How To Activate And Manage The Emergency SOS Feature On iPhones


We all know many of the quips and quirks that come with every iOS update. Some are useful and some not so. However, the Emergency SOS feature introduced in the iOS 11 update falls very much into the former, and you can activate it with ease in just a few seconds.

The Emergency SOS feature allows you to quickly call emergency services by clicking and holding a few buttons, without having to unlock your phone and dial any numbers.

Saving these few simple seconds can mean the difference between life and death, so it's a convenient feature to have ready at your disposal. Not sure what to do? Well, let us run through everything you need to know in case you ever need to use it.

Activating Emergency SOS For iPhone 8 Onwards

  1. Simply hold the side button and one of the volume buttons simultaneously for a few seconds.
  2. This will bring up the Emergency SOS icon in the middle of the screen.
  3. Hold the Emergency SOS icon, and the red circle on the left-hand side of the bar will start counting down (from 5 seconds), letting you know that it is about to make the call.
  4. Alternatively, you can skip the countdown by swiping right on the Emergency SOS icon as soon as it appears on the screen.

When making the call, your iPhone will automatically connect to the local emergency services of the country that you are located in. For example, in the United States – it would immediately dial 911 once the connection begins. When the call connects, the local authorities will also be alerted to your location.

Releasing the buttons will cancel the countdown, and pressing the cross icon at the bottom will take you back to the home screen.

Activating Emergency SOS For iPhone 7S & Earlier

For anyone using older devices (7S or older), it's a similar process. All you have to do is press the side button five times in quick succession. Once you've done that, you can follow the same procedure set out above.

Customizing Emergency SOS For Your Needs

There are some alternative options that you can set-up to suit your preferences. All these features can be found in the Settings menu under the Emergency SOS tab. Here's a brief description of each one:

One Button Option

If you ever find yourself in a delicate situation and need to be discreet, the "Call with Side button" option allows you to alter the way the process is triggered.

If this is activated, you just simply need to quickly press the side button five times (the default process when using an iPhone 7S or older). When the button in the tab is green, it means that the option is now active should you ever need it.

Muting the Countdown Button

When activating the countdown, it may set off a siren sound when it hits three seconds to go. You can mute this function by ensuring the slider is on the left on the "Countdown Sound" part of the Emergency SOS tab in Settings or activate it by sliding it to the right. It will then turn green.

Alerting Emergency Contacts

You can also notify any emergency contacts that you have contacted the emergency services. This will send a message to anyone listed as an emergency contact within the Health app on your phone. It will give them a basic summary of where you are and who you have contacted and allow for extra help should you need it.
If you haven't set this up in the Health app, the phone won't notify anyone apart from the emergency services.

Auto Call

As long as you have a SIM card inside your phone, the Auto Call feature will automatically connect to the local emergency services once the countdown ends. If you want to disable this (meaning you have to swipe to activate the call), you can simply move the slider to the left in the Auto Call feature on the menu.

You hopefully won't ever need to use the Emergency SOS feature of your iPhone, but be aware of the feature, and having it set up and activated could be lifesaving.

Mike Roberts

Hi, my name is Mike and I made this site to document all the helpful tips and tricks that I've discovered using various Apple Macs and other Apple products over the years, as well as to provide more general guides in relation to using the internet. I've been obsessed with Apple products ever since I could afford my first iPod, and am somewhat of a fanboy (you might have guessed). For me, the simply work without any fuss, issues or errors. I can rely on their products. The build quality is excellent and I even have several, several-year-old Macbooks in my wardrobe that are still humming along fine (just a bit slower). You can contact me personally using the form on this page.

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