iPhone Bug: Can't connect to cellular data network

iPhone Bug: Can't connect to cellular data network

If you've ever picked up your iPhone, seen 4 or 5 bars, then tried to go on the web or check mail only to get the popup "Can't connect to cellular data network" you've been bitten by this bug.

Sometimes the cell network really is down but sometimes it isn't and that's what makes this such a frustrating issue to trouble shoot. Details after the break.

Data and voice are separate services on your iPhone so you might easily be able to make phone calls and send/receive SMS but when it comes to using anything like Safari, Mail, or apps that need the internet -- you're dead. (And seeing those full bars and being dead is especially frustrating, like when you're Wi-Fi router is working but your internet connection is down!)

Symptoms

This one is easy!

  • You can't access the internet: no Safari, no Mail, etc.

Fixes

Here's how you can try and fix it, least painful methods first:

  • Check to see if your carrier is having a data outage. If so, wait until it's resolved. (Carriers will often lie, so check TiPb, Twitter, etc. and see if anyone else is complaining about an outage.)

If you're sure it's not your carrier:

  • Tap Settings, toggle Airplane Mode off, wait 5 seconds, toggle it back on
  • Do a soft reset
  • Do a hard reset
  • Tap Settings, tap General, scroll down to Reset, tap Reset Network Settings (you'll have to re-enter all Wi-Fi passwords, etc. after this)

Reset Network Settings

Also frustrating is that this problem can be temporary -- carrier outage, too many people on the tower, error on your iPhone -- and it can fix itself on its own after a little while. It can also be a problem on your iPhone that doesn't fix itself and drives you crazy. Those are the fixes we've tried, if you're experiencing the problem let us know, and let us know what fixes have worked for you!

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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iPhone Bug: Can't connect to cellular data network

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I most often see this happen when trying to connect to the App Store. Matter of fact I was just "bitten" by this bug while on this website.

I noticed this a lot when AT&T was working on upgrading the towers in my area to 3G. Had problems on and off for months, either horribly slow data speeds or could not activate data network... Thankfully it resolved right before New Years when we got 3G...
And just a note... AT&T declined having any tower issues whenever I reported issues in my area. They constantly tried telling me it was my iPhone, but couldn't offer an answer when I explained my iPad 3G and iPhone 3GS had the same problem, along with 4 other people with iPhones... So it might not hurt to ask your friends too!

No in my area. but what is the purpose of this, rene.? you don't have att, you live in canada right so wtf? are trying to put att down and give more ads to verizon?
i don't know but men sometimes i hate you..

Interesting -- this happens a lot to me, and I do not recall it happening prior to 4.x. LIke Jared, I mainly notice this when connecting to the App Store. It happens infrequently, but it has happened to me even while I am at home in connected to my WiFi network. (Typical ocurrence: reading tipb on Mobile Safari, switch to App Store, get Could not connect.. message, hit Updates again, connects fine.)

Certain applications make errors due to being left on in multi-tasking. So if you double click the home button, go to Safari, hold Safari until the minus sign appears then tap the minus sign, it may clear up the next time you use it. That should be your first course of action with any application.

I've had my iPhone 4 for 6 days and this happened to me yesterday. I can't remember if I was accessing the AppStore (yes, Microsoft, the app store) or not.. However, I did notice that I had been dropped from 3G to Edge which I thought was weird, and then got the error.. I did a hard reset and it solved problem. In the picture, it seems as though the data was on Edge as well..

This is much like the "could not complete purchase" error that comes up from the App Store - even though when you clear it - the application is obviously downloading...

