Can't Make Or Receive Calls?

When your phone stops doing its job, try these tips

Woman using cell phone.

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When you can neither make or receive calls, even if you're still seeing missed calls and voicemail notifications, you've got a problem. There are a many reasons for this behavior, but in most cases, it's not difficult to fix.

If you can make outgoing calls, but your phone isn't ringing when you get an incoming call, that's a separate issue. Fix your Android phone if it isn't ringing.

Why Your Phone Can't Make or Receive Calls

There are many easily solvable issues that can cause this issue. It could be that you're in arrears on your monthly bill, you're in a dead spot (rare, but still happens) or you've left your phone in airplane or Do Not Disturb mode. If none of these are the case, it's probably something more serious, such as physical damage or malware.

  1. Verify that you're in network. While relatively rare, dead spots still abound. You may encounter this when underground (in a basement or on mass transit) or in a remote area. Reception issues also can happen if you're near the border of another country, and your phone thinks you're roaming.

  2. Make sure that airplane mode is not on. When this mode is enabled, mobile networks are disabled, and incoming phone calls are sent to voicemail. If Wi-Fi is on, you can still surf the web and send messages using data, though. Pull down from the top of the phone's screen to access Quick Settings or go to Settings > Network & internet > Airplane mode. Make sure airplane mode is disabled.

  3. Check that mobile data is enabled. To check, go to your phone's Quick Settings or Settings > Network & internet > Mobile Network. If you're connected to a network, you should see your carrier's name, such as AT&T, Boost Mobile, or Verizon. If not, it might say not connected or roaming.

  4. Contact your carrier. Have you paid your bill? Even if you have auto-pay set up, that can fail due to problems with your bank or a technical glitch. Your carrier should alert you to this, but it may be via snail mail. If there isn't a payment issue, technical support help you check for other problems, or alert you to an area outage.

  5. If none of the above is the problem, restart your phone. Doing so fixes many problems even the most mysterious.

  6. Sometimes malware hits Android phones. There are a few steps you can take to remove malicious apps from your device. Rebooting your phone in safe mode is a good way to identify issues.

  7. Perform a factory reset. This can take care of removing malicious apps and other problematic data, but make sure you've backed up important data before doing so.

  8. If all else fails, the issue might be due to hardware damage. Contact the manufacturer or carrier to find out if it's worth repairing, or how to get a replacement. If you can, bring your phone to a local store so the tech can conduct some troubleshooting.

Once you’ve figured out the problem and fixed it, do a security audit on your device. Check that it has the latest security updates, uninstall unused apps, and only download apps and files from trusted sources, like the Google Play Store.

Need More Help?

These issues can occur on any Android smartphone, regardless of the operating system or manufacturer. However, the layout of the settings app varies depending if it's running stock Android or a modified version from Samsung or another company. Most newer Android devices conveniently have a search function in Settings.