Being unable to activate iPhone after updating, restoring, factory resetting, or even getting a new iPhone 14 would be a massive disaster. It says “An update is required to activate your iPhone”.
What’s worse, when connecting to iTunes, you only get the message “The iPhone could not be activated because the activation information could not be obtained”. This is extremely frustrating because it seems to lose the last hope of accessing your phone. Luckily, different solutions can be used to fix this problem and they are worth trying before you go to Apple Store.
Force Reboot iPhone
A force reboot is one of the simplest methods that can be used to get rid of the abnormal state of iPhone. It doesn’t take very long and you only need to press and hold a series of different buttons. This restart feature is mainly used when your phone isn’t responding. Each iPhone has a different reboot method so follow the steps below for your specific model:
iPhone 8 or above: Press and quickly release the volume up button. Then, press and quickly release the volume down button. Then, press and hold the side button. When the Apple logo appears, release the button.
iPhone 7: Press and hold both the volume down button and the sleep/wake or side button at the same time. When the Apple logo appears, release both buttons
IPhone 6, iPhone SE, or earlier models: Press and hold both the sleep/wake up button and the Home button at the same time. When the Apple logo appears, release both buttons.
When these steps are followed, your phone will restart and hopefully get rid of that error message “An update is required to activate your iPhone”.
Use Old SIM Card to Activate iPhone
This is another simple method because it doesn’t take many steps to complete. Many people have definitely put a SIM into an iPhone before especially when setting up a new iPhone. However, ensure you follow the steps below so that the method has a higher chance of working.
- With your phone turned off, use the SIM-eject tool or a paperclip to press into the pinhole. When you hear a click take the tool out and the tray should pop out slightly.
- Pull the tray out and take the SIM card out of it. Use a piece of soft cloth and alcohol to clean the tray.
- Get your old SIM card and put it onto the tray. Make sure the SIM card is put in correctly.
- When the SIM card is in the tray as straight as possible, slide the tray back into the phone and it should click.
Turn on your iPhone again to see if your iPhone will show “Unable to Activate. An update is required to activate your iPhone” or not.
Check Internet Connection
If your internet connection is poor, then your phone may struggle to operate properly which can result in an error message. Your phone will need a stable connection to activate your iPhone so ensure that you are connected to WIFI or strong 4G. Follow the steps below to improve your internet connection:
- Look at the top of your device screen to see how stable your connection is. If you are connected to either mobile data or WIFI and all of the bars aren’t full, then you may need a stronger connection.
- To do this, either switch from WIFI to mobile data or the other way round depending in what is more stable.
- If this isn’t working, connect to your WIFI and stand closer to your router or modem.
When you have a stable connection, force restart your iPhone and check whether it can pass the screen “Unable to Activate. An update is required to activate your iPhone”.
Check the Apple System Status
Apple provides a support page with real-time status information for its services, stores, and iCloud. Each individual system is monitored and will indicate whether or not there’s a problem. If you see a yellow icon before the server, it means there are some issues with the server. If you see “Resolved issue” coming after the server, it means there were some issues with the server and they just resolve them.
These problems can affect certain devices so this can be the cause of the error message “An update is required to activate your iPhone” on your iPhone and “The iPhone could not be activated because the activation information could not be obtained” on iTunes. If you have a problem like this, you will just have to wait until Apple fixes it. The Apple System Status website is https://www.apple.com/support/systemstatus/.
Remove Your Device on iCloud.com
Activation Lock on your iPhone prevents people from resetting or activating a device without knowing the iCloud account information. This is a very good security measure however, it can cause problems when you’re trying to activate your phone. You can try removing your device from iCloud to see if the activation will be smooth or not. Follow the steps below to remove your device from iCloud:
- Go to https://www.icloud.com/find.
- Sign in with your Apple ID and password.
- At the top, click All Devices.
- Select the device that you want to remove from iCloud.
- Click Remove from Account.
When this is done, go back onto your device and force restart it to see if there is the error message “Unable to Activate. An update is required to activate your iPhone”.
Update or Reinstall iTunes
To update or restore your device smoothly, you will need the latest update of iTunes. If you don’t, this can cause some problems when communicating with Apple’s server and result in the activation error message – “The iPhone could not be activated because the activation information could not be obtained”. Sometimes updating iTunes doesn’t fix it so you may have to reinstall the whole software. Follow the steps below to update iTunes successfully:
- Open up the iTunes app and from the menu bar at the top, choose Help.
- From the Help section, choose Check for Updates.
- If an update pops up, click on it and follow the prompts to install the latest version.
If the update doesn’t go smoothly, then you will have to reinstall iTunes.
- Click Start.
- Then search Settings and open it.
- Find Apps and open Apps & Features.
- Uninstall iTunes and its components including Apple software update, Apple mobile device support, Bonjour, Apple Application Support 32-bit, and Apple Application Support 64-bit. If you cannot see these components, just uninstall iTunes.
- Restart your computer. Then download and install iTunes from Microsoft store or Apple website.
Now, connect your device to the computer and update or restore your device again to see if iTunes pop up the message “The iPhone could not be activated because the activation information could not be obtained” or not.
Use Recovery Mode or DFU Mode
Recovery mode and DFU mode are used to update or restore your iPhone when you have a problem with it. They are your last solutions to refresh the iOS when your iPhone cannot reboot. You may try recovery mode first. If it doesn’t resolve the problem, try DFU mode.
Follow the steps below to use recovery mode:
- If you’re using Windows, make sure you have the latest iTunes installed. If you are using Mac, make sure your macOS is up to date. On a Mac with macOS Catalina, open Finder. On other MacOS, open iTunes.
- Keep your device connected.
- Press some buttons on your device. These are the exact same ones that you press for the solution “Force Reboot iPhone”. Don’t release the button when you see the Apple logo until the recovery mode screen appears. You can also check this guide.
- Once it enters recovery mode, you will be offered 2 options, Update or Restore, sometimes only one option Restore. Update option will save the data on your device. Restore option will erase everything. Choose an option according to your own needs.
When the Update or Restore process is finished, set up your device to see if you are able to activate your device or not.
If you try DFU mode, check this guide to make your iPhone enter DFU mode. The other steps are similar, but you will only be offered with Restore option when iTunes detects your device.
Hopefully, these 2 methods will help you bypass the error messages “An update is required to activate your iPhone” on your iPhone and “The iPhone could not be activated because the activation information could not be obtained” on iTunes.
Use a Third-party Tool
The last method you can try before turning to Apple specialists for help is trying a system repair tool. Although Recovery Mode and DFU Mode via iTunes/Finder can fix almost all the software problems of iPhone, sometimes the process may fail because of iTunes problems or other unknown issues. Using third-party tools usually makes a difference.
You have many options for this purpose, such as iMobie AnyFix. The best part of this tool is that the System Repair feature can also fix iPhone software problems without data loss. It offers 3 modes for fixing iOS problems, which makes it better than other tools. Hope you can fix the activation problem of your iPhone by yourself without going to the Apple store.
Check Hardware at Apple Store
This is the last resort because there might be some unknown hardware problems with your iPhone. For example, your baseband CPU is damaged, so iPhone can’t read IMEI and without it there is no avenue for activation.
If none of the other solutions work, call up Apple and explain the problem. Hopefully, they will be able to sort it out if you send your phone off to them or bring it into the store.
Hopefully, one of these solutions has fixed your problem. This error doesn’t occur very often so you shouldn’t have to experience it again.