See a Blank Red Dot on the Phone Icon? It’s Your iPhone Voicemail, Here’s the Fix

Aug 23, 2014 - 46 Comments

Blank red dot on the iPhone phone icon

If you’ve recently made a change to your iPhone service or SIM card, you may notice a mysterious red blank dot on the “Phone” app of the iPhone home screen. Typically that little blank red dot means you have voicemail, but the iPhone can’t retrieve it, and it usually occurs in one of the following scenarios: the iPhone has just been restored or reset, the iPhone has a new SIM card inserted into it with a different phone number or service plan, or the associated phone voicemail password has been changed.


Because this is almost always an indicator of a login error with your voicemail, the solution is usually* as simple as logging in with the proper voicemail password. Note the usually*, because sometimes it can be indicative of network issues as well, but more on that in a moment. First, let’s trigger the voicemail login dialog so that you can be sure that you’re using the proper password associated with the iPhones voicemail account:

  1. Head to the “Settings” app on your iPhone and go to the “Phone” section
  2. Scroll down and tap on “Change Voicemail Password” – this should trigger a voicemail login popup alert where you can enter the proper voicemail password, enter the correct password
  3. The blank red dot icon should now turn into a regular notification badge with a number in it, indicating how many new voicemails are available on the iPhone

voicemail blank red dot

Voicemail should work as normal and the blank icon will disappear… unless of course you have a network error.

* If you know for certain that the voicemail password is correct and the “Voicemail” tab in the Phone app shows a Visual Voicemail unavailable error, you can typically fix that by resetting Network Settings. You’ll likely want to confirm the voicemail password is correct as well, otherwise the visual voicemail error can continue to appear even after resetting your network settings.

Voicemail unavailable on the iPHone

Finally, you may also see that blank dot if you’re using call forwarding, or you’re in a very limited reception area, where there’s just enough reception to ping your phone that voicemail has arrived, but not enough reception to download the visual voicemail, or to even reliably make a call to your voicemail provider. That’s a bit less common these days unless you’re deep in the wilderness somewhere, but it can happen. For the most situations, that blank dot is just a simple connection issue, whether with the login or network.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone, Troubleshooting

46 Comments

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  1. Tim says:

    I’ve had the red dot when not having visual voicemail. You have to dial into your voicemail the old way. The iPhone can’t retrieve the audio file. If the cell network is experiencing issues , I’ve had the red dot because the iPhone can’t download the audio file / voicemail.

  2. Ed Gonzalez says:

    I turn my cellular data off whenever I’m near wifi. So I see this all the time.

  3. RustyRail says:

    Another good app from Cydia called:NoVoiceMail
    works great. 👍

  4. DC10Rocks says:

    iPhone 4, iOS 6.1

    I see blank red dot only when cellular data is OFF.

    I have tried leaving voice mail, turning data back on, retrieving voice mail, turning data off, red dot disappeared.

    Now it stays there even after doing that!

    Visual voice mail works fine. For regular voicemail I do not remember my password so I will have to call my provider and have them clear this up.

  5. Jim says:

    Best way to solve the problem is to replace the SIM card with a new one.

  6. Francis says:

    Above and a few others didn’t work for me. What did was Notifications/Phone and toggle “Allow Notifications” on and off. Hope it helps.

  7. Francis says:

    Disregard above..just noticed badge was toggled off. When toggled on…damn dot is still there. Ugh.

  8. rob h says:

    I set up my iphone 5c for voicemail – then had my old number ‘ported’ to it. I also rang virgin mobile (789) to arrange for the voicemail to be reset for the ported number. That worked but now the the voicemail icon/button didn’t function ( message: ‘calls to this number are barred’ )

    After several calls Virgin Mobile Help desk ( philipines ) couldn’t solve it and routed me to a UK ‘technical specialist’ who also tried a couple of codes but couldn’t solve it and gave up ( he recommended I ring Apple instead – but their service centre was shut as its ‘the holidays’ )

    So far nil points for Virgin and same for Apple – taking your money but poor service afterwards.

    However I found the following code on the web and this worked (why couldn’t VM Help Desk do this research ?)

    Enter the following from the phone keyboard pad as if making a phone call then press dial key – not much occurs but this should fix the VM button.

    **5005*86*222#

    NB the ‘222’ part is simply the Virgin Mobile access number used to set up voicemail – the code will likley work also for other carriers but will probably need a different VM access number so: **5005*86*XXX#

    [where XXX is the service providers setup number]

    • Matt says:

      I realise this is an old post, but wanted to say that the code above (**5005*86*222#) worked for me on my new iPhone with Virgin Mobile. I’d previously had to dial a specific number that was sent to me via text to access my voicemail. Now I can just hit the normal Voicemail button. Much easier. Thanks.

  9. shiva says:

    I tried above suggestion. Nothing works.. Any I didn’t format/reset recently.. I restarted my phone, the red dot went away :)

  10. Michelle says:

    I have the red button on as I upgraded my phone from a 4S to a 5S I forgot to contact EE to turn the voicemail off and now I have had a voicemail and it has left the red dot, which I want removed!!! contacted EE and have turned voicemail off couldn’t get rid of red button . After lots of efforts found if you go to settings/notifications/phone and turn off badges this turns off the red button! simple !!!

