How to update the DNS settings on your iPhone

Yesterday, web performance and security company Cloudflare launched its latest foray into making the internet better and safer for consumers. Called 1.1.1.1, the project is a DNS service that values privacy and speed above all else. Oh, and it is definitely not an April Fool's joke.

If you're not familiar, DNS stands for "Domain Name System" and is essentially, as Cloudflare puts it, "the directory of the internet." When you click on a link or open an app or type http://imore.com/ into your search bar, your computer needs to resolve that domain into an IP address so it can actually get you to the content you seek. However, according to Cloudflare, most DNS servers aren't exactly privacy respecting, which is pretty dangerous in an age where internet service providers can sell your browsing data for ad-targeting purposes:

What many Internet users don't realize is that even if you're visiting a website that is encrypted — has the little green lock in your browser — that doesn't keep your DNS resolver from knowing the identity of all the sites you visit. That means, by default, your ISP, every wifi network you've connected to, and your mobile network provider have a list of every site you've visited while using them.

Worse yet, DNS servers can be used as a tool of censorship by governments in times of political turmoil:

In March 2014, for instance, the government of Turkey blocked Twitter after recordings showing a government corruption scandal leaked online. The Internet was censored by the country's ISP's DNS resolvers blocking DNS requests for twitter.com. People literally spray painted 8.8.8.8, the IP of Google's DNS resolver service, on walls to help fellow Turks get back online. Google's DNS resolver is great, but diversity is good and we thought we could do even better.

If these are concerns you have, you may consider manually switching your DNS service to 1.1.1.1, which not only outperforms some of the most popular consumer DNS services in terms of speed (like Google's 8.8.8.8), but also wipes all transaction logs within 24 hours and never writes your IP addresses to disk. Here's how!

  1. Launch Settings from your home screen.
  2. Tap Wi-Fi to open your Wi-Fi options.
  3. Next to your selected Wi-Fi network, tap the small "i" icon to open up that network's information.
  4. Underneath DNS, tap Configure DNS.

  1. At the top of the DNS configuration screen, you should see that Automatic is selected. Tap Manual to make manual changes instead.
  2. Now, little green plus and red minus icons should appear next to each DNS server in your list. Tap Add Server at the bottom.

  1. Type in 1.1.1.1.
  2. Tap Add Server and type in 1.0.0.1 (Cloudflare's backup server).
  3. If you'd like to use 1.1.1.1 as your only DNS server, you can tap the red minus icons next to any other DNS servers in the list to delete them.
  4. Tap Save. Ta-da! Now you can use the internet more quickly and securely.

For more information on Cloudflare's 1.1.1.1, check out the company's full announcement here.

Note: Some individuals are experiencing issues with switching their DNS on the iPhone X when using 11.3. Make sure you're choosing "Configure DNS" and not "Configure IP."

Thoughts? Questions?

Did you have any trouble switching DNS services? Give us a shout in the comments and we'll do our best to help you out.

Tory Foulk is a writer at Mobile Nations. She lives at the intersection of technology and sorcery and enjoys radio, bees, and houses in small towns. When she isn't working on articles, you'll likely find her listening to her favorite podcasts in a carefully curated blanket nest. You can follow her on Twitter at @tsfoulk.

11 Comments
  • This is great for WiFi, but what about when on cellular? Is there any way to do this while on the cellular networks?
  • If you wanted a company that is against privacy to get all your data, and sell it, you could setup a 3rd party app, something like adguard may do similar. Or maybe APN settings.
  • I don't see all that in my settings on my 6s Plus. Under DNS, it says "Search Domains", with one listed. Below that it says "Client ID". So now what?
  • After looking at this, I'll stick with my Comcast DNSSEC. It looks pretty safe.
  • Hello! On an iPhone 6 using an older iOS, when you hit the "i" icon next to your Wi-Fi network, it should take you to a page with "DHCP," "BootP," and "Static" across the top. Make sure "DHCP" is selected. Underneath that, there should be a DNS field. You can delete the present servers and type in your own. I hope this helps!
  • Cloudflare openly bans sites they disagree with. Tell me again how they are going to protect my privacy if they don't like somewhere I go?
  • Can you point to any evidence of this? What sites have they banned?
  • I changed my DNS settings on iPhone 6S... and I did notice that the connection is a little faster (overall speed is the same).
    • Anyway, I decided to also change DNS settings on my iMac, I assume that doesn't hurt either??
  • I was able to change my DNS settings on my iPhone with no problem. However when I tried to change the DNS settings on my iPad Pro it doesn’t take. I change to manual, delete the old servers, add the new servers, click Save. When the screen goes back to the Wi-Fi settings DNS is listed as automatic not manual. When I go back into Configure DNS it shows Automatic with the old DNS servers. I have tried this several times and it is always the same result. Am I missing something?
  • Do a double button reboot of iPad. And try again.
  • I did a double button reboot. Still the same result.