iPhone not connecting to Bluetooth? Here's how to fix!

Bluetooth menu in Control Center on iOS 14 on an iPhone 11 Pro
Bluetooth menu in Control Center on iOS 14 on an iPhone 11 Pro (Image credit: Joseph Keller / iMore)

Whether it's your brand new iPhone 7 Plus or iPad Pro or your trusty old iPhone 5s or iPad Air, there's a lot you can do to troubleshoot before going to Apple or the manufacturer. Sure, sometimes there's an issue with your headset, speaker, or in-car infotainment system, but often enough it's a software issue that a few simple steps can fix. If so, follow along and we'll get you back up and connected in no time!

Toggle Bluetooth

It's amazing how many problems can be solved simply by turning things off and then back on again.

  1. Swipe up from the bottom edge of the screen (iPhones with Touch ID) or the top-right corner (iPhones with Face ID) to bring up Control Center.
  2. Tap the Bluetooth button to turn BT off.
  3. Tap the Bluetooth button again to turn BT back on.

Toggle Bluetooth off/on, showing how to activate Control Center, then tap the Bluetooth button to turn Bluetooth off, then tap it again to turn it back on (Image credit: iMore)

Alternatively, you can perform the same steps but tap the Airplane Mode button to toggle Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular all off and then back on again.

Once you're done, try connecting again. If it works, great. If not, keep reading.

Hard reset

The next thing to try is a hard reset. Make all the "reboot Windows" jokes you want but sometimes bad bits get stuck and need to be flushed out.

Once your iPhone or iPad has rebooted, try connecting it in again. If it works, you're good. If not, go on to the next step.

Pair different

If you have more than one iOS device available, even if you have to borrow it from a family member, friend, classmate, or coworker, try using it to connect to your Bluetooth accessory. If it works, the problem is with your iOS device and you'll need to keep on troubleshooting.

If a family member, friend, classmate, or coworker has the same Bluetooth accessory as you, it's worth checking to see if their's will work with your iPhone or iPad as well. If it doesn't work, the problem might be with your Bluetooth accessory and you should either take it back (if you can exchange it) or contact the manufacturer for assistance (if you can't exchange it).

If it works, we're back to troubleshooting your device and you're back to reading.

Forget it

If it's not the radio, something might have gone wrong with the setup. Forgetting the device lets you redo that.

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap on Bluetooth.
  3. Tap on the Info (i) button next to the device you want to forget.

Forget a Bluetooth device, showing how to open settings, tap Bluetooth, then tap the i button (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap on Forget This Device at the top.
  2. Tap Forget Device to confirm.

Forget a Bluetooth device, showing how to tap Forget This Device, then tap Forget Device (Image credit: iMore)

Once you've forgotten the device, follow the directions for your Bluetooth device and reconnect to it. If it works, fantastic. If it doesn't, keep going.

5. Update!

Apple's Bluetooth stack—the set of software that controls the radio—isn't without its occasional quirks. Sometimes brand new versions of iOS introduce compatibility problems and sometimes they fix them. If you're having Bluetooth connectivity problems, however, you're better off upgrading than not. If it's already broke, the update is your chance for a fix.

Once you're done updating, try to connect again. If it works, awesome. If not, repeat step 3, above, to forget and reconnect with the Bluetooth device. If even that doesn't work, there's more to try!

6. Restore with your Mac

If there was no update—or even if there was—restoring your iPhone or iPad using your Mac can sometimes shake loose bad bits that even a hard reset or iCloud restore can't. That's because your Mac offloads your data, restores the operating system, and then reloads you data. Think of it as spring cleaning.

When you're all done, try connecting to Bluetooth again. If it works, huzzah. If not, there's one last thing you can try...

7. Reset networks

Resetting is a pain in the butt but if something has gone wrong with the way your iPhone or iPad connects to other devices, sometimes the pain can be healing.

You'll have to reconnect to every Wi-Fi and Bluetooth device you own or use, but once you're done, see if your accessory starts to work. If it does, it was all worth it. If not, let's keep going.

8. Contact Apple

Sometimes a problem really is a problem. Like any electronics, Bluetooth radios and the various connections to them can have problems. If you have AppleCare+, don't walk, run to get it fixed. If you don't, get an estimate and weigh the cost of repair against the cost of upgrading to a new device.

If you don't live close to an Apple Store, you can call 1-800-MY-APPLE in order to set up a mail-in repair. If you don't have AppleCare, you may have to pay for the call, but it's less of a waste than having an iPhone or iPad you can't connect to.

Your fixes?

If you had an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad that you couldn't connect to your favorite Bluetooth accessory or your car's infotainment system, and one of the above fixes worked for you, let me know! If something else worked, let me know that as well!

