How to Update Your iPhone Carrier Settings

iPhone carrier settings update

Most of us are familiar with the window that pops up on our iPhone screen every so often telling us that there's a new version of the iOS available for download. But what about the notification saying that there's a new carrier settings update? Wonder no more: learn all about the carrier settings update in this article.

What Are iPhone Carrier Settings?

In order to connect to a cellular network, the iPhone needs to have a series of settings that allow it to communicate with, and operate on, the network.

 The settings control how the phone makes calls, how it sends text messages, how its gets 4G data, voicemail access, and more. Each phone company has its own carrier settings. 

RELATED: How to Upgrade iOS on Your iPhone Without Connecting to iTunes

How Are They Different From an OS Update?

An OS update is a much bigger, more comprehensive update. The biggest versions of OS updates—like iOS 9 and iOS 10—introduce hundreds of new features and major changes to the interface of the iOS. The smaller updates fix bugs and add more minor features. Updates to the OS are sweeping and affect the foundation of the entire phone.

RELATED: 10 Fantastic Features of iOS 10

Carrier settings updates, on the other hand, are just very small tweaks to certain settings and can't change anything other than how the phone works with a given wireless network.

How Do You Update Your iPhone Carrier Settings?

Updating your carrier settings is simple: when the notification pops up on your screen, tap Update.

The settings will be downloaded and applied almost instantaneously. Unlike with an OS update, there's no need for your phone to restart.

You can usually postpone installing most carrier settings updates by simply tapping Not Now.

However, in some cases (usually due to security or major network upgrades), carrier settings updates are mandatory.

In those cases, the update is automatically downloaded and installed. A notification with just an OK button in it lets you know that's happened. 

RELATED: How to Configure Push Notifications on iPhone

Can You Check For New Carrier Settings?

There's no button that lets you check for a new carrier settings update the way you can check for a new version of the iOS. Usually, the carrier settings notification just appears. However, if you know there's one available and it hasn't popped up, try the following:

  1. Tap Settings
  2. Tap General 
  3. Tap About
  4. If there's an update, the notification that lets you download it should appear now.

You can also prompt a carrier settings upgrade by inserting a new SIM card into your phone that's connected to a different network than the previous SIM. When you do that, you'll be given the option to download the new settings.

RELATED: All About the iPhone SIM Card

Can You Manually Update Your Carrier Settings?

Yes. In most cases, the automated notification will do everything you need. If you're using an iPhone on a network that's not one of Apple's official, supported partners, you may need to configure your settings manually. To do that, read Apple's article About cellular data network settings on your iPhone and iPad.

Can You Find Out What's In A Carrier Settings Update?

This is harder than you'd expect. With iOS updates, Apple generally explains—at least at a high level—what's in each iOS update. With carrier settings, though, you won't find any screen that gives the same explanation. Your best bet is to Google to find information about the update, but chances are, you won't find much.

Luckily, carrier settings updates don't carry the same risk as iOS updates. While an iOS update can, rarely, cause problems with your phone, it's virtually unheard of that a carrier settings update can cause any problems.

When you get the notification of an update, your best bet is generally to install it.

It's quick, easy, and generally harmless.