Missing calls on your iPhone? Or finding that your iPhone calls go directly to voicemail, and don't know why? You're not alone.

In this article we discuss some simple issues that may be causing calls to be diverted to voicemail, and explain how to fix them.

1. Check for iOS updates

Before you start changing settings or hassling your network provider, it's worth checking that your iPhone software is up-to-date. From time to time It could be possible that an update will fix your issue.

This is a double-edged sword, however, because it's also possible that a recent update to iOS has actually caused the problem (if so, it should be patched soon).

When Apple updates iOS it's inevitable that some things will go wrong. Most of these should be picked up in the beta testing phase but a few will slip through to be patched at a later date.

When iOS 7 came out back in 2013, for example, some iPhones suddenly found that incoming calls were being directly transferred to voicemail. The option has since been disabled by default.

If you've noticed the voicemail problem since updating iOS, there's a good chance that the two things are related. Check for any new updates since then, which are likely to include a patch. Read more: How to update iOS on an iPhone.

2. Check you haven't turned on silent mode

Another possibility is that you have turned your phone to silent mode and are missing calls because you can't hear them.

Check the slider on the side of your iPhone and make sure that it's not muted.

Also go to Settings > Sounds & Haptics and check things like whether the sounds is at a reasonable leavel and that you have chosen a suitable Ringtone.

If you prefer to have the sound off you can check that your iPhone is set to vibrate when you get a call or text here.

3. Turn off do Not Disturb mode

Do Not Disturb mode may be the issue. This is a feature that Apple added in iOS 6 back in 2012. A new Do Not Disturb When Driving feature is coming in iOS 11.

Perhaps you turned the feature on by mistake, or turned it on and then forgotten about it. It may even have been switched on against your wishes by a glitch in iOS. Or, in the case of the new Do Not Disturb When Driving feature, it may have come on while you were in your car due to the fact that the feature is able to tell you are in a car if your iPhone has connected to the in-car Bluetooth, or because it is able to judge that you are moving at speed (we have yet to test this feature so it's not clear whether it will automatically switch down your iPhone if you are on a train, bus or just a passenger in a car, which would seem to be a bit of an oversight). 

Luckily you can easily tell if you've got Do Not Disturb switched on, because there will be a crescent moon icon in the top right of the iPhone's status bar, next to the Bluetooth and battery icons.

How to stop iPhone calls going to voicemail: Do Not Disturb mode

When Do Not Disturb is enabled, calls and alerts that arrive are silenced: that's the reason your calls are being diverted before you have a chance to answer them.

The quickest way to turn off Do Not Disturb is via the Control Centre. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to bring this up.

How to stop iPhone calls going to voicemail: Control Centre

The Do Not Disturb icon is in the top row: it's the crescent moon. Tap this and it will turn from purple (switched on) to grey (switched off).

In iOS 11, which at time of writing is available in beta and comes out officially in autumn 2017, Control Centre looks a bit different, and the precise controls shown are customisable - but you'll always see the Do Not Disturb toggle. It's the same as before: a crescent moon.

How to stop iPhone going straight to voicemail: iOS 11

Alternatively (although more slowly), you can turn it off via the Settings app. Open the Settings app and in the second batch of options underneath Notifications and Control Centre, you'll see a purple icon with that crescent moon and the words Do Not Disturb.

How to stop iPhone going straight to voicemail: iOS Settings

Click on that. Move the slider on Manual so that it's off - so there's no green on the slider.

How to stop your iPhone going to voicemail: Settings

Bingo! The moon should disappear from your iPhone status bar and you should start receiving your calls as they ring and not suddenly discover a bunch sitting unanswered in voicemail.

If you are trying to call a friend and you think they may have Do Not Disturb turned on there is a solution - read: How to tell if someone is using Do Not Disturb mode, and how to call them.

4. Check your network provider

Another reason why your phone might be going straight to voicemail is if your network is down or you are suffering reduced access.

In this case the fault lies with your network provider. But before calling to complain, turn your iPhone off and on again and check that doing so doesn't fix the problem.

Sometimes you can get a better signal just by turning Airplane Mode on and off again by swiping up and tapping on the plane symbol so that it's orange, which means the setting is on, and then again so it goes grey.

5. How do I stop my iPhone going to voicemail after just three rings?

This is a slightly different problem. Your voicemail isn't controlled by the iPhone itself, but by your network provider, and you have to adjust these settings by dialling your network and using a phone option.

First of all, check there isn't something weird going on with your network settings. Go to Settings > General > Reset Network Settings, then enter your passcode. This will ensure that you have the right settings for your network.

Whether you can change the length of time that the phone rings before going to voicemail depends on the network provider. Some, like Vodafone, enable you to change this using their automated system. Others require you to call up, or the amount is fixed.

Vodafone

Vodafone enables you to choose the length of time a phone rings before going to voicemail. According to the Vodafone instructions:

  • Enter **61*121*11*[Number of seconds]#

Then enter the number of seconds you'd like your phone to ring for (it has to be between 5 and 30 and a multiple of 5), followed by #.

For example, if you want to set if for 25 seconds, you'd enter **61*121*11*25#, then press call.

Vodafone will send you a text letting you know if this has worked.

Three

To adjust voicemail settings (including turning voicemail on or off) you need to call three on 333.

To turn off VoiceMail on the Three network, dial "333" and tap the "Keypad" in the Phone app. Press the the following buttons

  • 2
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 1
  • 1

You should get a text from Three stating that you have successfully turned off voicemail. To turn it on again go through the steps but change the last entry to "2".

O2

O2 has a direct line to turning voicemail on and off. Just dial the following numbers direct from your phone.

  • Turn voicemail off: 1210 
  • Turn voicemail on: 1750

Read next: How to manage voicemail on iPhone