How to Fix ‘iPhone Unable to Activate’ Problem

Here in this post, you can get some simple and efficient methods to solve the “Unable to Activate – An update is required to activate your iPhone” issue.

Author Avatar Joy Taylor Last Updated: Apr. 03, 2023

Setting up an iPhone is normally a smooth process that can be completed in just a few easy steps. One of the first things you will have to do is to activate your device. This step can turn out to be very frustrating if the message ‘Unable to Activate – An update is required to activate your iPhone’ appears on the screen.

PhoneRescue for iOS – Fix All iPhone Errors Quickly

Free download PhoneRescue for iOS to 1-click fix all iOS system errors, including the “iPhone stuck on activation screen” error.

This can happen for a variety of reasons that are mostly related to WiFi connection and SIM card issues. Fixing this issue shouldn’t take too much time, and in this article, we are going to show you how to do it. So let’s get started.

Common Causes of the Error

“Unable to Activate – An update is required to activate your iPhone” message that may pop up during the device activation process, regardless of the iPhone model you have. iPhone 13 Pro Max owners as well as the people who have one of the iPhone’s dual SIM models may encounter this message more frequently, than the owners of older iPhone models.

Here are some of the reasons why you may be having difficulties activating your iPhone.

  • Activation Lock isn’t disabled.
  • One or both SIM cards are not inserted properly or they are not supported by iPhone.
  • Your iPhone is locked to a mobile service provider.
  • The mobile carrier is having technical difficulties.
  • The activation server may be temporarily unavailable.
  • Your device isn’t connected to the Internet.

Each of these issues can be resolved easily, so you shouldn’t panic because chances are that this is only a temporary problem that can be fixed quickly. However, you’ll need to determine what caused this issue, before you can take appropriate steps to resolve it.

Fixing the ‘iPhone unable to activate’ issue isn’t a difficult task and you’ll probably fix it in just a few moments. Let’s take a look at how you can do that.

Make Sure the SIM Card Is Properly Inserted

Activating an iPhone without a SIM card can be a highly technical process, and you shouldn’t initiate it if you haven’t inserted a SIM card into the device.

Take extra care to position the card properly on the SIM card tray, as the device may not recognize it if it’s not placed into the appropriate slot correctly. In case you have a dual SIM iPhone, you should ensure that both SIM cards are in place before starting the device activation process.

If the message iPhone unable to activate’ pops up on the screen, you can try taking out the SIM card tray, checking if the cards are in place, and putting it back. If the issue persists, you should find out if the SIM card you have is compatible with your device.

One-Click Fix the ‘iPhone Unable to Activate’ Problem

PhoneRescue for iOS is an efficient tool that helps its users restore their iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch while avoiding the loss of data. Besides repairing the operating system, you can also recover data from a factory reset iPhone, remove locked iPhone screen, etc.

With PhoneRescue for iOS, you can fix errors as iPhone stuck in DFU mode, iPhone stuck on the black screen, iPhone stuck on Apple logo, iPhone stuck on verifying restore, etc. Check some of PhoneRescue for iOS main features below, and you can follow the steps listed to solve the ‘iPhone unable to Activate’ problem.

PhoneRescue for iOS – iPhone Repair Tool

  • Rescue iPhone from 130+ common issues.
  • Won’t erase or leak your iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch data.
  • Recover iPhone data from device itself, iCloud and iTunes backup.
  • Remove screen lock and screen time lock easily.

Free Download100% Clean & Safe

Free Download100% Clean & Safe

Free Download * 100% Clean & Safe

Step 1. Get PhoneRescue and Connect iPhone

Get the latest version of PhoneRescue for iOS on your Mac or Windows PC. Go to Device Rescuer and tap Repair iOS System. And, make sure your iPhone is connected to the computer.

Choose the Repair iOS System Mode

Choose Repair iOS System

Step 2. Select Repair Mode

Please choose a repair mode. The Advanced Mode will restore iPhone to normal and won’t erase existing data.

