What to do if Galaxy J3 keeps showing “Emergency calls only” bug, won’t send or receive SMS, or can’t make calls

Today’s troubleshooting article addresses a common issue among many #GalaxyJ3 owners. As described by one of our readers below, the issue has something to do with J3 device being intermittently getting “Emergency calls only” error. If you’re one of the unlucky owners of a J3 that keeps showing “Emergency calls only” bug, this post might help.

Before we proceed, we want to remind you that if you are looking for solutions to your own #Android issue, you can contact us by using the link provided at the bottom of this page. When describing your issue, please be as detailed as possible so we can easily pinpoint a relevant solution. If you can, kindly include the exact error messages you are getting to give us an idea where to start. If you have already tried some troubleshooting steps before emailing us, make sure to mention them so we can skip them in our answers.

Today’s problem: Galaxy J3 “Emergency calls only” bug, won’t send or receive SMS, can’t make calls

Hello. So this just happened out of the blue a few days ago. My phone had no issues outside of storage issues every once in a while (some apps couldn’t run because I had no room on my phone), but otherwise no problems.  Now however, my phone will not send texts or make phone calls. Half the time it says emergency calls only (and this is in places I had service before), the other half of the time it looks fine but won’t send texts and will drop the call before it even rings (it won’t even tell me I don’t have service, it just never connects the call). Half the time, the call/text will drop but I’ll still be able to browse the internet, the other half of the time everything shuts down (no internet, no calling, wifi works but nothing relating to my service does).  A restart fixes everything. Emergency calls only goes away, phone will send texts and calls, data comes back and I can browse back to full speed. While I am using my phone this is not a problem. Calls won’t drop, and if I’m actively texting, messages will go through. This usually happens when I’m not using my phone for say like an hour or so. If I only browse without text/call, I lose that. If I text/call but don’t browse, I lose my browsing. Restarting is the only way to fix this. It’s very annoying, and I don’t understand why I have this issue. It doesn’t appear to be a service issue since everything works while I am using it, and I don’t know if it’s a phone issue, since restarting my phone fixes everything. Any ideas? Anyone else have this issue? Also, I have Walmart Family plan with T-mobile.  — Sam

Solution: Hi Sam. Being unable to send or receive SMS and having Emergency calls only message from time to time is usually an indicator of a network problem. In some cases though, it’s also due to a faulty radio or an unknown software bug. For this reason, we want to help you  isolate the cause by discussing all the possibilities.

It’s good to hear that restarting your device “fixes” the Emergency calls only bug and the rest of the issues but since its effect does not really last that long, it’s obviously not a permanent solution. There must be other reasons why your J3 remains problematic. Below are the other possible solution options that you can try.

Clear the cache partition

Android uses a special set of temporary files called system cache in order to load apps efficiently. Sometimes, this cache gets corrupted after an update or app installation. Such a situation may potentially lead to bugs and annoyances when Android starts using a corrupted system cache. To check if your phone is having a cache-related issue at this time, try to clear the cache partition. Here’s how:

  1. Power off your Galaxy J3. Press and hold the Power key, tap Power off and then touch POWER OFF to confirm.
  2. Press and hold the Volume Up key and the Home key, then press and hold the Power key.
  3. When the device logo screen displays, release only the Power key
  4. When the Android logo displays, release all keys (‘Installing system update’ will show for about 30 – 60 seconds before showing the Android system recovery menu options).
  5. Press the Volume down key several times key to highlight ‘wipe cache partition.’
  6. Press the Power key to select.
  7. Press the Volume down key to highlight ‘yes’ and press the Power key to select.
  8. When the wipe cache partition is complete, ‘Reboot system now’ is highlighted.
  9. Press the Power key to restart the device.

Ensure your device has good signal

In a lot of cases when “Emergency calls only” bug, the main reason is weak signal reception or no signal at all. In your case, try to check if there are certain areas where the bug usually shows up, as that can be the reason why you keep on getting it all the time, even for areas that were previously showing good signals for you. It’s possible that these areas may now have become dead spots due to signal interference.

