iPhone Bluetooth Not Working? Try These Fixes

Get connected and move on with your life

Bluetooth
David Becker/Stringer/Getty Images

If you're a smartphone owner, Bluetooth is what enables your phone to speak with other devices, such as Bluetooth-compatible audio speakers and headphones.

As with almost every other technological standard or device, Bluetooth can stop working at certain times and under certain conditions. Here's what to do in such situations if you happen to be an iPhone user.

Bluetooth Won't Connect? Check that the iPhone's Bluetooth is On!

The most common complaint when it comes to the iPhone's Bluetooth is it won't connect, or pair with the device you want it to. The other most common complaint claiming it won't stay connected is an extension of this issue.

Activating Bluetooth on iPhone

There can be multiple reasons for connection failures, but we'll start with the simplest and most obvious: the iPhone's Bluetooth isn't switched on. Correspondingly, it could also be the device you wish to pair your iPhone with also isn't in Bluetooth mode or doesn't have its Bluetooth switched on.

Assuming your iPhone's Bluetooth isn't switched on, here's what you do to get it working:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Tap Bluetooth
  3. Swipe Bluetooth into the green On position

To pair your iPhone with the Bluetooth device, you then need to make sure this device or appliance is discoverable, meaning you have to switch its Bluetooth on or put it in discovery mode. Depending on your device, this involves either pressing a physical button on the appliance or going to the relevant settings menu on its user interface.

iPhone Bluetooth pairing
iPhones can be paired via Bluetooth with other devices by going to Settings.

Once this has been done, you then need to pair the device with your iPhone:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Tap Bluetooth
  3. Tap the device to which you'd like to connect your iPhone. In the images above, the iPhone is connected to a Samsung audio device.

Your iPhone should then pair successfully with the device. Once paired, you'll then be able to do whatever it is the device is meant to do. If it's an audio speaker, playing music on your iPhone means the music will be heard through the speaker rather than the iPhone.

Bluetooth Won't Connect? Make Sure Your iPhone Isn't Too Far from Your Bluetooth Device!

Are your iPhone and Bluetooth-compatible device both in Bluetooth mode and discoverable? Is your iPhone Bluetooth still not working? Well, the next simplest explanation for why your iPhone won't connect is that it's too far away from the Bluetooth-compatible device.

iPhone on rock
Make sure your iPhone isn't too far away from your Bluetooth device. Pixeldasher/Pixabay

While ideal distances can vary with each device and iPhone model, you generally need to be within ten meters (i.e. 10.9 yards) to get a good Bluetooth signal. Any further and you'll likely have troubling connecting, or you'll experience a signal loss if you're already connected.

In view of this, you should put your iPhone and Bluetooth-compatible device as close to each other as possible when trying to pair them, increasing the likelihood they'll successfully connect.

Bluetooth Won't Connect? Make Sure Your Bluetooth Device Isn't Connected to Something Else!

Another prime suspect in the "iPhone Bluetooth not working" mystery is interference from other devices. If your Bluetooth-compatible device is already connected via Bluetooth to, say, a laptop, then you typically can't connect your iPhone to it.

iPhone 4S and iPhone 7

In such cases, you should try turning off the Bluetooth of the interfering device, then try pairing your iPhone with the Bluetooth-compatible device. This should work as expected, allowing you to use the iPhone and device together.

In rarer cases, you should also try deleting any other devices from the memory of your Bluetooth-compatible appliance, assuming the appliance saves the devices it's previously paired with. For example, if you've recently upgraded to a new iPhone, you can try deleting your previous iPhones from your Bluetooth-compatible device's memory. This has been known to solve connection issues in the case of car speakers.

Bluetooth Won't Connect? Check Your Battery!

If both devices are in Bluetooth mode, they're close together, and no other device is interfering with the pairing, then one possibility is your Bluetooth-compatible device has a low battery charge.

Having a depleted battery can weaken your Bluetooth device's ability to pair with your iPhone. In cases like these, you should try connecting it to a power source, which should give it enough power to handle the pairing process and also let it recharge.

Bluetooth Won't Connect? Restart and Re-Discover!

When none of the above methods work, you can also try two simple, yet sometimes effective, methods. First, try switching off and restarting your iPhone and Bluetooth-compatible device, since it clears the current operating state of both gadgets.

Forgetting a device
It's sometimes worth forgetting a device and then repairing with it again.

You can also try forgetting the Bluetooth-compatible device on your iPhone, then discovering it again. Here's how you do this:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Tap Bluetooth
  3. Tap the symbol next to the name of your Bluetooth-compatible device
  4. Tap Forget This Device
  5. Tap Forget Device

Once you've done this, you'll need to discover the device again.

  1. Put the device in its Bluetooth discovery mode. Refer to its instructions if you're unsure how to do this.
  2. Repeat steps 1 and 2 above.
  3. After Step 2, your iPhone should then discover the device. Tap the name of the device to pair with it.

With certain devices, you'll be prompted to enter a passcode or PIN when pairing your iPhone with it. This code can usually be found in your device's instruction manual.

Bluetooth Won't Connect? Try a Hard Reset!

As a more serious alternative to restarting both devices, you can try a hard reset if your iPhone still won't connect to Bluetooth. This clears the temporary memory your apps use, thereby solving certain operating problems.

For owners of the iPhone 8 and X, here's what you should do:

  1. Press and release the Volume Up button on the left-hand side of the phone
  2. Press and release the Volume Down button
  3. Hold down the Sleep/Wake button on the right-hand side of the phone until it restarts

Owners of earlier iPhone models should refer to a previous Lifewire guide that deals specifically with hard resets.

Once you've restarted, you should go about repairing your iPhone with your Bluetooth device, as described above.

Bluetooth Won't Connect? Other Options.

If you've tried repairing and resetting both your iPhone and your Bluetooth device, and you've cleared any other devices that might be interfering, you could be facing a more serious problem, such as a software or hardware issue.

In this case, you should try contacting Apple's Customer Support, which may be able to help you pinpoint and resolve the issue. Alternatively, you could try booking an appointment at your nearest Apple store's Genius Bar.