SIM card, iMessage Problems
June 14, 2021 8:19 AM   Subscribe

Please hope us suss-out this odd SIM card/iMessage problem on my wife's iPhone...

Over the weekend, my wife's iPhone 6s started randomly failing to see her SIM card. Ejecting the card and reinserting it seemed to be the most reliable way to fix the issue. Mostly. Sometimes it took a couple of attempts, though.

In addition to the card issue, Messages has started sending texts from a secondary email address and not her phone number. Her texts also now come through as a standard SMS message, and not as an iMessage. Her entry in my iPhone's Contacts list now no longer identifies her phone as an iPhone, so the option for FaceTime/iMesage is not available. All texts too and from her come through as green bubbles, not iMessage blue.

When I checked her Messages setup and it was showing a spinning arrow where her phone number was in the list of authorized numbers/email addresses, indicating (to me, anyway) it couldn't find/confirm the phone number at all, and the phone's number wasn't available as selection in the send/receive from... field. Rebooting the phone seemed to fix that, but the phone still doesn't identify as an iPhone and all texts are still standard SMS.

She can make and receive phone calls just fine.

Any ideas? Might this just be a wonky SIM card and a replacement will probably solve things? Or, is this likely something failing in the phone itself?
posted by Thorzdad to Technology (6 answers total)
What carrier? There's some shuffling starting soon as a side effect of the Sprint/T-Mobile merger and some of the prepaid SIMs (like Ting) need to be switched out.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:32 AM on June 14, 2021

Response by poster: Sorry. Should have included that info. We're both on Verizon. We both have 6s, too. I have no problems.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:35 AM on June 14, 2021

Probably call Verizon, who should give you instructions on how to flush the settings on the phone to pull down a new APN or something. If necessary, they will send you new SIMs, or if you can't wait, find a Verizon factory store near you, and get new ones immediately, if needed.
posted by kschang at 9:09 AM on June 14, 2021

We recently had to take little ms flabdablet's iPhone to a repair shop after it spontaneously lost its ability to see the SIM. They didn't need to do anything at all with the hardware; all they said they did was re-apply the latest iOS update and the problem resolved itself.
posted by flabdablet at 10:22 AM on June 14, 2021

This deals with iMessage, not the flaky SIM part of your problem.

The change in status of the SIM may be confusing iMessage.

iMessage has virtually nothing to do with the SIM, except that the SIM holds one of the identities (the phone number) that iMessage needs, and this is often the primary identity.

iMessage works by pulling SMS messages bound for other iMessage-capable devices out of the SMS data stream, and instead redirecting it to Apple's servers over Internet connectivity.

iMessage registration to the Apple servers is a separate problem, and is best debugged separately from SIM card issues. Make sure that you have an e-mail address registered on two iMessage clients, such as the flaky phone and another phone, and that the phones can exchange messages between those two identities. If this does not work, there is basically zero chance that the SIM-based identity will work either.

If iMessage has your e-mail address associated with the SIM card phone number, you can get another interesting behaviour when something like your phone number changes, and iMessage may fail to dissociate that number from your account.
posted by jgreco at 11:22 AM on June 14, 2021

Have you activated and de-activated iMessage? Also, what does it mean that it "doesn't see" the SIM. Can it not make phone calls over the cellular network? Data over cellular? There are various network settings that can get glitched, we had problems sending iMessage on Verizon when we used different SIMs for a while and switched back. Verizon might well be able to fix that.
posted by wnissen at 11:39 AM on June 14, 2021

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