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What Does SOS Mean on iPhone and How to Turn it Off

What Does SOS Mean on iPhone and How to Turn it Off

“SOS” is a shortened form of “Save Our Souls” or “Save Our Ship” – depending on the situation. An SOS feature in electronic devices is usually associated with getting emergency help. For instance, if you press a certain button on a smartphone, it will allow you to get in touch with emergency services quickly and easily.

In an iPhone, users can activate the SOS feature by pressing the volume button or the side button. After activation, a countdown timer appears, accompanied by a siren. The emergency services will then be contacted. Note that this feature is available on devices with iOS 11 and later versions.

Of course, having the SOS feature is important, as you never know when it might come in handy.

What is SOS on iPhone?

As mentioned earlier, SOS is short for “Save Our Souls” or “Save Our Ship” and is often associated with emergencies. Carrying on with that chain of thought, the SOS function on iPhones is designed to make emergency services accessible quickly.

To activate SOS on iPhone, you can press the volume button or the side button. An alarm will start blaring, and then emergency services will be contacted. In medical emergencies, your Medical ID will be shared with the emergency services.

The SOS feature is highly useful in emergency cases like car crashes, injuries, accidents, medical emergencies, and any other life-threatening situations.

iPhone Switch Off Mode

Often, the SOS feature is confused with the emergency calls, probably because they both serve a similar purpose. However, there’s a slight difference – the SOS feature allows you to call for emergency services quickly and shares your location and Medical ID. Meanwhile, Emergency Calls enable you to call for help even when your phone is locked.

In iPhone 8 and the later models, you can activate SOS by pressing the side button and volume button – the emergency slider appears, which you can drag to call for help. Alternatively, you can keep on pressing the two buttons until the countdown starts and emergency services are called automatically. In iPhone 14, when no cellular network or Wifi is available, emergency SOS can be used via satellite.

How to Turn Off SOS on iPhone

Just like any other feature on your iPhone, the SOS function can be customized or turned off. Here’s a rundown on how to turn the SOS feature and Automatic Emergency calls off –

iPhone Emergency Settings

  • Head over to the Settings App > Emergency SOS
  • Turn the “Call with Hold and Release” and “Call with 3 Button Presses” options off as well if you don’t want automatic calls to emergency services after the siren countdown

If you don’t want to turn off SOS completely, you can toggle the “Call Quietly” option on. This will eliminate the flashes and sirens and allow you to call the emergency services quietly.

Instagram Call Settings

Now, there can be multiple reasons why you may want to turn the SOS off –

  • Accidental calls placed due to pocket dials, children, or other reasons
  • Interruptions during meetings, school, etc.
  • Privacy concerns about sharing the location

However, even though the SOS and Emergency Calls may seem inconvenient, both serve an important purpose. For emergency purposes, you can consider these alternatives –

iPhone Medical ID Settings

  • Medical ID – You can set up your Medical ID through the Health App. Open the app > go to your profile > add medical details. The highlight of the Medical ID is that it is accessible even when your iPhone is locked. In emergencies, first responders can view your medical details (like allergies, special health conditions, etc.) to help you better.
  • Emergency Contacts – You can also add emergency contact numbers through the Health App. These contacts will be contacted if you are in life-threatening situations. Go to the Health App > Medical ID > Enter the contact numbers of the people you wish to be contacted
  • Third-party Apps – Lastly, you could download apps from App Store like Red Cross Emergency, CPR, and more for emergencies.

Troubleshooting SOS on iPhone

While the SOS on iPhone is usually smooth-functioning, there might be a few hitches here and there. Here are some common issues with SOS and a brief guide on how to fix them 

  • No siren upon activation – Ensure that your ringtone volume is turned up and your phone is not on “silent” mode
  • Emergency contacts did not get notifications – Make sure that your emergency contacts are correctly entered through the Health App. You can go to the Health App > Tap on your profile and open Medical ID > Click on ‘edit’ > Add emergency contacts
  • The screen is “frozen” – In case your screen is unresponsive, try restarting the device
  • Can’t share location – If you’re trying to share your location but the app is not letting you do so, ensure that the location permissions are enabled. Go to Settings App > Select Location & Services > Click on System Services > Toggle ‘Emergency Calls & SOS’ on

