iPhone SE needs to restart to make a call

My iPhone SE has developed a disturbing feature. It usually needs to be restarted to make a phone call successfully. I don’t make many calls (less than one per day generally); as a test, I tried to call a number about a day after a restart and it went through (I assume; I knew no one was there and I hung up as soon as I heard it ring). But most of the time it has been over a day since my last call and I need to shut down and restart before I can actually complete a call.

Failure is indicated by the phone turning off speaker without user intervention, no audible ringing tone, and eventually a failure message from the phone. Attempted calls do appear in the Recents menu.

I did Reset Network Settings to no effect. I have not Reset All Settings. The iOS is version 12.1.4; 12.3.1 is available. (Just out of curiosity, how would I install something greater than 12.1.4 but less than 12.3.1 if I wanted to do that?)

I believe the problem started on a recent trip, during which the phone went without service for about a week, and also during which it indicated that it had only 3G service in both Seattle and New York City. My provider is Virgin Mobile USA.

Suggestions? Comments? Thanks for any help.

I don’t think there’s a way to do that on the phone. It’s either jump straight to latest iOS version (if the option’s available) or stay put.

From the description of what’s happening when you’re trying to make a call, I’d suspect a hardware issue. Have you tried a cold start (turn the phone off, leave it a while, then power it on again)? If that doesn’t resolve it, and it’s still happening after updating iOS to 12.3.1, then I think it’s time to contact Apple.

(I’ve got an iPhone SE here on iOS 12.3.1.)

Thanks for the reply, Alan.

Your definition of “a while” determines whether I do that. Typically it’s about 20 to 30 seconds, and that’s what I’m now required to do most of the time that I want to make a call.

Do you see a benefit in leaving the phone off for longer before restarting it? How much longer?

I don’t think leaving the phone off for longer is going to make much difference. Your best bet now would be to contact Apple and see if they can help you get it working again.

Settings -> General -> Reset -> Reset All Settings

This is present on one device running 12.1.4 here; it’s very curious that you don’t see that setting.

You should also see ‘Erase All Contents and Settings’.

I would attach with USB to Lightning cable to iTunes, do a complete backup (or to iCloud if you have no choice), and then do a factory reset ('Erase all… ’ on device, or ‘Restore’ in iTunes), and see how the phone behaves with factory-fresh settings.

If you restore on-device, you can maintain 12.1.4; if you do it via iTunes, and you saved your 12.1.4 .ipsw file, you will have to be careful not to be forced to 12.3.1 (though I’m not clear what your reticence to update is; it’s a fine, stable update on the SEs in our household.)

Once you have tested hardware stability with fresh software, if successful, you can restore from your backup and be back to business as usual; if not, time for a trip to the Apple Store.

First news first. The phone seems to have started working normally. As I said, I make few phone calls, and I would guess that the phone needed to be restarted recently on about six occasions in order to make a call. Since the last restart, I have made a half dozen calls over the last several days (most of them just to see if they would go through). I don’t know what would have been different about the last restart that would have made the phone start working again.

Thanks for your comments, frederico.

I must have phrased something incorrectly. I do see the Reset All Settings command; I did not execute it.

I do back up in iTunes using a cable and not to iCloud. I have never performed a restore. What would it mean to restore on-device rather than via iTunes?

Where would I find the .ipsw file? I suspect that I’m not doing iOS updates in an optimal fashion.

I have no reticence about installing 12.3.1 (at least not now that you’ve endorsed it); it’s just something that I hadn’t gotten around to.

I am almost fully ignorant of most things related to iPhones and iPads. Somehow the Macintosh seems natural to me and iOS devices are confusing black boxes. It’s only recently that I figured out how to save backups older than the most recent one.