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iPhone MMS send failure fix

Here is an easy way to fix MMS when your iPhone 3G or 3GS cannot send MMS messages to any of your contacts.

David Martin
David Martin has more than 20 years of experience in the industry as a programmer, systems and business analyst, author, and consultant.
David Martin
2 min read

I woke up last Friday morning, just like everyone else, looking forward to finally getting MMS on my iPhone 3GS. However, for some of us, the excitement turned into dismay when the MMS update didn't work.

Users were discussing the issue under the topic MMS message send failure on Apple support forums. I was experiencing the problem and initially I could not fix it--even after spending more than 2 hours on the phone with Apple and AT&T. Today I decided to take a new approach and I found an ironically simple fix for this problem that we had all missed on Friday.

In this example you can see that MMS would fail to send an image of my new puppy and a picture of a flower in my garden. Even subsequent attempts to resend by pressing the exclamation point in the red circle failed to work.

Send fails twice then works after the fix. David Martin

After discovering the following simple fix for my problem the next flower picture was actually sent to the recipient. I tried sending more images, resending images that had failed to send previously, and even a video with sound; all of those worked without a hitch and I was able to receive the same type of content from others.

Warning notes:

  • All your preferences and settings are reset. Information, such as your contacts and calendars, and media, such as your songs and videos, aren't deleted.
  • You will have to re-enter your passcode, Wi-Fi passwords, and your apps will all be rearranged alphabetically. Note: the latter issue is actually a neat find--now I know how to alphabetize my apps when I want them sorted that way. Drastic yet effective.
  • Additionally other settings like VPN, remembered Wi-Fi networks, etc., maybe lost.

Fixing the MMS send failure error message

  • Connect your iPhone 3G or 3GS to your computer.
  • Launch iTunes and go to the Summary tab for your iPhone.
  • Click the Restore button to restore your iPhone and allow it to use your most recent backup when prompted; iTunes should do this automatically. This process will take a while so it is recommended that you try it only when it is convenient and you are not in a hurry. Once it is completed your iPhone will reboot.
  • Launch Settings on your iPhone.
  • Go to General > Reset All Settings > enter your PIN if prompted
  • Try sending and receiving an MMS now.

Hopefully this fix will resolve your MMS send failure woes, and if it does then welcome to 2003!

Tell us about your iPhone MMS experience in the comments.

Updated on 9/26/2009 at 11:56 a.m. PDT: Regarding JOBIROAL's comment about trying Reset Network Settings: both Apple and AT&T recommended this, but it did not resolve the problem for me. However, it is worth a try before attempting my fix.

Updated on 9/28/2009 at 3:27 a.m. PDT: Check your AT&T account online to verify that you have one of the following three message plans:

iPhone MMS supported message plans David Martin