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Help make my iphone 5s messaging not horrible?
February 16, 2014 8:11 PM   Subscribe

A convoluted story about failing to get an iPhone 5S to successfully do all messaging over SMS/MMS rather than iMessage. I would like a way to keep my cellular network turned off, but still be able to send and receive messages without constant errors.

Hey, I'd love some help with some problems I've been having. I got an iphone 5s last week, and I have a very restricted data plan (300mb). Because of that, I hoped to just keep the data network off most of the time - I have wifi most places, and so far that hasn't been a problem at all. Except for everything involving messaging. I have unlimited text messages, and in principle those messages don't require the data network at all; they send over SMS (cellular network). So I was hoping that I could send everything over text and simply disable iMessage. This doesn't seem to work, as other people's phones default to sending messages over iMessage rather than texts, and so when I did that I simply failed to receive a bunch of messages. People were getting errors, my mom was confused, etc. etc.

So I turned iMessage back on. Now many messages (especially group & photo messages) default to being sent over iMessage rather than text, which means that if I'm not connected to a wifi network (or the network is acting up), my messages simply fail to send, despite the fact that I have the "Send as SMS (when iMessage is unavailable)" setting enabled on my phone. It might just be that I'm not good with IOS 6, but thus far when a message fails to send, about half of the time I can't find any option to force it to send as SMS/MMS.

And finally, I assume due to some nonsense involving this stuff, in my texting history for each contact, even though I currently have iMessage turned on, all of the texts that were originally sent or received over iMessage are missing. Some of these conversations are literally 7 years old, and I've always enjoyed looking back through them from time to time, so it makes me sad to think that these issues with iMessage mean that this history will be forever lost.

Can you help me? Is there any way I can get messaging to work in a reasonable way with my cell network turned off? I feel like this problem wouldn't exist without iMessage, like if I were using an Android phone. So maybe I could jailbreak my phone and spoof it to report itself as a non-iPhone, so that iPhone users always default to sending me messages over SMS? Or maybe there's some better way to deal with these issues? Many thanks!
posted by Buckt to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm confused. You want to not use iMessage for messaging, but you say this:

Is there any way I can get messaging to work in a reasonable way with my cell network turned off?

If you turn off your cell network, you can't send or receive SMS/MMS messages. You would only be able to use iMessage on wifi.

Do this:
1) turn off iMessage. Make sure that send as MMS is on.
2) reset the network settings
(settings -> general -> scroll all the way to the bottom for reset -> reset network settings and then confirm you wish to do that).

Resetting the network settings should get the phone stick to SMS/MMS for all messaging.

Since your phone is only a week old, it is entirely impossible your carrier did not provision your account correctly. Call your carrier or stop in one of their stores for help.

Jailbreaking your phone won't let you spoof the phone to iMessage or the carrier.
posted by birdherder at 8:52 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]

I'd recommend doing the following steps:

a) Go to Settings > Messages > Send & Receive > tap your Apple ID and then sign out. Go back, you'll see 'iMessage' on the top of the settings pane. Turn it off.
b) On any other devices you have that may have iMessage enabled (Mac/iPad/iPod), turn iMessage off as well.
c) Soft reset your 5s by holding the power and home buttons simultaneously until your iPhone restarts.
d) Upon preview, do reset network settings.

Texts should be sent as regular SMS texts (green), and your history should be retained. If you're afraid of losing the history, though, do an iCloud/iTunes backup first before doing the above steps.
posted by dubious_dude at 8:54 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]

I had this problem a few months ago, sadly there is no way around the problem. While SMS and MMS are not tied to your data plan, multimedia messages (MMS) does use the data connection to send and receive, and most phones have no way to both turn off the data connection while keeping MMS operational (I assume they actually turn off the 3/4G functions on the antenna).
posted by thebestsophist at 5:45 AM on February 17

Do not "soft reset" your phone by holding the power and home buttons until it reboots. That's not a soft reset. That's the equivalent of pulling the power plug out of your running computer and then restarting it. Hold the power button down until the "slide to power off" appears, then slide to power off. This will allow the phone to properly shut down.

I think just turning off iMessage (and leaving it off) and then turning off Cellular Data will take care of it. If you don't want to use data at all, also turn off MMS - it's on the same page in Settings->General->Messages. Here's some instructions that are more or less what's already been posted here. Once you have iMessage turned off, you can then go into Settings->Cellular and then turn Cellular Data off. Turning Cellular Data off will mean you won't get email or push notifications or anything if you've not got WiFi but you'll still get text messages and can receive phone calls. You should also make sure your phone is up to date. Go to Settings->General->Software Update - if you're not running 7.0.4 then it will prompt you to update. There may be some bugs that have been fixed if you're behind, even if you've got a new phone. (You mentioned iOS 6 in your post; if you've got a 5s you have iOS 7.)

If you still have issues with that, you may want to also check with Apple - either call AppleCare or make a Genius Bar appointment if you've got a store nearby. The iMessage stuff runs independently of your cell provider, and it has its own registration stuff in there, so you might be able to get them to clear your phone out of that if it's borked up.
posted by mrg at 8:26 AM on February 17

mrg - there's absolutely nothing wrong with soft/hard-resetting an iPhone.

"A hard reset is like pulling the plug on your computer. It will have to turn back on and reboot fully. It does write an error log out to itself (nothing you see) but causes no harm to your phone or data. It is just a way to do a full clean boot up. This actually fixes about 90% of the issues most people have." -Apple Discussions
posted by dubious_dude at 5:15 PM on February 17

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