How to fix an iPhone XR that cannot send or receive SMS messages

Sending and receiving SMS messages is one of the most significant functions of your iPhone. This service should be up and ready the moment you installed the SIM card on your device. But there may be instances wherein sending and receiving of SMS messages just don’t work as intended. Network problems like this could happen to both old and new phones and so you must be ready the fixes to keep in touch with your contacts. To give you more inputs, I’ve listed a few potential solutions for you to refer to. Read on to learn what to do if your iPhone XR cannot send or receive SMS messages.

Before we move on to our troubleshooting, if you happen to find this post while looking for a solution to a different problem, then visit our iPhone XR Help Guides page for we have already addressed some of the most common issues with this device. We may have already published articles that could help you fix your problem. Find issues that are similar with yours and feel free to use our solutions.

Fixing an iPhone XR that cannot send or receive SMS messages

Before troubleshooting, check and ensure that the date and time information on your iPhone is correct. Date and time are important variables for SMS messaging to work as intended. Problems like this will likely to arise if the date and time information on the phone is different from that of the server.

First solution: Force close the messaging app on your iPhone XR and then reload.

The SMS function may act up especially when experiencing minor glitches with the messaging app. In this case, closing and restarting the app will likely solve the problem. If the messaging app is left running in your phone’s background, then you should force close it by performing these steps:

  1. On the Home screen, swipe your finger up and then pause.
  2. Swipe left or right to search for the messaging app preview.
  3. Then swipe up the messaging app preview to close it.

Follow the same steps to close the rest of the apps running in the background. This will also prevent the apps from becoming rogue and from causing conflict with the messaging app.

ALSO READ: How to fix an iPhone XR that’s getting poor Wi-Fi reception, weak signal

Second solution: Reboot (soft reset) your iPhone XR.

Whenever minor software glitches are present on your phone’s system, various symptoms could instigate and being unable to send or receive SMS messages is among them. To get rid of these potential triggers, rebooting the phone or performing a soft reset on your iPhone XR can help. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Press and hold the Side/Power button and either Volume buttons simultaneously for a few seconds.
  2. When the Slide to Power off command appears, release both buttons.
  3. To completely turn the phone off, drag the Power off slider.
  4. Leave it off for at least 30 seconds, then press and hold the Side/Power button again until the Apple logo appears.

After your iPhone is finished booting up, try sending an SMS to your own device and see if the problem is gone. If your iPhone still can’t send or receive SMS messages, move on to the next procedure.

Third solution: Install new iOS version and pending apps update on your iPhone XR.

Apps related issues and system problems can also be corrected by updating the phone’s software to the latest version available. Apple periodic iOS update releases are often done to address various types of issues affecting a wide range of iOS devices. If the SMS problem you’re facing on your iPhone XR is inflicted by some system bugs, then installing the latest iOS version available will likely fix it. Here’s how to check:

  1. From the Home screen, go to Settings.
  2. Select General.
  3. Tap the Software Update menu. An update notification will pop up once new update is available.
  4. Then tap Download and Install.

Before you proceed with the update, make sure that your phone has sufficient memory, at least 50% battery life, and a stable internet connection for the process to be successful. It is also recommended for you to back up all important files from your phone for you to recover them later.

If you are using a third-party messaging app and haven’t configured it to auto-update, then you must also consider checking for pending app updates on your device. App updates will also provide bug fixes to eliminate the current app issues. To check for pending apps update, follow the steps below:

  1. From the Home screen, select the App Store icon.
  2. Scroll down to and tap the Updates icon located at the bottom right of the screen. You will then be prompted with the list of pending apps updates.
  3. Search for the messaging app then tap Update next to it.
  4. Otherwise, tap the Update All button to simultaneously install all pending apps updates.

Once finished, reboot your phone and check if you are already able to send and receive SMS messages on your iPhone.

ALSO READ: How to fix YouTube app that keeps crashing on iPhone XR

Fourth solution: Remove and then reinsert your SIM card.

Another thing that you should take into consideration when having issues with SMS is the SIM card. Remember that your phone will stop its operation without a SIM card in it or if the SIM card is not properly installed. That being said, try removing the SIM card from your iPhone and then make sure that is properly seated and not damaged. The proper way of removing and reinserting SIM card on an iPhone XR is done this way:

  1. Turn your iPhone XR off.
  2. Using the SIM ejector tool, insert the tool into the small hole on the SIM tray on the side of your iPhone.
  3. Carefully push the SIM ejector until the tray pops out, and then pull it out.
  4. Then remove the SIM card from the SIM card tray.
  5. Check if the SIM card has no scratches, free of debris and not been exposed to liquid damage. If possible, wipe the SIM card with a clean cloth to eliminate dust or debris.
  6. Then place it back into the SIM Card tray and lock the tray in place before you turn the phone on again.

Whenever your phone is already back on, open the messaging app and try sending an SMS to your own phone number to see if you will be able to send and receive the text. If it still can’t send or receive SMS messages, try resetting the network settings.

Fifth solution: Reset network settings on your iPhone XR.

Invalid network configurations can also be the main factors to blame and in this case, resetting network settings on your iPhone would be necessary. The process will eliminate incorrect customizations and will restore the phone’s network settings to the default configuration. Here’s how to reset network settings on an iPhone XR:

  1. From the Home screen, go to Settings.
  2. Select General.
  3. Scroll down to and tap on Reset.
  4. Then select the Reset network settings option.
  5. Enter your device passcode when prompted to continue.
  6. Then tap the Reset network settings option again to confirm the reset.

Your phone will automatically reboot after the reset. Once it’s back on, enable the features that you will need to use on your phone such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular data. Then open your messaging app and see if you are already able to send and receive SMS messages.

Still cannot send or receive SMS messages on your iPhone XR?

The problem may not be with your iPhone but rather on your network carrier. There may be some ongoing outages affecting SMS messaging and thus it’s currently unavailable. If you suspect that the problem is due to a damaged SIM card, ask your carrier to grant you a new SIM card replacement. You may contact your carrier to verify on this or escalate the problem to Apple Support instead.

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