@yo mama
First of all, your name is retarded, pick a new one, what are you 12?
Second, yea he's not on AT&T but be probably recorded emails about it or hears about it from friends he has from the states, and assuming that other people in the states have this problem to and not just his friends or the people that say something to m, he posts the tip so that people will know ways to fix it. And how do you know it doesn't happen to him? The article says cellular network. It does point out AT&T, or any other carrier

Thank God this isn't just me!
This is really annoying, but I've never had to go past a Soft Reset (hold down Power Button and Slide to Power Off).
Then I restart and re-enter the APNs. Apple fix, please!

continually happens and knew it was not isolated, went to apple they act like they have never seen this. they blame att and tell me to get new sim card, done, problem still there! apple blows, spend some of those billions and get some software people who can actually make itunes and your products work correctly!!!

When I see this, I've never tracked it down to a carrier outtage. My suspicion is that the iPhone's trying to handshake to the tower in the area, and it's taking a long time or errored for some reason. Thus why airplane mode and back again usually works. It redoes the connection.

I only get this occasionally when going into the app store while it's searching for updates and with one other app called sportacular which is rapidly deteriorating in quality anyways.

I'm experiencing this issue recently. I've called Fido support and the support department declared my phone as defective and that I should talk to Apple for a fix. The strange thing is I get no 2G (Edge) service. So if I turn off 3G I get "No service". After network reset, hard reset, restore to default settings and took out SIM, etc 2G Edge worked momentarily and then "No service" showed up.
My carrier is Fido 9.0.
iPhone is running OS 4.2.1.
For carriers I see Fido and 302880. I think something fishy is going on with Fido's signal for my phone has worked for years without problems.

Forgot to say that 3G service does work most of the time but it too starts to into "No service". My guess is that 3G always works but when I'm out of range it tries to switch to 2G but since 2G never works it displays "No service".

bonjour, j'ai également un problème sur mon i phone 3gs(jailbreaker) de se genre sauf que mon i phone affiche en anglais (activation a échoué en raison d'une erreur de réseau ,s'il vous plaît essayer de nouveau plus tard)après l'avoir fait rebooter depuis l'écran d'accueil, celui ci devient très lent et il met donc impossible de le déverrouiller. j'ai donc fait plusieurs tentative de reboot depuis mon ordi mais toujours le même problème.
j'espère que je ne suis pas le seul a avoir eu se beug ainsi
j'espère que l'un d'entre vous pourra m'aider.

I really thought my phone is f**ked up. But now I came to know it is happening to everyone. Hope this heals fast. Because it's killin me. It's really annoying. Please anybody help me.
I have done everything soft reset, hard reset, restore. You name it. I have done everything but still it's there. Please guys do something. I am really tensed right now.
Thanks

Constant problem now for a few weeks. Started with intermittent connection issues and now is pretty much 90% of the time getting the message " Could not connect to cellular data network" Apples version of the MS Blue Screen :(
ATT told me the Network is fine and it must be the SIM card or the phone. I went to an ATT Company store and replaced the SIM Card whichg immediatley allowed access. The problem started again the next day. I ordered an HYC Inspire which I bought for $29 at wireless.amazon.com
My iPhone 3G is useless and only a year old. If the problem continues with the HTC I will force ATT to let me out of the contract and go back to TMobile

I tried the airplane mode witch which has usually worked in the past. Then I went to my account on my computer and realized I hadn't paid my bill for 3 months and my account was suspended. Oops.

i hard reset my iphone and the data worked. Once I restored my backup to my phone, the cellular data doesn't work again. What do I do?? Help please ..:'(

my iphone 4 was working properly.
after a few months one fine day, wen i opned safari, it said could not conect cellular data. i tried restoring my network settings but dint work. plzzz help out in this. :(

Roaming blockers such as 3radicate can cause this as they stop working and cause problems in later IOS versions. Find out how to uninstall these from where they were sourced

i keep on getting this message from day 0 and don't know how to get rid of it. It doesn't do anything but annoys me to get this message again and again every now and then. I tried popup blocker but it didn't work either. Does anyone have another method in their bag??

