How to Fix Cellular Data Not Working on iPhone and iPad

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Sometimes your cellular data will stop working on your iPhone or iPad. Assuming you are not just in a poor coverage area, there are a few generalized steps you can take that will fix many cellular-data-not-working bugs.

The Obvious Stuff

If you contact the Genius Bar or your cell carrier regarding your troubles, the first thing you’ll hear is, “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” Restarting is troubleshooting 101 because it works so well, so make sure you give it a shot first.

Hold down the power button on your iPhone until the “Slide to Power Off” slider appears, slide it to the right, then switch on your iPhone again after it’s turned off.

Also, go to “Settings -> Cellular” and make sure that your cellular data is actually switched on. Like we said, obvious stuff but you never know.

Isolating the Problem

If you’re taking matters into your own hands, it’s first important to establish that it’s definitely your data connection that’s the source of your issues.

  • Look at the top-left corner of your screen. If you don’t see the familiar 4G/LTE icon appearing when it should be, then your mobile data isn’t working (which could be related to your location or an internal problem on your device). Sometimes, however, the 4G logo can appear but your data still doesn’t work, in which case, read on for our list of fixes.
  • If it’s only a specific app, like Safari or WhatsApp, not connecting to the Internet, you could try reinstalling the app. With Safari, we actually have a list of fixes for Safari not working which can help you. Your data connection won’t have an effect on individual apps, but your device as a whole, so this isn’t the list for you if you’re struggling with a specific app not going online.

1. Re-insert SIM Card

Fix Cellular Data Not Working Iphone Sim Card

One of the first things you should try is removing and reinserting your SIM card. While it’s unlikely that the card got dirty or dusty while in your phone, reinserting forces your phone to re-read the card, and can jolt your cellular data back to life.

The order you should do this in is:

  • Power off your iPhone
  • Remove the SIM card
  • Re-insert the SIM card
  • Power your phone back on

2. Switch on Data Roaming

It may sound counterintuitive, but a lot of people who experienced iPhone data outage have found this to be a reliable solution. Specifically, after certain iOS updates, some devices have been affected by a bug which caused the OS to get confused about when you’re roaming.

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If you think you have this bug, go to “Settings -> Mobile Data -> Mobile Data Options,” then switch on “Data Roaming” and reboot your device.

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Obviously, this is a workaround to what will hopefully be a temporary bug, but if you do go abroad and still have roaming on, remember to switch it off, as otherwise you might face a nasty phone bill.

3. Reset Network Settings

If cellular data stubbornly refuses to cooperate, we may need to reset the network settings completely. This will wipe out any saved Wi-Fi networks while resetting your cellular data settings to their defaults. This means resetting your network settings can also fix Wi-Fi problems if you’re having any of those.

1. Open the Settings app.

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2. Scroll down and tap the “General” menu option.

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3. Scroll to the bottom and tap the “Reset” menu option.

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4. Choose “Reset Network Settings” in the middle of the screen.

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5. Enter your iPhone or iPad’s passcode to authorize the reset.

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6. Tap “Reset Network Settings” to confirm the reset.

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4. Toggle Airplane Mode

If, for some reason, your iPhone or iPad has gotten confused, toggling cellular data on and off can “reset” the connection and solve the problem.

1. Swipe up from the bottom of your screen to open Command Center.

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2. Press the “Airplane mode” icon.

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3. Wait a few moments for the iPhone’s radios to turn off.

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4. Tap the “Airplane mode” icon again.

5. Wait for the device to reconnect.

5. Check for Carrier Updates

If you’re suffering from a genuine bug, you might find relief in a carrier update. These are issued infrequently, but you’ll need to be on the latest version to troubleshoot properly.

1. Open the Settings app.

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2. Scroll down and tap the “General” menu option.

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3. Tap the “About” menu option.

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4. Wait a moment. If you get a pop-up titled “Carrier Settings Update,” then click “Update.”

6. Check for iOS Updates

If there’s no carrier update, there might be an updated version of iOS. We can check for that in roughly the same place.

1. Open the Settings app.

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2. Scroll down and tap the “General” menu option.

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3. Under “General” tap “Software Update.”

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4. If an update is available, install the update. Your phone will restart during this process.

7. Perform a Backup and Factory Reset

For the most stubborn problems, you might want to try returning your phone to factory defaults. You’ll need to make a backup of your device first to ensure you don’t lose any data.

1. Connect your iPhone or iPad to a computer and create an iTunes backup of your device. Make sure you create an encrypted backup. Only encrypted backups will store Health and Keychain data.

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2. Once the backup is complete, press the “Restore Backup” button to begin the restoration process.

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3. When the restoration completes, check to see if your data works better.

8. Perform a Factory Reset

Optionally, you could leave the phone in its “like new” state, which might have removed an app or service that was messing up your cellular data. If you want to do that, make a backup anyway – you might regret it if you don’t.

1. Open the Settings app.

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2. Scroll down and tap the “General” menu option.

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3. Scroll to the bottom and tap the “Reset” menu option.

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4. Tap “Erase All Content and Settings” to completely wipe your iPhone.

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5. Enter your passcode to authorize the operation.

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6. Tap “Erase iPhone” to confirm the operation.

Conclusion

If the cellular data isn’t working on your iPhone or iPad, you can use the above options to fix it. They’re fairly general, but they’ll work in nearly any case. Of course, if you have hardware problems, software solutions won’t fix it. In that case you’ll need to get the device replaced.

This article was first published in September 2015 and was updated in November 2019.

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