Messages on my iPhone is still waiting for activation

You just got a new iPhone, have upgraded your plan or changed provider. Everything is fantastic but cannot get iMessage to send texts for free. You don’t understand why you keep having issues with iMessage sending as a regular SMS. The text message bubbles are green instead of blue! Even if you have tried turning iMessage on and off directly on your iPhone’s Settings, there are a couple of steps you should follow to solve this.

Why is iMessage still waiting for activation? To start using the iMessage protocol — the stuff that allows your iPhone to send texts for free to other iOS and OS X users — you will need to use an email address, your mobile number or both. The email option is the simplest as you only need to enter your Apple ID email, which you probably have used already to set up a new device or activate the multiple iCloud, App Store and iTunes features.

How to send SMS from iMessage

To start using a mobile number with iMessage it will need to be verified in Apple’s servers. This is only to check if that number is associated to any other account and to give you access to any existing message history. If your iPhone is experiencing difficulties getting your mobile number verified you will get a small print in grey “Waiting for activation…”

The quickest solution is to disable iMessage and activate it from scratch. For this process you will need to be connected to a Wi-Fi network. Depending on your mobile provider you will also need sufficient credit to send an international SMS. In my experience your iPhone will send a text SMS to an Apple number in Ireland to trigger the mobile number verification. You don’t get any confirmation or error message so please make sure you carrier is allowing this.

After ensuring our device is connected to a Wi-Fi network and that we can send international SMS, the next step is to disable Messages and FaceTime. Tap on the Settings app → Messages → turn off iMessage. Return to Settings → FaceTime → turn off FaceTime. Now restart your device pressing and holding the sleep/wake button and drag the slider on the screen to turn it off. Press the same button again to turn on your device.

Now that we have restarted the device, we will need to enable iMessage and FaceTime again. This will trigger a new phone verification and you will see the “Waiting for activation…” message momentarily. At this stage you only need to tap on Settings → Messages → Turn on iMessage, and Settings → FaceTime → Turn on FaceTime. You will not receive any confirmation that your number is active and that the configuration has been successful. Instead of “Waiting for activation…” text you will see “iMessages can be sent between iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac. Learn More…”. You should be able to test the service is active sending a new message to a friend you know has iMessage active.