• June 5, 2023

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If your iPhone suddenly can’t make or receive calls, or send and receive texts, you’re not alone. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman tweeted that this problem has affected him. Here are all the details of what’s gone on and how to solve it.

It’s an eSIM bug

The issue is not restricted to just T-Mobile, it seems, but that’s how Gurman experienced it, on his iPhone. The particular circumstances show that the bug in question is deactivating FaceTime and iMessage on the iPhone. Gurman said:

“There is a very nasty iPhone and @TMobile bug where iMessage and FaceTime for a device’s phone number will randomly deactivate and there is no way to reactivate it.”

We use our phones for so many things these days, it’s sometimes possible to forget that calls and SMS are still at their core—until these features are suddenly missing. And it’s worth noting that other features such as Mail were unaffected by this bug. So, what did he do?

A new SIM card…

Gurman explains: “The only solution that worked for me is getting a new physical SIM card. An extremely disappointing issue.”

A new SIM card does seem rather extreme. Gurman says that other solutions arose, too.


Or a new eSIM?

He was told that removing the eSIM account from the iPhone and setting up again could also work. As he points out: “But that’s complex for most people and shouldn’t need to ever to be done. Not being able to send and receive texts is obviously not ideal. Not ‘it just works.’ ”

I guess that’s true, though I’d also say that if you’re tech-savvy enough to have set up the eSIM on your iPhone already, you can probably work out how to do the fix. Even so, as he says, it’s a situation which is not ideal and at least one person on Twitter has replied to Gurman saying the eSIM update solution didn’t work for them, and that only “the physical switch has worked so far.”

Gurman’s solution came from T-Mobile, whom he thanks: “Thank you to the T-Mobile store rep who was able to quickly activate a physical SIM for my phone. But this shouldn’t have been an issue in the first place. They said others have come in with same issue and that Apple wasn’t able to resolve.”

Which is perhaps why he didn’t go direct to Apple. As he says, “I’ll add that I personally went direct to T-Mobile, rather than Apple. Unfortunately had to assume Apple would be unable to solve the issue. There isn’t any troubleshooting they’d offer that I didn’t already try.”

Which iPhones and iOS versions does it affect?

It’s not clear yet whether this is an iOS issue or not, but Gurman believes that it’s been around since at least iOS 15.4. “For those asking, this issue for sure has existed on iOS 15.4, 15.5 and 15.6 beta 1. Potentially earlier too, but that’s all I can confirm right now.”

Reports of issues seem to be affecting iPhone 13 series models, presumably because those were the first phones where there was no longer a requirement for a physical SIM card—previously you could add an eSIM to have two numbers on one iPhone, but one of them needed to be a physical SIM.

One thing’s certain, Apple, which will have been looking into this issue before will now be escalating things to find a solution as soon as possible. If you’re affected, it seems a physical SIM switch is the best bet until a proper fix is found.

All of which makes me think we might well expect a surprise iOS 15.5.1 update rather sooner than later.


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