Top tips and tweaks to solve connectivity problems on the iPhone. Can't access the App Store on your iPhone? The solution is here.

What can you do if Facebook cannot connect? What if you can’t access the App Store? What if Maps won’t get the maps? No email? Solve connection problems on the iPhone with these top tips.

Anyone with a mobile phone has been in a situation where you need to access some information on the internet, but the app just isn’t working. For example, Safari cannot access a website, the App Store won’t let you access and download apps, the Mail app will not show the latest emails, and so on.

What can you do to restore internet access? Here are some possible solutions.

1 Connect to the right network

Sometimes the phone can connect to the wrong Wi-Fi and this is especially true if if has done so before. For example, If you are in a public place such as a Wi-Fi hotspot at a cafe, airport, hotel and so on, there may be several Wi-Fi networks within range. Some may be private to the business, but others may be for public access.

At home you may find that the phone shows your Wi-Fi network and several of your neighbours’. It might connect to the wrong one.

Go to Settings > Wi-Fi and see which wireless network the phone is connected to. Tap another one if it is not the one you want. If the iPhone repeatedly connects to the wrong wireless network there is a way to stop it. Press the i button on the right and then press Forget This Network.

Wi-Fi network selection in iPhone Settings

2 Log in to the hotspot

Something which is confusing to some people is that you can be connected to a wireless network, but still have no internet access. This situation can arise with public Wi-Fi hotspots that require you to log in.

When the Wi-Fi icon appears in the status bar at the top of the screen, you might assume you are on the internet, but you are connected only to the router, and it can block internet traffic.

The iPhone is very good at automatically triggering the login page for Wi-Fi hotspots, but if you don’t see it, open Safari and go to a website like apple.com or this website. The router should respond by showing the hotspot login page.

Log in to Wi-Fi hotspot on the iPhone

3 Turn off and on

Whenever problems occur with almost any device, whether it is a phone, computer or TV, one of the easiest fixes is to turn it off, wait a few seconds and then turn it back on. You would be amazed how many times that fixes things.

Swipe up from the bottom of the screen and turn off the Wi-Fi. Wait a few seconds and then turn it back on.

It might help to reboot the iPhone. Hold down the sleep/wake button until the shutdown screen appears and it says Slide to power off. Wait about 10 seconds and then hold down the sleep/wake button to turn it on.

4 Use 3G/4G

If Wi-Fi is not working, you might need to use the 3G or 4G mobile network to access the internet. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen and tap the Wi-Fi icon to switch it off. Now try the app or website again and see if it is working.

5 Check your mobile data

If 3G/4G is not working, it may be because data is turned off or you have exceeded your monthly allowance. Go to Settings > Mobile Data (Cellular Data on some phones) and make sure the switch is turned on. The Personal Hotspot should be turned off if you are not using it.

Turn on mobile data in Settings on the iPhone

Swipe up the screen to see a list of apps that are allowed to use mobile data. Is the switch for the app you want to use turned off? For example, I have App Store turned off so it does not try to update big apps on my mobile data allowance. A fact I sometimes forget - I try to access the App Store and it won’t work.

If the app you want to use has mobile data turned off, turn it on, or wait until you have a wireless connection.

You might not be able to download very large apps if you are using the App Store with a 3G/4G connection. Apple used to impose quite a low maximum size for downloading apps, but the limit has been raised over time. It is thought to be currently 100MB and there are many common apps larger than this. Wait until you are on Wi-Fi to use the App Store.

You will probably have a similar problem if you try to download videos over 3G/4G using the iTunes app.

6 Quit the app

If an app is having connection problems it sometimes helps to quit. Normally when you quit an app, you press the home button. This suspends it and it is frozen so that when you start it again, it carries on from where you were.

This is normally useful, but if there is a problem then the app will resume whatever it was doing and still have the same problem.

Double tap the home button or on the iPhone 7, press the left edge of the screen and swipe inwards. The recently used apps are displayed and swiping up over an app closes it. When it is restarted by pressing the app icon, you may find that the connectivity problem is fixed.

I like to use the Instagram app on the iPad so the photos are shown on a larger screen than the iPhone. Sometimes the app stops playing videos or reports a connection problem. Quitting, swiping it away in the task switcher and then restarting it cures the problem.

7 Uninstall and reinstall the app

Sometimes an app just won’t work properly and it has connection problems or other issues. The best solution might be to deleted and download it again. Press the icon and hold your finger down until the icon jiggles, then press the cross. The app and its data are deleted.

Go to the App Store, search for the app and download it again.

8 Is it the site?

If you are trying to view a website using Safari and cannot get it to display, it could be an internet connection problem or it could be the site that is having problems. It might not be the iPhone after all.

Go to a website you know is OK and see if the page is displayed. For example, go to the Google home page. A slight problem here is that the page might be cached, so the internet may not be working even though the page is displayed. A way around this is to go to a news site or somewhere else where the content changes daily or hourly.

Most, if not all, public Wi-Fi hotspots have monitoring, blocking and filtering. They can block visits to websites or prevent services from working. Sometimes they block things you want to use. For example, one place I visit blocks Pinterest. A few years back a place I stayed at on holiday had Wi-Fi, but it blocked Apple iCloud and just wouldn’t allow a connection. I managed to find an email and reported it, and it was enabled. Weird stuff can happen at Wi-Fi hotspots.

9 Check Apple services

If the connection problem is with an Apple service, such as iCloud, the App Store, iMessage, maps and so on, check out the status of the service at https://www.apple.com/uk/support/systemstatus/

If the service is down then no amount of fiddling on the iPhone will make it work. You just have to wait for Apple to fix it. If all services are OK then it narrows down the problem to the iPhone or whatever app is being used.

Apple web services status

10 Search Twitter

Twitter is a useful tool for finding out what is happening in the world right now. When there are problems with website, apps and services, people tweet about it. For example, if you are having problems with Facebook, open the Twitter app and search for Facebook.

Twitter app on the iPhone

If you search Twitter for your problem and find other people with the same issue, you know it isn’t your phone or app, so just be patient while the problem is fixed. If no other mention of the problem is found, it is must be specific to your phone.

Finding others with the same problem is a bit of a relief in a way because you know it isn’t just you. Fixes may be posted by other people or you may see messages saying when the problem will be fixed.