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What To Do When Your Phone Says Emergency Calls Only

It can seem there’s a gremlin in your phone, sometimes. It decides when to work and when to work your nerves.

Let’s troubleshoot what to do when your phone says emergency calls only, so you don’t throw it into the river (especially when you really do need it to work).

Why does my phone go to emergency calls only?

Android phones, especially, are prone to throwing an emergency calls-only error. And, we’re very well not going to call 911 and ask them how to fix our phone.

The likely issue is that, for whatever reason, your phone isn’t connecting to the network.

What to Do When Your Phone Says Emergency Calls Only

We don’t know why a cell phone disconnects from a network, but we do know ways you can fix it.

Turn It Off and On

You’ve probably already done this. But, just in case. Rebooting a phone disconnects all networks at once, giving it a better chance of coming back and acting right.

  1. Touch and hold down the power button.
  2. Select Restart from the menu.

Soft reset

Turning your phone off and on may not be enough to wake the Android up.

  1. Unplug your phone from the charger.
  2. Remove the battery.
  3. Wait 30 seconds to a minute and reinsert the battery.

Airplane Mode

Half of all people have no idea why airplane mode even exists, and the other half forget to turn it off.

Turning airplane mode off and on your Android is one of the first fixes you should try to get past the emergency-only screen. It sometimes resets your network connection.

  1. From the top of the Android screen, pull down.
  2. Touch Airplane mode to enable.
  3. Take a ten-second wait.
  4. Choose Airplane mode again to turn it back off.

How do I turn off emergency mode on Android?

If you’ve called 911, even by accident, your Android assumes you’re in trouble and shuts it all down. And, just like airplane mode, sometimes it’s activated by accident.

  1. Take the battery out while the device is on.
  2. Let it stay out for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Put the battery back in.
  4. Turn the phone back on.

You can go through menus and manually turn the emergency mode off. But the softer reset automatically resets your device.

Make an Outbound Call

Sometimes your phone or device is lying to you. We don’t know why. But we do know that every once in a while, making a regular phone call will wake your Android up and clear the Emergency Calls Only error.

SIM Card Trouble

A SIM card is such a tiny thing and can cause a giant headache if it wiggles loose or is improperly inserted. You need it to connect to the network and resolve the no-service error.

  1. Pull the SIM tray out.
  2. Carefully take the SIM card off of the card slot. 
  3. Slip the SIM card into the slot properly.
  4. Gently push the train back into your cellphone.

Multiple Networks

Androids can support multiple networks because it’s always looking for the best quality network coverage. If a service provider doesn’t allow you to use your preferred network mode, it may throw your phone off.

  1. Open settings on the Android phone.
  2. Select Wi-Fi and Network.
  3. Choose SIM and Network.
  4. Touch Preferred network type.

Manually Select the Network Provider

We are back to the fact that Android devices love to decide the relevant network. 

You can manually choose your network carrier to try and clear up an Emergency Call Only error.

  1. Open settings.
  2. Choose Wi-Fi and Network menu.
  3. Select SIM and Network, and choose your SIM.
  4. Touch Network Operators in the SIM menu.

Just Reset the Network Altogether

Connections can get corrupted, or your Android can once again make the wrong decision. Either way, sometimes resetting the network will get you out of the Emergency Calls Only loop.

  1. Tap Settings.
  2. Touch System and then Reset options in the Settings menu.
  3. Choose Reset Wi-Fi, Mobile, and Bluetooth in the reset menu.

Factory Reset as a Last Resort

A factory reset is the last thing anyone wants to do but in many cases, it is the one thing that will for sure eliminate the Emergency Calls Only error. 

  1. Touch Settings.
  2. Navigate to System and then Reset Options.
  3. Choose Erase all data – factory reset.

If it doesn’t work, it’s the phone, and we are sorry.

Cellphone Bill

Of course, if you’re not in good standing with your network provider, they aren’t going to let you do anything but make emergency phone calls.

Even with Wi-Fi access, SMS and phone calls are not possible.

How do you fix your phone when it says emergency calls only?

  • Turn your Android device on and off.
  • Double-check that you’ve not accidentally activated airplane mode.
  • Try to call someone you know; it may rid you of the emergency calls only error.
  • Make sure the SIM card is installed correctly.
  • Your phone may be connecting to multiple networks.
  • You can manually go in and choose your network provider.
  • Reset network connections, including removing corrupted connections.
  • Factory resets are painful but sometimes required.

FAQs about Emergency Calls

Why is my Android phone going straight to voicemail?

It is way too easy to turn on the Do Not Disturb (DND) option on an Android. It only takes a few seconds to check and fix. Just swipe down and select the Do Not Disturb icon.

Why won’t my phone make or receive calls?

It could be one of the same reasons why it throws an Emergency Calls Only error. You will follow the same steps to try and resolve the issue of not being able to make and get phone calls.

How do I get my phone to ring?

You will want to go to Settings and tap Sound or Sounds and Vibration. From there, you will tap the Phone Ringtone or Ringtone option in the menu.

Why am I not receiving calls but can make them?

Well, the good news is that your phone, network, and phone line are active and working. 

The bad news is that it’s a software or configuration problem if you’re making calls and not receiving them.

By AlwaysReadyHQ Team

Pinterest // Email

Location: Atlanta, GA, USA

The AlwaysReadyHQ Team is made up of writers and editors with experience ranging from emergency paramedics to former FEMA policy writers to natural disaster reporters.

Our goal is to provide clear, concise, organized, realistic, and actionable information to help you and your family feel comfortable and ready for anything. Less scared and more prepared.

We only source from authoritative sources such as government agencies and industry associations to bring reliable information to directly to you.

Andrew Riley - Contributing Editor

Andrew grew up in a country known for earthquakes, volcanoes, and typhoons. But despite the chaos and destruction of natural disasters, he remembers the resilience and readiness of neighbors, despite a lack of official government aid. He hopes that his team of experienced writers bring a bit of that to all of AlwaysReadyHQ's readers.