Unable to Activate, an Update Is Required to Activate Your iPhone? Here’s the Fix

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This is a step-by-step guide on how to fix the “An update is required to activate your iPhone” error.

There are many reasons why your iPhone could be experiencing this issue. However, the most popular of all is if you’ve recently updated or reset your iPhone. 

So, if this problem started after a new iOS update or reset, then this article is for you.

What does it mean when iPhone says unable to activate?

If you’ve recently updated your iPhone to a new iOS and you get the “Unable to Activate. An update is required to activate your iPhone” prompt, it’s due to one of the following;

  • Faulty network or Wi-Fi connection.
  • iPhone activation server unavailability, perhaps due to congestion.
  • Using a wrong carrier that prevents you from unlocking your iPhone.
  • The iPhone is locked to a previous user.
  • The iPhone is not recognized and cannot be activated.
  • Failed verification of your device by iTunes

Whatever the cause is, the good news is that there is a fix. Yes, you can get rid of the “Unable to Activate. An update is required to activate your iPhone” prompt on your screen, and get your phone working.

1. Check Apple Status Page

Apple status page

This is the easiest and most straightforward fix on the list. Go to Apple Status Page to check if Apple’s servers are down or having any issues.

All you have to do is wait for a while and try again. Hopefully, the Apple servers will be less congested and ready to process your request.

2. Force Restart your iPhone

This fix will work if the issue is due to software bugs or crashes.

For iPhone 7, iPhone 6s, and earlier models, you can force restart your device by:

  • Holding the Sleep/Wake button and the Home Button (or the volume down button on iPhone 7/7 Plus) simultaneously for around 10 to 15 seconds.
  • The Apple logo should appear on your screen. When this happens, release the keys and wait for your device to boot normally.

For iPhone 8 or later models, here is how to force restart your device:

  • Press and quickly release the Volume Down and Volume down buttons.
  • Follow this up by pressing and holding the Side/Wake button.
  • Release the button when the Apple logo appears, and wait for your device to boot correctly.

For all iPhone models, follow this guide for step-by-step instructions on how to force restart an iPhone.

3. Eject your sim and reinsert

SIM Card slot on a table

Removing your sim and reinserting it may fix this problem. Here is how to do this:

  • Locate the SIM tray.
  • Insert a paper clip into the tiny hole and press.
  • Withdraw the pin once the tray pops open.
  • Withdraw and insert your SIM card.
  • Alternatively, remove the SIM and turn off the device.
  • Reinsert the SIM and turn on your device.

Your iPhone should now boot without the error prompt.

4. Fix the network connection

You may get this error prompt if your network is preventing gs.apple.com from working on a few ports.

So, connect to a new Wi-Fi source or switch to a cellular connection. Ensure that the new connection, either the Wi-Fi or cellular network, is reliable. Then try the activation again.

5. Lock or Unlock your SIM status

If the activation error says your SIM card is unsupported, it is most likely because you want to activate a new carrier on a locked iPhone.

It may also be because you just bought the iPhone from your carrier, and it has not been unlocked. Here’s how to find out if your phone is unlocked.

If this is the case, get in touch with your carrier and request a direct unlock of your iPhone and SIM Card. This should fix the problem.

6. Use Finder or iTunes to reactivate your iPhone

Reactivating your iPhone through Finder or iTunes can fix the problem of your device not activating after iPhone. Follow the steps below to reactivate via iTunes:

  • Reboot your phone.
  • Connect your phone to Finder or iTunes if you’re using a Windows computer.
  • Choose your device from the list of devices.
  • Locate the “Activate your iPhone” option on the iTunes app.
  • Type in your Apple ID and password.
  • Click “Continue” to activate your device.

This should activate your iPhone. Just wait while it reboots properly.

7. Update/Restore your iPhone using Recovery Mode

The error may be due to the need to install an update other than your regular iOS update package. You should be able to do this via your iPhone settings.

But if your iPhone is unbale to check for update, you’ll need to force your phone to install the update package by putting it in recovery mode and updating/restoring it with iTunes.

  • Put your iPhone into recovery mode.
  • On your computer, run the iTunes and let it detect your device in recovery mode.
  • There are two options on detection – Restore or Update.
  • Do both.

Restoring and updating your iPhone with iTunes should fix this error.

If none of the above helps you, you may want to make a Genius Bar reservation.

Photo of author
Herby has a healthy obsession with all things technology, especially smartphones. He loves to rip things apart to see how they work. He is responsible for the editorial direction, strategy, and growth of Gotechtor.

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