Select the Advanced Mode

Select the Advanced Mode

Step 3. Get Matching Firmware

Follow the on-screen instructions to enter recovery mode. And, click the Download button below to get a matching firmware for your iPhone.

Download Matching Firmware

Download Matching Firmware

Step 4. ‘Unable to Activate’ Fixed

Once the firmware is downloaded, PhoneRescue will start repairing. Once you see iOS repairing completed page, your iPhone will be restarted normally.

iOS Repairing Completed

iOS Repairing Completed

Be Patient and Wait for A While

Sometimes the best thing to do when this message appears during the device activation process is to do nothing. Apple’s activation servers may be overwhelmed at times, after the launch of a new version of the iPhone or following a new system update. You can check the system status, at this link.

Restart Your iPhone

In case the ‘Unable to Activate – An update is required to activate your iPhone’ message appears once you try to activate your iPhone, restarting your device may resolve the issue. You should hold the Home and Sleep/Wake buttons to restart older versions on iPhones.

In case you have iPhone 13, 12, 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, X, XR, XS this process is somewhat different as there is no Home button. You can find the precise instructions on how to restart your iPhone at Apple’s support webpage.

Check If the Activation Lock Is on

This issue can only occur if the device you’re trying to activate belonged to someone else before you. An Activation Lock may still be on as the device is still attached to the previous owner. To resolve the issue, you will have to insert the Apple ID and password that were already used on the device.

Optionally, the previous owner can remove the device from their iCloud by logging into the Find My iPhone app. Also, if you can prove that the iPhone now belongs to you, you may seek assistance at the Apple Store or AppleCare.

Check if Your iPhone is Locked

If your iPhone is locked to a specific mobile network, you may not be able to use the SIM card of another network. So you should unlock the previous network first so that you can use it with the SIM card of the new carrier.

Connect to a Reliable Wi-Fi Network

If you are using cellular, you can switch to Wi-Fi and try. Because the network of cellular is generally not very stable. It should be noted that please ensure that the Wi-Fi you connect to is reliable, if it is a public network, then there may be a risk of privacy information leakage.

Install the Update for iOS with iTunes

An iPhone can be activated through iTunes, even if you don’t have a SIM card, although it may take some time to complete the task successfully. Make sure that you have the latest version of iTunes installed on your computer, and update the software if it is outdated.

Step 1. Launch iTunes on your computer, then turn off the iPhone you want to activate, use a USB cable to connect it to a computer, and then switch on the device.

iTunes should launch automatically as soon as you connect your iOS device to the computer, but if this doesn’t happen for whatever reason, you should simply double-click on the iTunes icon.

Step 2. As soon as iTunes detects your iPhone it will ask you to go through the activation process.

Alternatively, you can click on the Activate your iPhone that is located on the left side of the iTunes’ interface.

Step 3. Proceed to log in to your Apple ID and click Continue to complete the activation process.

Contact Apple/Carrier Customer Support

Getting in touch with either Apple’s or your mobile carrier’s customer support is your best bet if you still cannot activate your iPhone after trying all of the solutions for this issue we covered in this article.

Your device may have a hardware problem that is preventing you from activating it, but you should be able to replace your iPhone if the warranty period didn’t expire.

The Bottom Line

Although seeing the ‘Unable to Activate – An update is required to activate your iPhone’ while you are trying to set up the device can be unpleasant, fixing this issue shouldn’t be too hard. Ensuring that the SIM cards are in the correct position and that your iPhone has access to the Internet can reduce the chances that you will encounter this message. The most useful tool is AnyFix, if you have tried all the methods but still can’t solve the problem, just download PhoneRescue to fix it!

Free Download

Free Download

* 100% Clean & Safe

Free Download * 100% Clean & Safe

Author Avatar
Joy Taylor Twitter Share Facebook Share

Senior writer of the iMobie team as well as an Apple fan, love to help more users solve various types of iOS & Android-related issues.

Back to Top Icon