In most cases, no SIM means no service, and that’s no fun. In some instances (like if you rely solely on Wi-Fi), you might not want to use a SIM, so the constant reminder that it’s not being detected is just an annoyance. To add to the frustration in the first scenario, replacing the SIM card carries no guarantee that it will even solve your problem. However, most of the time, a complete replacement of your Android is not necessary.
We have 24 methods you can try before Step 25, which is the replacement of your device. While it is true that some Androids are more susceptible to this problem, it can happen on any make or model, and with any carrier. Nonetheless, experiencing this error on a regular basis can be a deal breaker—it is that annoying. Fortunately, there are some ways to get around it.
Turn your Android off, then switch it back on. If you just inserted a new SIM, many phones won’t even recognize it until you restart the device. This is probably the simplest way to resolve minor problems of any kind when it comes to your Android.
Remove Battery and SIM
Unplug phone from any power source and remove both the battery and the SIM card. Wait 30 seconds or more and re-insert the battery and SIM card.
Adjust SIM Card
The SIM card must be seated in your Android properly. Your SIM card is what connects you to your network, so this is crucial. However, not all devices offer SIM cards that you have access to, but if yours does this can definitely be a fix.
If you drop your Android, the SIM can become misaligned, or it may not have been installed properly to begin with. Place the SIM securely in its tray.
If the SIM isn’t fitting well, some swear by placing tape, cardboard, paper, etc. into the tray for a tighter fit. Although this seems like a cheap way to rig your SIM’s connection (and that’s because it is), it also seems to work for many. Be careful not to crush anything though. Never use much force on the delicate parts inside your phone.
Manually Choose the Carrier/Network Operator
Sometimes settings will change, and this will cause the network to disconnect. There are many manufacturers that use the Android operating system. So if these instructions differ than what you see on your user interface, you can also visit the manufacturer’s website for help. In general, you’ll want to tap on Settings.
To search for your network, tap on Wireless and Networks > Mobile Networks > Network Operators. Alternatively, my phone uses Settings > Wireless and Networks > Data Usage, tap on the three vertical dots in the upper-right corner, and select Cellular Networks > Network Operators. Make sure that your SIM isn’t locked to a specific carrier that you aren’t currently using.
Change Network Mode to Auto
From Settings, go to Mobile Networks > Network Mode. On other devices, you will need to go to Settings > Data Usage, and click on the Menu icon in the upper-right corner. Then select Cellular Networks > Preferred Network Type. Tap on Auto.
Examine your SIM card. Is it dirty? Is the gold side clean? Perhaps you can simply remove dirt or debris. Clean the spokes/connectors on your SIM card and reader with air (not too forceful) or a soft dry cloth.
Did you try to cut a regular-sized SIM down to micro size? Is there any other type of damage? You may have to replace your SIM.
Use the Ariza Patch (Requires Root)
The Ariza Patch was developed as a system patch in response to issues with certain Android devices’ modems. This is has been known to help some older Samsung phones, in particular, especially if the problem surfaces after an update. Sometimes the IMEI number gets changed after the update. In order for this to work, your Android must be rooted.
You will also need to download Busybox. Ensure that you can download from unknown sources by visiting Settings > Security. Next, download the Ariza Patch file itself. Open the Ariza app. Select the patch option. When your phone finishes, reboot.
Download: Ariza Patch from XDA
Remove and Re-Insert SIM Card
Make sure you turn your Android off before installing or removing SIM cards—otherwise you may harm your device and/or card. Take care not to scratch or bend the SIM card.
For some devices, the SIM tray is located directly behind the volume buttons. For other Androids, you can access the SIM by sliding off the back cover and removing the battery. Just take the SIM out and try again.
Test SIM Card
See if someone with the same provider will let you try the SIM card out in their phone, and vice versa. This is highly advisable before you run out and purchase another SIM. If the alternate device is unable to read your SIM, the problem is likely with the card, not your device.
Toggle Airplane Mode
Enable, then disable Airplane Mode. The mode disables all broadcasts and cell reception while it is configured. Make sure that it isn’t. Some phones provide easy access through Quick Settings with a double swipe downward from the top of the screen. Another easy way is to hold down the Power button, or you can go through the Settings option as well.
