How to Fix It When Mobile Data Is Not Working

What to do when your phone says there's no data connection

Despite all the added convenience smartphones can bring, their 4G and 5G connections can occasionally stop functioning and leave you wondering, “Why is my cellular data not working?”

Causes of Mobile Data Not Working

A no data connection error can be the result of a basic software glitch, damaged hardware, or even a system-wide outage that renders the entire mobile network unavailable. Below are some of the proven solutions to get your mobile phone’s cellular data working again on iPhone and Android.

A woman using offline maps on her smartphone while traveling internationally.

How to Fix No Data Connection Errors

These troubleshooting solutions for getting your cellular data connections working again have been proven to work on most iPhone and Android smartphone models and may also work on handsets made by other mobile manufacturers too.

  1. Restart your smartphone. This is a simple solution, but one that can often fix a variety of tech glitches and bugs.

  2. Turn off your mobile device. Different than a restart or simply turning your phone’s screen off before putting it into your pocket. A full shutdown of your iPhone or Android smartphone is worth a try if the restart doesn’t work, as it forces a re-connection to your mobile network.

  3. Turn off Airplane Mode. Whether you’ve been in a movie theater or on a plane, don’t forget to turn off your mobile device’s Airplane Mode afterwards. If you have no data connection, this feature could still be turned on.

    If AirPlane Mode is already turned off, you can try turning it on, and then turning it off again. A cycle in and out of this mode has been known to fix mobile connections for some people.

  4. Disable Wi-Fi. This shouldn’t happen, but sometimes it does, especially on older iPhone models. Wi-Fi internet has been known to interfere with mobile network connectivity so turning it off may help you get your cellular data back.

    A big reason this works in some situations is because you're not quite getting a strong enough Wi-Fi connection, but you are still connected. So you may be in your yard or almost out of range from the router, but not far enough to drop the connection and start with the mobile connection. In this in between area, you can't get online over Wi-Fi or mobile.

    Don’t forget to turn your Wi-Fi back on after you’re done. You don’t want to reach your monthly data cap.

  5. Disable Bluetooth. Similar to the Wi-Fi problem, having Bluetooth enabled has also been known to affect cellular connections on Android and iPhone smartphones.

    If your Bluetooth continues to cause conflicts with your phone’s cellular data connection, you might want to try disabling it permanently and connecting your Bluetooth devices to your tablet or laptop instead.

  6. Check your network provider. If you’re getting a "mobile network not available" error message, the cause of the problem may actually be a network outage. The easiest way to check if this is the case is to have a look at your provider’s official Twitter account. Many companies use this social network to keep users informed of network status and updates.

  7. Turn on your mobile data. Something else to check is that you actually have mobile data turned on. It's a setting in your phone that must be enabled, just like how Wi-Fi and Bluetooth need to be enabled to use those connection types.

  8. Install the latest system update. Updating to the latest version of the iOS or Android OS can often fix a lot of bugs associated with your mobile data not working. Some carriers even require the latest operating system versions to function properly.

    Always check to make sure the mobile carrier Twitter accounts you follow are either confirmed by a blue checkmark next to their name or are linked to the official company website. Never share your account or billing information in public tweets. 

  9. Check your SIM card. If you’ve been traveling abroad, you may have forgotten to put your SIM card back into your personal smartphone. If you could not activate your cellular data network on a new phone, this could be the cause. It can also be a good idea to see if the SIM card is damaged. Small scratches are usually okay, but if it has burn marks, it may need to be replaced.

  10. Unlock your phone. If your phone is locked to its initial carrier, it may not work with a SIM card from a different company. In this case, you’ll need to unlock it to get it to use cellular data properly.

  11. Reset your network settings. Resetting your network settings will remove all stored networking data and let you begin again with a fresh connection.

  12. Perform a factory reset. Doing a factory reset on your iPhone or Android should be the last thing you try since it has the potential to delete some of your data. Doing so can fix a lot of problems, though, so it’s definitely worth trying before buying a new handset.

  • Why won't some apps work with my mobile data?

    Aside from general network and connection issues, there are a couple of other factors that could cause some apps to fail to work with your mobile data connection. Your data plan could be very close to (or at) its limit, which would prevent the apps from using more of your data until your limits reset for the next month. Data usage may also be turned off for the app, in which case you'll need to go into your phone's Settings and manually allow each of the affected apps.

  • Why won't Messenger work with my mobile data?

    If you're on a mobile data connection and Messenger either won't display messages or is giving you a "No Internet Connection" error, first try closing and reopening the app. If the problem persists, make sure that Messenger has been updated to its latest version, then double-check your app permissions.

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