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What it means and how to fix it

T-Mobile suffered a major outage across parts of the United States last night, impacting voice, data, and messaging services. For iPhone users in particular, this outage meant that the “SOS” icon was displayed in the status bar. Here’s what that means and how to fix it if you’re still stuck in SOS mode…

T-Mobile’s major network outage

The T-Mobile outage appears to be largely resolved. The company’s president of technology, Neville Ray, took to Twitter to say that there’s been a “significant improvement” in network availability and things are “operating near normal levels.”

T-Mobile attributed the outage to a third-party fiber interruption. This outage appears to have also had ripple affects across AT&T and Verizon, though neither of those carriers suffered an outage to the degree of T-Mobile.

What iPhone “SOS” means and how to fix it

Because of these outages and connectivity issues, iPhone users are noticing an “SOS” icon in their device’s status bar. Even today, when the outages have supposedly been resolved, some iPhones are still showing this SOS icon instead of the normal cellular signal details.

It’s important to differentiate that this is different from the Emergency SOS feature for iPhone and Apple Watch that can automatically call emergency services on your behalf.

T-Mobile SOS

In a support document, Apple explains that SOS in your iPhone’s status bar means that your device isn’t connected to a cellular network, but you can still make emergency calls. Currently, this feature is available in Australia, Canada, and the United States.

This means that if you lose cellular connectivity on your iPhone, such as when your carrier experiences an outage, you’ll oftentimes see the “SOS” icon in the status bar.

If you think this is a mistake and you should have network connectivity, here are a few things to try.

  • Turn cellular data off and then back on again: Go to Settings, then tap Cellular or Mobile Data. If you’re using an iPad, you might see Settings > Cellular Data.
  • Turn your cellular line off and back on: Go to Settings > Cellular and check to see if your cellular line is turned on. If your cellular line is off, turn it back on. Then check to see if you have service.
  • Check for a Carrier Settings update: Tap Settings > General > About. If an update is available, you’ll see an option to update your carrier settings.

It’s clear that yesterday’s T-Mobile is having lingering effects on some iPhone users. If none of the above steps resolve the network problems you’re experiencing, you’ll likely need to reach out to your carrier directly.

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