Fixing the “Visual Voicemail Unavailable” Error on the iPhone

Apr 16, 2013 - 39 Comments

Voicemail unavailable on the iPHone

If you’ve ever encountered the “Visual Voicemail is currently unavailable” error on when going to check new voicemail on the iPhone, there are two quick tricks that almost always fix the problem. So before calling the actual voicemail number like you’re some kind of cave dweller in the stone age of cell phones, try these speedy fixes first.

1: Toggle AirPlane Mode ON & OFF

This often works for the same reason that it resolves troubles with the iPhone getting stuck on “No Service” or the EDGE or GPRS networks, it turns the cellular modem off and on again, forcing it to regain a signal to a cell tower:

  • Open “Settings” and flip the switch next to “Airplane Mode” from OFF to ON, wait about 20 seconds then flip the switch OFF again

Airplane mode is obviously enabled because the normal wireless signal turns into a plane icon, then when turned off again it regains a signal. Again, the idea here is to reconnect to a cell tower, hopefully with a better signal which will then allow visual voicemail to function again. Head back to Voicemail and things should be working as normal again, without the error message:

Visual voicemail fixed and working again

The Airplane trick will usually resolve the unavailable voicemail issues, but if it doesn’t it may be something messed up with the actual iPhone network settings, and thus we move to the next fix.

2: Reset Network Settings

This will reset all network specific settings and in that process Be sure to make a note of Wi-Fi router passwords, as resetting network settings will ditch those in the process.

  • Go to Settings and then to “General”
  • Look for “Reset” and choose “Reset Network Settings”, confirm the reset
  • Optional but recommended: Reboot the iPhone by holding down the power button to turn it off, then turn it back on again

Give the iPhone a minute or two to rejoin the cellular data network, then go back to the Phone app and Voicemail, where everything should be back in order.

You should then no longer see the visual voicemail unavailable error message:

Visual voicemail unavailable error

This trick is fairly old and tends to resolve many issues with cellular data connections, wifi troubles, and other networking issues ranging from OTA update issues, iMessage activation errors, to the suddenly disappearing Personal Hotspot on iOS devices. You’ll find it recommended often because it almost always works, suggesting many of the network troubles of iOS are just a matter of network preferences getting corrupted or improperly configured somewhere along the lines, and just like on the desktop side of things, sometimes starting from scratch with a new preference set is all it takes.

Still Not Working? Call Voicemail Instead

Another possibility to consider is that you’re simply out of a reasonable signal range that is able to transfer data at all, thus rendering the visual voicemail feature completely inaccessible. If you’re in a rural location and can’t reconnect to a 3G, 4G, or LTE signal, this is certainly a possibility, and no amount of network tweaking is going to help. In that case just tapping the “Call Voicemail” button will allow you to check voicemail the old fashioned way through a phone call, though you will need to enter the account pin when doing so.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone

39 Comments

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  1. Scottito says:

    THANK YOU!!!!

  2. Verne says:

    #2 Reset Network Settings
    Works like a charm. Thanks! I’m subscribing to OS X Daily right now.

  3. Jim says:

    Thanks very much for posting this information. I followed your advice and the problem is solved. Hurray!

  4. FRP says:

    Visual Voicemail had not operated since September when I updated iOS. I finally have the solution thanks to you!

    #2 Reset Network Settings worked.

  5. JHS says:

    Thank you very much…

    Reset the network setting did the trick

  6. Lynn says:

    Number 2, reset network settings worked like a charm!! Thank you!

  7. Willem says:

    Option #2 – reset network settings – did the trick. Thanks very much for posting this.

  8. Ana says:

    Network settings reset worked!!! Thanks a million!

  9. Ali says:

    Thank you for the SIMPLE answer!

  10. Roderick says:

    Not so fast! Under Virgin, it appears that the Visual Voicemail is disabled, and had to be subscribed to (for a price!) That’s right; an iPhone functionality is disabled and will be restored for a price. Clearly they want you to think that this is a feature they offer to enhance your phone (as would be the case with an Android or BB phone). Sucks, Virgin! Bad Form!

