What Is SOS on iPhone & How to Turn It Off Quickly (iOS 17)

What to Know

  • If your iPhone says SOS in the top right corner, either cellular reception is poor, your SIM failed, or your cellular settings are wrong.
  • You can “turn off” SOS on iPhone by moving to an area with strong cell reception.
  • Set Network Selection to Automatic so your iPhone connects to the right cellular network.

Is your iPhone stuck in SOS mode? Sometimes while traveling, you might see an SOS icon in the top right corner of your iPhone’s status bar. We’ll explain why your iPhone says "SOS only" and we’ll teach you how to turn off SOS only on iPhones running iOS 17 and earlier.

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What Does SOS Mean on iPhone?

If your iPhone says SOS in the top right corner, this means that your cellular reception is poor, your SIM card has failed, or if your cellular settings are not set to Automatic. SOS only means that your phone has no cellular connection, so you will only be able to place emergency calls. This ensures that you can still contact emergency services even if your phone cannot connect to the cellular network. For more iPhone safety tips, like how to turn off emergency alerts, be sure to sign up for our free Tip of the Day newsletter.

How To Turn Off SOS on iPhone

  • Why does my iPhone say SOS or SOS only when I'm in a remote area? Seeing your iPhone in SOS mode is normal, you are likely too far from any cellular towers or have something blocking them. If this is the case, all you can really do is try to move toward a more populated area until your cellular reception returns.
  • Why does my phone say SOS somewhere it normally works? If SOS only appears on your iPhone while you are in an area that should have cellular reception, the issue could be with your SIM. In that case, you will need to contact your cellular provider to troubleshoot the problem.
  • Why does my iPhone say SOS only after I changed my cellular settings? SOS only can appear when your phone’s cellular settings are not configured properly. Here’s how to check your cellular settings when trying to fix SOS only on iPhone:
  1. Open the Settings app.

    Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Cellular.

    Tap Cellular.
  3. Tap Network Selection.

    Tap Network Selection.
  4. If the toggle next to Automatic is grayed out, that means this setting is turned off.

    If the toggle next to Automatic is grayed out, that means this setting is turned off.
  5. Tap the toggle so that it turns green.

    Tap the toggle so that it turns green.

Now you know how to get rid of SOS only on iPhone running iOS 17 or earlier.

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When this toggle is active, your phone can automatically connect to the proper cellular network, ensuring optimal connectivity. When the toggle is inactive, you will need to manually select the network that your phone should connect to, which can cause issues like your iPhone saying SOS in the top right corner. If you find that you're still stuck in SOS mode even after trying the fixes above, check out these fixes for getting your iPhone out of SOS mode. Be sure to check out our article about the iPhone’s emergency SOS features so that you’ll be prepared for any situation. If you're having trouble signing into your Apple ID, check out this troubleshooting article on how to fix it.


  • What does SOS stand for? SOS stands for Save Our Souls or Save Our Ship and was communicated via Morse code.
  • What is Emergency SOS iPhone? Emergency SOS via satellite is a feature on iPhones 14 and later that lets you use your iPhone as a satellite phone to contact emergency dispatchers.
  • How to reset network settings iPhone? Resetting your iPhone's network settings can quickly solve internet connection problems and troubleshoot other common iPhone issues. To reset network settings on iPhone, you need to locate the Reset Nework option in your iPhone's Settings, located in General.
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Author Details

Rhett Intriago's picture

Author Details

Rhett Intriago

Rhett Intriago is a Feature Writer at iPhone Life, offering his expertise in all things iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods. He enjoys writing on topics related to maintaining privacy in a digital world, as well as iPhone security. He’s been a tech enthusiast all his life, with experiences ranging from jailbreaking his iPhone to building his own gaming PC.

Despite his disdain for the beach, Rhett is based in Florida. In his free time, he enjoys playing the latest games, spoiling his cats, or discovering new places with his wife, Kyla.