The error message “The iPhone could not be activated because the activation information could not be obtained” is one of the most challenging and frustrating malfunctions you will encounter on the iPhone.
For one, it takes time to diagnose since it could be caused by a wide range of factors. Therefore, you have to try different fixes before you get the one that works. Fortunately, we have all the possible solutions listed below. Be sure to check them out.
What does it mean when your iPhone is unable to activate?
Whether you’re trying to activate a new iPhone or a restored one, the process might fail because of the following issues:
- The Apple activation server is down or unavailable
- Your network connection is weak.
- Unsupported SIM carrier or bad SIM installation.
- Issues with the mobile carrier.
- Bad installation of the iOS firmware
- The activation lock is enabled
Now that you know why iPhone can’t be activated, you should proceed to the fixes.
1. Check the Apple System Status
Go to Apple’s systems status page and look for “iOS Device Activation”. If the light next to it is green then the system is active so you should be able to activate your iPhone.
However, if you see a red or yellow light, that means the Apple servers are busy or the Activation service is unavailable temporarily. Wait for it to turn green before you try again.
2. Reboot your iPhone
A simple reboot of your iPhone is known to solve many system glitches and malfunctions—including an activation error. Here is a guide of how to reboot and force restart different iPhone models:
How to restart iPhone X and later models
- Press and hold any of the volume buttons and the side button simultaneously.
- Release both of them when you see the power off slider.
- Drag the slider to shut down the iPhone.
- Wait for 30 seconds.
- Press and hold the side button to turn On the device. Release it when you see the Apple logo
If the device has frozen, force restart it using the following steps:
- Quickly press and release the Volume Up button.
- Quickly press and release the Volume Down button.
- Press and hold the side button until the Apple logo appears.
How to restart iPhone SE (2nd Generation), 8, 7, and 6
- Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button on the side until the power off slider appears.
- Drag the slider to the right to switch off the iPhone.
- Wait for 30 seconds before you press and hold the Sleep/Wake button.
- Release it when you see the Apple logo.
For an unresponsive iPhone, use the following guide to force restart it:
- iPhone SE (2nd generation) and 8: Quickly press and release the Volume Up button, repeat the same for the Volume Down button, then press and hold the Sleep/Wake button until you see the Apple logo.
- iPhone 7: Simultaneously press and hold the ide Button and the Volume Down button until the Apple logo appears.
- iPhone 6s and previous generations: Simultaneously press and hold the Home Button and the Side Button until the Apple logo appears.
How to restart iPhone SE (1st Generation), 5 and earlier models
- Press and hold the top button until the power off slider appears.
- Drag the slider to shut down the phone.
- Wait for 30 seconds.
- Press and hold the top button again.
- Release it when you see the Apple logo.
If it’s unresponsive use the following guide to force restart:
- Press and hold the Home button and the Top button simultaneously until you see the Apple logo.
3. Check your SIM card
You need to inspect your SIM card for issues. To start with, remove the tray and check if the SIM card fits properly. Next, put the tray back and close it completely. If that doesn’t work then you should try a different SIM card.
Reach out to the SIM carrier and tell them about your problem. They can check if the problem is with their product or systems and patch it up.
4. Check your network connection
A good network is important for your iPhone to activate successfully. So, whether you’re using cellular data or a Wi-Fi network, make sure it’s strong and stable. In case the error message showed up while you were using cellular data, switch to a Wi-Fi connection and try to activate again.
You can even connect to another Wi-Fi network, provided it’s not public, or tell a friend to connect you to their mobile hotspot.
Lastly, try and restart the Wi-Fi router and turn Off any VPN service that’s configured to the router.
5. Check the activation lock
When the activation lock is turned On, you’ll be asked to enter a password during activation. Now, if you know the password, enter it and proceed to turn off the Activation lock in Find My iPhone.
But, if the iPhone belonged to somebody else, you’ll have to ask them to log in to the Find My iPhone app from where they are then remove the iPhone from their iCloud. Once they finish, try and activate the iPhone to see if the error message will appear.
6. Activate using iTunes or Finder
Make sure you get the latest version of iTunes or MacOS before you proceed with this fix. Those with MacOS Catalina should use Finder while those who have macOS Mojave or earlier and PCs should use iTunes. Next, connect to a stable internet connection.
- Launch iTunes or Finder.
- Turn OFF your iPhone and connect it to the computer with a USB cable.
- Switch On the iPhone.
- Your device will be detected immediately.
- You will see a prompt on the screen that lets you start the Activation process.
- The other option is to locate your iPhone on the left-hand pane of the screen then select “Activate”.
- Log in with your Apple ID to finish the activation.
7. Update using Recovery Mode
You could also try to update the iPhone using recovery mode. Here is the best guide to follow:
- First, update your iTunes and macOS.
- Launch iTunes and connect your device.
- Put your iPhone into recovery mode.
- For iPhone 8 and later models: Quickly press and release the Volume Up button then Quickly press and release the Volume Down button, and to finish, press and hold the Sleep/Wake button until the recovery mode screen appears.
- For iPhone 7 and 7 plus: Simultaneously press and hold the Side button and the Volume Down button until the recovery mode screen appears.
- For iPhone 6s and earlier models: Simultaneously press and hold the Side button and the Home button until the recovery mode screen appears.
- Locate your device on the screen.
- Between “Restore” and “Update” select “Update”
- Wait for the update to finish, then set up your iPhone.
8. Use DFU (Device Firmware Update) Restoration
This is almost similar to the recovery mode but more comprehensive. It uses the following guide:
- Launch the latest iTunes on your computer.
- Close any other active programs so that they don’t interfere with the DFU process.
- Connect your iPhone to the computer using a lightning cable.
- For iPhone 8, SE (2nd generation), and those with face ID: Press and hold the side button for 4 seconds then press and hold the Volume Down button also. Keep pressing both of them for 11 seconds. Release the side button and continue holding the Volume Down button for 5 additional seconds. You will see a black screen.
- For iPhone 7 and 7 Plus: Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button for at least 5 seconds. Press and hold the Home button immediately. Hold both buttons simultaneously for 10 seconds. A black screen should appear.
- For iPhone 6S and earlier models: Press and hold the lock button for 3 seconds before you press and hold the Home button too. Release the lock button instantly but continue pressing the Home button for 5 more seconds. You should see a black screen.
- Locate your iPhone on iTunes.
- Click on “Restore iPhone”.
- Don’t disconnect your phone until the DFU restore process is done.
9. Contact Apple Support
If you’re still getting the alert that “the iPhone could not be activated because the activation information could not be obtained” then it’s time to contact Apple Support. You could be dealing with a hardware problem that can only be solved by a qualified Apple technician.
Visit your nearest Apple Store with the iPhone and let them look at it.
That sums up how to activate an iPhone while you keep getting activation error messages. The solutions have been tried, tested, and proven to work for different iPhone users. Hopefully, they work for you too. When that happens, be sure to tell us about it in the comment section.
Alex is an IT technician who shares his experiences with Apple devices occasionally. He has a collection of Apple devices (from iPhone 4) and has recently started trying out Android.
IG: @I M_Alex