Read below...
"Verizon Wireless strives to provide customers the best experience when using our network, a shared resource among tens of millions of customers. To help achieve this, if you use an extraordinary amount of data and fall within the top 5% of Verizon Wireless data users we may reduce your data throughput speeds periodically for the remainder of your then current and immediately following billing cycle to ensure high quality network performance for other users at locations and times of peak demand. Our proactive management of the Verizon Wireless network is designed to ensure that the remaining 95% of data customers aren't negatively affected by the inordinate data consumption of just a few users."

lol....so I guess I fall within the top 5%! This means I can't receive text messages while they are "limiting my data throughput"? That's awfully convenient, thanks Verizon!!

try going to location services in settings and turn off "find my iphone" and some other apps that use it, this didnt work for me either, but after turning find my iphone, facebook and other apps, it started to work for me, it seems that everytime i went to Maps and tried to locate myself, i was blocks away from where i actually was and then my cell service wouldnt work, no service and the "3g" would disappear.... but hopefully this will be fixed by apple soon

Nothing seems to be working for me...soft reset, hard reset, airplane mode...weird thing is that 3G is apparently working...I see the 3G besides my carrier. I turn of 3G..and the E appears, so it is receiving something?
HELP!

7UM2, Your phone is not activated on the network. Please call client care for more information. Thats what I get when I try to call anyone.

I've had issues with connecting to 3G since I bought iphone in July. I've called in multiple times. Most recently I've spent nearly 3 hours on the phone trying to reset the network, etc. I was even sent a new phone only to have it have similar issues. Sent over to Apple for a brief moment where they asked me to toggle airplane mode. This still didn't do it for my phone. Any ideas??

iOS 5 killed the cellular data for me and many others... no solutions seen yet. restore, reset etc... nothing brings it back. network is working fine for non iOS 5 devices

I had the same issue today, after having ios5 for a few days on my iphone4. This morning I was listening to pandora, then all of the sudden no cell data would work, after resetting network settings I got weather updates back, but maps and pandora still weren’t working.
I then disabled 3g and roaming and my maps worked again (but it was slow), so i tried pandora and it too began working again. I enabled 3g and roaming again and everything’s back working full speed.
Other than a very quiet ride to work this morning, it cost me about 2 hours to get it back up and working.

wow i like easy fixes.. i have the 4s and wasnt able to surf on cellular.. turned on and off the airplance mode and wala.. it worked!!

Does the 'Could not activate cellular data network' dialoge typically take a while to show up? I've been experiencing this exact issue almost every time I'm not on WiFi and my iPhone 4S has been locked for a while calls and texts work fine, but it simply loads webpages for long periods of time without any progress. I quickly figured out that switching Airplane Mode on and off to force a reconnection to the network solves the issue, so I've never waited it out for a long period of time to see if it eventually works or gives me any error. Next time, I'll try to do this. Other than that, any advice?

it worked on my 3gs!!!
You’ll need a working internet connection though. So among the things you’ll need, WiFi is necessary. Make sure your iPhone is jailbroken or unlocked (steps can be found in a lot of resources from the web). Also, make sure you have the APN settings for your carrier ready with you.
-Connect your Apple iPhone 3g/3gs/4 to the Wi-Fi network so you have internet active on your iPhone
-Now, open up Safari on your iPhone and go to unlockit.co.nz
-Click on Continue which takes you to the Custom APN generator
-Click / Tap on Custom APN
-Enter the APN details asked for
-Once done with that, click on Create Profile
-Save the profile and restart your iPhone
If things went right, you should now be able to use the GPRS or EDGE right from your iPhone.