  11. Celia says:

    Thank you so much. Youir directions are easy to follow and worked instantly.

  12. Hyhybt says:

    The thing that fixed it for me was force-quitting the phone app.

  13. Fletcher says:

    Another reason it might not work is if you’ve tried to minimize your data use by connecting to a wireless network and then switching cellular data to “off”. Personally, I did not expect a problem with any feature over my wi-fi.

  14. Jess says:

    It works!! Thank you!!

  15. mcfc says:

    I had this problem until I found your page. I tried both and number two worked! Thanks!
    ps: I’m still curious as to why this happens…..

  16. Jaime Camacho says:

    Thanks so much. Excellent, very well detailed explained. Worked for me.

  17. James says:

    works like a charm, well done

  18. Kevin says:

    Option #2 worked like a charm. Thank you very much.

    • Kevin says:

      If you do option #2, your WiFi network(s) will reset. Therefore you will need to reconnect to any WiFi network setup on your phone.

      Make sure you can remember those network passwords, before resetting “Network Settings” or you will be screwed.

  19. shirley says:

    visual voivemail is currently unavailable and how to return to regular voicemail.

  20. Austin Gibbons says:

    Had “vvm unavailable”. Believe it started when I upgraded to ios 7.1.
    Doing the network reset followed by phone reboot worked for me. Thanks much.

  21. Monica says:

    Question:

    Does the “Cell Data” have to be turned on in order for the Visual voicemail to work? I have wifi at home and at work.

  22. John Anthony says:

    If the solutions in this article do nto work for you, call voicemail, reset your password to a new one, and then do a reboot (hold home button and power button simultaneously until it turns off).

  23. Rhonda says:

    Thank you! Worked!

  24. MVH says:

    worked like magic once again

  25. claire says:

    While this method of turning the cellular on does work, it then means you are using both wifi and cellular to regain your visual voicemail” but aren’t you then going to incur larger cell phone bills by using cellular data—especially using music, podcast apps, audible etc? Thank you in advance for any assistance regarding this issue.

  26. Ar says:

    Agreed. Both the trouble shooting step worked for me. However, now I still have the same issue (back to square 1) I don’t want to Turn off my phone or go to airplane mode or Network reset. Is there any permanent fix for this issue ?

  27. ASDFG says:

    I had this issue today:

    Airplane mode didn’t work. Rather than try to reset all network settings and then having to input all wifi passwords again, instead I held Home and Power button to instant power off and then restarted which cleared the problem.

  28. cfh says:

    Thank you, #2 ‘reset network settings’ worked for me. Very easy, pefect!

  29. Stephanie Mason says:

    Thank you! The reset network settings worked:)

  30. Popper1101 says:

    Option 1 worked like a charm, thanks for the post!

  31. Kim says:

    I just turned the phone off and turned it back on! Worked like a charm.

  32. June says:

    You are a genius. Worked perfectly. Thanks

  33. Janet says:

    Thank you so much. Very good explanation, easy to follow and “Successful”!

  34. love2cats says:

    I bought my 5c from Virgin Mobile USA after being assured by their customer service that VV would work with my new phone. It worked great for the 1st 30 days. When I called again they said after the 1st 30 there was a monthly fee. I agreed to pay the fee, but could not get it to work. I was sent to a technician who told me VV does not work with the iPhone. My daughter had just bought the Galaxy 3 and her VV was working. The tech said VV would absolutely work with the Galaxy 3. After 30 days VV stopped working on her phone too. When she called the same thing happened to her. It won’t work even if you pay the fee. Why are they getting away with telling people they can get VV when they only get it for a month. Conveniently, by the time it stops working the chance to return or exchange the phone has ended.

  35. Cat says:

    #2 worked, but I had to power off and on as well, because it didn’t quite work perfectly. I have an iPhone 4S.

  36. erin says:

    Thank you! Great explanation and it worked!

  37. Steve Kirsch says:

    Kill the phone app first!!!

    If u just toggle airplane mode the voicemail setting in phone is still cached. You must restart the phone app.

  38. Zoran says:

    THANK YOU !!!

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