How to Fix It When Your iPhone GPS Isn’t Working

Use these tips and tricks to restart your iPhone GPS

GPS is one of the most popular features people use on an iPhone, and it's frustrating when it stops working. Sometimes, you encounter a "Location not available" message on your iPhone. Sometimes GPS stops working when you're using the phone for navigation. Either way, there are a few methods you can try to fix it.

Information in this article applies to iPhones running iOS 6 through iOS 13.

Causes of iPhone GPS Not Working

Some settings on the iPhone intentionally prevent GPS from working. Other causes for GPS not working are a weak signal, outdated maps data, or hardware failure. Although iPhone GPS issues are not common, they can occur after you update the iOS.

Solutions to fix GPS on your iPhone.
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Most of the solutions to the lack of a GPS signal are related to settings that are easy to fix.

How to Fix It When Your iPhone GPS Isn’t Working

Most of the fixes for an iPhone GPS problem are related to settings and are easy to try.

  1. Restart the iPhone. Turn it off, wait a minute, and turn it back on. Restarting is often a fix when something on the phone isn't performing as expected.

  2. Move to an open area. Avoid areas with no signal or a weak signal such as metal buildings, heavily wooded areas, or tunnels. Move to an open location and recheck the GPS signal.

  3. Update the iPhone iOS. Confirm that your iPhone is running the most current iOS version, and if not, upgrade it. Each new version of iOS contains bug fixes and new features.

  4. Confirm cellular data is turned on. Toggle the Cellular Data slider off and back on in the iPhone settings, and confirm that you have a signal.

  5. Turn on Wi-Fi. A Wi-Fi connection helps with accuracy, so make sure that your Wi-Fi is turned on.

    According to Apple, the iPhone Location Services uses GPS, Bluetooth, crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspots, and cellular towers to determine your location.

  6. Toggle Airplane Mode. Another quick fix is to toggle Airplane Mode on for 30 seconds. Then turn it off and try your GPS again.

  7. Toggle Location Services. Toggling location services off and then on again is a simple trick that works for many iPhone users. Occasionally something gets stuck that benefits from a quick reset. 

  8. Check the Date & Time Zone settings. Another reason GPS might not work is the date and time zone settings on the phone. To fix them, go to Settings > General > Date & Time, and choose Set Automatically.

  9. Reset network settings. Resetting the phone's network settings resolves a host of problems with Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth connections when they are broken. When the reset is complete, check your GPS to see if it is working. You may have to log in to your Wi-Fi connection because resetting the network breaks the connection.

  10. Restart the app. If your GPS problem is only with one app:

    • Close that app and reopen it.
    • Check the App Store to confirm you are running the most recent version of the app.
    • Confirm Location Services are turned on for that particular app.
    • Delete it from the phone and reinstall it from the App Store.
  11. Restore the Phone to Factory Defaults. As a last resort, you can completely reset your iPhone. If none of the fixes above worked, restore the iPhone to its factory settings.

    A factory reset erases all your settings and data. It should be used as a last resort to fix your GPS problem. You can back up your iPhone using iTunes, the Finder, or iCloud to prepare for a factory reset. You risk losing everything if you don't have a good backup.

While rare, GPS may stop working for a while after an iOS update. It may resolve itself after a few hours, or it may require another update to fix.

If none of the above fixes work, you might have a hardware problem, which is best diagnosed and repaired by Apple or an authorized Apple service provider. Search Apple's online support site if you want to continue to try to fix it yourself. Otherwise, make an Apple Genius bar appointment and take your iPhone to a local Apple Store.