thanks this worked for me, spent ages and even been on chat with 02, who didnt help. :)

it worked on my 3gs!!!
You’ll need a working internet connection though. So among the things you’ll need, WiFi is necessary. Make sure your iPhone is jailbroken or unlocked (steps can be found in a lot of resources from the web). Also, make sure you have the APN settings for your carrier ready with you.
-Connect your Apple iPhone 3g/3gs/4 to the Wi-Fi network so you have internet active on your iPhone
-Now, open up Safari on your iPhone and go to unlockit.co.nz
-Click on Continue which takes you to the Custom APN generator
-Click / Tap on Custom APN
-Enter the APN details asked for
-Once done with that, click on Create Profile
-Save the profile and restart your iPhone
If things went right, you should now be able to use the GPRS or EDGE right from your iPhone.

it worked on my 3gs!!!
You’ll need a working internet connection though. So among the things you’ll need, WiFi is necessary. Make sure your iPhone is jailbroken or unlocked (steps can be found in a lot of resources from the web). Also, make sure you have the APN settings for your carrier ready with you.
-Connect your Apple iPhone 3g/3gs/4 to the Wi-Fi network so you have internet active on your iPhone
-Now, open up Safari on your iPhone and go to unlockit.co.nz
-Click on Continue which takes you to the Custom APN generator
-Click / Tap on Custom APN
-Enter the APN details asked for
-Once done with that, click on Create Profile
-Save the profile and restart your iPhone
If things went right, you should now be able to use the GPRS or EDGE right from your iPhone.

it worked on my 3gs!!!
You’ll need a working internet connection though. So among the things you’ll need, WiFi is necessary. Make sure your iPhone is jailbroken or unlocked (steps can be found in a lot of resources from the web). Also, make sure you have the APN settings for your carrier ready with you.
-Connect your Apple iPhone 3g/3gs/4 to the Wi-Fi network so you have internet active on your iPhone
-Now, open up Safari on your iPhone and go to unlockit.co.nz
-Click on Continue which takes you to the Custom APN generator
-Click / Tap on Custom APN
-Enter the APN details asked for
-Once done with that, click on Create Profile
-Save the profile and restart your iPhone
If things went right, you should now be able to use the GPRS or EDGE right from your iPhone.

I'm having everything lock up. Getting the “Could not activate cellular data network” and when that's not happening I'll have full bars and on 3G but won't be able to dial out or receive calls or send or receive text. Any ideas what's going on? Running iOS 5 on the iPhone 4s.

I had trouble with this for a month on iPhone 4, OS 5.
After trying everything including a full reset, I found that when I turned on Airplane mode, left it on, shut off iPhone, left off 30 seconds, restarted iPhone, turned off wifi, 3G stayed on and it worked. This note is coming to you over cellular network.

I've reseted the network settings, so far it worked! But when I opened facebook app it stopped working AGAIN!
Went back to safari and waited for a little, it didnt work.. I restored network settings again and 3g is back!
Im starting to think it might be related to facebook or any other app, inthe meantime i wont use facebook!!

I've reseted the network settings, so far it worked! But when I opened facebook app it stopped working AGAIN!
Went back to safari and waited for a little, it didnt work.. I restored network settings again and 3g is back!
Im starting to think it might be related to facebook or any other app, inthe meantime i wont use facebook!!

I have IPHONE 4S on the Sprint Network. I have been experiencing the same problem since phone was activated. My wife is unable to get online while where driving. Had no problem the first day. It's been hell ever since. The restore does not always work. What I have noticed in Wifi settings is as long as system link network is displayed and checked it works fine. Does anyone have any ideas?

Just had this problem. They (ATT) told me others are having this problem. I have to turn off wifi when I leave a wifi area or I can't get weather, maps, email, internet etc. I think this has to be a bug after the new software download because I've never had to do this before.

I recently bought iphone 4s and m using vodafone in an unlocked one in india. I send the Act iphone from my iphone which in required to activate internet for iphone,but still i am not able to use it. The edge sing "E" comes and goes . Please help as i am paying 200 rs per month for internet but cant use.