In case you accidentally trigger the SOS, you can click on the “stop” button or press the side button again. And if you want to prevent these accidents, you can either turn off the SOS feature or customize the settings. Go to the Settings App > Emergency SOS. Here, you can customize how SOS can be activated.

iPhone Emergency Settings

As far as automatic emergency calls are concerned, there can be a few hitches with them if you tinker with the settings. Here are some common issues with automatic emergency calls and some quick solutions –

  • If the automatic calls are not going through, run a check on whether the “Auto Call” feature is turned on in the SOS settings
  • If your emergency contacts received no calls, ensure that you have added contacts in the Health App
  • Ensure that the carrier service you are using supports emergency calls

Safety and Privacy Concerns

As mentioned earlier, the SOS shares your location and medical information in emergency situations. While some people may be skeptical about sharing these details, it is important to note that they might be necessary to save your life.

Here are some quick tips on how to SOS safely –

  • Pick your emergency contacts wisely. Add the people who live nearby, family members, friends, or co-workers who would come to your aid.
  • Practice using the SOS feature, so you would know how to use it in emergencies.
  • Use the SOS feature only when it’s needed, do not use it to raise false alarms or pranks. Additionally, try and prevent accidental activation.
  • Finally, if you’re concerned about your privacy, review and adjust the SOS settings to your preference.

Conversely, you might end up receiving an SOS call or message. In such cases, it is easy to be panicked as you have to act quickly, so here’s what you can do –

  • Try to confirm if the SOS call is genuine. You can call or text the person who sent it to confirm. However, note that you need to act quickly, and the person on the other end may not be able to call or text to confirm.
  • If it is a genuine call, you should note the location and take appropriate measures to help the caller.
  • If it is a false alarm, you can report the number to the authorities.

An emergency call – whether genuine or not – is sure to cause stress. You can ensure that there are no false alarms by customizing the settings. For example, you can turn off the auto-call option to avoid calling your emergency contacts.


What is the difference between SOS and emergency calls on iPhone?

While both SOS and Emergency Calls serve similar purposes, there’s a slight difference – SOS places automatic calls to emergency services quickly and shares your medical ID and location.Meanwhile, the Emergency Calls allow you to place calls to emergency services when your phone is locked.

How do I activate SOS on my iPhone?

Here’s a rundown on how you can activate SOS on your iPhone –

Step 1 – Head over to the Settings Step 2 Go to “Emergency SOS”

Step 3 – Customize settings for SOS and turn the toggles on Step 4 – Add emergency contacts

That’s it!

You can also set up your Medical ID to help you better in medical emergencies.

Can I customize the SOS settings on my iPhone?

Yes, you can choose what triggers the SOS feature, how it works, and who it contacts. You can change most of the settings. Just go to Settings App > Emergency SOS and adjust the settings.

How do I turn off automatic emergency calls on my iPhone?

Here’s how to turn the automatic emergency calls off – Step 1 – Open the Settings app

Step 2 – Go over to Emergency SOS

Step 3 – Flip the “Call with Hold and Release” and “Call with 3 Presses” options off That’s it!

What should I do if I receive an unexpected SOS call or message?

Here’s what you can do if you receive an SOS call or message –

  1. Make sure that you do not panic and understand what the emergency is
  2. Get in touch with emergency services if you have to
  3. Contact the person’s family or emergency contacts
  4. If it looks like an accidental call, ensure that the caller is safe

How do I troubleshoot problems with SOS on my iPhone?

In case there are glitches with the SOS, here’s what you can do –

  1. Check if your iPhone is connected to a Wifi or if you have a cellular network for the SOS to work. In iPhone 14 series, you can also use the satellite.
  2. See if the “Call with Hold and Release” and “Call with 3 Presses” option is enabled in the settings
  3. Make sure that location sharing is enabled
  4. Try restarting the device to alleviate any software issues

If you do not find a solution and the issue persists, get in touch with Apple’s customer support.

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