helps. Good luck my friend if there is anything else I can do to try and help just let me know.

      1. It was a dual sim problem
        I followed most of the more obvious steps you suggested culminating in a factory reset and contacting my service provider. They checked the network and tower access and thought finally asked me to go into a store and get a replacement Sim card. That seemed to fix the problem for a while, but a few hours later the hunting for network began again. It was then that I noticed a message about no Sim card in Slot No. 1. It was only after acknowleding and dismissing that stability returned.
        It also appears that the constant searching for a network was also running down the battery which I suspected as being faulty. The charge now lasts a day.
        Anyway, with all the hassles, I thought it a good time to upgrade and have ordered one of the latest octa core Chinese Androids, with the latest Mediatek 6592 chip.

        1. Glad to hear it

          Glad to hear that everything seems to working properly. I know that a SIM card can often be the cause of these types of issues which is one of the reasons why I have such a large portion of article above devoted to talking about SIM cards, but I didn’t even think about a possible duel SIM card conflict. I am glad that you brought that up. I would assume that an error would have popped up right away for that type of problem. Which you mentioned it did but still, where was that message before the replacement SIM card?

          Thanks for coming back to the site to post a follow up Doug, I appreciate it. I hope you enjoy your new upgraded smartphone, and as always if you ever need more help with your Android cell phone don’t hesitate to stop by and ask.

  5. Had to reset and manually search for network
    thanks a lot man. really helped. was thinking of going to spend more money on hardware repairs having just fixed my battery terminal.

  6. fix emergency mode only
    You are so awesome totally informative by far the best site I’ve ever gone to that tries to explain something to you. Thank you

  7. New BLU Life One – pre sim
    Have a brand new “Unlocked” BLU Life One 4G GSM Android – no sim card or service yet (waiting for card to arrive). Opening screen shows a padlock in locked position, Emergency Calls Only. Quick press on lock shows another padlock above in unlocked position, however pressing on it does nothing. Long press on/off button brings up small menu where I can turn on/off airplane mode and/or wireless, also has another couple greyed out icons I don’t recognize – I left them untouched. Menu also asks if I want to turn the phone off. Oh yes – I have no idea how it happened (wasn’t trying) but it took my picture – duh. Fiddling with phone a bit more brought up the green android bot (can’t remember what I did to get to it either). Couldn’t do anything further with it, like search for wifi signal? And it hasn’t done that itself since the time display remains incorrect. I have a home computer network & was hoping to make wifi calls or access net, google apps, etc. Is bluetooth out of the question? Menu/Home/Back in bottom border of phone are inactive. Am I expecting to do too much with this phone? Does unlocked really mean unlocked? I can usually figure out how to do computer things, but the phone is new territory for me. The micro-size manual sent with the phone is pretty useless even when read with a magnifying glass, though perhaps I’m just dub, since p6 Introduction 1st sentence reads “Please install the sim card before using your phone.” Nothing that looks like “settings” shows up, then again maybe it’s waiting for a sim. Should I be fiddling with the phone at all pre-sim? Might I hard-lock it?

    Any Insight will be appreciated.


    1. Congrats on the new BLU

      Hey Mike,

      Congrats on the new smartphone; an unlocked cell phone as well, even better. I have myself have not had the opportunity to handle, much less setup, a new BLU smartphone but most Androids will allow you to boot up the phone and log into Wi-Fi for an internet connection. I don’t see why a BLU would be any different. This of course will allow you to login or setup a Gmail account and then download applications from the Android Play Store if you choose. Short of making and receiving calls your new Blue should be up and running including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Camera, Apps, Airplane mode (which doesn’t matter without a SIM), security features (including passwords, PIN codes, Pattern locks, etc.), Internet browsing (through Wi-Fi data), etc. Your phone will display “Emergency Calls Only” until you insert a working and active SIM card for service.

      I highly doubt that you would cause any problems in using it without an active SIM card and if you did somehow manage to stumble onto an issue on accident (doubtful) then a quick factory reset should let you start fresh again.

      Enjoy your new BLU Mike.

  8. May be pin number to unlock
    I think one of the kids might have accidentally set our phone to emergency only mode. When I realized that what looked like a phone keypad on the one and only screen available was actually waiting for a pin number, then the OK button, my wife remembered the pin right away. This was after a few hours of trying everything else but wiping it.