Since today morning my jail break 3GS is causing issue with cellular data settings. I used Reset network settings, can someone help me to get everything back to normal, I have a Wifi at home, even after configuring Wifi back on my phone, internet is yet not working

Hi Guys! I have an Iphone 4 with Verizon and started getting the dreaded "can not activate cellular data network" message.
Shut downs, restarts and resets did not help. A call to Verizon customer service DID help. A competent young man named Billy found that my phone and my wife's phone were somehow sharing a single network ID or something. Anyway, he fixed it on their end in about 15 minutes.
In short, this may be a provider issue, and not a hardware or software issue on your phone. Good luck everybody and stay calm.

i have a white iphone 3gs 32gb on three network. had the phone a few days downloaded latest os and downloaded a few apps. safari/internet was working fine then all of a sudden it just stopped working have tried ALL the suggestions above and nothing works so seems now i got NO internet no mail no weather updates no nothing can only call or text LOL feel like the old 3210 days :'(

My iPhone got hit by the same bug and I called the network who said its happening to others in my area..I just connected my iPhone to my computer backed up all my images and then reset all settings in my iPhone and then through ITunes I restored the original settings turned my phone off left it connected to my computer and went away for 2hours, came back turned it back on and couldn't believe that it connected.....what a mission though!!!!

Had this problem with a replacement Verizon iPhone 4S i got from the Apple Store (using my existing SIM card). Had to go all the way down to Set up as New Phone, but it finally worked. I was able to backup everything to iTunes before resetting the phone and restored everything fine.

thank you, This worked " •Tap Settings, toggle Airplane Mode off, wait 5 seconds, toggle it back on" Before doing this I didnot have the 3G, time and battery % in the menu bar.

i bought my iphone 4 new in box and wrapped, but im having this problem now too. it workd good the first day but now it doesnt. ive tried everything except jailbreaking it (which i dont really want to do but if i have to...) im so worried im even thinking it might be fake. can anyone help answer some questions.

I had this exact problem after going overseas and using WI-FI for my data. After reading all the blogs and trying the fixes nothing worked but I called my provider and they had blocked it whilst I was away!!! Wish I rang them first :)

You know I really can't say which is better. What I can tell you is that I am through with the Sprint company. With Sprint I am paying twice as much as Boost mobile customers even though sprint owns Boost? I just wrote an email to Mr. Hesse CEO of Sprint/Boost and I already feel far better. If you like me are mad about the absurdity that is Sprint visit the following website and email the CEO of Sprint.

I had this issue with my 4S.
I tried step one, to turn on Airpplane Mode for five seconds, and it fixed the problem.
Many thanks.

It's crazy..... I have done everything soft reset hard reset airplane mode on an off. My Internet seems not to work. My problem starts at 9:45 am at my location and ends at 6 pm weekdays. On the weekends it works just fine. On edge it works fine very slow though. AT&T can't help they're useless. Data works fine if Im on the phone so if I need to connect all I do is call 611 then switch to safari and Internet is working. It drains the battery but it works. Is there a way to downgrade my iOS to prior than 5 since then it worked fine? Any other ideas on what can I do?
Thanks

ANSWER HERE ANSWER HERE ANSWER HERE Alright guys i was getting so frustrated nothing was working. Airplane and resetting phone and network settings still didnt work. Finally i figured it out. if resetting your phone or turning on airplane mode didnt work then to fix it leaves one way. it took me 7 times to finally work. reset networks settings over and over until it works. in case you dont know how.Setting=General=reset= reset all networks settings.repeat until it works. once again took me 7 times. But ill warn you if you have wifi passwords saved then resetting settings will erase them. no way around it if you cant remember them. Good luck hope i helped

Dudes... I fixed it by switching my phone on and off 5 times.
Switch off. Waited 10 seconds. Switch on. Waited 15 seconds. Switch off. Waited 10 seconds.... Basically switched it on and off 5 times.
... Before I did this went to General under settings to make sure the Cellular Data was actually switched on... which in my case it WAS.
Hey presto.

