How to Fix “Cellular Update Failed” on iPhone with iOS 12.1.2 SMS, LTE, Cellular Data Issues

Dec 27, 2018 - 42 Comments

iPhone cellular update failed alert no service cellular failed

Some iPhone users have discovered that their cellular data and cellular connectivity has failed recently, with iPhone no longer working to send or receive calls or access the internet, particularly after installing the iOS 12.1.2 update.

The inability for iPhone to have cell network connections is usually accompanied by a “No Service” message in the upper left corner of the iPhone screen where the carrier or reception signal is typically shown, and often an alert message appears on the iPhone screen saying “Cellular Update Failed – Your iPhone cannot make and receive calls or access cellular data until it has been updated.”

We’re going to show you a few workarounds to try and get cellular data and cell service working again on an iPhone that is experiencing these particular data problems after installing the iOS update.


Before anything else, you should check for available iOS system software updates. If an iOS update is available (even if it’s labeled as the same version) you should install it. You can check in Settings > General > Software Update, or by connecting iPhone to iTunes on computer and checking for updates there.

Note that for some users the below tricks may resolve the “No Service” and “Cellular Update Failed” problem on their iPhone, but for other users it does not. Another albeit very annoying workaround is to simply reboot the iPhone every time you need service, since that seems to allow the iPhone to have cellular service for a short while. Instructions to force reboot the various iPhone models are further below under the additional troubleshooting steps.

How to Fix “Cellular Update Failed” and No Service Problem on iPhone with iOS 12.1.2

The the current workarounds to temporarily resolve this cellular data issue on iPhone involve disabling wi-fi calling and adjusting LTE data settings to be data only, rather than voice and data. For some users this may be unacceptable as a permanent solution, but again this is a workaround, so you can decide whether or not the trade-offs of temporary disabling wi-fi calling and LTE voice are worth having a cellular data connection at all.

  1. Open the “Settings” app on iPhone with the cellular data problem
  2. Go to “Cellular” settings
  3. Choose “Wi-Fi Calling” and turn the wi-fi calling feature OFF – this alone may resolve the issue for some users
  4. Disable wi-fi calling on iPhone

  5. Next go back to Cellular settings, this time choosing “Cellular Data Options”
  6. Tap on “Enable LTE” and select “Data Only” as the setting (the default setting is Voice & Data)
  7. Disable Voice LTE

  8. Exit out of Settings

For many iPhone users, their cellular service will restore and start working again, though this comes at the expense of temporarily losing wi-fi calling and voice LTE. Some iPhone users may find that only choosing one of the above settings changes is sufficient to remedy their cellular problems too.

You should not have to reboot the iPhone for these settings changes to take effect, but doing so certainly won’t hurt anything. A hard reboot isn’t necessary, so simply turning the iPhone off and on should do the trick.

Next: Check & Install Cellular Carrier Updates

Some iPhone users may still get a “Cellular Update Failed” error message on their iPhone, in which case they should try to check for a carrier settings update to iPhone from the cellular service provider, and install one if available. These are updates from your mobile service provider that are separate from general iOS software updates from Apple. Here is how you can check and install a carrier update, if one is available:

  1. Join the iPhone to a wi-fi network if it is not currently connected to one
  2. Open the “Settings” app on the iPhone then go to “General”
  3. Choose “About” and scroll down to the ‘Carrier’ section, then wait a few moments, if a carrier update appears tap on “Update” to install it on the iPhone

Not everyone will have a carrier update available, but it’s worth checking to see if you do. Apparently some users have their iPhone cellular connectivity issues resolved simply by installing such a carrier update, so it is absolutely worth checking.

Additional Cellular Problem Troubleshooting

If you tried the above steps and you continue to experience iPhone cellular connection problems, you may want to try the following additional troubleshooting steps:

I had direct experience troubleshooting this particular iPhone cellular problem during the holidays (Happy Holidays!) when a relatives iPhone lost all cellular capability after installing a new iOS software update, where the iPhone became stuck on “No Service” and had the “Cellular Update Failed” message constantly popping up on the screen, unable to do anything online. Considering that an iPhone is a cellular phone, not having cellular connectivity is understandably annoying.