  9. Followed directions, phone is working again.
    Followed directions, phone is working again. Thanks!!!

  10. “No Service” in my android device
    I tried everything mentioned above but still not able to get the network back
    I restarted the phone, checked SIM in other phone, Tried different SIMs, did Airplane mode but nothing happened.
    Yesterday I did the Hard reset (Factory Reset) after that I got connected to network for few seconds but after that it again showed “No Service”. I am frustrated, please help.

    1. That is very odd… what did your service provider say?

      Hi ShAQUIB,

      Sorry to hear that your cell phone is having problems connecting to your wireless provider. A cell phone that doesn’t have service is not much of a cell phone and not having service can be really frustrating especially on a smartphone.

      The odd thing about your problem is that you mentioned that a hard reset corrected the issue for a few seconds…  Usually if it’s a device issue then a reset would either fix it or it wouldn’t. If it was a service related issue then the reset shouldn’t fix it at all because the problem would reside on your carriers end and not on the phone itself. So it is very strange that a reset fixed it for a few seconds.

      This also could point to a possible hardware issue. Perhaps the antenna on the phone was in the proper place after the reset and then became dislodge moments after words (just an extremely strange coincidence)… does the service on your phone seem to come and go? Or is it pretty much constantly without service except for that brief few seconds after the reset?

      At this point it sounds like you have done everything that you can do to try and fix the issue yourself. What did your wireless service provider say when you called them and let them know that your cell phone did not have service? After all, it sounds like everything else on your phone is working except for the service and the service is what you are paying them for every month. I would call your service provider and if they cannot seem to get your service back up and functioning properly then I would ask them about possible replacement options that they could offer or even try looking into possible warranty options with the manufacture of your cell phone.  

  11. Nothing works…
    Hey, I have a HTC one m7 and I have noticed that no matter what network sim card I put in I never have service, I do however have mobile data, any advice would be appreciated as my network provider merely tells me to try a new sim despite me saying that it does not work. My phone number and carrier also comes up as ‘unknown’.

    1. Your HTC has mobile data but no service…

      Hi Max,

      That’s a strange issue… are you sure that you are able to get mobile data through the SIM card and not by using a Wi-Fi network? If so then that is a very odd issue indeed to have mobile data but no service.

      Is your phone running on stock software or has custom software been installed? If your phone is not operating on a version of Android released by the manufacture than I highly suggest looking into the software as being a likely culprit.

      To be perfectly honest though I am not sure what is causing this to happen… This is the first time I have encountered that specific issue and due to its nature it sounds like it could be both a software or hardware problem.

      My first impression was that you had a damaged or malfunctioning SIM card port, especially since you mentioned that you had tried multiple SIM cards with no success, but if your HTC is able to get mobile data then that might just throw a monkey wrench into that theory.

      Out of curiosity have you done any other troubleshooting, short of trying to replace the SIM cards yet? Did this issue occur out of the blue or did it happen after making a change to your HTC?

      1. i am not sure…
        i am not sure if custom software has been installed, it was purchased second hand. I have tried a full factory reset and i have also tried using the ‘*#*#4636#*#*’ and other codes but the error ‘connection problem or invalid MMI code’ keeps popping up so that idea is now moot. I tried an O2 sim card and it actually displayed the phone number which was a change as with previous sim cards it was listed as unknown.

  12. ACertainCreature

    Nothing worked for me.
    So yeah, I have tried everything there, except the factory reset, which always fixed it, but I am trying to find a way to fix it without having to delete everything so often, It happened like 2-3 times so far. And it all started after I rooted my phone. And yes, this time I installed some apps which I got from the internet paid apps, I got the apks, so that could be it, but even after I tried deleting them it still didn’t work. My phone is a Samsung Galaxy s4 mini Duos I9192, and when you slide down, you usually have the SIM 1 and SIM 2, where you can select one of them. But when this happens, that bar is gone. Oh and on the top right of my screen, instead of 1 and 2 (Sim 1 and 2, and their signals), I only see 1, and it has 3 to 4 cols filled. And if I try *#06#, first IMEI is fine. Second one is null/null. And yes, I did check the sticker under my battery, it perfectly matches, excluding some slashes. I tried deleting Junk Files with Clean Master, just in case it catches something, but no luck there. Any clue?

