There are lots of reasons why you might not be able to send text messages from your iPhone (many of which we address in our article on Quick fixes for iMessage problems on iPhone). However, if you are seeing an error message suggesting that iMessage on your iPhone is “Waiting for activation” or “Activation unsuccessful”, we have the solution here.

If you see any of the following error messages you may need to activate iMessage again. This may be the case if you have recently changed network supplier or got a new iPhone.

  • Waiting for activation
  • Activation unsuccessful
  • An error occurred during activation
  • Could not sign in, please check your network connection

Here’s what to do if you aren’t able to send text messages because iMessages isn’t activated.

  1. First check to see if you are able to access the iMessage service. Open a text message conversation with a friend who also uses an iPhone and look to see whether there is a silver logo of a mic beside the text field in Messages or a green logo with an arrow.
  2. If you are seeing a green icon despite this usually being someone you converse with over Apple’s iMessage (the text bubbles will be blue if that’s the case) that suggests that some how iMessage has been turned off or deactivated. This might have happened if you recently changed network supplier, or if you got a new iPhone.
  3. To check if iMessage has been deactivated go to Settings > Messages and check to see if the slider beside iMessage has been switched off (you probably didn’t do this if you are wondering how it happened).
  4. Tap on the slider to activate iMessage again. You may have to wait a while while iMessage is activated This can take up to 24 hours.
  5. If that didn’t work try turning off and restarting iMessage and FaceTime (both apps use the same servers, so if one doesn’t work the other probably doesn’t work either).
  6. Go to Settings > Messages and turn off iMessage.
  7. Then go to Settings > FaceTime and turn off FaceTime.
  8. Now turn off your iPhone (you can read how to turn off your iPhone here - the process is different deepening on which model you have).
  9. Restart your iPhone by pressing the side button (or the button on top of the iPhone if you have an 4.7in iPhone).
  10. Now go back to Settings > Messages and turn on iMessage.
  11. And go to Settings > FaceTime and turn on FaceTime.
  12. Again, you may have to wait up to 24 hours for the services to activate.
  13. If you are still locked out of iMessage after 24 hours, you should do the following:
  14. Check that your version of iOS is up to date (find out which is the latest version of the iPhone operating system here).
  15. Contact your mobile phone network or carrier (e.g. EE, O2, 3, or Vodafone) to check that you can receive SMS messages.
  16. When we were confronted by the iMessage activation problem we ended up contacting EE who quickly sent a text message to us that confirmed they had updated our settings wiht the latest services. We then had to delete that message, turn the iPhone off and on again, and magically iMessage started working again.
  17. If even your carrier is unable to fix the problem, contact Apple for help. It is possible that the problem may be device - rather than account - specific; we once couldn't activate iMessage on an iPad but then successfully set it up with the same Apple ID login and password on a new iPhone. That's not hugely helpful, but it may good to know that you can still use iMessage on a different device while working through the problem with Apple support.