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Why Does My Phone Say “Roaming Indicator Off”? (FIND OUT!)

You’ve probably noticed that sometimes your smartphone says, “Roaming Indicator Off.” But why does this happen?

This is your phone’s way of alerting you that it cannot receive a cell signal because it is outside your cell phone carrier’s operating area. So in this instance, your phone is not roaming.

Let’s take a closer look into what this means and how to, if need be, get rid of it!

What is Roaming, And How Does It Work?

woman using her sony smartphone

Data roaming occurs every time your phone is disconnected from your carrier’s network, and then hops onto another network.

Roaming” is a term used by mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, to indicate when your device is using a network other than your usual cell-service provider.

It generally occurs when you are abroad and your cell phone carrier does not have the coverage to call, text, or use mobile data.

It allows you to then make calls, send texts and use wireless data when you’re outside of your network.

So, if you receive a call or a text message when you’re outside your usual network, you’re “roaming”!


This can happen automatically when your phone recognizes what networks are available, and then selects the one with the best reception if your cell phone carrier is unavailable.

This function can easily be turned on or off on your phone. Data roaming can be costly, so it’s definitely advisable to switch it off when you are abroad unless you really need it!

So, What Does It Mean When The Roaming Indicator Is Off?

In most cases, the data roaming feature is switched off by default.

However when you use your device for the first time outside your cell phone’s carrier operating area, you will be prompted to turn data roaming on.

A roaming icon is visible at the top of your screen, in the status area, whenever you are outside of your cellular provider’s network area.

The icon varies from phone to phone, but usually, you will spot the letter R somewhere.

Roaming usually incurs a charge which will depend on your usual provider and your location. It may be something like USD 0.25 per call if you’re in Japan or USD 0.50 per call if you’re in China and are using a US-based provider.

When your phone’s Roaming Indicator is off, it limits your data usage and prevents you from incurring additional charges.

You will still be able to make calls and send normal text messages. However, you won’t be able to send MMS messages (messages that include videos or pictures) as they require data.

You also won’t have access to the internet via a foreign mobile network.

You can, however, still use Wi-Fi when your data roaming is off. Setting up a Wi-Fi connection does not incur additional charges unless you have to pay to get on the wireless network.

Thankfully Wi-Fi hotspots are now super common, so you most likely won’t be left without any internet!

How Can You Tell When Your Phone Is Roaming?

back view of a woman using her smartphone

You will often get a notification indicating whether you are roaming when you have landed at a new destination. Your phone will have an “R” above the cellular signal icon at the top of your screen to indicate that you are roaming.

If your roaming indicator is off, or you get a notification saying “Roaming Indicator Off”, this means that you are not roaming: your phone will not try to connect to an outside network and you might not be able to receive or make calls, text and use cellular data.

You will also not incur any roaming charges.

How Do I Get Rid Of The Roaming Indicator?

To get rid of the Roaming Indicator on your phone, you will need to turn off data roaming.

Below, you’ll find out how to turn off data roaming and MMS messages on an Android phone, as well as on an iPhone.

How To Turn Off Data Roaming On An Android Phone

1. Open the Settings app and click on “Connections.” Here, you will find the roaming controls in the Connections section of the Settings app.

2. Click “Mobile Networks”.

3. Turn off “Data Roaming” by toggling to the left.

Your phone will no longer attempt to connect to a local cellular network to send or receive data, but you can still use Wi-Fi.

How To Turn Off Data Roaming For MMS Messages On An Android Phone

  1. Open the Messages app.
  2. Look for the three dots on the right of the search icon, and in the drop-down menu, click “Settings.”
  3. Then click on “More settings.”
  4. Click “Multimedia messages.”
  5. Turn off “Auto-retrieve” by swiping the button to the left.

You can also control “Roaming auto retrieve” on this page. This is helpful if you want to leave your data roaming for web browsing, but you want to avoid MMS messages from using p your data.

How to turn off Data Roaming on an iPhone

  • Go to Settings.

locating settings

  • Click on the “Cellular” option.

locating cellular button

  • Click “Cellular data options.”

locating cellular data option button

  • Swipe the “data roaming” option off.

locating data roaming toggle off

How Do You Turn On The Roaming Indicator?

If you would like to turn on roaming and are an Android user, you can do so by following these steps:

  1. Open “Settings”.
  2. Tap “Connections”.
  3. Then select “Mobile Networks”.
  4. Activate (or deactivate) roaming by clicking on the switch.

If you’re an Apple user, you can turn on roaming via the following steps:

  • Open “Settings”.

locating settings

  • Click on “Cellular”, or “Cellular Data”, or “Mobile Data”.

locating cellular button

  • Select “Cellular Data Options”.

locating cellular data option button

  • Turn on Data Roaming.

locating data roaming toggle on

Related Questions

Should I turn roaming on or off?

Experts advise that you turn off roaming data when you are abroad.

You will still be able to send photos and check your email when you are connected to Wi-Fi, without having a massive bill waiting for you at home.

Can my phone “unswitch” itself?

Some people have experienced “phantom roaming” charges despite turning it off before leaving.

However, cellular providers say that you should not incur any data charges if your data roaming is turned off.

What if I need to access the internet?

These days, you’ll pretty much find Wi-Fi available everywhere in places such as hotels, cafes, restaurants.

Sometimes you’ll have to pay for it, but in many situations it will be free… so take advantage of it!

What are some tips for keeping my costs down?

It may be a good idea to purchase a local “Pay-as-you-go” SIM card in the county you are visiting, so you can take advantage of local prices.

People who travel often may prefer to buy an international sim card from a specialist provider, offering lower prices abroad.

Why is my roaming not working?

top view of a man in a cafe using his smartphone

Try restarting your device several times as soon as you arrive abroad. Also attempt to connect with the different local networks manually through your device settings.

You may find that one network provides a more stable connection than another. Check whether the “Data roaming” feature is enabled in your device settings.

In Summary

When your phone shows, “Roaming Indicator Off,” it simply means that you are outside your regular cellular network.

As such, you will not be able to access the internet or send MMS messages, but you can still send a normal text message and make calls.

Your phone will always alert you when it is roaming.! However, it’s generally recommended that you turn off roaming when you’re abroad- unless you want a nasty surprise when you get home!

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