    1. Trying to fix your Samsung Galaxy S4 mini Duos

      Did you install custom software after you rooted your Samsung Galaxy S4 mini Duos? Your problem, as you described it, does sound like a software problem. Especially since this started happing after you rooted your cell phone.

      The part where you mentioned that one of your phones IMEI numbers was reading null/null worries me. When you factory reset your cell phone does the reset resolve that issue as well? If you type *#06# right after performing the reset does it show both IMEIs properly?

      Why did you root your phone, if you don’t mind me asking?

  13. I tried them all but it doesn’t work!
    I found this site very informative but it didn’t help me much. When I put my SIM card in my Samsung Xtouch, it says “No SIM card” it’s dual BTW. I tried switching it off and switching it on again, the airplane mode, etc. But it still doesn’t work. But the SIM card works on other phones, just not in the Xtouch. Do you think there’s anything else I should do rather than waiting to buy a new phone?

    BTW I tried cleaning the SIM slot which worked a bit since my phone now says “No Service”. I have an option called SIM management but it’s faded and not available to click (I think it’s because my phone can’t detect the SIM). Anything I can do to fix this?

    Thank you in advance!

    1. It sounds like an issue with the SIM card slot

      Hi Sherihan Parveen,

      I am sorry to hear that you are having problems with your Samsung. From your description it sounds like the SIM card port on the device is defective or is malfunctioning. Since your Samsung Xtouch is not reading the SIM card properly your Samsung cannot communicate with your wireless provider which results in no service.

      This is why your SIM card works in another phone just fine (not a bad SIM card) and why the airplane mode or power cycling etc. didn’t help (which it might of if the issue was software related but its likely hardware instead). It’s also most likely the SIM card port on the Samsung as you said that “cleaning the SIM slot worked a bit” (good job cleaning the SIM card port by the way as it’s easy to overlook).

      As far as what you can do to try and fix it… hard to say. You can give it another good cleaning trying to get those connector leads as shiny as you can for a better chance at a good connection. You could also try to hunt down and replace that part on your phone. That SIM card slot might not be the easiest piece to find a replacement for though and then actually replacing it might be a bit of a chore as well. But I thought I would bring it up as something to consider.

      I hope that helps Sherihan. I wish you the best of luck and I hope you have a great day.

  14. No Service

    I have a phone I bought in the Philippines (it’s a Philippine made brand) and it was working fine for almost 2 years, but it recently stopped getting service. I have an inkling that it has to do with my carrier, but thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask anyway.

    I tried all that you said except calling my carrier. I have yet to do that. Even after doing it all, I still can’t get service. It’s been bothering me that when I search for networks, it can only detect a carrier that isn’t mine. Also the IMEI is fine and my sim works fine on other phones as well. Other than the problem possibly concerning my carrier, do you have any idea what could possibly be wrong?

    1. Trying to resolve service related issues can be tough

      Hi Roxanne,

      If you have tried all of the steps listed in the article above then the next step would be to contact your wireless carrier and ask them if they could see anything wrong on their side that might be causing problems.

      As you said in your comment you have ruled out the SIM card as being the cause (as it works fine in another cell phone) and if you have tried a hard reset then it’s most likely not a software issue with the phone itself so yeah I would contact your wireless provider and have them take a look at your account to make sure that everything is configured and working properly on their end.

      This issue can be a really hard problem to resolve (which is why the article above is so long) but if you can get a hold of a good representative from your cellular service provider (DON’T call them with the phone or phone number that you are having problems with of course) then hopefully they will be able to help you resolve the problem with your service.

      I wish you the best of luck my friend. Let me know if there is anything else that I can try and help you with.

      1. Thanks so much for the reply
        Thanks so much for the reply and the article! The help was much appreciated. I’ll be contacting my carrier as it is the only thing that I can do now.

  15. Hello to everybody
    Hello to everybody

    I have a samsung galaxy s4 duos with the following issue:

    When security of the phone is set to high none of my sim cards can connect to the network. The problem can be solved by setting security to normal but unfortunately I have no option since security settings are pushed by company group policy when installing mail. Has anyone heard about this or come across this issue before? Thank you in advance.

    1. Samsung Galaxy S 4 Security Settings

      That is an odd issue that you have there… short of speaking with your employer/company to see if you can have a more lax security policy on your S4 I am not sure what else you would be able to do to overcome this obstacle. It doesn’t sound like an issue with the phone or the SIM cards to me.