No Service iPhone cellular problem

If the cellular problems are the result of a bug with an iOS version, then presumably a new update to iOS will fix the problem completely, though it’s unclear if and when that will happen. Regardless it’s always good advice to stay up to date on system software updates. If a new software update does resolve known cellular data problems with iPhone, then you’ll almost certainly want to change the LTE data setting back to Voice & Data, and enable wi-f calling on the iPhone again so that you can use those great features as usual.

Did the above tricks work to get your cellular data and cellular connectivity functioning again on iPhone? Did this resolve your “No Service” problems and the “Carrier Update Failed” error messages on your iPhone? Do you have another solution for remedying these problems with your iPhone service? Let us know in the comments below.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

42 Comments

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  1. Jack Ng says:

    My IPhone 6 s has no Touch ID. How to reactivity my Touch ID and face I’d.

    • Rodney Sterling says:

      That’s a different thing, Touch ID has no impact on the iPhone cellular update fail error or iOS 12.1.2 data not working. You can enable Touch ID on your Settings.

  2. Daniel Wisehart says:

    I saw this with the added twist that my iPhone SE claimed there was no SIM card installed. I popped the SIM card out and back in but this did not resolve the problem. Only after turning off the WiFi calling and rebooting the phone did the problem go away.

  3. Steve Riley says:

    Making changes under the Cellular menu is not an option. That menu option “Cellular Error>” leads to a page that states “An update is required to use cellular data on this iPhone”.

    • ASh says:

      I have exactly the same problem! Did you solve it?

      • Rodney Sterling says:

        Put your iPhone on Wi-Fi then rebooting your iPhone and see if that error goes away after you open the Settings app to update the settings.

        What happens when you click the Update button?

        • Bob says:

          it still says Cellular update failed (for iPhone 5S) There is no Carrier update available – Verizon

        • Steve Riley says:

          The reboot does not change the menu error. The statement on the Cellular page states “An update is required to use cellular data on this iPhone.” Included is a “Learn More” link which takes you to an support.apple.com page which essentially states you have to visit the Apple Store.

          The specific version under about is “12.1.12 (16C101)”. I understand there is a 104 version out too – not sure how to force the update to that rev. I typically do not go through iTunes for the update and when I’ve attempted to use iTunes, the update button states we are at the current version.

          • Steve Riley says:

            An update to iTunes then allowed me to update to version 12.1.2 (16C104). Unfortunately, it did not fix the phone. Reading other “solution attempts” have not worked either (e.g. network reset, sim card removal/reinstall, hard reboots, airplane mode, and carrier update). Other than visit an Apple store – looks like I’ll need to wait for the update to 12.1.3. Not a happy Apple customer.

        • Steve Riley says:

          The reboot option does not clear the “Cellular Error>” issue. The page does display, yet all options under Cellular menu are missing. In its place, a note stating you need an update and a link to an Apple Support page which doesn’t include anything useful – other than come visit us at an Apple Store.

          • Matt says:

            Hi guys I had this very problem as well and think I just fixed it via hard restart as directed above based on your model iPhone. I have the 7, and the hard restart (holding down the power and down volume buttons simultaneously until restart) seems to have done the trick. I called Apple Support yesterday and the guy did like 1 friggin’ troubleshooting step that didn’t work and then immediately said I had to go to the Apple store. Ridiculous! Thanks to the poster for this info!

          • INWDC says:

            I had this issue. Not sure what I did that worked, but I did a reboot/turned it on airplane mode/popped out the SIM card. Finally got it to work about a half hour of fiddling with the damn phone. What a damn mess. Is Apple any better than Android at this point? So tired of paying a premium for poor quality software.

