How to Disable Emergency SOS on iPhone X to Stop Accidentally Dialing 911

Dec 4, 2017 - 12 Comments

Disable Emergency SOS on iPhone X

The iPhone X offers an Emergency SOS feature which will automatically dial 911 when the devices side buttons are held down for several seconds. The Emergency SOS countdown then starts blaring an alarm and counts down from 3, 2, 1, before dialing emergency services on your behalf, thanks to a feature called Auto Call. While this could theoretically be useful in some extreme scenarios, it can also be triggered surprisingly easy by simply trying to force reboot the iPhone X, taking a screenshot on iPhone X, by trying to temporarily disable Face ID, or even just by accident of holding down a few buttons.

With a little settings adjustment, you can disable Auto Call with Emergency SOS. With the feature disabled, you can still use Emergency SOS, but you will have to swipe the onscreen Emergency SOS control to dial emergency services, rather than simply hold down the iPhone X hardware buttons.

How to Disable Emergency SOS Auto Call on iPhone X

This disables auto calling of emergency services by holding down buttons on the iPhone X, yet still allows the feature to be used directly if need be.

  1. Open the “Settings” app on iPhone X and then go to “Emergency SOS”
  2. Disable “Auto Call” by flicking the switch to the off position
  3. Disable Auto Call of Emergency Services on iPhone X

Now you can still summon the Emergency SOS screen (which is also the same screen which lets you shut down and turn off iPhone X and access Medical ID), without accidentally calling 911 due to the Auto Call feature by holding the buttons a little too long.

Again, you can still call emergency services through Emergency SOS if you disable Auto Dial, but you must swipe to the right on the Emergency SOS button when it appears on screen after holding down the side buttons on the iPhone X.

Emergency SOS screen on iPhone X

Don’t forget you can have Siri dial Emergency Services and 911 for you too, so if you have Hey Siri enabled for voice activation, you can do it entirely hands free, and perhaps more intentionally.

And in case you were wondering, yes people are accidentally dialing 911 due to this feature, and I myself have unintentionally activated it several times, thankfully canceling it within the few second countdown in time to avoid a mistaken call which ties up local emergency responders. The same feature also exists on the Apple Watch, where likewise people are accidentally dialing emergency services with that device too.

If you’re at all worried about this, or if you have discovered the siren alert blaring out of your pocket unexpectedly because it’s dialing 911, just disable Auto Call and you’ll prevent most erroneous dialing.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone, Tips & Tricks

12 Comments

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  1. Louie says:

    Great tip, but the title is misleading. The emergency SOS feature is available on all iphones running ios 11, not just on the iphone X. I have it, for example, on my iphone 6s though auto call is already disabled by default.

    • Louie says:

      Note that the only thing exclusive to iphone X is the ability to activate the energency SOS feature by holding down the two buttons. Other than that, the same feature can still be activated on any other iphone running iOS by clicking the sleep/wake side button five times.

    • Paul says:

      Good to know, I hadn’t noticed the button behavior on an iPhone 7. Thanks Louie!

  2. Rick says:

    I live in New Zealand and our emergency number is 111. Can I make it dial that instead? Thanks, Rick

    • webber says:

      Emergency SOS should be smart enough to know your location and dial the appropriate emergency service, assuming it exists in the country the iPhone is in anyway.

      • Rick Holcomb says:

        Thanks. It is not something I can actually try to see if it works without creating a spurious emergency call. I would like know for certain (not should work) because if I needed it, I wouldn’t have time sort it outfit it did’t work. See?

  3. Jackie says:

    Any idea if the emergency number is adjusted for each region. For example in Australia we use 000. Does the phone know that from the Region setting and dial accordingly. Don’t really want to test it.

  4. Levi says:

    Emergency SOS on iPhone X is awful. The local police department was not amused by my accidental use of the feature. Disabling Auto call shouldn’t be the only option. Apple really needs to allow users to completely disable the feature. Or even better Emergency SOS should be a must opt-in feature. I have carries and used a cell phone daily for more than 2 decades, and in that time never even imagined a scenario where I wanted my phone to call or offer to call 911 emergency services. In the very brief time I have owned my iPhone X I have had more than 1 instance where I sincerely wished that my phone had not called 911.

  5. Jshell says:

    Somehow I got the VoiceOver turned on and in trying to turn that off, activated the 911 call which I could not hang up because of VoiceOver.

    I’m on the phone with emergency operator apologizing profusely trying to explain the situation. She didn’t buy it, about 10 mins later a police car comes up my drive way.

    I again apologized to the officer, trying to come up with lame excuse and assure her there was nothing wrong at home.

    It was embarrassing. I love the idea of this, but the implementation is very poorly thought out. TURNED IT OFF.

    • Ian says:

      I agree completely and I have heard other comments similar to yours.

      Also the iPhone X with iOS 11 is buggy and the lock screen crashes for me once a day or more, even this morning turn off my alarm the iPhone X froze up and then crashed. What if the 911 call happened and then the phone froze? Well dispatchers will send a unit to you, because that is standard protocol to always send an officer to check out a situation on any call. Ultimately it wastes resources of emergency services, and it also is a big hassle for the person who made an accidental call.

      Good idea, poorly implemented. Turn it off. That’s what I had to do after I triggered it a few times, thankfully the full call did not go through.

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