Ideally, anything lower than 3 signal bars is not ideal. If your phone only shows 2 bars or a single signal bar in these areas, this must be the main reason for the problem. If you can, only send SMS and make calls in areas where you have excellent signal coverage.

Reseat the SIM card

Network problems like the one you’re having are sometimes due to faulty SIM card. At times, a quick SIM card removal can fix things up so be sure not to skip this simple troubleshooting step.

Before you remove the SIM card, be sure to turn the phone off first. Afterwards, carefully remove the SIM, wait for a few moments, then re-insert it.

Reseating the SIM not only addresses possible poor physical connection between the SIM and the phone but also resets your device’s network configuration anew. Some network bugs are fixed this way so hopefully, this one will take care of the problem.

Turn off fixed dialing feature (if you’re using it)

Some users were able to successfully fix “Emergency calls only” bug by shutting dialing feature down. If you’re using it at this time, try not to use it and observe your phone for a day without it. If “Emergency calls only” bug won’t show up, then it’s most probably an issue with fixed dialing. Talk to your carrier about it.

Check your balance, account

We don’t think you’re on prepaid subscription but if you are, make sure that you have enough balance and that your account is in good order. This is most likely not applicable to you but just to be on the safe side, you can also ask advice from your carrier whether or not they do cut lines when there’s outstanding balance for some time.

Toggle Airplane Mode

Toggling Airplane Mode on and off can sometimes fixed all types of network bugs. To turn Airplane Mode on and off:

  1. On the Home screen or any screen, pull down the notification bar.
  2. Look for the Airplane Mode button and tap it to activate.
  3. Wait for 30 seconds before turning Airplane Mode back off.

Let your J3 try to connect to other networks

Another good way to refresh the network configuration on your J3 is to force it to search for available networks and to connect to the one that’s not your own. This will temporarily deregister your device from the network as it attempts to establish a link with a third party network. This handshake with another third party will of course fail and once it does, that’s the time that you register the device again to your own.

Here’s what you need to do exactly:

  1. Open Settings app.
  2. Tap Connections.
  3. Tap Mobile networks.
  4. Tap Network operators.
  5. Tap Search networks.
  6. Wait for your J3 to search for networks.
  7. Once it’s done searching, select another network to connect to. For example, if you’re on T-Mobile, pick AT&T or any other network.
  8. Your phone will be forced to return with an error because it won’t be able to register successfully.
  9. Afterwards, select your own network again and see if your device will now be able to re-register.

Reset network settings

Another possible solution that you can try in this case is to reset the network settings on your J3. This will directly reset your all of your phone’s network configurations so there’s a fair chance that it will work. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Open Settings app.
  2. Tap General management.
  3. Tap Reset.
  4. Tap Reset Network Settings.
  5. Tap RESET SETTINGS button.

The steps above will reset wifi, mobile data, and bluetooth settings. This means that you’ll have to enter wifi passwords, re-pair Bluetooth devices, or re-enter VPN credentials again.

Return all software settings to defaults

In case the event is software-related, you should wipe the phone so that all settings will be reset to their defaults. Factory reset will erase your personal data so be sure to create a backup before you do it.

To factory reset your J3:

  1. Turn off the device.
  2. Press and hold the Volume Up key and the Bixby key, then press and hold the Power key.
  3. When the Android logo displays, release all keys (‘Installing system update’ will show for about 30 – 60 seconds before showing the Android system recovery menu options).
  4. Press the Volume down key several times to highlight “wipe data / factory reset.
  5. Press Power button to select.
  6. Press the Volume down key until ‘Yes — delete all user data’ is highlighted.
  7. Press Power button to select and start the master reset.
  8. When the master reset is complete, “Reboot system now” is highlighted.
  9. Press the Power key to restart the device.

Contact your carrier support

Finally, if nothing changes after a factory reset, that means that the problem may be account- or network-related. Be sure to contact your carrier so they can troubleshoot the problem on their end.

 


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