          • Alex G says:

            Having the exact same problem with my Iphone seven, completely ridiculous, the phone is nothing but a shit brick now. I have never been hard on the device by any stretch of the imagination, and now my microphone doesn’t work, I cant make calls, and cant connect to cellular. I feel like this should be an embarrassment to apple. Its like their flipping a switch immediately sending devastating glitches to promote consumers to buy next gen. Regardless, I tried restarting, but alas the error just happened 15 minutes later and restarting doesn’t even work.

    • Bob says:

      I have the exact same problem

      • Steve says:

        Nice tip Matt – unfortunately, it had no effect on my device. I’ll either wait until the next update or go visit an Apple store (not sure that’ll help too much either until an update happens).

  4. Rodney Sterling says:

    It seems like lot of people are impacted by this iOS 12.1.2 data connection failure “bug” or whatever it is, imagine being on holiday and not having your iPhone work all of a sudden??? It is hard to believe Apple released this right before Christmas and now tons of iPhone can’t get service or use data… quality control is ???

    This is yet another reason why I personally do not run auto-updates and I NEVER install iOS system software updates right away when they become available, I always wait at least a couple of weeks. Let the bugs show up, let other people run the beta test on their iPhone since I have to use mine often and it must be reliable, let the additional patches come out, wait again, if no reports of problems then I finally update my iPhone.

    There is an old saying in Texas, “If it ain’t broke then don’t fix it”, which I think is self explanatory and shucks does it apply to software updates, firmware updates, and all the other stuff we tech users are constantly pushed to install and update.

  5. ButchM says:

    This is why auto updates are turned off and and no updates are applied until I check to see if there are any major problems noted here and elsewhere … blind adoption and early adoption of updates can be hazardous.

    Patience is truly a virtue when it comes to system software updates. I haven’t applied the 12.1.2 update on any of my devices and likely won’t until there is evidence the problem has been solved.

    I’d rather invest my time in a bit of research before updating, rather than troubleshooting after the update has been applied.

  6. RA XA says:

    Hey Paul,
    I don’t have a Problem after Update to 12.1.2 – every things working the same way as before, but maybe more
    Security. Therefore I didn’t reset my phone 📱.
    Thank you very much for your wonderful work, wishing
    You a great Weekend and Happy New Year 🎆🎊🎈
    Friendly regards from 🇦🇹

  7. Jim Jac says:

    Anyone having similar problems with wifi? The WiFi button on my two-month-old replacement 7Plus is greyed out+Bluetooth stuck searching. Reset network settings, hard reset, restored via iTunes, work occasionally, for a limited time. Genius said it is not hardware and recommended buying a new phone? Seems more likely it’s ios or an app but I can’t figure out how to fix it.

  8. DG12 says:

    LTE Calls Turned Off
    So common that there’s a support web page for this:
    https://www.verizonwireless.com/support/knowledge-base-222193/

    After 2 calls to the support desk, totaling over 1.5 HOURS! and reset-all-settings,
    my iPhone6 is working again.

  9. Eevel says:

    I got this problem for the first time earlier. I was ready to call apple to schedule a repair but I restarted my phone twice and it hasn’t happened again.
    this is after the phone restarted itself and this error showed up.
    if it happens again I’ll try everything in this post..

  10. Rebecca says:

    These options worked for me…. Initially.

    Now my phone is right back to the same ‘cellular update’ issue as before. No calling or texting- I may as well have an ipod for all the good it’s doing me as a phone.

    It was find for about a day after the first time but now nothing seems to make it work- not even for a few minutes.

  11. Eevel says:

    it happened again and now nothing I do can fix it. nothing in this post helps or is relevant because the “cellular” settings page just says the same thing the popup window says.
    don’t try restoring your phone from an iTunes backup. your phone will be bricked.

    • WhyPhone says:

      Force reboot your iPhone, that should give you cell service for a little while.

      Then it will drop again, and you have to force reboot it again. Repeat all day for being able to use your iPhone…. when will this be fixed?

