How to Update Carrier Settings on Your iPhone & Why You Should

Whatever cellular provider you use (Verizon, TFW, Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, etc.), you'll need to do a carrier settings update from time to time. It’s important to update the carrier settings on your iPhone because it allows your cellular provider to update your network, enhance performance, and add new features. We’ll cover what a carrier settings update means and how to update to new carrier settings on your iPhone.

Related: Top 4 Things You Need to Do Before Selling Your iPhone

We've gone over how to update to the latest iOS, and how to back up your iPhone to iCloud. For more tutorials about updating your software, apps, and carrier settings, check out our free Tip of the Day

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What Are iOS Carrier Settings & Why Do They Need Updating?

What is a carrier update? A carrier settings update for your iPhone is not the same as an iOS update. Apple releases iOS updates that add new features and settings. Your carrier settings update, on the other hand, comes directly from your cellular provider, and provides smaller tweaks that ensure your cellular network works to the best of its ability and keeps up with new iPhone capabilities. It's also important to update your carrier settings if you can't connect to your cellular network or data, or see "Searching" or "No Service" or Searching on your iPhone or iPad. So, whether you have TFW (TracFone Wireless or Straight Talk), Verizon, Sprint, or another provider, you'll need to update carrier settings periodically.

According to Apple, “carrier settings updates let your carrier provider update carrier network and related settings to improve cellular network connectivity and performance or add support for features like VoLTE or Wi-Fi Calling.” If you’re unsure about what your carrier settings update entails and want to be clear before updating, contact your cellular provider for more details.

There’s nothing to worry about when this pop-up appears. Just update your carrier settings when you see the pop-up or at a more convenient time. Unlike iOS updates, carrier settings updates aren’t known for having buggy issues or problems that have to be fixed with more and more updates. 

How to Do an iPhone Carrier Update

If you see the following pop-up appear on your iPhone, simply tap Update to go directly to the carrier settings and install the update.

If you select Not Now, the pop-up will eventually return if you don’t manually update your carrier settings. In some cases, carrier settings are automatically updated when the changes are a requirement; in those cases, your phone will automatically update carrier settings and let you know. Otherwise, if you dismissed the pop-up and want to make sure your carrier settings are up to date, here’s how to update them:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap General.

    iphone settings appgeneral iphone settings
  3. Tap About.
  4. If there’s a carrier settings update waiting to be installed, tap Update. If not, you’re already up to date.

    tap aboutupdate carrier settings on iphone

Updating your carrier settings is harmless to your device and necessary to its performance. If you ever get a new SIM card, you’ll need to download the carrier settings for your new cellular service provider. But no worries, it’s a painless update, and you likely won’t notice a change at all. Next, learn how to tell if your iPhone is unlocked and what that means.

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Author Details

Conner Carey's picture

Author Details

Conner Carey

Conner Carey's writing can be found at She is currently writing a book, creating lots of content, and writing poetry via @conpoet on Instagram. She lives in an RV full-time with her mom, Jan and dog, Jodi as they slow-travel around the country.