How to Fix Grayed-Out Wi-Fi on an iPhone

What to do if you can't enable Wi-Fi on your iPhone

Wifi greyed out on phone.
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When Wi-Fi is grayed out on an iPhone, it most likely is due to a problem that happened when upgrading the iOS, the operating system that runs on the iPhone. Luckily, it's not a super-common situation: Some users experience Wi-Fi issues with an update while most others do not, so it's really a hit-and-miss situation. Still, if it's happening to you, you'll be happy to know there are a few things you can try to fix the Wi-Fi problem.

A grayed out and un-tappable Wi-Fi setting is most often reported by iPhone 4S users, but it can affect newer iPhones, too. In fact, any iPhone or iPad that updates to a newer iOS version can experience any kind of bug — most are just usually flushed out before they're released to the public.

Note: It's important to know that iOS updates are important because they deliver security updates and add new features to your device. Don't worry about software updates causing problems; they're uncommon and you should keep your phone updated as new software is released.

Option 1: Make Sure Airplane Mode Is Off

This may sound silly, but before you do anything more drastic, make sure Airplane Mode isn't turned on. This is a feature that disables Wi-Fi (and cellular networking) because it's designed to let you use your phone on a plane — where, in some cases, outgoing wireless communications aren't allowed.

The easiest way to see if Airplane Mode is on is to open Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of the screen (or down from the top right on iPhone X). If the airplane icon is active, tap it to turn Airplane Mode off and your problem should be solved. If it's not active, something else is going on and you should move on to the next step.

Option 2: Update iOS

The Wi-Fi problem is the result of a bug, and Apple doesn't usually let bugs that affect a lot of users stick around for too long. Because of that, there's a good chance that a newer version of iOS has fixed the problem and that upgrading to it will get your Wi-Fi back.

You can upgrade your iPhone from the phone itself or use iTunes to download and install the latest version of iOS. When the update is complete and your iPhone has restarted, check to see if Wi-Fi is working. If it's still grayed out, move on to the next step.

Option 3: Reset Network Settings

If an operating system upgrade didn't help, the problem may not be with your OS at all — it may reside within your settings. Each iPhone stores a series of settings related to accessing Wi-Fi and cellular networks that help it get online. These settings can sometimes cause problems that interfere with connectivity.

It's very important to know that resetting your network settings means you'll lose whatever is stored in your current settings. This can include Wi-Fi passwords, Bluetooth connections, VPN settings, and more. That's not ideal, but if that's what you need to do to get Wi-Fi working again, so be it. Here's how:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Go to the bottom of the screen and choose Reset.
  4. Select Reset Network Settings. If you have a passcode on your phone, you'll need to enter it before you can reset.
  5. If a warning pops up asking you to confirm this is what you want to do, tap the option to proceed.

When this is done, restart your phone. It's not required, but it certainly doesn't hurt.

Option 4: Reset All Settings

If resetting your network settings didn't help, it's time to take a more drastic step: resetting all of your phone's settings. You don't want to take this step lightly since it will remove every setting, preference, password, and connection you've added to your phone since you started using it.

Note: Resetting your iPhone's settings will not delete any apps, music, photos, etc. However, it's always recommended to back up your phone in case something goes wrong.

It's not fun to have to recreate all of those settings, but it may be required. Here's how:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Reset at the very bottom of the screen.
  4. Choose Reset All Settings. If your iPhone is protected with a passcode, you'll need to enter it now.
  5. In the warning that pops up, confirm that you want to proceed.

Option 5: Restore to Factory Settings

If resetting all the settings doesn't work to fix your iPhone's Wi-Fi problem, it's time for the nuclear option: restoring to factory settings. Unlike a simple restart, resetting to factory default settings is the process by which you delete everything on your iPhone and return it to the state it was in when you first took it out of the box.

This is most definitely a last resort option, but sometimes starting from scratch is what you need to do to solve a serious problem. Follow these steps: 

  1. Sync your phone to iTunes or iCloud (whichever you use for syncing normally) to make sure you have a backup of all of the content of your phone. This is especially important if you have things on your phone that aren't on your computer or in iCloud. Syncing will get them there so that later in this process, you can restore them to your phone.
  2. Open the Settings app.
  3. Tap General.
  4. Swipe to the bottom and tap Reset.
  5. Tap Erase All Content and Settings
  6. In the warning pop-up, tap Erase Now or Erase Phone (the button changes depending on your phone's iOS version). Your phone will take a minute or two to erase all data

You'll now want to set up your phone and then check to see if Wi-Fi is working. If it is, your problem is solved and you can sync all of your content to your phone once again. If it's not working, move on to the next step.

Option 6: Get Tech Support

If all of these attempts haven't solved the Wi-Fi problem on your iPhone, it might not be software related. Instead, there could be something wrong with the Wi-Fi hardware on your phone.

The best way to determine if that's the case, and to get it fixed, is to to make an appointment with the Genius Bar at your local Apple store and have them check out your phone.

Option 7: Do Something Crazy (Not Recommended)

If you read some other articles online about solving this Wi-Fi problem, you'll see one other recommendation: putting your iPhone in a freezer. Some people report that this solves their problem but we do not recommend it.

Extremely cold temperatures can damage your iPhone and putting it in a freezer can void its warranty. Try this option if you're a risk taker, but we strongly recommend against it unless you're willing to ruin your iPhone in the process of trying to fix it.