If you are paying for cell phone coverage, only being able to make emergency calls is unacceptable. What’s even more frustrating is that sometimes the problem persists even after the SIM card is replaced. The problem can also originate from the hardware, software, or network—which doesn’t really narrow things down too much. The good news is that there are solutions for all, although the level of difficulty and expense can vary.
Try out the simplest and less expensive options before you resort to replacing SIMs, phones, or wiping all of the Android’s data. Unfortunately, sometimes these do wind up being the only viable solutions. Ultimately, though, let’s do what it takes to make it where you can send emails, make calls, use apps, send texts, and browse the web again.
Also read: Fix SIM Card not detected error on Android
Emergency Calls Only (Fix)
Turn your Android off, then on. If you just inserted a new SIM, many phones won’t even recognize it until there’s a reboot. This is probably the easiest way to fix SIM error: Emergency Calls Only.
Soft Reset Phone
Unplug the phone from any power source and remove the battery. Wait 30 seconds or more and re-insert the battery.
Adjust SIM Card
The SIM card must be set 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 for SIM error: Emergency Calls Only. If you drop your Android, the SIM can become misaligned, or it may not have been installed properly, to begin with.
Manually Select the Carrier
Sometimes settings will change, and this will cause the network to disconnect. As you probably already know, 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.
Change Network Mode to GSM Only
2G signals aren’t fast, but they are strong. 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 GSM Only. There is also an app called Network that can assist you with this process.
Examine your SIM card. Is it dirty? Are the connectors clean? Perhaps you can simply remove dirt or debris. Try rubbing the chip with a soft eraser or dry clean cloth.
New SIM Necessary?
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. Sometimes that’s what it takes to fix SIM error: Emergency Calls Only.
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. 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. It doesn’t hurt to wait a few minutes after the phone is off, and while you are at it, remove the battery if you can.
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.
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.
Try to Place an Outbound Call
Your phone may snap out of it if you try to make a phone call even when it’s telling you that you can’t. If so, you already have your fix for SIM error: Emergency Calls Only.
Ensure Your Account is in Good Standing
Pay your bills on time. If you prepay, make sure your phone has enough credit. You might want to check with the provider to make sure that your phone wasn’t somehow flagged for payment issues, or reported as lost or stolen. And while you are on the phone with the provider, ask if they know why you are experiencing this issue.
Does this happen everywhere? Is it constant, or intermittent? Congestion can cause problems with service. 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.
Check Overall Mobile Network Status of Provider
Check for service interruptions on your carrier’s website, or another website that tracks many different providers is downdetector.com. Weather and natural disasters can affect service, but not too often, and you are probably aware if something of that nature is going on.
If your area is experiencing something like a hurricane, you might have to wait it out. Otherwise, there may be a technical issue with service in your area that your provider should move rapidly to fix.
Contact Customer Service
Have your phone handy for the call, in case they ask for information like the IMEI number. They may replace your SIM card or possibly even your Android, but it depends on the nature of the problem.
Disable Fixed Dialing Feature
When the Fixed Dialing Number feature is activated, only numbers that are within that list of contacts can be contacted. To turn it off, go to Apps > Settings > Call > Additional Settings > Fixed Dialing Numbers > Disable FDN. You will be asked to enter your PIN2 code, and press OK. You might have to reboot your phone if Fixed Dialing options seems to have disappeared from its usual spot on the menu.
Rule Out a Damaged Antenna
Cell phones may not have visible antennae anymore, but they are still crucial for signal strength. In addition to the checking whether the SIM card has a proper fit, you might also want to ensure that the back cover has a snug fit on your phone, as this is where the antenna is typically housed.
If that area has been subjected to water damage, you will likely have to pay to replace or repair it. Taking the phone apart to try to fix the antenna connectors yourself is not recommended unless you know what you are doing.
A factory reset should be one of your last resorts because it will wipe everything back to its factory default settings. Therefore, a full backup should take place beforehand. Unless you are having other issues with your phone, you should be able to reset from the General Settings menu. It goes by Backup and Reset.
If your phone has experienced physical or liquid damage, a new Android may be necessary. If your IMEI displays as UNKNOWN when you dial the code *#06#, then you could have a defective phone that needs to be replaced. Certain numerical IMEIs can also indicate that it’s corrupt.
It might make sense to try replacing the SIM card first, especially if it will work in other devices. This is the last resort to fix SIM error: Emergency Calls Only. If you get a replacement phone that has the same issue, then odds are that the problem is not with the device, the network or location that you are in.
Sometimes these sorts of issues happen because you maybe flashed a custom ROM, or dropped your phone, but sometimes the reasons can be more elusive. We hope that at least one of these tips helped you..
If not, leave us a comment and we will do our best to help you based on your specific circumstances. If you have a serious problem, especially involving hardware, the best solution might be to contact your manufacturer or your service provider.