Do you need to restore your SMS and MMS messages from a SIM card? If so, we have several solutions depending on your actions, such as deleting the entire storage or precautions you took, e.g., creating a backup. You should know that storing personal data on SIMs is an outdated practice. Instead, it primarily ends up on internal storage or SD cards. Thus, your messages may not even be there, or only a portion is. Now, let’s dig into methods to recover messages on a SIM card.
Are messages stored on a SIM card?
Yes and no—messages can be stored on a SIM card, but that was only a common practice up to the late 2000s. Text messages such as SMS and MMS are mainly saved in the internal or external storage of the phone or tablet nowadays. Therefore, you shouldn’t expect to find a lot of message data unless you have an older device and specifically saved data there. The decision to move on from SIM storage stems from the SIM card contents. They occupy a big chunk of severely limited maximum storage ranging between 8 KB and 256 KB, leaving only enough for (typically) 20 to 200 text messages.
With that said, frequent texters will undoubtedly run out of space quickly. Plus, the erasure of old messages on a SIM isn’t as straightforward on today’s Android devices (iOS and iPadOS don’t offer the option). That makes tidying up your inbox tedious, and the juice isn’t worth the squeeze. After all, internal memory ranges from 64 GB to 1 TB in modern mobile devices, enough for millions, if not billions of messages. Below, we covered more reasons in the guide for wiping SMS/MMS data from SIM cards.
Can you delete SMS and MMS from a SIM card?
Yes, while long-winded on modern versions of Android, you can delete SIM card messages. An easier and faster option would be to erase all personal data from SIM cards. In both cases, the data isn’t permanently gone immediately. We explain that next.
How does the system remove SMS from a SIM card?
The operating system that can read and write data on SIM cards uses a particular file to delete text messages. The file marks slots for SMS with two status states—in use and empty. Deleting messages makes the system mark the previous in use spot with an empty status. When a new message is saved, the system saves it in one of the empty slots, and the old message is overwritten and thus gone forever. Before that happens, you can restore the old SIM messages by switching the status from empty back to in use via software.
1. Use the Import or view feature to recover messages from a SIM card
Many feature phones and some Android devices permit users to either view or import messages from the SIM card. The process is usually automatic, meaning texts appear in the Messages app by default. Some device manufacturers also let users decide when to import the messages from the SIM. The option is typically in the main menu on feature phones and older Android devices. On modern devices, the view mode option is way more common:
Using a Samsung phone to see messages on a SIM card
Follow these instructions to see messages saved on SIM cards in Samsung phones:
- Tap the Messages application.
- Tap the three-dot menu.
- Go to Settings.
- Select More Settings if available, then go to Text messages option.
- Choose the Manage SIM card messages option. You can now view all SMS and MSMS from your SIM card. Long messages may be split into several short ones.
How to view SIM card messages on Xiaomi phones
You can view Xiaomi phone’s SMS and MMS messages by following these steps:
- Open the Messages application.
- Tap the profile icon in the upper right corner.
- Select the Messages settings option.
- Go to Advanced if available. Otherwise, skip to the next step.
- Select the SIM card messages option.
- You will now see all SMS and MMS data stored on your SIM card.
2. Restoring texts from a manual SIM card backup
Do you remember performing a backup of your phone data? If so, you may have included SIM card data such as telephone numbers, call logs, and messages you imported in the past. In that case, you can restore from a phone backup and recover SIM card messages to your phone’s internal memory like this:
- Use the mobile application you created a backup with. We’ll use the most famous example, SMS Backup & Restore, for demonstration.
- Tap the hamburger menu (three horizontal lines) in the top left corner.
- Go to Restore.
- Choose a backup where you saved your messages.
- Tap on Restore.
- After a brief restoration procedure, the SIM messages should reappear in the Messages app alongside others.
3. How to recover text messages from a SIM card via a card reader/writer
We explained how changing the status of erased messages on SIM cards works. To revert the change, you need a SIM card reader/writer and to know how to view SIM card information on a computer. Here’s how to use a SIM card reader/writer and computer software to restore deleted SMS messages:
- Remove the SIM card from the device and plug it into the reader/writer device.
- Open the adequate computer software. We’ll use Dekart SIM Manager for demonstration, although we’re unaffiliated.
- Click the Options item in the top menu in the software.
- Head to Settings.
- In the Settings window, put a checkmark in front of the “Show deleted SMS” entry.
- Go back to the main window and click on SMS messages in the left sidebar.
- You’ll see deleted SIM messages that weren’t overwritten now glow red. You can view the position, recipient/sender number, and message content. Right-click on the message you want to restore.
- Select the Undelete option. The software will now revert the “empty” state with “in use”. Repeat this for as many messages as you need.
- Insert the SIM card into your mobile device and follow method 1 to view or import the newly recovered text messages.