Learn How to Change APN Settings on Your Mobile Device

How to find the APN settings for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices

The Access Point Name (APN) represents the network or carrier that your cellphone or tablet uses for internet access. Usually, you don't have to touch the APN settings because they are configured for you automatically. Sometimes, however, you may want to visit the APN settings screen on your device.

Reasons people want to change their APN settings include troubleshooting when they can't get a data connection, moving an unlocked phone to a new service provider, attempting to avoid data charges on a prepaid cellphone plan, or trying to avoid data roaming charges.

Three young people on phones in cafe
 Peter Cade / Getty Images

Some of the reasons to change an APN involve activities in which your cellular provider would rather you not engage, such as avoiding data charges. As a result, you can only view or edit your APN on your mobile device if the carrier allows it. If you can't access your APN, you have to contact your carrier to make any changes.

Caution Regarding APN Changes

Changing the APN can mess up your device's connectivity, so be careful when editing it. Make sure you write down the APN settings before you make any changes, just in case. If you enter nonfunctioning APN settings, you might lose the cellular and data connectivity on your phone. You may also incur additional charges.

iPhone and iPad APN Settings

If your carrier allows you to view the APN settings — and not all of them do — you can find it on your mobile iOS device in one of these two locations:

  • Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data Options > Cellular Network
  • Settings > Mobile Data > Mobile Data Network

If you can view the APN settings, change them by tapping each field and entering the information supplied by your carrier. The settings save automatically. Depending on your cellular provider, you may not be able to change the APN settings.

If your carrier does not allow you to view or change the APN on your iPhone or iPad, you might try a service or site like Unlockit on the iPhone or iPad and follow the instructions for the APN Changer. The site was developed so that you could use unofficial SIM cards from other carriers on your Apple device.

If your efforts to change the APN are unsuccessful and you didn't write down the correct APN for your provider before you made the changes, you can return the iOS device to its original settings by tapping General > Reset > Reset all Settings to get back to the default APN information. Resetting all settings on the iPhone means you'll have to re-enter your information and data. Updating the iOS version of your device may also return the APN to the original settings.

Android APN Settings

Now that unlocked smartphones are available, owners can move between carriers. When they do, a new APN must be used to identify the carrier.

Unlocked Android smartphones have APN settings, but their location varies by the phone manufacturer. In general, you can locate the APN settings on your Android device at:

  • SettingsMobile Networks > Access Point Names

If you don't find them there, look in the Wireless & networks or Network and Internet section of the settings or in Cellular Networks.

When you find the appropriate APN section, take these steps:

  1. Tap to open the Access Point Names section.
  2. Do not change any existing APNs. Instead, press the plus sign to bring up Edit access point.
  3. Enter the information from your carrier in the fields provided, leaving fields blank where you don't have any information to enter. Type everything exactly; even a stray space can throw everything off.
  4. Save the APN. If you don't see the Save option, look in the menu represented by three dots.
  5. Return to the Access Point Names screen and select the new APN.

A Guide to APN Settings

Another resource for both iOS and Android mobile devices is the APNchangeR project, where you can find cellular carrier settings or prepaid data info by country and operator.

Different APNs may represent differently priced plans with your carrier. If you want to make a change in your plan, contact your carrier instead of trying to change the APN yourself. You may end up with a higher-than-expected bill or a smartphone that won't make calls at all.

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