  16. Tried everything
    I’ve got a Huawei p7 i literally tried every suggestion that is on here but nothing seems to work. I’ve got all the bars showing that the network is there but i can’t make any calls or receive any calls and my phone just keeps saying emergency calls only. help.

    1. You might be in the hands of your Wireless Carrier at this point

      Hello Happie,

      Sorry to hear that you are having problems with your Huawei cell phone; especially this particular issue.

      What good is a cell phone that cannot make or receive calls? As you know this issue can be very hard to resolve and may even be outside of your control. What did your wireless service provider say when you contacted them? After all you are paying for a service that you are not being able to use and at this point it sounds like your wireless carrier is going to be your best bet at trying to find a solution to your current problem.

      I have my fingers crossed for you Happie and wish you the best of luck. If there is anything else that I can do to try and help you just let me know.

  17. So far, not looking good
    Hi there — Thanks for the very thorough troubleshooter. I got my daughter a Samsung Galaxy Pocket Neo for Christmas, and it worked fine until today (Jan. 2), when the phone became stuck on the emergency call screen. I tried powering down, removing the battery, checking the SIM card (looks slightly scratched–is this normal? not able to switch SIM cards with another phone though), and turning airplane mode on and off, but no luck. I’ll have to call customer support tomorrow but I want to try the reset. Is it possible to do this if I can’t get to the main menu? I’m just stuck on one screen (emergency call).

    1. Yes, that is very possible

      Hello Grace,

      Thank you for the kind comment and the answer to your question is YES. You can reset an Android even if you are unable to access the phones settings. Check out How to hard reset an Android cell phone it should provide you with exactly what you are going to need in order to accomplish this task as it lists many common methods used to perform the reset command on most Android devices.

      I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions.

      1. Thank you kindly for getting back to me

        Hi, James — thank you kindly for getting back to me. I ended up taking the phone to T-Mobile and they did the reset for me. It is so nice of you to give such detailed advice to people. 
        Best regards,
        Grace   :-)))
  18. Jakelin Bermudes

    Tried all the steps did not work…
    Just today my dad bought me an LG phone but when I turned it on it said Emergency Calls Only when I tried to call metro so I can activate it. I took the cover off of my phone only to find that my phone didn’t have a sim card. Is that why my phone still says Emergency Calls Only???

    1. Most likely…

      A SIM card is what allows a cell phone to communicate with a wireless carrier. If your cell phone requires a SIM card to function (as most do) and it doesn’t have one then you’re certainly going to be getting that Emergency Calls Only message until you insert a working SIM card into the device.

      So to answer your question… YES, not having a SIM card is most likely the reason why your new LG cell phone is displaying Emergency Calls Only.

  19. Samsung Galaxy Core Plus sm-g350
    I got this phone as a present from my wife on Christmas so, it’s brand new.

    After a week or so, I began noticing that sometimes, I find my phone on “Emergency calls only”.

    After a soft reset (the one in the menu) it’s all good but still goes to emergency at random times (that’s how I call it because I didn’t notice the circumstances in which this happens). I went to the shop and they sent it to service. They gave me a replacement (a tiny Samsung smartphone) and after 2 weeks they called me to get it back. I was so happy to have my wide screen to play with again. They said they had to do some software updates and some sync and that it’s all good. I drove home full of happiness (i live 30km away from the store) but when I got there and tried to call my wife… boom Emergency calls only.

    That drove me crazy. The next day I went back and asked for the device to be replaced and they said I have to send it to service one more time and if after that it doesn’t work then I can ask for a replacement.

    I didn’t agree with the second service period (at first) and today I began searching the internet.
    Today I also had to do a physical soft reset by pulling the battery out and everything because i shut down using the settings and it didn’t help on top of that my signal bar is full and I still get Emergency Calls Only.

    I have to mention that my wife has a Samsung duos and has no such problems and neither did I when I was using an LG or the tiny Samsung they gave me for replacement.

    Any advice? (sorry for the long story)

    1. It might not be the phone…

      Hello Kyo,

      That’s OK. I love long explanations. They help take a lot of the guess work out of things and help me narrow down the exact cause and hopefully the best solutions to try and fix it.

