How to Fix Cellular Data Not Working on iPhone and iPad

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 a lot of cellular data not working bugs.

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…

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.

If cellular data stubbornly refuses to cooperate, we may need to reset the network settings completely. This will wipe out any saved WiFi networks while resetting your cellular data settings to their defaults. This means resetting your network settings can also fix WiFi 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 pass code to authorize the reset.

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

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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.

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 popup titled “Carrier Settings Update.” then click “Update.”

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.

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.

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 pass code to authorize the operation.

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

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 Sept 2015 and was updated in August 2018.

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