      I have a friend who has been taking their iphone back and forth to Verizon repeatedly trying to fix this, new iPhones, Verizon is stumped. Then they went to an Apple Store, and Apple rebooted the iPhone and ran a little diagnostic and said it was fine (because it was briefly on cell service after rebooting, LOL!). I think it’s a bug in iOS but who knows for sure? Apple does not seem too concerned… should be a top priority but amazingly does not seem to be.

  12. Luisa says:

    I also have this “Cellular Update Failed” problem on my iPhone 5s and tried to use the tips here, but when I open my cellular settings, there is neither a “Wi-Fi Calling” nor a “Enable LTE” button. Does anyone know what is going on here and what I can do?

  13. Eevel says:

    I talked to apple over the phone. they told me to disable “find my phone” then restore my phone from an iTunes backup. do not fully reset the phone just restore it and let it do its thing.
    my phone seems to be fixed now, I hope it stays that way.

    if you don’t disable find my iPhone you might find that you won’t be able to activate the phone, or if you reset it.

  14. Puteri Maharani says:

    i got some issues, can anyone inform how to fix this?

    • Yessi says:

      Puteri, yes first hard reboot your iPhone. Then install any software updates. Then here is an article written to detail and inform how to fix this:

      http://osxdaily.com/2018/12/27/fix-cellular-update-failed-iphone-no-service-data/

      I suggest reading the article and following those instructions. I had to perform these fixes on an iPhone with cellular problems after the iOAS 12.1.2 update and it worked.

      Personally I am surprised that Apple has not rushed a bug fix update but maybe just rebooting iPhone is sufficient for most people or maybe it’s not a bug at all, maybe just a small number of people had a problem?

  15. Brett says:

    Both my 5s and 6s did this. Lots of fiddling (including US Cellular visit) did nothing. They both are running 12.1.2. They BOTH, when connected to iTunes show there is a recent update available- 12.1.2. So, 12.1.2 does not completely install? After rerunning the install (it did not give the red dot note of available update) AGAIN, the problem is resolved. So it truly is a failed “Cellular update” .

    • oitn says:

      Yes re-run the install! There are two versions of iOS 12.1.2, one is buggy and the other is supposedly fixed. Install the second one for resolution, in iTunes if not available in Settings.

  16. Carlos says:

    How exactly do you “Re-Run” an iOS update^^

    • Paul says:

      Go to Settings > General > Software Update, if an update is available (even if it says the same version) install it again.

  17. Anne Payne says:

    I had same problem, went to my provider’s website and disabled Wi-Fi calling, then a hard reboot and BINGO! back in business!

  18. Eliot says:

    None of this seemed to work. Tried airplane mode/hard restarts/shutting down/fiddling with the wifi/messing with the SIM card/even getting a brand new SIM card, etc. There aren’t any options under the cellular menu in settings – just says Error. I tried to update the software but I can’t due to “no internet connection” even though I’m on WiFi which works for everything else….

    Any tips?
    Thanks!

  19. Peter says:

    Updated to 12.1.4 which disabled my iPhone 5s modem and could not make or receive phone calls.
    Had to factory reset the phone which rectified the issue.
    Hugh inconvenience

    • Purvam Limbachia says:

      I am having the same issue. I have updated my iPhone 6 with 12.1.4 but the problem is not solved yet. How to do factory reset ? Is it safe ? Please advise if this can fix … thanks in advance !

  20. George says:

    I have tried nearly EVERYTHING mentioned above and ended up being forced to do a factory reset…
    And guess what? The problem is STILL THERE! And what is worse? THE PHONE IS LOCKED AND I CANNOT ACTIVATE IT!!!! I arrive at a screen after the initial welcome that literally says:

    “Unable to Activate. An update is required to activate your iPhone.(and then a button) Shutdown” something along those lines….

    Already its a super hassle for me because I moved to a new country and have been disconnected from the world for 2 days (and could only communicate when on Wifi), but now my phone is COMPLETELY useless.

    Also have an Iphone 7 Plus… I guess those are the ones facing it the most…. Im sick of Apple…

    • Joao Setti says:

      I Had the exactly same problem. Now my phone is useless…

      If you find a solution, could you sent me an e-mail telling me?

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