Broken Voicemail on iPhone and the error 1035

When I updated from an iPhone 12 Pro to an iPhone 14 Pro* a few months ago, something apparently went wrong and the connection (aka “Visual Voicemail”) to the voice mailbox with the carrier broke. One of my contacts asked whether I had received their voicemail β€” I hadn’t and surprise, when I manually dialed in to the voicemail, I had 17 new messages. That sucked, because there were obviously some important messages among them.

Symptoms of this problem:

  • I get no notifications for new voicemails**
  • The list of voicemails in the “Phone” app is empty (even though there are voicemails)
  • I cannot update the voicemail PIN from the phone (it just hangs and the progress indicator keeps spinning forever)
  • Retrieving the existing voicemail greeting first takes forever, then fails (as if no greeting was set)
  • Setting/updating the voicemail greeting fails with phone error 1035

What’s quite surreal is that, when you do an internet search for this problem, you get pages upon pages of results, describing the exact same symptoms, dating back as far as six years, and the iPhone 6. The problem isn’t limited to T-Mobile; the reports include Verizon and at&t as well.

NOTHING that I was able to find on the internet works, and what blows my mind is that neither Apple nor T-Mobile appear to have this problem on their radar, at all. I have two calls to Apple*** and three calls to T-Mobile behind me, and NOTHING that they were able to do has worked so far, either.

On my wife’s phone (exact same model as mine), which is simple another line on the very same plan with T-Mobile, everything works as expected of course. But the iPhone 14 Pro has no SIM card slot and only uses an eSIM, so it’s not possible to just swap the SIM card to see whether it’s an “Apple problem”, or a “T-Mobile problem.”

Considering the phone error 1035, one would think that it must be an Apple problem on the phone, but Apple insists that it is a carrier problem, simply because their “visual voicemail” feature cannot talk to the carrier’s voicemail correctly. And then the carrier says “that sounds more like an Apple problem” because the voicemail itself works, it’s just the connection to the phone that’s broken. Which is completely maddening, of course.

If you found this article (I know, fat chance) because you have the same problem, let me save you some time with a list of things that do not work to fix this issue:

  • Switching airplane mode on and off
  • Switching cellular data off and on
  • Resetting the network settings
  • Resetting the call forwarding etc. settings via ##004#
  • Resetting the voicemail account with T-Mobile & setting it up from scratch
  • Resetting the entire phone to factory defaults & restoring from backup

On my third call to T-Mobile, I was finally connected to a specialist in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who opened an official “Trouble Ticket”. When he called back, his conclusion was that nothing is wrong on their end and that it must be… an Apple problem. πŸ˜…

So I began to dig in myself and discovered that, when Cellular Data is deactivated AND Wi-Fi is deactivated, Visual Voicemail immediately shows a notification that it is not available. While the inner workings are unclear to me, visual voicemail does require a data connection (duh) so I wondered: what might be interrupting the connection, on my phone?!

All VPN apps (I was using Privacy Pro to block trackers and/or Mullvad when using hotel WiFi) had already been removed. The Network Settings had already been reset too, the phone had been through a factory reset and restore… and what survived ALL of this (!!!) was a custom DNS profile that I had installed and forgotten about. It’s another privacy protection/ad blocking feature β€” and while EVERYTHING else works, it interrupted the Visual Voicemail configuration. Once I removed the custom DNS profile, Visual Voicemail began to work again.

To say that I’m embarrassed is an understatement. I shot myself in the foot, and I owe the T-Mobile people, who were nothing but helpful throughout, an apology. The fact that two Apple supporters who I was sharing my phone screen with, and who looked through all the settings**** didn’t catch this makes me feel only slightly less ashamed about this self-own… πŸ™ˆ

*) for the record, I would like to point out here that I was very happy with my 12 Pro; it was my wife who forced me to do that because I hike in the desert, alone, and the 14 Pro has the satellite SOS and location updating feature. πŸ˜‰

**) that’s a big problem; the number of garbage calls I receive is high enough that I have the “Silence Unknown Callers” feature on normally, relying on the fact that legitimate callers will leave a voice message, and spammers will hang up.

***) special mention for Apple supporter “John”: don’t try to explain how voicemail works to a repeat caller who’s been on the phone for two hours, then got disconnected and did a factory reset of his phone FOR NOTHING… and don’t interrupt them while they’re talking. Why do men in 1st level support always have attitude while women listen and are actually helpful?!? (thanks are due to Emma, Roseann, and Dee from T-Mobile, and Faguni from Apple)

****) Settings / General / VPN & Device Management is where you’ll find it…

I am a professional photographer. Please respect my copyright. Photos are available for licensing. If you would like to use them, for whatever purpose (commercial or personal), you MUST obtain a license and/or written permission from me. Please contact me for details. Thanks.