Your iPhone won’t connect to Wi-Fi and you don’t know why. Maybe your computer connects, maybe your friend’s iPhone connects, or maybe no devices will connect at all. Maybe your iPhone connects to every Wi-Fi network except for one, or maybe it doesn’t connect to any networks at all.
There are a lot of maybes when it comes to diagnosing and solving this problem, but I’ll help you get to the bottom of it. In this article, I’ll explain why your iPhone won’t connect to Wi-Fi and help you fix the problem, whether it’s with your iPhone or your wireless router.
Meanwhile, At The Genius Bar…
A customer comes in and says their iPhone won’t connect to Wi-Fi. The technician asks the customer to connect to Wi-Fi inside the store, and most of the time, it works. That’s the first step in diagnosing this issue, and the first question you should ask yourself:
“Will my iPhone connect to any Wi-Fi networks, or is it just one network my iPhone won’t connect to?”
If you don’t have another Wi-Fi network to use to test your iPhone, go to Starbucks, your local library, or your friend’s house and try to connect to their Wi-Fi. If your iPhone connects, it’s not a hardware problem – there’s a problem between your iPhone and your wireless router at home.
Note: If your iPhone doesn’t connect to any wireless networks, skip to the section of this article called Delete All The Wi-Fi Networks Stored On Your iPhone. If that doesn’t work, skip to to the section called Diagnosing Hardware Issues. Check out my other article if Wi-Fi is grayed out in Settings!
The Simplest Fix
If you haven’t already, try powering off your iPhone and Wi-Fi router, and turning them back on.
- On your iPhone, press and hold the power button (iPhones without Face ID) or the side button and either volume button (iPhones with Face ID) until slide to power off appears. Slide the power icon across the screen with your finger and wait for your iPhone to power off. It can take 30–60 seconds for your iPhone to power off. Next, hold the power or side button until the Apple logo appears on the screen.
- We’ll use a very technical trick to turn your Wi-Fi router off and back on: Pull the power cord out of the wall and plug it back in.
After your router reboots, try reconnecting your iPhone to Wi-Fi. If it works, there was a problem with your wireless router’s built-in software (sometimes called firmware). Few people understand how Wi-Fi networks actually work. All Wi-Fi routers use essentially the same hardware to create wireless networks, but the software built into Wi-Fi routers varies greatly from model to model.
Just like on your iPhone and your computer, the software built into your wireless router can crash. The router may still broadcast the Wi-Fi network, but the built-in software doesn’t respond when a device tries to connect. If resetting your wireless router fixes the problem, you may wish to check the manufacturer’s website to see if a software (or firmware) update is available for your router. Software updates can prevent the problem from coming back.
When Your iPhone Connects To All Wi-Fi Networks, Except For One
This scenario makes it very difficult to diagnose the problem, especially in an Apple Store. Usually, the customer can’t reproduce the issue because it only happens at home. The best a technician can do is offer some generic advice, reset some settings, and wish the customer best of luck. I hope this article will be more helpful than that, because unlike a Genius, you can take it home with you.
Before we dive deeper, I find it helpful to restate the problem: Your iPhone won’t connect to Wi-Fi because there is a problem with your iPhone or your wireless router. Problems with iPhones are easier to diagnose, so we’ll start there.
Problems With iPhones And Wi-Fi Networks
iPhones remember all the Wi-Fi networks they’ve ever connected to, along with the password for each network. When we come home from work, our iPhones automatically reconnect to our Wi-Fi at home and enter the password. At least they’re supposed to.
One of the major benefits of the iPhone, and the thing that geeks are always complaining about, is that it’s simple, and therefore limited in terms of a user’s ability to “go under the hood” to diagnose an issue. Unlike your Mac or PC, your iPhone can’t display the list of Wi-Fi networks it’s saved over the years. You can “forget” a Wi-Fi network, but only if you’re already connected to it.
Toggle Wi-Fi Off And Back On
One quick step when your iPhone is not connecting to Wi-Fi is quickly turning Wi-Fi off and back on. Think of it like turning your iPhone off and back on — it gives your iPhone a fresh start and second chance to make a clean connection to Wi-Fi.
Open the Settings app and tap on Wi-Fi. Then, tap the switch next to Wi-Fi at the top of the menu. Wait a few seconds, then toggle W-Fi back on!
Turn Off Your VPN
Is a VPN (virtual private network) running on your iPhone? It’s possible that’s the reason why your iPhone won’t connect to Wi-Fi.
Open Settings and tap VPN. Tap the switch next to Status to turn off your VPN. You’ll know it’s off when it says Not Connected next to Status.
If this fixed the problem for you, there may be an issue with your VPN. Check out our other article to diagnose and fix issues with an iPhone VPN!
Delete All The Wi-Fi Networks Stored On Your iPhone
Next, try completely resetting your iPhone’s database of Wi-Fi networks. This fixes the issue a lot of the time, and all but eliminates the possibility that a software issue on your iPhone is causing the problem. Go to Settings -> General -> Transfer or Reset iPhone -> Reset and choose Reset Network Settings.
