Carrier Settings Update

From time to time, you might see a Carrier Settings Update message pop up on your iPhone, saying that new settings are available, and asking if you would like to update them now. Admittedly, this message is somewhat cryptic, and doesn’t give you any information regarding what’s included in the update or where it’s coming from. Maybe even worth, I’ve had a friend ask me once if his iPhone got hacked as the message looked suspicious to him. In this post, we’ll tell you more about carrier settings updates, what they are, and how to check for them.

What is a Carrier Settings Update?

The good news is, this is not a sign of suspicious activity on your device and you don’t have anything to worry about. This is a legit message coming from Apple or one of its carrier partners (i.e. AT&T in the US).

On its website, Apple describes Carrier Settings Updates as such:

Carrier settings updates are small files that can include updates from Apple and your carrier to carrier-related settings, such as network, calling, cellular data, messaging, personal hotspot, and voicemail settings. You may receive notifications from time to time to install new carrier-settings updates.

In short, these updates, coming from Apple or your carrier are pushed to improve anything related to cellular on your device.

Carrier settings updates are particularly necessary when switching SIM cards in your iPhone. For example, if you travel to France and use a local SIM card, your iPhone might need to download carrier settings for the local carrier you are using.

Apple notes that these carrier settings updates are only available for partner carriers, so if you use a SIM card from an unofficial iPhone carrier, you will likely never see such an update.

As far as I know, there is no way of knowing what is included in carrier updates. You may try your luck contacting Apple or your carrier, but I doubt it will get you too far.

How to check for a Carrier Settings Update

More often than not, your iPhone will automatically prompt you to update your carrier settings. But you can also manually check whether there is an update available for your device.

Step 1: Open the Settings app on your iPhone.

Step 2: Go to General > About. If there is an update available, you should see a prompt appear on your screen. You will then have the option to update right away, or to update at a later time. However, from time to time, there are mandatory updates where you don’t have any choice. In that case, you will only see an OK button instead of the Update button, letting you know that an update was downloaded and installed.

As an alternative, you can also plug your iPhone in iTunes, and should there be an update available, iTunes will let you know.

Should you update your carrier settings?

When you see one of these prompts on your iPhone, it’s usually safe to update. In several years of blogging about the iPhone, I have actually never seen anyone mention a problem relating to a carrier update. If anything, these updates are there to make your device work better, or fix issues that might limit the cellular performances of your iPhone.

  • Marcus

    I didn’t get a carrier settings update message automatically or manually. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I got prompted with a carrier update. It’s been generations of iOS since. The last time I got one was probably iOS 6 or even late iOS 5. Do you think this has something to do with my jailbreak, Sebastien?

    • Blip dude

      Nope, got the VoLTE carrier update sometime last year while Jailbroken, so I don’t believe it has anything to do with it. Have you checked and see if your carrier settings are up to date??

    • Could be but I doubt it, especially because, to my knowledge, carrier settings updates have no impact on your jailbreak.

      Depending on your carrier and your OS upgrade history, you might not have to ever update manually. The last one I personally saw was when I got my iPhone 6 I believe, and I hadn’t seen one in a while before that.

    • mahe

      It has nothing to do with the Jailbreak, I’m pretty sure there was no update released for/from your carrier (and Apple).

    • Mrleblanc101 [5800+ post]

      Carrier setting update are automatticaly applied with iOS update ! i went from bell 19.0 to 20.0 while updating to iOS 9 beta 1

    • leart
  • mahe

    You can find the download link for a specific carrier bundle here:
    http://ax.itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/com.apple.jingle.appserver.client.MZITunesClientCheck/version

    Simply search for the provider you need 😉

    Then you can download the *.ipcc
    It’s a ZIP-file, so it’s easy to extract.
    In it you will find some *.plist files, well you should know how to deal with them.

    Don’t try to change these files, this won’t work because they are signed.
    If you want to install the update on your phone you can do it with iTunes.

    • Morgan Freeman

      Dude…you rock. Just wanted to say that. Been searching for 23.1 for T-Mo/Metro PCS for an iPhone 6S I’m about to buy….Metro hasn’t pushed the new carrier bundle for the 6S apparently and thus, visual voicemail and other things don’t work. Months old post…still relevant!!!! Thumbs up buddy!

    • leart

      thank you 😀

  • socrates

    Saw one for the first time yesterday morning after upgrading to the 9.0 beta.

    Seems as though these updates have potential to unlock your iPhone once your contract is up.

  • What if i am jailbroken then i can’t via OTA if any update even shows there.
    Any suggestions to update carrier settings for Jailbroken people ?

  • Alexander Sundiev

    Typo: maybe even worth. Should be: maybe even worse.

  • Yes it should be fine. IMEI unlocks are “official” unlocks. Once you’re in, you’re in no matter what.

  • Jacob Consiglio

    I had a T-Mobile carrier update mess up my 4g access. LTE was fine but I had to change my APN back to old settings to get 4g to work anywhere

  • Tyler

    I finally accepted my carrier update on my iPhone 6 while running iOS 9.2. This is the first carrier update I’ve ever seen. I was suspicious of it because I worried AT&T was going to manually tweak the way my data slows down once I hit different data caps due to my line still being grandfathered into an unlimited data plan wth my family. AT&T seems to be trying everything under the sun to get me off of it. Everything from store associates pushing new plans on me once they figure out my plan, to adding $5 onto just my line to try and get me off of it.

    If this is the case and they have actually changed the way my data performs I will be having a nice chat with AT&T. 🙂