How to fix Galaxy S4 "Sim card removed" error

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Sean89us

Senior Member
Aug 1, 2010
153
70
Gautier, MS
I'm sure plenty of you have had the dreaded "Sim card removed" error (as shown in the attached image) on your S4. I started getting this message mere months after purchasing my secondhand AT&T S4 (no warranty). But fear not, with about 20 minutes of your time and less than a dollar worth of parts, you can fix it!

(1st attached pic)


Why Does This Happen?

This error is usually due to a faulty connection between the motherboard and the SIM / MicroSD card tray. Likely it is due to a bad solder job on that connector.

Does a new SIM Tray fix it?
Extremely unlikely. Purchasing a new SIM tray will likely be wasted money. (EDIT: A new motherboard may fix the issue, and several people have had success with a new SIM tray)

How do I fix it already??

This is what you'll need:
Your S4
A micro Philips-head screwdriver
Scissors
A foam earplug (or something of similar texture)


Step 1: Disassemble your phone. Pull off the back cover, remove the battery and cards, then unscrew all 9 of the micro Philips screws. Then, take your fingernail and pry off the bezel from the rest of the phone, and slowly work your nail around the bezel until it pops off. (Don't force it!)

(Attached images 2, 3, and 4)


Step 2: Use your scissors or a razor blade to cut a section off of the foam earplug which is about the width of two dimes. I also cut a 1/4 segment out of mine so you don't see it sticking out when you put the bezel back together, but you don't absolutely need to do that.

(Attached images 5 & 6)


Step 3: Press down on the connector for the SIM / SD Card Tray until it "clicks" into place. (It may not click if it is still somewhat in place) This is the connector which has a bad connection.

(Attached image 7)


Step 4: Place your piece of foam on top of the connector in a way that it is right beside but not overlapping the camera (as pictured)

(Attached image 8)


Step 5: Replace your back cover, making sure not to move the foam you just installed, press down on it in multiple locations until it pops back together all around, and screw it back down. Note: if the bezel appears to be bulging out, your foam is too thick! This won't cause any problems, but it will be a noticeable bulge on your phone.

(Attached images 9 & 10)


Step 6: Replace your back cover and enjoy! Note that if you continue to receive the error, you may need either a thicker piece of foam, or you may need to reposition the foam, or even just press down on the connector a bit more before installing the foam.


Thanks to the folks over at Android Central in the thread entitled: Galaxy S4: Major problem - SIM card not detected for info on how to fix!

After applying this fix (took me three times to get it right) I have not seen the SIM card removed error in almost two months!

Post your success stories! :)





EDIT: A year after I posted this, and people are still using this thread to iron out their issues. I'm glad I could start up a conversation about this problem, with many good suggestions as to possible fixes. I don't use my S4 anymore, but it makes for a great backup phone!

Anyway, I just wanted to let anybody who is looking for the answer to this problem know that my fix may or may not work for you. It worked in my case, but several commenters have noted that the problem has remained in their situation. I would like to point out a few helpful comments and possible fixes right here so you guys don't have to go searching through pages of comments to find different solutions.

Best solution by far is by @Gonemad to re-flow the solder to that connector and to the NFC chip using a heat gun. See post #98 on page 10 and Post 114 on page 12, with a guide on post 122, page 13.

A replacement motherboard may fix the issue as well, but that's assuming you're getting a new one and not a used one. With used, the replacement board may do the same thing!
 

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Last edited:

iateshaggy

Senior Member
Oct 7, 2013
82
6
many of us have shimmed the connector 1000 different ways and still get the error. oddly enough, for me the only thing that has reduced errors was removing my sd card.
 

Benovite

Member
Feb 23, 2013
32
4
Los Angeles
m.youtube.com
"Does a new SIM Tray fix it?
Extremely unlikely. Purchasing a new SIM tray or even a new motherboard will be wasted money."

It did in my case. I got a sim/sd card tray from a Verizon S4, put it in my AT&T S4 and it worked great!
 
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m00nman

Senior Member
Nov 5, 2010
170
39
This problem is extremely annoying. Purchased a new tray too, and for a couple of days thought the problem is fixed. Nope. 5 days later same stupid message. I had already tried putting more support on the connector which did not fix the problem. They could at least make a cancel button on it instead of just "reboot". Will try without sd card. Apparently this happens on ALL high-end samsung phones. I am adding crapsung to the "never again" list (in addition to LG now).

