MobileTips & Tricks

My phone says emergency calls only. What should I do?

One of the most common issues that Android users deal with is “Emergency calls only”, which doesn’t allow you to make any calls or use any other network-based functionalities of the handset. Technically speaking, you’re not able to use some basic features and this can be very frustrating.

However, like any other common issue of an Android smartphone, there are a couple of fixes you can apply, no matter the phone you have.

We’ve put together a complete guide with solutions you can apply if your phone says emergency calls only, suitable for any Android-running handset. Without much further ado, let’s see how you can get rid of this problem!

Check if your subscription payment is up to date

Some users completely forget about paying their bills sometimes and the carrier disconnects them from the network. Basically, in this case, it’s not a technical issue, as the phone is running smoothly.

Before considering a potential fix, make sure that you’ve paid your subscription. If you haven’t, do it right away, then send your carrier the confirmation, in order to be quickly reconnected and use the phone at its full capacity immediately.

Select your carrier manually

If your subscription is ok, you can try connecting to the network manually. Sometimes, the carrier changes some settings, causing the network to disconnect. I’ve been through this myself a few times and applying this tip helped me.

In order to do this, simply follow this path: Go to Settings > Wireless and Networks > Mobile Networks > Network Operators. It can vary a bit, depending on your phone’s manufacturer, but on most Android handsets it’s exactly like this.

Here, you will find a list of the carriers available in your country. Select the one you’re using and give the phone a few moments, until it connects back.

Toggle the Airplane Mode

Enabling this mode disables all broadcasts and cell reception of the phone. Just swipe down the notification bar, enable the mode, then disable it after a few seconds. Wait to see if the phone connects to the network now.

Restart the phone

Sometimes, a simple restart cand solve a lot of things. Power down the phone, leave it for a few seconds, then turn it back on. See if the network is working properly now.

Check the position of the SIM card

If the previous method doesn’t work, your SIM card could be misplaced, so it’s not making a perfect contact with your device, hence leading to the situation in which your phone says emergency calls only.

This can happen after dropping your phone or dealing with another type of impact. Turn it off, remove the SIM tray and make sure the card is positioned correctly in its slot. After this, power on the phone and see if the network is still misbehaving or not.

Check your SIM for any potential damage

Still no luck? In this case, take the SIM card off the phone again and see if it’s in good condition. If you’re using it for a few years, it could be damaged. Make sure that the connectors are clean and there’s no dirt and debris on it. Also, see if there’s a problem with the connectors on the phone itself if you’re using a model with a removable battery and the slot for the card is right under it.

In case you find something which can affect its good functionality, try cleaning the place with a soft eraser or a cotton bud and rubbing alcohol.

Additionally, in order to make sure that there’s nothing wrong with the SIM card itself, ask a friend with a SIM from the same carrier to use theirs on your phone, and vice versa. You will be able to figure out if the card or the phone is to blame for this situation.

Change the Network Mode to GSM Only

Even though they are considered outdated and slow, 2G networks are some of the strongest still available. And they can be a solution if your phone says emergency calls only.

In order to use them, you need to follow a path in the menu, but again, it’s different, depending on your phone’s manufacturer. Try one of the following:

  • Settings > Mobile Networks > Network Mode
  • Settings > Data usage, then tap on the Menu icon from the upper-right corner

Here, select Cellular Networks > Preferred Network Type and Select GSM Only. Give your phone a few moments and see if it connects to the network or it keeps showing the same message.

See if the Fixed Dialing feature is enabled or not

There’s a special feature Android has, allowing you to dial just numbers that are on a specific list. It’s recommended to see if it’s enabled or not, as this could be the thing causing your problem.

Go to Settings > Call > Additional Settings > Fixed Dialing Numbers. Here you can see if it’s enabled or not. If it is, disable it by entering your PIN2 code, then press OK. The phone might require a reboot for the change to be applied.

Check the status of your network

Obviously, let’s not ignore the scenario in which your phone says emergency calls only because of a network-related problem.

And the good part is that you can check for any interruptions either on your carrier’s website or a social media account since updates are posted there more often. On the other side, you can use a service like downdetector, which keeps you updated about the status of some of the major services and networks.

Use a special patch

First thing first: this is a fix that works just with rooted phones, so if your phone is not rooted, you can skip it.

We’re talking about the Ariza Patch, able to fix issues with certain Android devices’ modems. It has proven efficient on some Samsung phones, so you can give it a try.

In order to try this solution, follow these steps:

  • Download Busybox
  • Make sure that the option to install apps from unknown sources is checked in Settings > Security
  • Download the Ariza Patch, available on XDA Developers
  • Install Ariza on your phone, then open it
  • Select the patch option
  • Reboot after the installation is over

See if the issue persists after this.

Factory reset the phone

If you’re unlucky enough and your phone says emergency calls only even after performing all these potential fixes, you can try a factory reset as well, in other to completely rule out a software issue.

Make sure you have a full backup of your data before starting. In case you don’t, go to Settings > Backup and Reset and wait until it’s ready and synced to your Google account. After this, follow these steps:

  • Go to Settings and look for the System menu, then tap on it
  • Choose Reset option
  • From here, select Erase all data (factory reset)
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the page and look for Reset phone, then select it
  • Enter your device’s PIN
  • Select Continue
  • Select Erase everything
  • Wait until the process is over and the phone reboots

Again, like in other cases, these steps could be slightly different, depending on the phone.

Contact your carrier

So the issue persists… Try calling your current carrier and explain the situation, including all the steps you’ve gone through. They can offer a replacement SIM card or even a new phone if it’s actually a hardware issue and the device is still covered by warranty.

Take the phone to a service

If it’s indeed a hardware problem causing this, but the device is not under warranty anymore, you can take it to a service and see if it can be fixed. In most cases, it’s a damaged antenna causing everything, so you can get that part replaced.

Hopefully, you will find a solution for this phone-saying-emergency-calls-only problem in our guide and resume using it normally. Also, if you know something else that works in a situation like this, do tell us, by using the comments section below!


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