How to Fix the Cellular Data Not Working on Android

Cellular data, mobile data, whatever you want to call it, is one of those things that only becomes a life necessity once you acquire your first smartphone. It’s only when you lose that precious connectivity that you realize you don’t know how to get anywhere without Google Maps, don’t have anything to read without Flipboard, and don’t know how to communicate with people through any medium other than WhatsApp.

When cellular data is not working on Android, it can be world-shattering (or at least a nuisance). Here are some tips on how to get it back.

Some will scoff at the very mention of suggestions like “reboot your phone” and “remove and reinsert your SIM card,” but these should always be the first port of call when trying to fix mobile data issues. There’s also an extra little trick to rebooting your phone that could help:

  • Before rebooting, turn on Airplane Mode
  • Wait for 30 seconds, then turn Airplane Mode off
  • If you still don’t have data, turn airplane mode back on, turn your phone off, wait for a minute, turn your phone back on, turn airplane mode off, wait for thirty seconds, then turn mobile data on.

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If this fails, then try the following fixes.

Access Point Names (APNs) are the means by which your mobile network provider connects your phone to the mobile Internet. It sets your phone up with all the crucial settings like IP addresses and gateways to (hopefully) get you connected. However, this process can sometimes go wrong and require a reset. The following shows how to do it.

1. Go to “Settings -> Mobile Data/Wireless Controls/Wireless & Networks.”

2. Tap “Mobile Networks -> Access point names.”

3. You should see a list of APNs (potentially with only one network on them). Tap the menu icon at the top-right, then “Reset to default.”

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This option doesn’t exist in the APN settings of all phones, but some devices (like the OnePlus 3) give you the option of leaving the APN Protocol field blank. If that’s the case in your network’s APN settings, make sure it says IPv4/IPv6 instead. Likewise, with other devices make sure it says this rather than just one of the two.

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It’s a sad but not uncommon occurrence for your APN settings to get out of whack after an Android software update, and if a standard reset doesn’t fix the problem, then you may need to enter your APN address manually.

1. Go to your APN list using the method in the previous tip.

2. Tap the ‘+’ icon or the 3-dot menu button, then “New APN.”

3. Enter all the APN details for your network. There’s a decent list of US, Canadian and UK APN settings here and a more comprehensive list of UK APN settings here.

4. Save your new APN settings, then select them from the APN list on your device.

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Every Android phone lets you set your own mobile data limits and warnings about when you’re about to reach your limit. These aren’t usually switched on by default, but maybe you set a limit previously, have since upgraded your tariff, and have forgotten to update your mobile data limit accordingly. To check this:

1. Go to “Settings -> Mobile Data/Data Usage” (depending on your device).

2. You’ll see a graph showing your data usage along with a whole bunch of settings. Make sure your data limits in the graph correspond with what your network allows by dragging the limit up or down in the graph.

3. Alternatively, you can turn off all data limits by unticking the “Limit mobile data usage” box.

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Mobile data is a big deal in this day and age, and it’s useful to be able to get these fixes taken care of in your memory should you encounter problems in an area without WiFi to fall back on. After all, you won’t be able to look up the solutions on Make Tech Easier because you’ll be offline. So start revising. (Bonus points go to those who memorize their network’s APN settings!)

This article was published in October 2016 and was updated in December 2017.

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