If removing sd card doesn't fix it then it will either be new mainboard (they go for around $100 CAD shipped) or a new phone if I have the money. Nexus 6 looks good now. Don't buy crappy Korean brands. Even Chinese brands seem more reliable.
 
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Benovite

Member
Feb 23, 2013
32
4
Los Angeles
m.youtube.com
Question: Since you say that you've already replaced the sd/sim tray and the problem returned, did you try putting another sim card in there to make sure that it's not the sim card that's the issue?
 

m00nman

Senior Member
Nov 5, 2010
170
39
Yes, new sim did not solve it. Now i am actually trying earplug thing. So far so good (2 days), but as with any other method the message is expected to pop up again. I am thinking i did try to add support before, but only for the connector part. Earplug will press on all the components around the connector and the connector itself. Will see. I did cut out a thicker piece than in the OP, and made a cut on the camera side instead of oppoate (like in OP).

Buyimg new mainboard seems like a waste of money now too. Since so many devices have this problem chances are another mainboard will be the same.

Edit: with or without sd card - same thing.
 
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slim26

Senior Member
Feb 24, 2012
75
11
It's known that the IMEI numbers with the last 6 digits in this range: 000000 - 560000 have been known to have this issue. Mine was in that range and had the issue. I think the mainboards outside this range are fine.
 

Sean89us

Senior Member
Aug 1, 2010
153
70
Gautier, MS
It took me quite a few tries with the earplug foam to get it right. Finding the correct thickness and shape was the biggest thing. Eventually I got it right and I haven't had the issue return even once since. I'm glad some of you were able to get your phones to work by just swapping the SIM tray, that's pretty easy to do. I don't think I would even consider swapping the motherboard on a 2 year old phone, might as well just get a new phone at that point.
 

t4duzan

Senior Member
Jan 16, 2011
733
237
Big D
It took me quite a few tries with the earplug foam to get it right. Finding the correct thickness and shape was the biggest thing. Eventually I got it right and I haven't had the issue return even once since. I'm glad some of you were able to get your phones to work by just swapping the SIM tray, that's pretty easy to do. I don't think I would even consider swapping the motherboard on a 2 year old phone, might as well just get a new phone at that point.

Good to hear that this is working for some users. I just went with the M9 about a week ago and am going to give my mother my S4. She wouldn't have any idea how to handle any sim errors so when I get some time, I'll be buying an earplug or two.
 

m00nman

Senior Member
Nov 5, 2010
170
39
It has been 9 days and the error hasn't returned. Today i put in a thiner peice to get rid of the bulge on the back. Will see how that holds up, but so far so good. Thanks to the O.P.

As for the mainboard - I never loxk myself into a contract with a discounted phone, not that Wind Mobile Canada has an option for it. So i paid almost 600 CAD for this puppy and expected it to last. For me $100 is not bad for a fix compared to at least $600 for a new phone. Only if it was for sure, but is seems like a gamble to buy a new board. BTW my phone was locked to rogers so I had to unlock it and enable AWS band.
 
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fargonaz

Senior Member
Apr 16, 2007
95
18
OnePlus 5T
I would get(have tried other phones) but for all its bad the S4 is hands down the most durable and usable phone I have ever owned. I like my nexus 5, but it is a very fragile unit, and on its second screen replacement due to minor drops that the S4 takes with aplomb. I like the phone so much I have bought a used one off ebay just in case this one ever fails. MHO
 
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Sean89us

Senior Member
Aug 1, 2010
153
70
Gautier, MS
I would get(have tried other phones) but for all its bad the S4 is hands down the most durable and usable phone I have ever owned. I like my nexus 5, but it is a very fragile unit, and on its second screen replacement due to minor drops that the S4 takes with aplomb. I like the phone so much I have bought a used one off ebay just in case this one ever fails. MHO

I'm right there with you. I still love my S4, despite the SIM error and somewhat slow updates from Samsung / ATT. It's getting older but my phone is still very fast, has a beautiful 1080P AMOLED screen, takes awesome pictures, and now it's even running Lollipop! The only thing that might convince me to switch phones anytime soon is if the 2015 Nexus 5 refresh has a 5" - 5.2" screen (5.5"+ is just too big!), USB Type-C and the specs blow me away. Since that probably won't happen, it looks like I'll be using my S4 for a few more years.
 

m00nman

Senior Member
Nov 5, 2010
170
39
I can't say anything else will be the same material. Just buy earplugs at a dollar store or something. They are cheap.
 

