Running into trouble with Wi-Fi connections on your iPhone or iPad after updating your iOS? You know you have the right password but your Wi-Fi still doesn’t’ cooperate? You’re not alone — and we’re here to help.
There appears to be several different issues or bugs associated with Wi-Fi connectivity in some of Apple’s latest mobile operating system update. If you’re experiencing any Wi-Fi weirdness after updating, then read on so we can help troubleshoot your exact issue.
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Cannot log into Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi dropping randomly?
Shortly after iOS 12.3 was first released to the public, iPad and iPhone users began experiencing a variety of Wi-Fi-related issues.
That includes problems logging into a WPA-protected Wi-Fi network (even if the user has the proper password). But it may also result in generally poor Wi-Fi performance or Wi-Fi connections that drop intermittently.
At least some of the problems appear to have persisted through iOS 12 to iOS 12.3. While it isn’t clear how widespread the Wi-Fi bugs are, problems with Wi-Fi in general look like they’re fairly common.
Quick troubleshooting tips
Before you proceed with any deeper troubleshooting, we recommend taking the following steps to root out any common connectivity issues.
- Double-check your password. We’re not saying you’re incapable of typing in a password correctly, just that many default Wi-Fi passwords are long and complicated. Make absolutely sure you’re typing it in correctly.You can check your MacBook or other electronic devices and see if they connect without any issues.
- Restart your iPhone. Using a force restart can do away with many problems in iOS (including connectivity issues).
- Check for outages. There could also be a problem with your internet service provider’s end. We recommend Googling your ISP’s website and look for any reports of outages in your area.
- Restart your router. As with iPhones or iPads, your router could be experiencing buggy behavior. We recommend restarting it. Just unplug the router and plug it back in. Avoid any buttons on the rear that say “Reset,” since these will generally restore your router to factory settings.
Check your iPhone Wi-Fi and Network Settings
In many cases, it appears that these specific Wi-Fi problems originate with the router settings. But before we get to that, there are a number of things you should try on Apple’s side that can help.
First off, make sure you’ve updated to the latest version of iOS that’s currently available. Apple regularly squashes bugs in its software releases and it’s possible that the latest iOS version has solved your particular Wi-Fi problem.
Once you’re running the latest version of iOS, try these steps.
- Forget your Wi-Fi network. Go to Settings —> Wi-Fi. Tap on the network you’re connected to and then tap Forget This Network. Finally, rejoin the network.
- Disable your VPN. Occasionally, a VPN will get in the way of smooth connectivity between your iOS device and router. We recommend disabling it and seeing if that helps your Wi-Fi performance.
- Restart Wi-Fi Assist. Go to Settings —> Cellular and scroll all the way to the bottom (past the huge list of apps). Tap the toggle next to Wi-Fi assist to disable it, then tap it again to re-enable it.
It’s also worth resetting your connectivity options. Go to Settings —> General —> Reset —> Reset Network Settings.
In the worst case scenario, you may want to carry out a complete restore of your iOS device. But we recommend holding off that this drastic step until you address the router’s side of the problem.
Check your router and System ID
If the prior iOS-based steps didn’t mitigate the Wi-Fi issues, then the problem may be with your router’s network bands. To be clear, this could still be an iOS bug — but the bug could be caused or related to the exact settings or available network bands on your router itself.
Keep in mind that router makes and models vary. We’ll keep this article as generalized as possible, but you may need to refer to your own user manual or router manufacturer website for specific instructions.
According to anecdotal user reports, iOS 12 could be having problems connecting to wireless networks when a router has both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz network bands.
The differences between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks are complicated — it isn’t simply a matter of one networking band being “better” than the other. For example, while 5 GHz networks are speedier, 2.4 GHz networks typically penetrate walls and furniture better.
In any case, many modern routers offer two Wi-Fi networks, one for each band.
More specifically, users seem to run into problems when the SSID and password for the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks are the same. It isn’t clear why this is but it may be related to iOS “roaming” between both bands and getting gummed up in the process.
If this all sounds extremely technical, don’t worry — we have your back. SSID is basically just the name of the network, the name that appears in your iPhone’s Wi-Fi menu.
Check your Wi-Fi SSID to fix this issue
As far as we can tell, changing the SSID and password for one of your router’s two network bands appears to solve this issue.
You can pretty easily figure out whether or not the SSID (network name) is the same by checking the back of your router. In most cases, there should be a sticker that states the network name for both bands. If there’s no sticker, you’ll need to log into your router, which we’ll get to.
Once you figure that out, you can proceed to changing the SSID for one band. All you need to do is open up your favorite web browser and type in a special URL into the address bar.
Generally, one of the following addresses will work, though it depends on your exact model.
The username and password is usually “admin” and “password,” unless you or someone else has changed it.
Once you get to the router’s control panel, there is typically an easy way to change the SSID (network name) and password for each band. Again, the router options vary by manufacturer, so check your user manual or manufacturer instructions if you run into any trouble.
Change the SSID and password for one of the two bands to something memorable (but make sure to use a secure password).
When all is said and done, just monitor your iOS device for Wi-FI performance.
Update your firmware
While you’re in your router’s control panel, it may be worth checking around to see if it is up-to-date as far as the latest firmware.
Many modern routers will update their firmware automatically. But if you’re on an older router, then you may need to routinely update the firmware manually. If this is the case, there usually is a prominent “firmware” or “update firmware” button in the router’s control panel.
If there isn’t, we recommend you read up on firmware versions and update status in your user manual or on the manufacturer website.
A note about Smart Connect
Again, users with iOS 12 installed on their devices seem to only run into problems when a 2.4 GHz band and a 5 GHz band are set to the same SSID. When Smart Connect is enabled, they will be.
Because of that, we recommend disabling Smart Connect and seeing if that alleviates any Wi-Fi performance or dropping issues.
To figure out if your device has Smart Connect, search the make and model of your router. If it’s enabled, try disabling it (refer to your user manual or instructions on the router maker’s website).
Is Apple going to fix this problem?
From our understanding, Apple has identified the issue and is currently working on a fix. We recommend that you install any new iOS updates as soon as they come out.
Obsessed with tech since the early arrival of A/UX on Apple, Sudz (SK) is responsible for the editorial direction of AppleToolBox. He is based out of Los Angeles, CA.
Sudz specializes in covering all things macOS, having reviewed dozens of OS X and macOS developments over the years.
In a former life, Sudz worked helping Fortune 100 companies with their technology and business transformation aspirations.