      OK… so from your very well written explanation/story I have a strong feeling that the issue might NOT be with your cell phone but with your service provider. You mentioned that your wives phone and your replacement phone work fine so that helps rule out a location issue such as a degraded tower or spotty service. This is good as you wouldn’t be able to fix that issue it would be entirely in the hands of your service provider.

      The service center most likely re-flashed the software to your phone to help rule out software issues but let me ask you if your cell phone was wiped clean when you got it back from the factory or was your information still on it. They most likely took a look at the antenna as well.

      The problem with service centers is that if the issue is intermittent or sporadic the “testing” that they do on a repaired or serviced cell phone might not be extensive enough to know if the issue was actually resolved or not. But I have a feeling that this might not be the case here, so I digress.

      You mentioned that rebooting or performing a soft reset sometimes helps and that you also noticed that you have full service bars and are still getting the emergency calls only error message. This might help to show that there is not a hardware issue with your Samsungs antenna or SIM card as its connected to your service provider (you probably wouldn’t have any bars if it was a hardware problem) you just can’t make calls. I have a strong feeling that there is a configuration problem with your wireless carrier and your Samsung Galaxy Core Plus.

      Check your Samsungs IMEI number (I don’t need to know it) just make sure that it pops up and doesn’t error out. I talk about this briefly in the guide above but there might be a configuration issue with your cell phone and your specific wireless account and you will likely need to contact your wireless carrier.

      Have them check to make absolutely certain that your Samsungs IMEI number is the one showing under your specific phone number and that it is NOT your replacement cell phones IMEI or even the IMEI number of the phone you had before getting your Samsung. Their system should update all of this automatically as soon as you insert your SIM card into your Samsung but if there is a feature on the account or something else is preventing this from happening then this small little detail can be easy for a representative to overlook and can be the root of all your trouble.

      If the IMEI number associated with your telephone number is not the same (or is incorrect) then their computer system which provides your cell phone service might not be communicating with your cell phone properly and you will need to have them update it manually and re-register and/or resend an OTA (Over The Air) activation for your Samsung in order for it to reestablish a proper connect to the network.

      I have a feeling that this is the cause of your problem and that you are correct in assuming that sending in your cell phone for servicing again isn’t going to solve this problem. A new cell phone might help (if your wireless providers system configures everything like it should) but the phone isn’t often the issue it’s the configuration between the phone and the service.

      I hope that helps Kyo. As you can see the more information you know about a problem the better chances you have at fixing it. Thanks for visiting the site and I wish you the best of luck my friend.

      1. Thank you for the luxurious reply.
        Thank you for the luxurious reply.

        In the meantime, I sent my phone in a second time to be serviced and my phone was sent back once more. The first time they did a Sync on the phone, this time they did a calibration which for me, is kinda the same thing.

        Of course I still get the stupid error but this time, after I did the steps in their rules, (serviced 2 times) I have the right to ask for a replacement or for my money back.

        After I get the new one (hopefully), I will keep you posted on how it behaves (maybe it’s a specific model-operator bug).

        I think I failed to mention the first time that the IMEI is ok and that the error occurs only when I pass thru an area with very bad signal or no signal at all.

        After it regains signal, it doesen’t register to operator’s network.

        1. You’re welcome

          You’re welcome Kyo,

          Thank you for the follow up message and don’t forget to keep me posted.

  20. Brand new imacwear smartwatch phone
    Hi I bought a new smart watch phone in January and my first sim kept saying no service so I called and they keep telling me that they have checked and there’s nothing wrong with the service. So I went to a repair shop and he tried the sim in 3 different phones and none could get a signal so he cut down a pay as you go sim card to fit and it started working straight away. I got back with and they sent me a new sim. I put it in and I was able to register it on the watch. She said to give it 2 hours and now all I get is emergency calls only. They still tell me there is nothing wrong with the service.

    1. Emergency Calls Only on a New Smart Watch

      Hi Gary,

      I have yet to have the pleasure of working with a smart watch so my expertise is going to have to come from working with Android smartphones… That being said, if your watch worked perfectly fine with that “cut down” SIM card then this leads me to believe that the issue is likely going to be with your SIM card and or Service provider. The New SIM registered so that’s a good sign; at least, your one step closer.

