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Call Failed iPhone: 9 Ways To Fix Call Failed Message

a hand holding a phone with a red error sign above it

We’ve all been there. You’re trying to make an important call, but no matter how many times you dial the number: your iPhone says call failed. A variety of factors can cause a call to fail. In this article, we’ll explain why you may encounter that dreaded “call failed” message and what you can do to fix it. If, after troubleshooting, your calls continue to fail, it may be time for a new phone or carrier. That's where our free, unbiased Phone Deal Finder and Plan Finder can help.

What Does the "Call Failed" Message Mean? 

When you see the “call failed” notification pop up on your iPhone, it's essentially your device's way of telling you that it's unable to complete the call. A phone call can drop at any point during the process – when you're dialing a number, deep in conversation, or even when you're about to pick up an incoming call. But you’ll likely only see the “Call Failed” message show up if your call fails immediately upon dialing. 

How Can I Fix the "Call Failed" Message? 

Here are nine troubleshooting tips to stop call failed messages on your iPhone.

1. Check for Cell Signal

It might sound like stating the obvious, but the easiest solution is sometimes the most effective. Your iPhone needs a strong cell signal to receive or make calls. If you're in a location with poor cell coverage — like a basement or a remote area — try moving to a spot with a better signal. 

2. Restart Your iPhone

When in doubt, just turn your iPhone off and on again. It really could be that simple. This age-old tech trick can work wonders. It's the modern equivalent of unplugging something and plugging it back in.

Hold down the power button, then slide to power off. Wait for a minute, and then power it back on. This mini reboot can often be enough for an iPhone to get back on track. 

A restart can close out background apps or processes that are using up precious memory and impacting performance. It will also force the phone to reconnect to the closest cell phone tower to try to establish a signal. 

3. Turn Airplane Mode On and Off

Enabling and disabling Airplane Mode is much like turning your phone off and on. Airplane Mode can be a useful feature at certain times as it can shut down your phone’s radio-frequency signals. As a result, it will disable all wireless and cellular signals coming from your phone. It’s similar to turning your phone off and back on, but it only impacts your phone's signals. 

Swipe down from the top right corner of your screen to access the Control Center, then tap the Airplane Mode icon to toggle airplane mode. If you already had it enabled, then it’s the reason you couldn’t make a call. If it was disabled, then go ahead and turn Airplane Mode on, wait a few seconds, then tap the icon again to disable it. This simple act can sometimes clear up any network hiccups your iPhone might be experiencing.

4. Update Your iPhone's Software

Keeping your iPhone updated helps to ensure that it’s using the latest iOS. If your phone is operating on an outdated iOS, it can sometimes lead to call failures and other software glitches. 

Apple is constantly designing and implementing new updates to increase the security, efficiency, and functionality of their products. If your phone doesn’t have the latest iOS version installed, then it could result in several software issues. More specifically, your phone won’t be able to communicate with the network as intended, leading to possible issues. 

To check for updates, navigate to Settings, then General, then Software Update. If there's an update available, tap Download and Install. 

It might also be a good idea to set your phone to automatically update to the latest software version available to prevent any issues in the future. To do this, you can follow the same path as before and click on Automatic Updates after you select Software Update. Be sure to enable “Download iOS Updates”' and “Install iOS Updates” to keep your phone up to date.

5. Update Carrier Settings

Your carrier regularly releases settings updates to improve network connectivity. In most cases, these are bundled with the software updates mentioned earlier. However, there are some times when the carrier may make specific changes to their network settings that require an update for their users. 

To check if an update is available, go to the Settings app, then General, then About. You'll see an option to update your carrier settings if there's an update. You can also search online to see if you’re using the recommended settings for your carrier or if they’re experiencing any outages that may be impacting service.

6. Check for Blocked Phone Numbers

Maybe you blocked a number unintentionally, or did so on purpose and later forgot about it. To check, go to Settings, then Phone, then Blocked Contacts. If the number you're trying to call is on this list, tap Edit and then the red minus sign to unblock it.

7. Remove and Reinsert Your SIM Card

The SIM card is your iPhone's gateway to the cellular network. If there's an issue with it, you might experience call failures. While SIM cards don’t impact your phone’s cell signal transmissions, they do grant you access to your carrier’s network. A loose or damaged SIM card can impact this access and lead to failed or dropped calls. 

To fix this, first, turn off your iPhone. Then, using a SIM card tool or a paperclip, gently eject the SIM card tray from the side of your iPhone. Wait a minute, clean the SIM tray, reinsert the SIM card, and turn your phone back on.

8. Reset iPhone Network Settings

If all else fails and you’re still getting persistent Call Failed messages, resetting your network settings might do the trick. Doing this will erase all your saved network settings and return them to factory defaults.

Now it’s important to point out that this method shouldn’t have anything to do with the rest of your cellular data. You should still have access to all of your apps, pictures, videos, and everything else. It’s not a factory reset, just a reset of your network settings. If you’re still hesitant, you can always back up your data on the cloud before you get started. 

Open Settings, then General, then Reset, then Reset Network Settings. Resetting your network settings will not delete any of your files or media like a factory reset would, but it will erase your saved Wi-Fi passwords, networks, and VPN settings, so be prepared to re-enter them — it may be best to save this as a hail Mary method. 

9. Contact Your Carrier

If you've tried all of the above and you're still seeing the "call failed" message, it might be time to get in touch with your carrier. They can check for any network issues or restrictions on your account that might be causing the problem.

The Bottom Line

No doubt about it—call failed errors are annoying. Hopefully, this article helps solve the problem. However, if you continue to encounter call failures, it might be time to switch cell phone carriers or upgrade your phone. To find and compare the best phone deals at your current carrier to promos at other carriers, try our free, unbiased Phone Deal Finder below. It shows you the latest offers on the phone you want from top service providers, including AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Xfinity, Spectrum, UScellular, Cox Mobile, and Optimum Mobile. Here’s to saying goodbye to "call failed’ messages and hello to clear, uninterrupted calls!

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