You’ll have to reconnect to all your Wi-Fi networks and enter their passwords again, so make sure you know the important ones before you begin. Try reconnecting to your wireless router after your iPhone reboots. If it still won’t connect, it’s time to take a look at your wireless router.
Problems With Your Wireless Router
A common reason why iPhones won’t connect to a Wi-Fi network is a problem with your iPhone’s relationship to your wireless router. You’ll understand how to fix the problem after you know a little bit more about how Wi-Fi works on your iPhone.
How Wi-Fi Networks Work, And Why It Applies To You
There are two things involved when your iPhone connects to Wi-Fi: Your iPhone and your wireless router. Your wireless router broadcasts a signal with the name of your wireless network for all to see. When you connect to Wi-Fi, a relationship is formed between your wireless router and your iPhone.
Your wireless router (or Wi-Fi router) is like the post office. It’s the middleman between your iPhone and the internet, just like the post office is the middleman between the flow of mail between your home and the outside world. When you send a letter, the post office delivers it to the right address. When you receive a letter, the post office can only deliver it if it knows your address. That’s exactly what happens with your iPhone.
When your iPhone and other devices connect to Wi-Fi, your wireless router assigns each one a separate address. Everything on the internet has its own unique address. When you came to payetteforward.com, your wireless router (or internet connection) translates payetteforward.com into 188.8.131.52, the internet address of this website. Your computer has an address, too. You can find out what it is by typing What Is My IP? into Google.
How Does This Relate To My iPhone Not Connecting To Wi-Fi?
A lot of the time, your iPhone won’t connect to Wi-Fi because your wireless router won’t assign your iPhone an address the way it should. This can happen for different reasons, but it’s only necessary to understand that your wireless router is refusing to allow your iPhone to connect because it’s confused about its address.
Resetting your wireless router to its factory default settings resets its “address book”, and it’s the easiest, most effective way to fix the problem for good. Don’t waste your time trying to diagnose obscure wireless connectivity issues. Just reset it to factory defaults and set it up again. It only takes a few minutes to set up a wireless router, but troubleshooting wireless connectivity issues can take hours.
How Do I Reset My Wireless Router To Factory Defaults?
If there were one way to do this, I’d tell you how. There are a billion different wireless routers out there, so I’ll do the next best thing and show you the easiest way to find out how to reset your router.
Most routers have a tiny reset button in a hole on the back or the bottom of your router. The easiest way to reset it to factory defaults is to leave your router plugged in and use a pen to press down the reset button inside the hole for about 15 seconds. The picture is an example of what this hole looks like on a Linksys router. Your router will act just it did when you took it out of the box for the very first time.
This is the way I’d reset my router, but if you don’t know how to set your wireless router from scratch, make sure you have the instructions handy. Here’s the best way to find them if you threw away the box.
- Find your wireless router’s model number and write it down. It’s usually on the bottom or the side of your wireless router.
- Visit the manufacturer’s support website and search for your model number. You’ll find the setup instructions or downloadable user guide on the manufacturer’s support website. Here are links to a few of the big ones:
When You Set Up Your Wireless Network Again
When you set up your wireless router, it’s OK (but not necessary) to use the same name for your wireless network and same password as before. Try reconnecting to the network with your iPhone. If it connects, we’ve determined the problem was with your wireless router.
A Less Common Reason Why Your iPhone Won’t Connect To Wi-Fi
If you’re still having problems, look at your wireless security settings. Make sure the wireless security type is set to WPA2 Personal using AES encryption, not TKIP or TKIP / AES. It’s not official, but Apple devices seem to have difficulty with TKIP security. Fortunately, it’s not necessary to understand why. Look for wireless security settings in your wireless router’s manual to find out how to change this setting.
Diagnosing Hardware Problems
If you’ve Reset Network Settings on your iPhone and it won’t connect to any Wi-Fi networks at all, try to DFU restore your iPhone and restore it from a backup. If that doesn’t work, there’s a good chance you’ll need to repair your iPhone.
Apple Stores don’t do repairs to Wi-Fi antennas. The best they can do is replace your whole iPhone, and that can be expensive if you don’t have AppleCare+ and your iPhone is out of warranty or damaged.
If you’ve reset your wireless router to factory default settings and no devices will connect to it, there may be a hardware problem with your Wi-Fi router. Visit the manufacturer’s website to learn the troubleshooting steps before you decide to go out and buy a new one.
If You Have To Buy A New Router
Apple’s Airport routers are easy to set up and have great software built in. I’m not being an Apple fanboy with this one — they really are better than the others I’ve seen. They’re a bit more expensive than the other routers you’ll find on Amazon, but may be worth paying more to avoid any more headaches.
Wrapping It Up
By this point, your iPhone is connected to Wi-Fi or you’re well on your way to a fix. I’d like to hear about your experiences solving the problem in the comments section below. If you do, let us know exactly why your iPhone wouldn’t connect to Wi-Fi and the model number of your wireless router. Your experience can help other readers with the same problem.