VoodooJeff

Member
Jun 8, 2015
11
0
Mine had gotten really bad, to where it was giving the "sim error" message a good six or eight times a day. Did the earplug thing...didn`t fix squat. I took a narrow strip of a business card and "shimmed" the sim card in it`s slot (like many others have), but I made my shim extra long and folded it over a few times on top of the sim card receptacle as well. Been two days and so far so good. We`ll see how it holds up.

I had actually contacted Samsung about the problem and they claimed they had no knowledge of it`s occurrence. I emailed back and they said "we really have no idea what`s causing it. Sorry." I would call it a design flaw as every single person I know personally with an S4 has the problem, and there are hundreds upon hundreds of tales on the ol` internet about it, and even Samsung can`t fix it.
 

peertje

New member
Sep 18, 2008
1
0
I've used this solution after my s4 gave the "sim card removed" error 5 times this morning. I used a piece of power sponge i.s.o. an earplug. Since then no error. If error occurs i'll respond again.
Thanx Sean.
 

junglizste

Senior Member
Jun 11, 2010
270
19
I was having this problem. I did this fix but just used some folded up plastic wrap. Hasn't happened again yet.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I337 using XDA Free mobile app
 

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  • 29
    I'm sure plenty of you have had the dreaded "Sim card removed" error (as shown in the attached image) on your S4. I started getting this message mere months after purchasing my secondhand AT&T S4 (no warranty). But fear not, with about 20 minutes of your time and less than a dollar worth of parts, you can fix it!

    (1st attached pic)


    Why Does This Happen?

    This error is usually due to a faulty connection between the motherboard and the SIM / MicroSD card tray. Likely it is due to a bad solder job on that connector.

    Does a new SIM Tray fix it?
    Extremely unlikely. Purchasing a new SIM tray will likely be wasted money. (EDIT: A new motherboard may fix the issue, and several people have had success with a new SIM tray)

    How do I fix it already??

    This is what you'll need:
    Your S4
    A micro Philips-head screwdriver
    Scissors
    A foam earplug (or something of similar texture)


    Step 1: Disassemble your phone. Pull off the back cover, remove the battery and cards, then unscrew all 9 of the micro Philips screws. Then, take your fingernail and pry off the bezel from the rest of the phone, and slowly work your nail around the bezel until it pops off. (Don't force it!)

    (Attached images 2, 3, and 4)


    Step 2: Use your scissors or a razor blade to cut a section off of the foam earplug which is about the width of two dimes. I also cut a 1/4 segment out of mine so you don't see it sticking out when you put the bezel back together, but you don't absolutely need to do that.

    (Attached images 5 & 6)


    Step 3: Press down on the connector for the SIM / SD Card Tray until it "clicks" into place. (It may not click if it is still somewhat in place) This is the connector which has a bad connection.

    (Attached image 7)


    Step 4: Place your piece of foam on top of the connector in a way that it is right beside but not overlapping the camera (as pictured)

    (Attached image 8)


    Step 5: Replace your back cover, making sure not to move the foam you just installed, press down on it in multiple locations until it pops back together all around, and screw it back down. Note: if the bezel appears to be bulging out, your foam is too thick! This won't cause any problems, but it will be a noticeable bulge on your phone.

    (Attached images 9 & 10)


    Step 6: Replace your back cover and enjoy! Note that if you continue to receive the error, you may need either a thicker piece of foam, or you may need to reposition the foam, or even just press down on the connector a bit more before installing the foam.


    Thanks to the folks over at Android Central in the thread entitled: Galaxy S4: Major problem - SIM card not detected for info on how to fix!

    After applying this fix (took me three times to get it right) I have not seen the SIM card removed error in almost two months!

    Post your success stories! :)





    EDIT: A year after I posted this, and people are still using this thread to iron out their issues. I'm glad I could start up a conversation about this problem, with many good suggestions as to possible fixes. I don't use my S4 anymore, but it makes for a great backup phone!

    Anyway, I just wanted to let anybody who is looking for the answer to this problem know that my fix may or may not work for you. It worked in my case, but several commenters have noted that the problem has remained in their situation. I would like to point out a few helpful comments and possible fixes right here so you guys don't have to go searching through pages of comments to find different solutions.