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Very helpful article. Thanks. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • I've been having issues for the past two weeks. First it was my car receiver having issues going from a phone call back to music, the music would skip like an old CD after a phone call, iOS 8.02 seems to have fixed the problem. Right now i'm dealing with two issues, one is my pebble watch connecting with Runkeeper and displaying my information while running. Turning off my phone seems to fix that occasionally. the last issue I'm having is with my Dual GPS receiver. The receiver will lose connection with the gps satellite anytime I get out of the Dual iPhone app becoming useless when I start Runkeeper.
  • These steps work fine, but then the device stops working on Bluetooth again so you have to go through the whole sequence again. It's a widespread issue which Apple needs to address in an OS update. I also have problems connecting to the USB connection in my car. Really not good enough.
  • Try turning off the "hey Siri" function.
  • I only have issues when I am connected to my Pebble and LG stereo headset. If I use one or the other I have no issues but as soon as I hook both up the headset drops in and out every 10 minutes. It will reconnect automatically but it still is annoying. Sent from the iMore App
  • Yes! I have the exact same problem with my Pebble and Jaybird Bluebuds.
  • Ditto... Pebble & jay bird bluebuds x at same time.. Both lose connection sporadically
  • I've been having the same problem. My car (Lincoln MKZ) drops iPhone Bluetooth when my Pebble watch is connected to iPhone. I have to remember to always turn off Bluetooth on Pebble when I'm in my car.
  • Restore is the only thing that worked for me.
  • Resetting All Settings is the only thing that's worked for me. Sent from the iMore App
  • Tried resetting network settings, turning off Bluetooth on iPad mini/iPhone 6 (as well as switching off, then on both devices), reinstalling iOS 8.0.2 on both devices (and set up as new) they still won't talk to each other. The Forget This Device button is greyed out. When trying to pair, both say the other is out of range. Putting 8.1 beta 2 on an old iPhone shortly, I'll see if I can get that to pair. :o(
  • iPhone5 and iPad mini 4G can't connect w/one another. Can't forget the device either. the rest of my BT connections with the phone and pad are OK (car, headset and 3 different speakers). Would like to link my iPad and iPhone via BT but can't seem to do it.
  • 6. Buy an Android or Windows phone! ;)
  • Been there. Android bluetooth handling is not any better.
  • iPhone 4s running IOS 8. No issues except BT. #4 in this article worked for me.
  • So Apple releas new software and all of a sudden bluetooth stops working. And yet the recommendation is to wait for all the other manufacturers to release an update. Genius !
  • My new iPhone 6 Bluetooth would see "CAR AUDIO" from my 2012 Toyota RAV4 Bluetooth. The audio display on the RAV4 audio hung indefinitely on "Searching…". I deleted CAR AUDIO on my iPhone 6 as recommended above and re-paired according to the directions in my RAV4 manual and it worked! Thanks!
  • I tried everything on my new iPhone6+ but failed to get it paired with Sony BLUE-RAY Home Theatre.
  • I had to restore as a new phone. Kind of a pain, but probably less painful than not having Bluetooth in my car. Thanks for the advice. (Now let's hope it works again the next time I turn on the car!)
  • Hi all, I am trying to connect my new iPhone 6 to my Mac wireless keyboard via Bluetooth but am unable to get it to work. I have the latest iPhone software 8.1.2 (and Mac OSX Yosemite version 10.10.1). When I try to pair the Mac and the iPhone the Mac shows that the iPhone is there and sends it a 'pair' code which also comes up on the iPhone screen, and which I then enter. Then, on the computer, next to the iPhone listing, it says "connect to network" and when I hit that it says Network is unavailable, make sure network access is enabled. My mouse and my wireless keyboard are all connected via Bluetooth, I just can't seem to get the iPhone connected. I'm not sure I understand the 'network unavailable' message above and what I need to do to make this work. Thanks in advance for any advice.
  • Have you solved this problem? How? I have the same trouble!
  • Thanks a lot. It was very helpful
  • If you're having trouble connecting your device to your car's USB connector, resetting network settings, as advised here, works like a charm. I have and iPhone 6 with iOS 8.3
  • yeah i just got the iphone 6s plus and it wont recognize my sony brt-10rbt headphones or my jaybird freedom sprint blue tooth earbuds the little wheel by the word devises just spins but nothing shows up
  • Great tips! For months I've been looking for a way to fix the intermiittent bluetooth connection to my iPad. I tried everything, or so I thought, but resetting the network is what worked for me. The step-by-step troubleshooting is a gem.
  • Having Bluetooth issues with iOS 9 =(
  • So switch off switch on again, WOW god good how much do you get paid to write that The Apple eco-system is great as long as all your devices are Apple, but they can be a bit precious about interoperability. It still astounds me how people are fanatical about a product that will not connect with devices not of its origin, and you can't transfer files without an unholy messing about, Drag & Drop + android FTW
  • None of these tips helped me at all. My problem was that my iPhone 6 plus couldn't discover Mercedes Benz bluetooth but it did discover Voklswagens bluetooth. The Mb bluetooth found my iPhone but the phone didn't only after i tried to autherize it from the MB bluetooth, then it asked the passkey on the MB and after few seconds it asked the passkey on the phone so i wrote 0000 on the MB bluetooth and on the phone 0000 then they connected to each other somehow. I apologize for my broken english. But hey the solution is the most important thing here.
  • I've tried all your suggestions except calling Apple. I cannot get my iPhone 6S (bought last week) to pair with my Blueparrot Xplorer. The Blueparrot worked great with my iPhone 4 and the iPhone 6 was picking up other people's devices while I was parked in a parking lot, but they don't like each other.
  • Just tried 10minutes ago. Tick Forget this device in Bluetooth setting. Switch off and Restart your IPhone 6 and Bluetooth device. Start paring device hopefully it work in your device as I did mine.
  • Thanks for the troubleshooting tips, the system reset did the trick, using my new iPhone 6s.
  • It worked! Thank-you. <3
  • Isn't unpair and forget the same thing? That said, it's funny that I'm having an issue today as iMore posted this. My problem though is that my Bose headphones will connect to my iPhone but no sound when I play music/podcasts/etc. I really don't want to have to restore! Update: It had something to do with being connected to my Mac at the same time. Turned off MBP Bluetooth and back on and boom! Bluetooth working on both again!
  • Unpair and forget is different......
  • Hello thanks for the info. Should probably throw up some bagdes to make it easier for people to like facebook twitter or share straight from article or near comments...Thanks again and good luck!
  • Had the same problems did all the troubleshooting, contact Apple support they ran a diagnostic, then told me I would have to take it in but what I did was after they ran the diagnostic I did a hard reset and Voila it started pairing again