I'm not sure where you're getting your information, however good topic. I must spend some time finding out more or working out more. Thank you for fantastic info I used to be in search of this information for my mission.

im having this problem right now the phone was working fine all day but then it shutoff because it ran out of battery i turn it back on and then i get that error saying it cant connect to phone carrier. i dont know what to do please help

AT&T is the worst and only option
Back in Saudi Arabia, the cellular network is kinda of pricey but after using AT&T I consider their price is good for the service provided.
5GB for $100 + monthly bill @ 21mb speed up to 41 mb at the best. NO ANNUAL CONTRACT. That is a shame of technology even passing the borders to Canada you can get Rogers or Bell internet speed up to 11mb which is not bad compare to AT&T that can't active 2G speed. We need another GSM provider that deliver superior speed.

iPhone 4 – Fix “Could not activate cellular data network” error
The problem basically occurs in people who travel. You might have bought the iPhone in one country, activated it right there and then when you travel to other places (like abroad), you might get this error. This is truly a nagging problem as it does not let you use your iPhone’s data features.
Method One
While both methods are simple, so to speak, we think you must start by trying out the first method. This is just resetting the iPhone’s data networks so that it auto-configures to suit the changes in the iPhone cellular data network availability.
Open the “Settings” of your iPhone
Go to the “General” Settings by tapping on General
You’ll find a reset button there – tap Reset to reset the network connections
That’s about it. Now restart your iPhone 4 and see if the error is fixed.
Since most of the time, this error happens when people move out of one country to another and then try to access data networks via their GPRS and EDGE; there is a high chance that you might have jailbroken your iPhone. In such cases, where an unlocked iPhone is concerned, the first method might never work at all.
So, what to do next? Is it really going to fix this query – how to fix could not activate cellular data network error?
Method two
You’ll need a working internet connection though. So among the things you’ll need, WiFi is necessary. Make sure your iPhone is jailbroken or unlocked (steps can be found in a lot of resources from the web). Also, make sure you have the APN settings for your carrier ready with you.
Connect your Apple iPhone 4 to the Wi-Fi network so you have internet active on your iPhone
Now, open up Safari on your iPhone and go to unlockit.co.nz
Click on Continue which takes you to the Custom APN generator
Click / Tap on Custom APN
Enter the APN details asked for
Once done with that, click on Create Profile
Save the profile and restart your iPhone
If things went right, you should now be able to use the GPRS or EDGE right from your iPhone.
Do Same On iPhone 4S/4/3Gs/3G & All iPad And iPod

all i needed to do was turn on airplane mode then back off, kind of like the reverse of what you said. thanks!

I did a soft restart power off and on and it fixed the issue. I was overseas in Vietnam and when I came back the data network did not function. An easy fix at least, and this log was Helpful !

This is CRAP! I have an iphone thru Verizon. Today I went and got my husband an iphone as an upgrade to his cruddy droid. I bought it brand new in the box from Verizon and when I tried to set it up before I gave it to him as a gift it immediately said "could not activate cellular data network". It has said this ALL DAY. My iphone is working fine, so it is not an issue with Verizon in our area and I am NOT traveling! This is such BS I have been working on this issue for 12 hours now (it is 2;30 in the am and I was supposed to give this to him yesterday as a present for our 10 year wedding anniversary and I am ticked off to say the least). I called Verizon tech support 3 times. They did everything you can think of. They even made me do an hour long complete backup and restore through iTunes. I have done hard and soft reset, toggled airplane mode, reset network settings and NOTHING! Now I have to drive an hour in 1 direction to an Apple store tomorrow after I spent $130+ to get this new phone? I am so extremely frustrated.

I just want to thank the one who made this blog,I actually,didn't know what to do for a couple of days now,my phone didnt let me login to Facebook or any other until I found this blog and tried it on my phone...gotcha!!! its working again now,I can play games and connect it to my facebook...thank you so much...keep it up.