    Best solution by far is by @Gonemad to re-flow the solder to that connector and to the NFC chip using a heat gun. See post #98 on page 10 and Post 114 on page 12, with a guide on post 122, page 13.

    A replacement motherboard may fix the issue as well, but that's assuming you're getting a new one and not a used one. With used, the replacement board may do the same thing!
    4
    Guys,

    Sorry I haven't been keeping up. About three months after I wrote this guide up, I accidentally took my phone swimming and it didn't survive. I upgraded to an S5 and stopped checking the S4 threads. Then, about a month ago, my wife expressed interest in getting away from her iPhone, so I dug out the S4, ordered a new motherboard, and now it's good as new and she's using it.

    I would like to say that I had implemented this fix about two months before I wrote up the guide, so I got a solid 5 months out of the phone without the error re-occurring using the foam / shim trick. As I stated in the OP, if it doesn't seem to work for you, you might need to try a thicker piece of foam and maybe just tinker with it again. It took me three tries to get it right, then it went away for the rest of it's life. Just to be safe I also did this fix to the new motherboard and this one has shown no signs of the error either.

    I really like the idea of re-flowing the solder on the board by holding a soldering iron near the connector, but it could be dangerous. There's an old trick to fixing video cards where you put it in the oven for 8 minutes at 375*F to re-flow the solder (I've used this trick on a video card and an android stick which was having visual artifacts / glitches and it fixed both of them), I wonder if that would work in this situation? Might be a little too risky to try, especially if the S4 is your daily driver. It also might destroy other components on the board.

    Cheers!
    3
    Here is the chip in question

    I took a small piece of foil and exposed only that chip like this.

    Then I dabbed a small bit of solder flux/paste on the legs of the chip and then heated with the heat gun. I tried low heat at first but that didn't seem to be enough so then I went to high heat maybe for about 40ish seconds. I did this twice.

    NOTE: I TAKE NO RESPONSIBILITY IFOR ANY OVERHEATED DEVICES
    3
    I've also had this SIM problem from time to time for a bit more than a year. Like many, I also tried replacing the SIM and microSD slot, which didn't really help.
    On Saturday, the SIM was disconnected almost every time when I took the phone out of my pocket, which basically made it unusable.

    As an electronics guy, I tried to figure out in the schematics what's about the suggested "U203 reflow".
    U203 is a BCM20794 NFC chip, which also contains a voltage regulator for the SIM card ("NFC_SIMVCC" in the Galaxy S4 schematics). If this voltage drops out for a moment due to a faulty solder joint, the SIM card powers down and the MDM9215 modem - to which the SIM data lines are conected - will think that the SIM was removed. Therefore, a broken solder joint on the U203 is a plausible reason for this annoying SIM issue.
    Afterwards, I tried the reflow by applying some flux (which I highly recommend to do, as it improves solder flow and bonding), and heating it with a small heat gun.
    By watching carefully under bright light (LED flashlight), I could see when the solder started to melt. From there on, I heated about 3 more seconds and then allowed the board to cool and reassembled the phone.

    For now it seems to hold up; but I don't want to call it a success until I didn't have the issue for 2-3 weeks.

    If this fails, I might attempt something crazy :cowboy: :
    The NFC_SIMVCC pin is on pin 12 of the deaded HDC901 conenctor, the PCB trace is visible on top. And all modern SIM cards should run on 1.8V.
    One could cut the NFC_SIMVCC trace to the U203 ship, and supply the SIM card with 1.8V from another pin using some magnet wire. A pad of the nearby resistor R913 is connected to 1.8V.
    I tried to illustrate the idea in the attached image. But I hope I don't have to try it, as I don't like the idea too much.
    3
    Update: It has now been 3 weeks of everyday use since my reflow attempt, and so far the phose is working completely fine.
    I didn't get this dreaded message message for a single time :D , so I'm glad I don't have to mess around with the board and try my other fix idea.
    It seems like a reflow does the trick, if it's done with the right amount of heat to really melt the solder.

    Just an idea to get this quite old phone fixed if you don't want to reflow it yourself: Go to a phone repair shop which also does soldering, and ask if they would reflow the chip without any warranty if you bring the mainboard: Disassemble the phone by yourself, bring the board to the shop, have them reflow the chip, take the board back home, reassemble the phone and hope for the best.
    Since the reflow is a 1-2 minute job, a honest repair job shouldn't charge more than like $10 for it. The disassembly and reassembly of the phone is the time-consuming part, but that is quite easy to do by yourself.