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Fix: “Activation unsuccessful” error with iMessage

imessage activation unsuccessful

Apple’s flagship instant messaging app iMessage has been a part of Apple’s ecosystem for the past decade. An upgrade over the previous SMS and MMS technology, allows users to share not only text and images but videos, contacts, calendars, and much more. If you’ve got a new iPhone or are upgrading to a newer model chances are you would have come across a problem or two. One of the frequent troublemakers is the “Activation Unsuccessful” alert from your iMessage app.

What causes the “Activation unsuccessful” error with iMessage

Apart from the above-mentioned cause of upgrading or getting a new iPhone, the iMessage “Activation Unsuccessful” error could also be due to changing your mobile or internet service carrier. The cause is almost always a software one so going to an apple store won’t do you much good as you can easily fix the problem by the following methods we have listed below.

1. Check your internet connection

One of the first things you should check is that you have a steady Wi-Fi connection to your device. In most cases the Wi-fi connectivity is poor and iMessage is unable to connect and sync with Apple’s server. If you have any other Wi-Fi device available go to your Settings->Wi-Fi then put in the password of the other device.

If you’re not at home or the issue persists you can also check using your cellular data. To do this go to Settings > Cellular and toggle on the Cellular Data option and see if that makes a difference.

2. Update to the latest iOS version

Keeping your device’s firmware up to date is essential. The reasons are rather simple — keeping your device stable and bug-free. Usually, updates are administered automatically and users are prompted to install updates.

However, sometimes you’ll need to check for the updates automatically. To fix this go to Settings > General > Software Update. Make sure you’re connected to Wi-Fi beforehand. If an update is available, it will ask you to have more than 50% charged or to plug in your charger. Fulfill any of these two conditions and your update will begin. You should note that you won’t be able to use your phone while installing the update.

3. Reboot the device after switching off iMessage

iOS may be the best mobile operating system out there, but it’s still not perfect. A small bug may just be the cause of your concern and an old yet quick simple fix may be what it requires.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Go to Settings >Messages.
  2. Toggle off the iMessage option.
  3. After this clear your RAM by double-tapping your home button and swiping up all the apps open there.
  4. Then push the left side button up until a pop-up displays Slide to power off. Swipe across the screen.
  5. Wait at least 30 seconds for it to reboot.imessage activation unsuccessful
  6. Power it back on using the left side button.
  7. Now head back again to Settings >Messages
  8. Toggle on the iMessage option.

4. Check the time

If you would have gotten a new iPhone or maybe a used one, chances are its default time is different from your local time. To verify iMessage and a lot of other apps Apple will sync the current time of the device with your current local time. If they are different, you may get an error message such as Unsuccessful Activation among many others.

To get rid of this:

  1. Go to Setting > General > Date and Time.
  2. Toggle off the Set Automatically option.imessage activation unsuccessful
  3. Then you should input your current time correctly.
  4. After this, toggle on the Set Automatically option.

Your iPhone and local time should now be in sync.

5. Inspect your cellular plan

Apple needs to send you a one-time SMS to verify iMessage for you. The SMS that Apple sends you is not visible but exhibits encapsulation and abstraction principles, and the phone automatically confirms the verification without notifying you, the user.

For Apple to send this SMS from their server to your iPhone they utilize the SMS feature of your carrier service. You should contact your carrier service to check whether you have SMS services included in your phone plan. If not, then you should get your carrier to set them up.

6. Check your pre-paid credit

If SMS service is available on your current phone plan maybe you’re using your current carrier service with a pre-paid plan. If you’re on a pre-paid plan and you are getting the “Activation Unsuccessful” message in your iMessage app chances are there may not be enough of a top-up to enable Apple to send you a verification SMS.

To solve this, you will need to add more money to your pre-paid account until it is sufficient for Apple to send you the verification email and enable iMessage.

For now, this is as much you can do on your own. If your issue still remains unsolved after our extensive guide you should contact Apple support. In case you have any comments, questions, or new suggestions that may help others, make sure to write them down in the comments below.

Picture of Aleksandar Ognjanovic

Aleksandar Ognjanovic

Managing editor at Mobile Internist. @lemmingspain My fascination with mobile technology, particularly Android and iOS, began years ago and continues today. I'm captivated by the constant evolution in the smartphone industry and its impact on our daily lives, always anticipating the next big innovation. That’s the main reason why I found myself writing instructive content on the subject for users who are not as familiar with all the bells and whistles.
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