Clear Android Cache and Data
You can clear all of your Android’s cached data at once by going to Settings > Storage > Internal Storage > Cached Data. Simply tap on the option and you will see a pop-up asking you to confirm that you want to delete all cached data. Things may take a little longer to load next time, and you will probably have to login to some of your apps again.
To clear your cache partition, enter Recovery Mode using the key combination specific to your device (usually a combination of Power, Home, and Volume keys). Once you are in you can navigate to the Wipe Cache Partition option by using your Volume keys, and on most devices you press Power to select it.
Check the SIM Tray
If the SIM tray is broken or damaged, you might need a replacement. Similar to the tactics of using tape or other such padding that we spoke of in Method 3—Adjust the SIM Card—you can also attempt to adjust the tray by using a piece of a foam ear plug to apply pressure.
Apply the foam by removing the back cover and placing it over the SIM card area. Replace the back cover.
Must Read: Why Does My Phone Say Network Not Available?
Does this happen everywhere? Is it constant, or intermittent? Carrier service must be available where you are located in order for your SIM to work. Are you next to people with the same provider who have service? What about people in a different area? Reliability is influenced by how close you are to the towers.
Toggle the Radio
If your Android will dial into a testing menu, you use it to toggle the radio. Open the Dialer app and call *#*#4636#*#* with no spaces. If you land in the Testing menu, select the option that says Phone Information. Tap on Turn Off Radio first, and then Turn On Radio. Reboot.
Contact Customer Service
Have your phone handy when you check with the service center, in case they ask for information like the IMEI number. They may replace your SIM card, the slot reader, or possibly even your Android, but it depends on the nature of the problem. Sometimes all it takes is for your carrier to activate your SIM from within the store.
Uninstall Problematic Third-Party Apps
Run the device in Safe Mode for 2-4 hours. Does this error go away? If so, the problem could be an app you downloaded. Safe Mode runs only system defaults, so that you can rule out any third-party apps’ misbehavior or interference.
If you already suspect that a certain app may be the problem, try uninstalling it first. Otherwise, use the process of elimination.
If you aren’t using a SIM, and just want the error message to go away, there are certain apps that can help you out. NotifyClean is an app that blocks unwanted notifications.
This option should be reserved for when nothing else works because it will wipe everything back to its factory default settings. Therefore, a full backup should take place beforehand. You should be able to reset from the general Settings menu. Choose Backup & Reset, then Factory Reset.
Reset Network Settings
This will clear your network settings back to their defaults. Go to Settings > Backup & Reset > Network settings reset.
Check for Null and/or Corrupted IMEI and Restore
If your IMEI displays as UNKNOWN when you dial the code *#06# or go to About Device, then you could have a defective phone that needs to be replaced. Certain numerical IMEIs can also indicate that it’s corrupt. This can be restored by going into Engineer Mode. To get there, either dial *#*#3646633#*#* or download the app below.
Navigate to the Connectivity tab. Click on CDS Information. Select Radio Information. If you have dual SIMs, you will see both Phone 1 and Phone 2. Under Phone 1, insert the following command: AT +EGMR=1,7, “IMEI1” and tap on Send at Command. Under Phone 2, insert: AT +EGMR=1,10, “IMEI2”, then reboot.
Download: MTK Engineering Mode
Check for any available OS updates by going to Settings > System Updates > Check for System Update.
Go Back to Original ROM
The easiest way to go restore your old ROM is to use the backup you made before you flashed your custom ROM (and you did make a backup, right?). Boot into Recovery Mode, perform a factory reset, and then from Backup & Restore, hit Restore.
Manually Select APN, then APN Protocol
Tap on Settings > Mobile Networks (or Wireless Networks) > Access Point Names. Add the APN settings from your carrier’s website and select them. If APN protocol is set to IPV6, change it to IPV4.
If your phone has experienced physical or liquid damage, a new Android may be necessary. Always attempt to dry out your Android as soon as possible if it got wet. It might make sense to try replacing the SIM card first, especially if it will work in other devices. Contact your carrier for details.
Hopefully your Android is back to normal. If not, leave us a comment and we will do our best to help you based on your specific circumstances. If the problem persists, but you have a warranty, contact your manufacturer or your service provider. If it is no longer under warranty, you might have to get it to a repair center.