Everything You Need to Know About iOS Carrier Settings Updates

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If you’ve used an iPhone for any amount of time, you’ve probably come across a pop-up that asked if you want to update your carrier settings.

Of course, it’s an easy pop-up to ignore — particularly as it isn’t as persistent as Apple’s own iOS software updates can be. Another likely scenario is that you’ve hit the “Not Now” button in the prompt because you just weren’t sure what “carrier settings” were. Some iOS users might even be wary about the pop-up, thinking that it’s a type of malware or malicious attack.

To be fair, iOS is a bit vague about it. Unlike other device operating systems, there’s isn’t a ton of information within iOS about what carrier settings updates do. Because of that, here’s everything you need to know — and how to update manually, if you so choose.

Why Should I Update?

Put simply, carriers use the settings update to improve their network performance and occasionally add new features to iOS. It doesn’t matter if you have Verizon, AT&T, or one of the smaller, localized networks. In some cases, they can include network settings pushed out by Apple, too.

According to Apple, these updates can “improve cellular network connectivity and performance.” In addition, they can also “add support for features like VoLTE or Wi-Fi Calling.” Put simply, those specific updates aren’t included in iOS. Therefore, carriers have to push them out manually — via the carrier settings updates.

Unfortunately, it’s also a bit tough to figure out exactly what’s contained within the carrier settings update. As Recode points out, you’ll usually have to dig around on a carrier’s support site and find the appropriate support document to find out.

In any case, though it’s not as crucial as an iOS update containing a critical security patch, they can improve your device’s overall performance, so it’s a good idea to update.

How to Update Manually

Since the carrier settings update prompt doesn’t show up if you’ve hit “Not Now,” here’s how to update your carrier settings manually.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap on General.
  3. Tap on About.
  4. If there’s a carrier settings update pending, you’ll see the prompt show up.
  5. Just tap “Update” and it’ll install automatically.
  6. Alternatively, if you don’t see an update prompt show up, then your carrier settings are all up-to-date.

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