Carrier Settings Update: what it is and how to check for it

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.