What Does SOS Mean on iPhone? Exploring the SOS Feature on Your iPhone: Definition and Step-by-Step Guide

Have you ever wondered about the SOS feature on your iPhone and what it means? In times of emergency, your iPhone can be a lifesaver, thanks to the SOS functionality built into the device. 

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In this complete guide, we will delve into the meaning of SOS on the iPhone, how it works, and the steps to activate it when you need it.

What Does SOS Mean on iPhone

Understanding SOS on iPhone: A Quick Overview

SOS on iPhone stands for "Save Our Souls" or "Save Our Ship". It is an internationally recognized distress signal that has been integrated into modern technology for emergency situations. When activated, it allows users to quickly and discreetly request assistance from authorities or emergency contacts.

When and why would you use iPhone SOS?

The SOS feature of your iPhone comes into play during critical situations where you need urgent help. This can include medical emergencies, accidents, dangerous situations, or when you need immediate assistance. Instead of fumbling with your phone to make a call, turning on the SOS feature provides a quick and efficient way to call for help.

Activate SOS on iPhone: Step-by-step guide

1. Quick Wake: On iPhone 8 and later, quickly press the Side button (or Power button) five times in a row. This brings up the Emergency SOS slider.
2. Auto Call: After sliding the Emergency SOS slider, your iPhone will automatically call emergency services. Please note that this action will vary depending on your location, as it connects you to the appropriate local emergency number.
3. Alert emergency contacts: If you've set up emergency contacts in your Health app, your iPhone will also notify them with a message containing your current location.

How to disable emergency SOS

If you no longer want Emergency SOS to be activated, you can disable it in your Settings. Go to Settings > Emergency SOS and turn off "Call on hold".

What does "Only SOS" mean on iPhone?

If you see the words "SOS Only" in the status bar of your iPhone, it means that you have no cellular connection and can only make emergency calls. This can happen if you are in an area without cell service or if your iPhone's cellular radio is turned off.

To fix the "SOS Only" problem, you can try the following:

Check your cellular settings to make sure your iPhone is connected to a cellular network.
Turn on your iPhone's cellular radio if it's turned off.
Reboot your iPhone.
Update your iPhone software.
Contact your carrier for help.

Customizing SOS settings

To tailor the SOS function to your needs, you can customize the settings, such as whether your iPhone plays a loud siren sound during the SOS call and shows your emergency contacts on the lock screen.


The iPhone's SOS feature is more than an acronym; it is a powerful tool that can make a significant difference in critical situations. Understanding how to use it and being prepared can save valuable time and potentially even lives. Whether you are a frequent traveler, a parent, or someone who values safety, knowing how to activate and use the SOS feature on your iPhone is essential.

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The next time you see SOS on your iPhone, you'll not only know what it means, but also how to use it effectively in times of need. Stay safe, stay informed, and keep your iPhone ready for SOS.

Remember, technology isn't just about convenience; it's also about providing reassurance and support when it matters most. The SOS feature on your iPhone is a testament to that commitment.