      Hum… if I was to make a guess I would start with your wireless carrier. Just for good measure try removing your SIM, rebooting your watch, re-inserting the SIM card, restarting your watch again and then give it a few minutes to see if it will re-register and connect properly. A reboot should force your device to try and reach out to the wireless network in order to establish a connection. If it doesn’t work after a few minutes then try giving T-Mobile another call and have them try to reconfigure everything on their end. Start over from scratch if you need to as far as registering the device. There might have been a hiccup somewhere in the process.

      Try to treat your smart watch as you would a cell phone and make sure to attempt all of the steps listed above. The only difference is that your watch has yet to be setup so there is less likely an issue with its software or hardware and it’s more likely an issue with the service itself. Finding out what that issue is and then trying to fix it, as you already know, is going to be difficult as there is only so much that you can do on your end. You might be in the hands of your service provider at this point and finding a good representative to assist you with your smartphone can be a challenge within its self, finding one with a knowledge of smart watches is going to be even more strenuous.

      Out of curiosity have you tried contacting the watches manufacture to see if they have any tips or tricks that might be able to get it to connect properly? I still feel like your service provider is the key in resolving this issue but you might want to try contacting Imacwear as well if possible.

      Keep bugging both of them though until you get it working and make sure that you don’t go past the time you have to return the watch to where you bought it from (if you haven’t already). There is no point in owning a smart watch that you can’t get to work properly.

  21. i tried everything but still nothing
    my mobile phone is a galaxy grand i9082… it was working good in KSA but when i got to Egypt and changed the SIM with other one that works well in any other mobile the phone says Emergency calls only 🙁
    the initialized version: PDA:NC1 / PHONE:NA3 / CSC:NC1 (KSA)

    i don’t know whats wrong 🙁 🙁

  22. thank you so much
    my phone was stolen and i got it back because of my pictures and contacts inside. i found out i had the emergency calls only problem and that my phone couldn’t receive any calls any more so i thought they did something to my phone but after i followed your advice it began working again… thank you very much… 🙂 take care and god bless.

  23. My problem is SOLVED
    Thank you! I tried the first step and my problem is SOLVED. Alhamdulillah.

  24. I have the emergency calls only message…
    I have the emergency calls only message but the data is working fine. I just call or send messages. Any ideas? Phone is unlocked.

  25. This only half covers my issues!
    This is a nightmare. On my Note 4…
    – I have “emergency call” onscreen. After 5 password attempts it says “unable to verify your fingerprint 5 times. Try again in 30 secs”. There wasn’t an option to try my fingerprint.
    – thin bar that says “incorrect backup password”
    – None of my passwords work of course
    – Samsung keyboard or Swype is the only thing I can control
    – It isn’t a true emergency mode. I can still hold the power putton and go to that mode, but all that happens is greyscale screen…otherwise its exactly the same as this twisted version.
    – I can still hear all the literal bells & whistles for notifications, but the icon on top says the phone is on mute.
    – I still get incoming calls with no ringing and can answer & talk, but it doesn’t let me add any other functions. It even shows the picture of who’s calling.
    – I can still take screen shots.
    – My wallpaper still changes everyday.
    – It still recognizes my stylus, but allows no function
    – My wi-fi connects as soon as I get home

    It’s just bizarre that my phone still works….except that I can’t unlock it from this fake emergency mode and use it! What is going on?

  26. Eureka! 2G?!
    New SIM, works fine in another phone. Another network’s SIM recognized in this one (LG-P500, which I’ve borrowed as a backup from a friend). This SIM, this phone, this advice… nothing, nothing, nothing… Reset, reboot, much swearing (to be honest!). Then at last, going back to try the manual network settings option again, I noticed that there was a tick by 2G-only-to-save-battery. Untick, power off and on — and all systems go! Hurrah!

  27. locked screen/ emergency calls only
    Hi I need help I have a LG phoenix phone I put a lock screen on my phone and my son tried to many times it kicked me out. Now I can’t go back in .. I use my phone for a chip so it has no network. I want to master reset it but the volume button down n power bottom are not working what else can I do??? Thank you in advance.

  28. HTC m7 limits service. Emergency calls only
    My m7 was working just fine and then it started giving me limited service on the home screen and prevents calls and SMS of course.. the notification bar would show emergency calls only..

    The thing is the signal comes back and goes away really quickly.. I am sure there is nothing wrong with my location since my family is all using the same service provider..

    Another weird thing.. the connection is normal at some spots and gets normal when the battery is above 90%.