  11. ANSHITA says:

    its good, resetting password worked for me! :)
    thanks

  12. Battj1 says:

    The **5005, etc., number worked for me first time! Excellent, thank you, Rob H!

  13. Jane says:

    **5005 worked for me too. On ee and last 3 numbers were 123. Thanks

  14. Clare says:

    Thank you so much Rob – it worked! I’ve been without VM on my iPhone 6 for 8 weeks. Spoke to O2 and they were useless. I did what you said, did a hard reset and it worked! For anyone else who needs it, the O2 code is 901.

  15. Amy says:

    Tired above suggestions didn’t work restarted phone it disappeared

  16. Nick Ricketts says:

    Voicemail won’t let me change the password “voicemail unavailable trying to connect” on wifi or 4G

  17. Serena says:

    Thank you! I’ve had the red dot issue since updating to iOS 9 something and it’s GONE! Had to reset my vm pswd. Easy Peasy and I thank you again, good sir!

  18. Carly says:

    I hate vodacom. Every time I am asked a new password for my voicemail messages and it changes every time then blocks me…. Help

  19. Champignon says:

    Hey guys, i had that problem too like you and i got it fixed after 10-20 minutes patching. That you exactly have to do is that you may go in settings> notifications> phone> turn off> hold the home screen button and lock button into your iphone restarting.
    I hope it will help you all.
    Thank you for your permissions

  20. Jessie says:

    This problem with the red dot appearing on your phone icon, is a 9.1 glitch. It only happens to me after I turn my phone back on in the morning, as I always shut it down in the evening. The fix for me is to simply turn on cellular data. It instantly disappears. If you leave it on cellular data for about 5 minutes you can turn data off again, and it won’t return until you either really do have voicemail, or you turn your phone off again for the evening. Either way, I’m sure Mr. Apple will eliminate the glitch with the next update, and then I will see you all back here again for the “new one”. :-)

  21. David says:

    I’m at a camp in the North Slope, Alaska and have absolutely no cell phone service so receiving a voice mail would be impossible. The red dot appeared on my phone today. Restarting the phone made it go away.

  22. Marilyn says:

    Red dot on iPhone phone icon….
    Check and see if your airplane mode is on …
    Turn it off!

  23. Emma says:

    I had exactly this same problem with my IPhone 5c after a random call from an unknown 0845 number who left a vm and this screwed everything. I had that blank red dot!! Suddenly!!! WTF !!! So I called apple, called O2, went to O2 Shop for geek advice, called Apple USA for professional help. All guys very sweet. Understanding. But totally unable to help. So I call myself(mobile data switched off guys!!!) and then I did it again…, for good measure. Then I went to treat retrieve my vm’s and having done that, I deleted them straightaway. Then I cautiously went back to my red dot..,,and ….it had gone!!!! Yeah!!!! Try it!!!

  24. Sophia says:

    I had the same problem. Turned the phone completely off , waited 15 seconds then turned phone back on. I still had the red dot , then I went to settings turned data on for 15 seconds then turned data off .The red dot is gone. Hope this helps- it worked for me.

  25. Sarah says:

    Tried most of the above for my iPhone 6+ the only one which worked was calling myself twice having turned mobile data off and then deleting the messages and the annoying red dot disappeared. Thanks Emma

  26. Oscar says:

    Same here, the only trick that worked on iphone 6s ios 9.2.1 was calling myself twice with cellular data turned off. Tried everything else and was getting frustrated …

  27. June says:

    dc10 rock thank you it work for me

  28. crystal says:

    i tried everthing and the only one that worked was phoning yourself. thank you

  29. Victoria says:

    I had the red dot for weeks even though I had cleared my voice mail. A friend finally told me that this can happen when you turn cellular data off….since I have free wifi at work mine is almost always off. I turned on my cellular data for a minute, turned it right back off, and the red dot was gone. I now do this every time I clear my voicemail and the dreaded red dot is history.

  30. Brenda says:

    Hooray! Yes, turn mobile data off. Ring yourself, leave and retrieve message then delete message then it finally goes away :)

  31. Lisa says:

    Would like to thank Tim it work like you said had done everything else

  32. Nate says:

    Receiving and erasing a vm with cel data turned off worked for me.
    iPhone 6s Plus running 9.3.2

  33. Elaine says:

    Leaving myself a voicemail from another phone worked for me too. Thanks everyone 😀

  34. RJ says:

    This article worked. Someone said they found it happened when their wi-fi was off. I had turned mine off a few days before, I immediately turned it back in & it went away without wait or turning on/off iphone6

  35. The_Grand_K-Man says:

    I’m nearly 47 and have grown quite philosophical about this ‘blank red dot’ and other things. My solution?

    IGNORE THE F___KING THING.

  36. Luke says:

    Turning on the cellular data fixed my problem.

  37. The_Grand_K-Man says:

    Luke: Yeah, but when you turn off data to save minutes the red dot will reappear.

  38. The big D says:

    Turning off the cellular data & calling yourself from another phone a few times worked for me on a 6+ with iOS 10.1

  39. Jason says:

    Can anyone help me with the 3 numbers for BT Mobile? Trying to use the **5005** option

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