    1. HTC One M7 Emergency Calls Only

      Hello Saher,

      That is an interesting problem your phone is having… it’s hard to say for sure but from your description it might be a hardware problem. Especially if your phone works fine so long as its battery has a charge above 90%. This could indicate that the Wi-Fi antenna on your HTC One M7 is malfunctioning and if that’s the case it will likely need to be replaced in order to fix the service on your phone.

      Speaking of hardware problems make sure to check your phones SIM card tray as well; refer to this article for some more specific advice. Some times that design doesn’t allow the SIM card to read properly and can cause the types of problems that you described.

      Have you done any other troubleshooting yet just for good measure? Have you tried another SIM card, or have you tried some of the software troubleshooting suggestions listed in the article above including a backup and reset?

      Check those things and let me know if your able to pinpoint the cause and of course resolve it. If you hit any snags just let me know.

  29. Well, my experience was a COMPLETE oddball….
    Well, my experience was a COMPLETE oddball.

    Here’s what happened: a buddy forwarded me a link to a Dr, I clicked on it and it took me to a Google Search page with the doctor’s info at the top. I clicked on the “Call” button which took me to the dial screen on my phone with the Dr’s number already populated.

    Seems routine so far. But when I pressed the green button to make the call, it immediately “ended” along with a pop up notification saying “Emergency Calls Only.” I checked my settings and all looked well, that’s when I hopped online and found this post. I followed the first few recommendations but every time I tried to call the same thing happened.

    Then I got the bright idea to try and call someone else to see if that worked — and it DOES work. So it seems that the doctors number is no longer working and apparently trying to call it generates an “Emergency Calls Only” message. Pretty odd, huh?

    I’m just glad it was a glitch and nothing more complicated.

    Thanks for the info!

    1. That is an odd situation

      Hi Scott,

      That is odd. Thank you for taking the time to share this by the way as I myself have not run across that particular problem before and like to learn about such things.

      A minor word of caution about dialing through a link on the internet… try to make sure to check the telephone number that you are about to dial. If it looks odd or includes a special character like a number sign “#” or a star “*” then think twice before dialing the number.

      Even though it would seem that command codes are getting phased out (probably for this very reason) some numbers when entered into the dial pad of an Android smartphone can send a command to the phone to perform a certain tasks or functions or even display certain information.

      So for example, a command can instruct an Android device to display its device identifier (*#06#) or bring up a diagnostics check (*#7353#) or power the phone off or instruct the phone to hard reset etc…  You can check out a list of some of these command codes if you would like; some of them still work on some phones and can be quite useful.

      Thanks again for sharing and I hope you enjoy the working service on your working smartphone.

  30. Great tutorial/fix!

    I work for a cell phone company and have just gone through most of your steps. I just had to tell you your article is more thorough than our own troubleshooting tool! I directed a customer to our store to try getting a new sim card but I should have told him to try the pink eraser trick. That might have worked. Oh well, he was going to the mall anyway!  🙂  Great job!

  31. GIONEE L800 remove emergency calls
    Thank you so so so so much for the wonderful steps that you have provided.. I followed it and was happy to get my network back just by removing the sim card and the memory card. I cleaned them both and also my phone from the inside and its good to go. Thank you once again.

  32. I turned off wifi and data…
    I turned off wifi and data. Waited about 30 seconds. Turned them back on and it worked.
    I only had the issue at work. When I left the building calling worked fine. At least what I tried worked. If it happens again, I will try “airplane mode”. Hopefully that will do the trick. Not sure why what I did worked, but thought I would add it as another option for folks.

  33. Fix for emergency calls only
    To fix the emergency calls only problem I simply took the battery and sim card out of my Samsung Rugby and left them out overnight. Then I reinstalled them the next morning and the phone worked perfectly.

  34. I just follow the first step.
    I just follow the first step. Then, it works. Wow! Thank u so much. My problem was solved.

  35. Emergency Calls Only Problem Fixed
    After reading the troubleshooting guide on “Physical or liquid damage” I was worried that my Samsung Galaxy Note 4 was permanently damaged and needed to be replaced since four days ago my phone was wet with liquid around the time I received the problem. Fortunately the liquid did not ruin my phone permanently. After I turned off my phone, recharged it halfway and turned the phone back on the problem was solved.





  37. No clue
    Tried every steps mentioned above but the problem still exist.
    I tried to reset network settings it went fine

Comments are closed.